house sitting these doggies

House Sitting in California: 2020 Ultimate Guide

California — what better place to be? The golden state, a surfer’s paradise, land of beauty and opportunity: it can be all yours, with the added bonus of not having to pay rent when there’s a house sitting gig involved.

California is an excellent and highly coveted locale for house sitting, with plenty of listings in the hottest locations this gorgeous land has to offer.

About House Sitting in California

luxury house sitting
Yes, you could house sit in a big, awesome home like this.

Why house sit in California? There are many reasons why this state is so attractive to people who are looking for a place to stay — and why homeowners should not have any trouble finding eager, responsible people who are willing to stay and look after their homes, pets, and other responsibilities.

California has good weather, bottom line. Yes, it rains and even snows occasionally, and in some areas it can get chilly at night or in the winter season, but overall, if you are going to California you are going to enjoy the sun and temperate climate. From mountain peaks to SoCal beaches to the fog of the Bay, the climate is welcoming.

California is an immensely varied and diverse state. There are cultural differences between various areas of the state, especially between northern and southern California. However, no matter where you go, if you love nature and the great outdoors you are going to enjoy it. There are national parks, state parks, mountains, beaches, surfing, swimming, skiing — the list goes on, and the fun does not stop.

That diversity extends to the people, art, music, food, and traditions of California. Wherever you go there is something exciting to try, someone new to meet, or something delicious to munch on or drink. Authentic street tacos, third wave coffee, molecular gastronomy and innovative fusion cuisine are all part of the culinary and cultural experience from San Diego to San Francisco and beyond.

All of this means that when you are not tending to your house sitting responsibilities or doing your everyday work, the vast, magical land of California is entirely yours to discover, with the reassurance that you have a place to call home at the end of every sunset evening. All you have to do is find the right place (or series of places for a longer term stay in California) and you are well on your way to finding a place for yourself in one of the most popular places in the country, and indeed, the world.

House Sitting in California Infographic

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House Sitting Sites with California Listings

Carmel-by-the-Sea home
How about tucking into this Carmel-by-the-Sea home on the Monterey Peninsula for an extended house sit?

Take a look at house sitting listing sites and you are sure to find some compelling California house-sits. This isn’t an exhaustive list of every house sitting site out there but it is a good start when you are looking for a place to stay.

At Sabbatical Homes, you will find a wealth of listings in California, although the numbers have dipped slightly since early 2019. There are currently over 780 active rental listings in California as of early 2020, nearly 70 exchanges, 16 sitting arrangements, and 74 shared homes. The majority are in Berkeley, San Francisco, Oakland, and Los Angeles, with some concentrated in San Diego, Menlo Park, Pasadena, Santa Barbara, and other areas of the state from cities to beaches. These houses are primarily geared toward people with academic affiliations, so most are located near a postsecondary educational institute.

Luxury House Sitting updates its listings as they come in, currently sitting at around 19 luxurious locations in early 2020, which is nearly double the number of listings in early 2019. Home locations range from San Diego to Encinitas, to Beverly Hills and Los Angeles. The assignment listings are comprehensive, explaining the dates required and duties that will be asked of each house sitter.

House Sitters America is similar, currently hosting about 15 house/pet sitting listings in California, down 25% over the last year. Its listings are spread down the western seaboard of California, with the largest concentration in Northern California around the Bay Area. Additional listings dot the map down through Los Angeles and San Diego.

On Trusted Housesitters, there are currently over 101 listings in California in early 2020, which is an expansion of about 60% from early 2019 levels. These houses and pets that need to be watched are located anywhere from the beautiful beaches of La Jolla to wine country in Santa Rosa and Sebastopol, to urban luxury in the Berkeley hills. If you love animals and want to make your way around California in style, there are lots of opportunities here.

House Sit Search is another good resource, as it searches multiple sites for listings. It has over 100 California opportunities at present, but could use an expanded user interface, including a map, to better find the housesits specific to California and West Coast.

HouseSitMatch focuses on both house sitting and pet sitting, and can be searched by location. As of early 2019, there were only two house-sitting opportunities, both from the same home owner. In early 2020, there are no listings – all of the listings available are in Europe. We’ll be checking back to see if this platform expands its inventory of house-sits.

Finally, we’ll highlight Housecarers, where there are 8 listings for house and pet care in California in early 2020, down about 20% from a year prior. Most of these homes are concentrated in the more northern part of the state, around San Jose, San Francisco, and Sacramento, with additional listings around Los Angeles.

Locations for House Sitting in California

What do you think of when you picture California? It might be the iconic Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco, or the swaying palm trees and sandy beaches of coastal towns. Whatever you are dreaming of, rest assured, house sitting in California offers variety as breathtaking as the state itself.

House Sitting in Los Angeles

Modern Los Angeles home
How about a house sit in a gorgeous modern LA home?

The Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim area is one of the most populated in California, so it isn’t surprising to see a lot of houses in LA and the Los Angeles metro area. This is, of course, a mecca for entertainment and luxury. Los Angeles is home to theaters and museums, perhaps more than anywhere else in the United States. It is also a great place for sports fans, with famous teams like the Lakers, the Dodgers and the Rams calling LA home. And, it almost goes without saying, the shopping is out of this world, starting but not ending with Rodeo Drive and Melrose. And don’t forget Disneyland, Universal Studios and other world-class theme parks.

House sitting in LA is a great way to glimpse the luxe life without having to shell out the cash. It can also give you excellent proximity to sun and sand, like this LA house sitting job that is located near Venice Beach, Playa Vista, and Santa Monica. If you live inland, you might be open to coming out to the westside for just a night or two.

Long Beach, in particular, is a great choice for house sitters who want to check out California via bicycle. The city is aiming to be known as a cyclist-friendly urban center, which means it is easy to get around on two wheels.

House Sitting in the Bay Area

Victorian homes in San Francisco
One of these San Francisco homes has pets waiting for your arrival!

San Francisco-Oakland is the second most populous urban area in California. The Bay Area is well known for its technology, and for its amazing views and spectacular food. This is the heart of northern California, and a location that should not be missed. Think cable cars, Fisherman’s Wharf, Mission burritos, and Lombard Street. And, of course, the Golden Gate Bridge, which is practically shorthand for California itself.

You can shell out lots of money for the San Fran experience — or you can take a house sitting job, and enjoy the (hopefully) sunny city without worrying about accommodations. The Bay Area allows for access to all kinds of California hotspots thanks to its extensive transportation system, so it also makes for a good launching point to explore the rest of the state, although a car is essential for getting to some of the most scenic areas such as Big Sur and Yosemite.

The Oakland/Berkeley area, too, is a busy and bustling location, with high numbers of artists, a booming culinary scene, and a strong interest in the diverse international influences that make it such a vibrant city.

House Sitting in Wine Country

German Shepherd in a vineyard
Stroll through a vineyard with Hunter, the German Shepherd

Wine country extends north of the Bay Area, with over 400 wineries in this region including in Napa Valley and Sonoma County. If you are looking for a wine-lover’s house sitting job, check out listings in Santa Rosa, Petaluma, and other cities and towns within Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, and Lake counties.

If you are exploring house-sits in the winter and spring, be prepared for some colder weather and plenty of rain. Wine country bumps up against the coastal redwoods, and some areas such as Cazadero are about as wet as California gets.

House Sitting in San Diego

dog beach in San Diego
Take the pooch to a dog beach in San Diego!

San Diego and its surrounding area including Carlsbad are popular for homeowners and travellers alike, which may be why you will find many opportunities to house sit in this warm, diverse area.

This region offers a lot of options for those who love craft beer, as well as excellent sights and sounds including historic districts, zoos and parks, and many of the Spanish missions in California. You can swim, surf, or check out some historical details from the city’s marine past. Take in a Padres game, or simply sit back and relax in what the Weather Channel says is America’s most ideal summer climate.

Unique House Sitting Opportunities in California

While you are checking out homes away from home, why not consider a more unique house sitting opportunity in California? It’s easy to find a simple, comfortable home or apartment, but if you are willing to try something new, there are even more doors open to you.

Are you strong enough to manage a lovable 185 lb. Mastiff?

If you love dogs, there is a great place in North Hills, California, for you. Here you will find an 185 lb. Mastiff named Frank, who is the star of a children’s book. Staying at this house means hanging out with Frank, ensuring he is fed and walked on a regular basis. It is a bonus in a home that is decked out with all of the appliances and electronics one could need. (UPDATE – Frank the Mastiff found a house sitter. The most interesting opportunities go fast!)

In Pollock Pines, California, there is another house for animal enthusiasts. This home has two dogs and chickens to keep the house sitter company. The house is on a lake with year-round fishing

Ready for even more animals? Check out this house sitting gig in La Honda, California. The home of a former aerospace engineer and a nurse, it is 10 acres of natural wonder including a horse, a donkey, chickens, two dogs, a cat, and two parrots.

How about Boat Sitting?

A dog at a marina
Probably best if you’re not prone to motion sickness

To take the show on the road — or rather, the water — consider this unique “house” sitting opportunity in Berkeley, California. It’s a 44-foot sailboat, harbored across the bay from the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco skyline. It comes with two cats, two washrooms, a kitchen with a stove and a fridge, and of course, a comfortable place to sleep. The cats move in and out of the boat, roaming the docks or sitting on the sailboat’s deck.

There is always fun to be found in California, so if you are looking for a unique location for your next house sitting adventure, keep an eye on these listings!

House Sitting in CA By the Numbers

Looking at the Housesit Search listings, we see some trends in house sitting in California.

Often a house sitting job involves pet sitting, too — it is one of the main reasons why people who are travelling are looking for someone to take care of their house while they’re gone.

Listings with Dogs
76%
Listings with Cats
58%
Listings with Poultry
12%
Listings with Horses
8%
Listings with Farm Animals
6%

Around 58 percent of the listings give house sitters responsibility for cats. It would appear that California is a dog lover’s paradise, however, with almost 76 percent of listings that come with a canine companion.

For a walk on the wilder side, don’t worry. California is home to lots of agriculture and green spaces, so it is perhaps not surprising to see that there are several listings with alternative animals. Of the listings on the site, 13 involve taking care of poultry (12 percent). Nine listings, or eight percent, come with horses, and six, or five and a half percent, have farm animals! Of course, the more rural an area is, the more likely it is to be home to various animals, whereas smaller, urban homes are more likely to host small dogs and cats.

chickens in a field
Chicken sitting is a real thing.

Perhaps it is the hand-in-hand roles of house sitting and pet sitting, but in fact, there are no California listings on that particular site without any animal responsibilities at all. Whether you are feeding a fish or walking a dog, pet sitting is something that will take your house sitting skills further.

About one third of the Housesit Search listings are located in a more rural or suburban area of California, where the remaining two thirds are in a more urban locale. Just over nine percent of the listings give house sitters access to a pool. For those with green thumbs, around 45 percent of the house sitting gigs involve gardening, so you can get your hands dirty!

Becoming (or Finding) a House Sitter in California

With all of these options there is certainly a home in California for every would-be house sitter.

If you are California dreaming, house sitting is most certainly an option you should explore. Clearly there are many homeowners who are eager to have a friendly, responsible person taking care of their home — and most likely their pets — while they are away for whatever reason. As a friendly, responsible person with an itch to check out California and all it has to offer, this is your opportunity to do exactly that and spend some time with a loveable animal, too.

For would-be California house sitters, pet sitting is an aspect that cannot be ignored. Those adverse to animals need not apply, because the vast majority of house sitting opportunities in this state involve pet sitting in some form.

If you are not a big fan of four-legged creatures, we recommend staying away from the listings that involve cats, dogs, and beyond, and look more toward an easy to handle pet. Practically anyone can successfully manage to feed a fish or other small pet, and being willing to do so will open a lot of house sitting doors in California.

Still, we recommend that you seriously consider your willingness and ability to take care of pets, as many homeowners are looking for people who genuinely love animals. While people may be willing to leave their home behind for a stretch of time, it is their animals that truly drive their concern, and they want to be able to leave Fido or Fluffy at home in his or her comfortable environment without having to worry. That is your job, and it’s an important role to play.

The necessity of a car for house sits in CA

For the greatest breadth of opportunity, having a vehicle can also be a major advantage. Many California house sitting listings are remote, with little in the way of public transportation. Listings that require a vehicle will typically outline that from the start. Being able to get to and from the home, as well as being able to run errands like grocery shopping for yourself, is important, so if you do not have a vehicle, factor that into your search.

Of course, for those without wheels, not all is lost. There are certainly central, urban options for house sitting. If you take a job in San Diego, San Francisco, LA, or another one of California’s well-known cities, you can get around with buses, trains, Ubers and Lyfts, cabs, or even walking or hopping on a bike. You may have fewer options in terms of where you are going to stay, but it does not remove you from the house sitting game completely.

Working Remotely and Saving Money

Think about what you are looking for from a house sitting job. There are different benefits to different types of people. If you work remotely, house sitting allows for travel to all kinds of places while still getting your daily work done. If you are on your own and saving up for a home of your own, it can help you stash some money away as you have a place to live without having to pay rent.

Don’t forget to factor in the costs of travel to get to your house-sit though. Your month-long stay might not be as cost-effective if your flying and renting a car.

The Assurance of Reference Checks

Whatever your motivation and wherever you want to go, you need to have references and record checks. Someone will be allowing you into their home and giving you a lot of responsibility if all goes well, but you will not get to that point if you cannot prove that you are worthy of that level of trust.

Some possible sources of references:

  • family and friends with pets you have taken care of
  • Airbnb or similar rental references to showcase your responsibility in other people’s homes
  • workplace or professional references to speak to your trustworthiness
  • a police criminal record check to help drive home the fact that you are the kind of person who can offer peace of mind

Know what you are looking for and what you are capable of handling, but do not be too picky about house sitting assignments once you have got your references in place and are ready to start reaching out to homeowners.

In practical terms, that means understanding that maybe a full hobby farm is out of your wheelhouse, but not being too particular about having to jump from short assignment to short assignment as you are getting established.

The more work you do as a house sitter the more attractive you are to future clients, as you will have the experience and references needed to prove that you are a good choice. So long as you are comfortable with the location and the responsibilities, don’t turn down potential jobs!

Homeowners Looking for House Sitters

As a homeowner looking for a house sitter, many of the same considerations apply, in reverse.

Know who you are looking for and what kinds of qualifications you will expect from someone. Be clear about the certifications, qualifications, and references you require in order to consider someone for a house sitting job. You will want to be confident in and comfortable with who you choose, so that you can leave your home (and possibly your pet) without spending your entire time away worrying about what is happening at home.

At the same time, if you are too prescriptive in your approach it may be tricky to actually find someone who can suit your needs. We recommend sitting down and outlining your priorities in a house sitter and/or pet sitter, as well as determining what would be nice to have but is not a deal breaker. Ideally you will find someone who ticks off all of the boxes, but prioritizing in advance helps sift through the options if there isn’t someone who is 100 percent perfect for the job.

Your California home, in all likelihood, will be in high demand no matter where you are located. People love California and all it represents, from sunny beaches to sweeping mountain ranges. All you have to do is link up with the right person, which is easy when you are working with an organization that ensures applicants are quality, trustworthy people.

Remember that house sitting is a win-win situation when done right — homeowners are able to travel without worry, house sitters get the opportunity to explore a new place while saving money, and any flora and fauna left behind can thrive in capable hands.

Comments 11

  1. We’re a group of 5 French tourists (4 women / 1 man).
    We’ll be in San Francisco between July 13th and July 20th. We’re good with pets and very neat. We’re looking to sit a house near or in the downtown area.
    Please, write me back if you have something for us.

    Au revoir, Nadine.

    1. Post
      Author

      Bonjour Nadine – thank you for writing in. I hope you found some good opportunities and enjoyed your visit to the Bay Area. Realistically, your group of 5 tourists is not the best fit for most housesitting gigs. This is largely because most pets need frequent care throughout the day, and most tourists want to be out and about, enjoying all that San Francisco has to offer!

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Rick – thanks so much for writing in. We are currently recommending all interested house-sitters check the various housesitting sites above. While there aren’t *that* many California opportunities these days, those who have a background and recommendations tend to be in the starting position for the best gigs. If you have additional questions, please do get in touch!

  2. Hi my name is Teresa Henson and I am interested in house sitting. I have years of experience housesitting . References will be provided. I worked as a Respiratory Therapist for many years mostly in Fresno California. I am willing to travel just about anywhere in California to housesit. I have extensive experience with dogs and cats as well.

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Teresa – thank you so much for writing in! Please check back – we will open up registration for house-sitters at some point soon. For now, we recommend reviewing the above sites for various California housesitting opportunities. If you have additional questions, fire away!

  3. Pingback: How to Keep House Sitting Routines (Checklist) | Estate Sitting

  4. My name is Peggy David. I’m interested in possibly housesitting. I don’t see information on pay for services.

    Thank you.

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Peggy – thanks for writing in! Our vetted house-sitters have many years of experiences and universally glowing reviews. If you’re just getting started, I recommend reading through this site and visiting some of the main house-sitting websites as described above. It’s quite rare, we find, to receive payment for house-sitting. Usually its a straight trade. That said, elite housesitters can usually justify a daily rate and certain situations demand it, such as a small farm with many animals. Best of success!

  5. Travelling from Australia to San Diego looking at house sitting for free in exchange of house keeping and pet car. 9 March – 28 May 2020.

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Nora! Thanks for visiting our site. You may want to try one of the main house-sitting sites above to see what opportunities are available to you in San Diego. Hope you find a great home and awesome critters!

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