We asked our experts for an article on House Sitting: A Step By Step Guide. As a growing movement in the travel sector, we wanted to best advice to share with you.
- 1 What is House Sitting?
- 2 What are the Advantages of House Sitting?
- 3 How can you start House Sitting?
- 4 Personal Experiences
What is House Sitting?
After house sitting since 2014 and with over 50 house sits completed we would state that
“House Sitting is the practice whereby a person leaving their house for a period of time entrusts it to one or more ‘house sitters’ who by an agreement are entitled to live or stay there temporarily” The duties of the house sitter are to care for the homeowner’s house, which often includes caring for pets, a garden, and a swimming pool or spa etc. in exchange for free accommodation with full use of utilities, wi-fi and on some occasions a car. We classify this as a win-win situation.
What are the Advantages of House Sitting?
The advantages for the homeowner are:
- House sitters offer security and peace of mind for the homeowner
- Some insurance policies state that homes cannot be left unattended for more than two weeks. If there is an issue and this has occurred the insurance policy can be left null and void
- House sitters care for the home owner’s pets or animals
- House sitters maintain the property to the same standard as when the homeowners departed
The advantages for the house sitter are:
- Free accommodation in exchange for caring for the home and pets
- Free wi-fi and utilities
- Where stated free use of the Home Owner’s car
- Experience in living in that particular country, city or town. The house sitter could use house sitting as a learning experience to enable them to determine whether they would like to relocate to that area or place to stay when their own home is under renovation or as a way to save money to purchase a home of their own
What are the Expectations of the Home Owner?
- That the home is cared for as per their requirements
- That pets are cared for according to their instructions, e.g. feeding, exercising, any medications etc
- That the house sitters efficiently communicate before, during and at the end of the house sit either by email, WhatsApp or other agreed communication channel
- That the house sitters turn up at the required time and leave at the requested time
- That any other requirements are carried out, e.g. mail collection, payment of staff, paying of utilities, maintenance of gardens and swimming pool or spa.
What are the Expectations of the House Sitter?
- That the house is clean and tidy on arrival
- The house sitters have their own bedroom with a clearly defined space to hang their clothes
- Detailed information in regards to the types of pets, the number of pets, feeding, exercising routines, up to date flea and tick medications. That enough pet food has been left to cover the duration of the assignment.
- Strong wi-fi and clear details of the wi-fi package and speed given in the initial communication. House sitters can be digital nomads and require strong wi-fi.
- If a car is supplied, up to date registration and insurance papers provided
- A written agreement between the two parties to be completed before the arrival of the house sitter so that they can determine the responsibilities of the house sitter and emergency contacts etc.
- Clear instructions on the maintenance of the swimming pool or spa with enough chemicals to last the period.
What are the pitfalls of House Sitting?
- Unclear communication in the first instance by either party
- The cancellation of the house sit by either party before the starting date which can cause travel expenses for the house sitter and the homeowner without a house sitter
- House sitters arrive to find a house that is unclean, untidy, pets that are unruly and not trained
- Homeowners return to find the house sitters have not carried out their instructions
How can you start House Sitting?
- House sit for family and friends to gain experience and references
- House sit locally or within your home state before house sitting internationally to gain experience of being in a new location
- Obtain Police Checks
- Put together your best ‘profile’ to showcase your talents, e.g. experience in caring for pets, gardening, swimming pool and spa maintenance etc.
- Review what you can and cannot do – do not apply for an assignment that asks for swimming pool maintenance if you have not had experience or care for reptiles if you are afraid of them
Where to Look For House Sits
There are many Facebook groups available, also look at Expat Facebook Groups for the area that you are considering.
Australian House Sitting Sites:
Global House Sitting Sites
House Sitting Magazine
We recommend that you prepare a list of questions for the homeowner in the initial Skype or telephone call.
- Be clear about what you can and cannot do.
- Prepare a Mutual Agreement, see our example at www.totraveltoo.com/agreement/
- Communication is the key to a successful house sitting assignment.
- There are Home Owners who will ask for payment for utilities or a bond in case of damage. House Sitting is a free service between both parties. We have paid a bond in our early years of house sitting internationally in Mexico, we really wanted this sit but would reconsider paying that now.
Since 2014 we have stayed in properties all over the world:
- Sydney, Australia
- Canoa, Ecuador
- Tepoztlan, San Miguel de Allende, Puerto Vallarta, Zihuatanejo, Ajijic in Mexico
- Boquete, El Rompio, Panama
- Granada, Ometepe Island, Nicaragua
- Bedar, Alfarnate, Spain
- Encausse, France
- Goa, India
- Koh Samui, Thailand
We have met some of the most lovely homeowners who are now close friends, and if we are available, we can do repeat house sits for them.
International House sitting assignments give us the opportunity to ‘live like a local’, enjoying a new country or city or maybe even visiting a place that we have never heard of before e.g. Tepoztlan in Mexico and may never have visited as it is off the tourist track.
We are on the road continually, and sometimes we just need what we call a ‘touch-down’ and some time off from the rigours of travelling. House Sitting gives us the opportunity to do just that; it is also where we can catch up on our travel blog www.totraveltoo.com and gives us a ‘pet fix’.
Of course, there have been some house sitting assignments that have had issues e.g. infestation of fleas, dirty homes etc. We can recommend following your gut instinct here, if something does not feel right, you are probably right. Don’t accept the offer to do the house sit. If you are sitting internationally a Skype call is so important. Whilst on the call ask to view the home, where you will sleep, and the animals that you are caring for.
We have learnt to ask the correct questions about the wi-fi, as it is important for us to have fast and strong wi-fi with no limitations on the usage. On the island of Ometepe in Nicaragua, we had a house sit for 3 weeks on a beautiful location on the lake, within 24 hours of the homeowner leaving we had used up the month’s allocation and had to head to a local café for breakfast to use their Wi-Fi.
I think that this article by our experienced experts House Sitting: A Step By Step Guide is invaluable.
Written by Jane and Duncan from To Travel Too
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