Is housesitting right for you?

On the surface, housesitting seems like a simple enough concept. You take care of someone’s house for them while they are away. However, even if you enter in to this with the best intentions, it is important to consider some key aspects to decide whether or not housesitting is for you. If you are a homeowner thinking about hiring a housesitter, read on to the end of the article where we look at a few key factors for you to evaluate whether you’re comfortable with having a housesitter in your house while you are away.

Housesitters 

1. Experience with Animals
Most housesits involve caring for animals, and although some are chickens, sheep or goats in a rural location, most of the time you are caring for a family’s household pets. This means that the animals are members of the family. You will need to have experience at least with dogs and cats. If you accept a housesit with animals, you are agreeing to shower the pets with lots of love! There are some instances where older pets are ill or require getting daily doses of medicine. This is difficult because they require excellent care, and yet not that many possible housesitters will have that type of experience. This means that you have got to be sure whether you are willing and able to deal with this more delicate situation.

Housesitting might not be right for you if you don’t have experience with animals or are neutral toward pets.

cat sitting in germany2. Time constraints
The more flexible you are with your time, the better your chances of securing housesits. If you are open to flying abroad to care for a house in another country, that helps tremendously. If you only have a few weeks or months to travel each year and strictly set vacation times, it will be that much harder to find a housesit that fits in exactly with your needs. Having said that, we actually managed to find a perfect housesit in Tuscany over Easter for exactly the date and the amount of time we wanted to be in Italy, so it is possible – just difficult.

Housesitting might not be right for you if you have limited holiday time or want to cover a lot of ground in a small amount of time.

3. Self-sufficiency
By their very nature, housesits require you to be fairly self-sufficient. How many of your friends or family members live in the city center, right downtown in a city? Most housesits are located in local neighborhoods, away from the typical tourist locations. This is one of the things we love most about housesitting, but it means being willing to deal with public transportation (or paying a rental car), or if you are in a remote or rural location being comfortable fending for yourself.

Housesitting might not be right for you if you get lonely easily or have a tendency to rely on the help of others for basic needs.

4. Experience caring for homes
If you have previously owned a home yourself, you are at a great advantage when applying for a housesit. This is one reason why many homeowners opt for retired couples with homeowner experience themselves. If you have never owned a home, it can be tough to get experience dealing with the ups and downs of a home. The more housesits you do, the more experience you have, however, and in the end you may have a broader knowledge based than other housesitters who only know the one home they lived in. We have cared for city condos and beach houses entirely off the grid using solar power, houses in the Bavarian alps heated with wood burning stoves, and homes in the arid desert climate of Arizona with scorpions, tarantulas and other ‘fun’ challenges.

Housesitting might not be right for you if you have no experience with caring for homes. If you want to gain experience, offer first to housesit for friends and family, learn the basics this way with people in your inner circle, and then you will be prepared to housesit for strangers who are possibly location in an entirely different country.

5. Adapting to a routine
Caring for someone else’s house means adapting to someone else’s routine. This is especially true if there are pets involved, as you are most likely there with the main purpose of keeping the pets healthy and happy. One of our housesits took place in a very hot climate and the dog had to be walked at 6am or it was already too hot during the walk. Likewise, the afternoon walk had to fit in to that window when it was still light enough outside to play catch but just before sunset for minimum heat – this meant we were up at 5:30am and had to be available from 6:45-7:30pm for her as well. Everyday. Part of being a housesitter is being willing to eat your words and preferences and keep certain things up and running the way it does when they are not away.

dog sitting in arizonaHousesitting might not be right for you if you have trouble adapting to new routines or have a problem with ‘authority’ or following directions of others.

Housesitting might be absolutely perfect for you if you would describe yourself as curious, flexible, willing to get your hands dirty, an animal lover, enjoy living as a local and most importantly consider being welcomed into someone’s home as a privilege.

Homeowners

1. Issues with privacy
While there are plenty of ways to ensure that you can maintain your privacy, having a housesitter means they will be in your house, using your dishes, looking at pictures on the wall. They will get to know your pets, your neighbors, maybe even a few of your friends. Homeowners who are comfortable with housesitting are happy to introduce housesitters to those friends and neighbors, and welcome the relationship with the housesitter.

Housesitting might not be right for you if the thought of someone in your house while you are not there bothers you, if you think you will check-in too often or you have the instinct to want to hide way more things than are practical to still welcome a housesitter.

2. Work on the house
As we always, housesitting is a win-win situation, where the homeowner has someone in the house caring for pets and all the small issues that inevitably arise, while housesitters get free accommodation in exchange for those services. Housesitters should not be expected to do any building or major repairs on the house in exchange for accommodation. Along the same lines, maintenance and minor work in the house, especially for longer-term housesits, is fine, but if you are looking for someone to put in a garden, build a second floor or other major work, you are not looking for a housesitter. Consider looking into finding a live-in caretaker, who would be paid for those services along with staying on the property.

Housesitting might not be right for you if you are looking for someone to do major work on the house.

3. Payment
Understandably, if you are going to be away for months at a time, you might want someone to pick up the tab for rent while you are gone. If that is the case, however, then using housesitting websites and looking for a housesitter is not going to work for you. Especially for long-term housesits, housesitters often chip in to pay utilities or internet cost but do not pay rent in exchange for staying in the house. Housesitters are essentially doing you a favor by caring for your pets, your house, taking calls, giving you messages and keeping you informed on the daily goings on at the house. If you want someone to rent the house instead (and deal with clearing your belongings out and making the house/apartment fully available to a renter) it would make much more sense to advertise your property in rental listings in your town.

Housesitting might not be right for you if you expect to have rent paid in exchange for accommodation.

Homeowners who really enjoy housesitting understand the benefits of having someone in the house to keep things up and running while they are gone. 

If you think housesitting is for you, you might want to check out our housesitting directory, comparing all major housesitting websites.

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5 thoughts on “Is housesitting right for you?

  1. Bessie

    Such great tips – you two definitely know what you’re talking about!!! I love the idea of housesitting but I’ve never tried super hard to do it or made enough attempts to do it. I’ll definitely be coming to you when I’m really ready though!

    Reply
  2. Brianna

    Hi Dani & Jess, …. they say ‘when the student is ready the teacher will appear’ …. well, i’m the student (of house sitting) and now just when i need help the most, you my teachers have appeared. 🙂
    I won’t be ready to house sit for a bit longer so i’m researching and getting my ducks in a row while i’m waiting.
    My primary concern at this point is my beloved, aged, female, maltese dog. It would kill me to have to give her up (we’ve been inseparable for 9 years so far) and then go take care of other ppl’s dogs after having to give her up so i can house sit. Do any of the house sitting gigs allow us to bring a pet? She’s well behaved and doesn’t shed (maltese have to go to the groomers several times a year due to their not shedding).

    Reply
    1. Dani

      Hi Brianna, thanks a lot for your comment! It is a bit more tricky to find a housesit when you have your own pet, but it’s not impossible. There are some housesits that don’t involve any pets at all – I am sure your doggy is welcome in these assignments, but if there are pets involved, owners tend to be a bit more careful. They don’t want to risk any trouble or incidents with their own pets, so most of them would probably go for a housesitter without pets if they have several applicants. There’s no harm in trying though, I’d recommend signing up with one of the cheaper housesitting websites (Mindmyhouse for example, at $20 per year) and apply for some gigs on the site that seem suitable. The more flexible you are with your dates and the location, the more likely you’re to get a housesit. Please keep me updated on how it goes! Good luck 🙂

      Reply

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