House Sitting in Portugal – How to Live in Portugal For Free

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Originally published in Sep 2016 & last updated on October 27, 2023
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House sitting entails caring for someone’s residence while they’re away, offering you a chance to stay without paying rent. Typically, as a house sitter, your main duty is to care for the homeowner’s pets. However, each assignment is unique, and sometimes the mere presence of someone in the home is enough to deter potential intruders. Assignments can range from a brief weekend to an extended year-long stay.

In Portugal, the majority of house sitting opportunities are listed by expats rather than local Portuguese. Consequently, most of these opportunities are located in the Algarve, a favourite among the expat community, although you will spot some in places like Lisbon and other locations. Rural settings tend to have more house sitting offers than urban areas, though there are always exceptions.

Once a secret among travellers, house sitting has rapidly grown in popularity. The plus side is that there are now more house sitting opportunities to choose from. The downside is that there’s also a lot more competition for every house sit. And with Portugal being such a popular destination to visit, you can expect to be up against lots of other house sitters when you apply for any gigs here.

Finding House Sitting Opportunities in Portugal

Most house sitting opportunities (both in Portugal and worldwide) can be found on the following house sitting sites.

Trusted Housesitters

TrustedHousesitters is a globally recognized platform that connects homeowners with reliable individuals or couples willing to house sit in exchange for free accommodation. Launched in 2010, the platform has grown exponentially, serving members in over 130 countries. Homeowners benefit from the peace of mind knowing their homes and pets are cared for during their absence, while sitters get the opportunity to experience life in different parts of the world without the cost of accommodation. The platform emphasizes trust and community, with comprehensive profiles, reviews, and verification processes in place to ensure both parties have a positive and secure experience. Over the years, TrustedHousesitters has facilitated countless mutually beneficial arrangements, making travel more accessible for many and providing homeowners with an alternative to traditional pet boarding or home security solutions.

Starting at $129 per year, it’s not the cheapest house sitting website, but that’s the price you pay for joining the largest house sitting community. If you’re serious about house sitting, the extra investment could be worthwhile in the long run.


Housecarers is one of the pioneers in the online house sitting community, having established its presence since the early 2000s. The platform serves as a bridge, connecting homeowners who need someone to look after their property and possibly pets, with individuals seeking accommodation opportunities in different parts of the world.

Housecarers emphasizes security and trustworthiness, offering features like detailed profiles, references, and a feedback system to help both homeowners and sitters make informed decisions. The platform caters to a global audience, providing diverse house sitting opportunities, from urban apartments to countryside homes.

For those looking to travel or simply experience a new locale without the hefty accommodation costs, Housecarers offers a viable solution. And at $50 per year, it’s much cheaper than Trusted Housesitters. However, it is a case of getting what you pay for as Trusted Housesitters tends to have more house sitting opportunities.


Nomador is a vibrant community platform that connects homeowners with trustworthy house sitters from around the world. Founded on the principles of mutual trust and respect, Nomador aims to foster cultural exchanges and provide affordable travel opportunities for its members.

One of the unique features of Nomador is its “Stopovers” option, which allows members to offer or find short-term stays, fostering connections even if there’s no house sitting involved. This feature is particularly beneficial for travelers seeking a short break or wanting to meet locals during their journey.

The platform emphasises community-building, encouraging members to build their profiles, gather reviews, and engage in discussions. With membership prices starting at €79 per year, it’s priced somewhere between Housecarers and Trusted Housesitters.

Mind My House

MindMyHouse is a global house sitting platform that connects homeowners with potential house sitters, offering a solution for those seeking someone to look after their home and pets during their absence.

Launched in 2005, the platform has grown steadily, establishing itself as a reliable and user-friendly service in the house sitting community. With a minimalistic design and straightforward navigation, MindMyHouse makes it easy for users to create detailed profiles, list their requirements, and search for suitable matches.

One of the standout features of MindMyHouse is its affordability, with a low annual fee of just $29 for sitters, while homeowners can list their properties for free. This cost-effective approach has made it a favourite among many seeking house sitting opportunities without breaking the bank. The platform also offers resources and guides to ensure both homeowners and sitters have a smooth and positive experience.

House Sit Match

House Sit Match is a digital platform designed to bring together homeowners and house sitters, facilitating matches based on mutual needs and preferences. Founded by Lamia Walker, the platform emphasizes security, trust, and community, aiming to ensure that both homeowners and sitters have a seamless and positive experience.

One of the distinguishing features of House Sit Match is its commitment to vetting. All members undergo a series of checks, adding an extra layer of confidence for those entrusting their homes and pets to strangers.

The platform is user-friendly, allowing members to easily set up profiles, detail their requirements, and search for suitable matches. House Sit Match also offers different membership tiers, catering to varying needs and budgets. The platform’s blog and resources section provide valuable insights and tips on house sitting, travel, and pet care, further supporting its community.

Other Options

While dedicated house sitting platforms like TrustedHousesitters and House Sit Match have gained popularity, there are several alternative avenues for those seeking temporary accommodation or someone to look after their home:

  1. Facebook Groups: Numerous Facebook groups have emerged as platforms where homeowners and potential sitters can connect directly. These groups often operate on a regional basis, catering to specific areas or countries. The advantage is that they’re free to use, and members can post their requirements or availability, facilitating direct communication between parties. Example groups include Housesitting Portugal, House & Pet Sitting Spain & Portugal, and Housesitting Algarve.
  2. Wwoofing, Workaway, and Helpx: These platforms operate on the principle of work exchange for accommodation. Typically, hosts offer room and board in exchange for a few hours of work per day. The work can range from farming and gardening to teaching and household chores. While not strictly house sitting, these platforms can offer a deeper cultural immersion and a chance to learn new skills.
  3. Couchsurfing and Similar Hospitality Sites: Couchsurfing is a platform where hosts offer a free place to stay, usually a spare room or couch, to travelers. It’s built on the idea of cultural exchange and building global connections. While it’s not house sitting in the traditional sense, it offers a way to find free accommodation and meet locals. There are other similar platforms, each with its own community and ethos.
  4. House Swapping: House swapping or home exchange is a mutual agreement where two parties swap homes for a specified period. It’s an ideal solution for those who want to travel but also want their home occupied while they’re away. Websites like HomeExchange facilitate these exchanges, ensuring both parties have a comfortable and trustworthy experience.

How to create a great house sitting profile

Consider your house sitter profile as your professional introduction. It serves as a concise snapshot of who you are, your relevant experiences, and outlines why homeowners should entrust their property to you.

When crafting your profile, adopt the perspective of the homeowner. Ask yourself: Why would they choose me? Reflect on the unique attributes and experiences you bring to the table. For instance:

  • Do you have a history of caring for pets?
  • Have you previously cared for pets of friends or family?


The adage goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” and this holds true for house sitter profiles. Most platforms permit the addition of multiple photos, so maximize this feature by including diverse images of yourself.

Pro Tip: include at least one photo showcasing you with a pet.


Trust is the cornerstone of house sitting. Furnishing references can bridge the trust gap, assuring homeowners of your credibility. If you’re a novice in house sitting, you might lack these references. A common workaround is to house sit for acquaintances and then request them for a testimonial.

Another strategy is to undertake local house sits, either within your city or a short distance away. Homeowners are often more inclined to hire someone they’ve met in person, and this can pave the way for your inaugural reference. While the initial motive might be to secure a reference, many find local house sitting as fulfilling as international assignments.

Several platforms also accommodate diverse reference types, be it character endorsements, professional references, or past landlord testimonials. Essentially, any documentation that underscores your reliability and trustworthiness is beneficial.

Police Checks

A majority of elite house sitters possess a police clearance certificate. This straightforward check confirms the absence of any criminal records and can typically be obtained from your local police station. Some jurisdictions even offer online applications for this verification.

Given its potential to enhance your trustworthiness (and considering the pivotal role of trust in house sitting), it’s advisable to have this certificate. However, its absence shouldn’t deter you from pursuing house sitting opportunities initially.

Note: Not all countries provide a straightforward mechanism for obtaining a criminal background check, so it’s essential to research local procedures.

Applying for House Sits

So, you’ve registered on a house sitting platform, crafted a compelling profile, and stumbled upon a house sit that piques your interest. What’s the next step?

Tip 1: Personalize Your Approach

While it might seem efficient to send a generic email to every homeowner, personalizing your message can set you apart. You might have a standard introduction about yourself, but ensure the opening lines are tailored to the specific house sit you’re eyeing.

Tip 2: Highlight Your Suitability

Given the influx of applications homeowners might receive, it’s crucial to immediately address their specific needs. If they desire someone adept at pool maintenance and you fit the bill, highlight that early on. Similarly, if they have pets or specific legal requirements for their location, emphasize your relevant experience or credentials.

Note: Avoid committing to tasks you’re not skilled in, like specialized pool maintenance or intricate DIY tasks.

Tip 3: Brevity is Key

Striking a balance between being informative and concise can be tricky, but with practice, you’ll master the art of crafting succinct yet impactful emails.

Tip 4: Be Prompt in Applying

Many homeowners finalize their choice or at least narrow down their options within a day of posting the house sit. Given the overwhelming number of suitable candidates, some might limit their considerations to the initial batch of applications. To enhance your chances, ensure you apply swiftly.

Tip 5: Respond Timely

While most applicants are keen and check their emails frequently, if you’re not one of them, make an exception during your house sit application phase. Prompt responses not only convey your enthusiasm but also your professionalism.

Tip 6: Propose a Face-to-Face Meeting

Trust is the bedrock of house sitting agreements. Homeowners naturally feel more at ease with individuals they’ve met personally. If the house sit is local, suggest a preliminary meet-up in your initial email – this can significantly boost your chances.

For international house sits, while meeting in person might be logistically challenging, if the location is reasonably accessible, consider making the trip. This extra effort can distinguish you from the myriad of other applicants.

Things to Consider

So you’ve been offered the house sit (or it looks like you might get it), now what? Well there’s a couple of things you should consider.

Draw Up A House Sitting Agreement

Agreements and contracts may sound like dirty words but they ensure both homeowners and house sitters think about everything and get it down on paper.

Some things that could be included in the agreement…


How many hours a day are you supposed to be in the house? How many days before should you arrive for a handover?

In case of Plan B

Not everything in life goes according to plan. Suppose you’re house sitting and suddenly find out you have to return home for an emergency (for example a death in the family), what then? Although these things are unlikely to happen, it’s good to talk about this beforehand just in case.


Are you allowed visitors during the house sit? For most short term house sit you probably wouldn’t even consider having visitors, but if you’re house sitting long term, especially over Christmas, this may be something that you’re thinking about. Most homeowners are happy to oblige to any reasonable requests so don’t be afraid to ask.

Emergency Floats & Reimbusement

What happens if you need to take a pet to the vet? It’s a good idea to agree on an emergency float for such situations and to have a point in the agreement that the sitter will be reimbursed for any house sitting related costs they occur (assuming those costs have been agreed with the homeowner).

Local Point Of Contact

It can be useful to have a local point of contact for emergencies, particularly if you’re house sitting in a country that speaks another language (and you don’t). Usually this will be the homeowner’s friend or neighbour.

Written by

James Cave is the founder of Portugalist and the author of the bestselling book, Moving to Portugal Made Simple. He has visited just about every part of Portugal, including Madeira and all nine islands of the Azores, and lived in several parts of Portugal including Lisbon, the Algarve, and Northern Portugal.

You can contact James by emailing or via the site's contact form.

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There are 15 comments on this article. Join the conversation and add your own thoughts, reviews, and stories of life in Portugal. However, please remember to be civil.


  1. Olá Bom Dia.
    I am applying for a D7 Visa to move to Portugal long term. I am a healthy, agile, senior woman, who has no health issues and takes no medications. My work background was in Real Estate and Property Management. I always take excellent care of where ever I am and leave it in better condition that when I arrived.
    For years, I have house sat and taken care of pets. Pets love me because I am kind and caring for them. Taking care of plants and gardens are a delight for me.
    Please contact me for any long term opportunities.
    Currently I am in Mexico City (my permanent home is Washington State, USA).

    I have began the process of Immigration and need to find a long term house sit.

  2. Hi,
    Great site and info James.
    I googled “ house sitting in The Algarve” and soon found your site which in one place gives me all the info I required.

    I’m keen to investigate how we can split our lives between our home ( and new self employed business ) in Scotland and somewhere in Portugal during the UK winter months. Say 2-3 months in a Villa close to places where we can keep fit and enjoy getting back into golf for example.

    Even to the point of researching how much it costs to transport our pet , a White West Highland Terrier. Or I’ve thought about driving down so we can take our dog with us and have our own transport while we live there.

    My wife and I are in our mid-50’s and semi retired , semi meaning we have invested in and built up a small holiday let / serviced accommodation portfolio while we were expats abroad. It’s going well so we decided to give up our 17 years of expat life in Dubai and our jobs , come back to focus 100% on building the portfolio a little bigger and use that income as our retirement funds ( along with using my corporate pensions to buy more property using the SSAS pension model) We outsource the day to day management of our SA property , so we can actually travel and live where ever we like and house sitting looks like a good solution.

    Due to the nature of our business , with property conversions and renovations and the ongoing maintenance I’m a very handy DIY guy and my wife is also very good at the interiors. We have always had pets , cats and dogs through our 30 years of married life. We were expats for 17 years so we also know what it’s like leaving your home for 5-6 weeks every summer (due to the heat ! ) and other times like Easter and Christmas.

    We can financially support ourselves so any house sitting is purely to find a base , and if we can help an expat who needs pets
    and a home looking after then It’s a win-win.

    Just posting this to get some feedback and maybe someone out there would like to contact myself to discuss further.

    • Hi Mark,

      Good to meet you, and hopefully someone else looking for a pet sitter will see this and get in touch with you. Otherwise, Trusted Housesitters is normally the best house sitting website to start with.

      It’s worth mentioning also that winter rentals in the Algarve are reasonably easy to come by – either through Airbnb (often with a bit of haggling if its for more than a month) or contacting estate agents. There are a lot of empty apartments here in the winter, so people are often happy to have someone in it for 500 Euros a month or so.

  3. I am a Portuguese Gentleman, reliable and responsable retired non smocker-drinker (small pension) healthy and fit sportif physical.Multilingual, Maitre dHotel,Butler & House Manager (hands on Driver-General House keeping, Maintenance-Garden-Pool,nature and animal lover). Iam looking for a suitable position-help-sitter, preference in Portugal-Algarve-Alentejo.I live in Tavira for shor ou medium periods of time.

  4. I’m wanting to get to know Portugal for possible future emigration (from South Africa). As a start, I will be holiday in on the Algarve mid to end September 2019, as I have never visited Portugal.

    • Hi Ernest,

      Definitely a good idea to visit and see if Portugal is right for you. There are quite a lot of South Africans moving to Portugal at the moment, and you may even bump into a few in the Algarve who will be able to give you specific advice on moving from South Africa to here.

  5. Looking for a house sit
    We’re a retired couple in our sixties looking to experience the real Portugal. We live in Australia on five acres with experience with looking after dogs, cats, chickens ,ducks, vegetable garden and fruit trees.
    I’m fit and strong and love animals and gardens.
    We’d love to find a place to stay in the country or city during our stay in late August to mid September.

    • Hi Diana,

      Check out the sites mentioned above. Trusted Housesitters is probably the biggest, but it’s always worth looking at all of the others (Nomador, Mind My House, etc as well).

  6. I am interested in a long term house-sit somewhere rural towards the end of this year…You could set up your own directory…

  7. I am an 82 year old Gent, and am spending a week in Seville, at the end of this month with the thought of becoming a House Sitter, with possibly one Cat and maybe looking after a small garden, so seeing you are an 80 year young lady, I am now seriously thinking this is a good way to find somewhere to live in Portugal, or any where in southern Europe.

    • We are looking for a home sitter, time scales to discuss – we have a caravan, electric and water offered – we are a bit remote so you will need some kind of transport nearest town 15 min drive – buses are available – taxi about 10 -12 euro .
      Central Portugal

      • Hi, I’ll be in Portugal from mid October 2019 til May 2020, and can house-sit for you for any or all of that time. If you’d like an honest and trustworthy, retired young male health professional, good with people and animals, message me +447415189898.
        Ken Mahoney

        • Hi there,

          just seeing this article…any chance anyone knows a sit for 2021/2022 winter/christmas (house, animals…) in Lisbon for someone, who might want to visit family/friends abroad or owns property in the city, but wants to be gone for that time period (or beyond) – or a *private* site, say on facebook or somewhere, where people search someone ((slightly) paid preferred).
          I`d be interested…but guess it`s lastminute and just wondered…

          In case anyone bumps into this and feels it`s for them and wants to forward something for me or get in touch (I guess the reply button will send an email to the email I left, so I can get in touch) > I`d love that!
          Thanks – and a good winter time to all of you!

  8. I am a young 80 year old who wants to explore living for awhile in Portugal…. I do know, 2nd hand, a couple who now live there – Professors. So I am not totally without some sources – I’d rather, I think, try AirBnBs initially, and then perhaps a longer house sitting situation. Is this a reasonable quest?


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