How To House-Sit Around The World

How To House-Sit Around The World

My type of holiday!

By Georgie Murray | 11th February 2020

When it comes to dream jobs, a few come to mind. Of these few, they all involve travelling and I’m sure I’m not alone. I have heard of people animal-sitting and/or house-sitting here and there locally but three to four months out of the year and all over the world? Surely that’s not feasible.

Boy oh boy was I wrong. I’ve recently spoken with Brisbane local Madolline Gourley who runs the blog One Cat At A Time. Put simply, Madolline is well and truly living out ‘the dream’ and not paying rent while she’s at it!

Almost half the year Madolline finds herself travelling the globe to house sit or cat-sit…professionally. Now that’s a job I could totally get around. Look after a cat while on holiday? Yes please, I’ll take it!

Meow, take a squiz on how it all happened and how you could too be living the dream.


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How did you get started house and cat sitting? Especially globally!

I heard about it one day at work. There was a lady, originally from somewhere in the UK who was doing it in Brisbane. My workmates told me this lady doesn’t own or rent a house here, and has been living out of a suitcase going from home to home. I must’ve Googled ‘house sitting’ when I got home that afternoon and the first website that came up was TrustedHousesitters. They had heaps of positive Trustpilot reviews so that kind of signaled to me it was a proper website and not a scam. I paid the fee and randomly decided to search for sits in the US!

Do you still work in between or is it now considered a fulltime job?

I don’t do it fulltime—I still have a Monday to Friday contract job in Brisbane. But I’m gone for up to three or four months each year. I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to take the leave each time. I’m not sure my boss is always happy about it, but they’ve never said ‘no’.

What’s been the most ‘pinch me’ moment so far?
When you wake up in one of the places you’re staying at and realise someone picked an Australian [still] living in Australia to look after their place and cat! While I miss my routine back home, not many people get an opportunity like this and some of the properties I’ve stayed in have been incredible.


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Have you had any shocking circumstances for all the wrong reasons?

Not yet. But I’ve sat for a few ‘very particular’ sorts who didn’t come off like that on their profile or when we chatted. So when you meet them in person and they’re highly strung, it’s a little awkward and uncomfortable. One guy got politely angry (on his wife’s behalf) because I sprayed the orange-scented air freshener, positioned atop their toilet, to mask the lingering cat poop smell in the main bathroom. He told me the wife had a very sensitive nose and she hates it when he uses that air freshener. But the power had been out for about 12 hours, so there was no ventilation in the house and I wasn’t allowed to open the window to air the bathroom out. What was I meant to do? It was a bit of a catch 22 situation because I imagined they’d be mad the house smelled gross. However, I hadn’t been told not to use the air freshener and it’s not as if it was stored away! I later discovered they had the same air freshener in their downstairs bathroom…

What’s been the best location you’ve traveled to?

Probably Boston. I’ve house and cat sat there twice for two different people (one young couple and a mid-40s lady). It’s such a pretty city; everyone’s really nice and the public transport is amazing. You can day trip to Salem, or to other states (Rhode Island, New Hampshire or New York City). And the true Boston accent is so comical.

Any touch and go/scary moments?

There’s been a few incidents. Nothing huge, but I guess still unpleasant at the time. One time I wasn’t able to unlock the top door lock of a home in Santa Fe. I was stuck outside in light snow at 7pm and there was no other way to get inside. All I wanted to do was eat my dinner that I’d walked 30 minutes to get. The lady I was sitting for told me her boyfriend lived up the road and he was contactable if I needed anything. I wasn’t able to make calls to non-iPhones because my plan had run out but I was able to get a hold of the lady (iPhone user and I was using the home’s WiFi connection to message her) who called her boyfriend. He was at the place within 15 minutes and was eventually able to unlock the top lock. I made sure to never lock the top lock again! If it hadn’t been for the WiFi connection, I’m not sure what I would’ve done.


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What about the best moments?

I love when the cats warm up to you. I miss my own cat, Gracie a lot when I’m overseas so it’s great when the cat you’re looking after feels comfortable enough to sit with you on the couch or snuggle up to you in bed. I’ve also become friends with several of the people I’ve sat for. And we’ll chat/message on a regular basis. I also love following their travels on Instagram. Another good moment was when I got that first five-star review. That obviously opened a lot of doors — literally and figuratively— for me to keep travelling like this.

How do you suggest someone gets started doing the same thing?

Just sign up to one of the websites and start applying for sits. It might be easier to start with a house and pet in your own city, but I was lucky to get the first one I applied for and that was in San Francisco.

Before this, what did you do for work?

I’ve gone from government contract to government contract since I was about 19. Most of the work I do is in the web writing and editing space.

What’s the future plans?

More house and cat sits, of course! I’d also like to turn the blog, One cat at a time, into something big or something I could generate some kind of income from. I’m not sure there’s a market for it, even though people on the internet really do love cats, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see!


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Article by Georgie Murray

Georgie is a Journalist with a knack for bad jokes and dating disasters. A total open book, there’s no topic off limits for this Rod Stewart enthusiast. Starting her career in Broadcast Journalism, Georgie has since gone back to basics of the written word with a particular love for taboo topics and fashion media.


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