Housesitting Tips for Sitters (based on our experiences)
- While housesitting can be a great way to see other areas of the country/world – housesitting is a job and homeowners expect that you are there for their pets and to care for their home. That doesn’t mean you can’t do some sightseeing, but you need to be able to follow the feeding schedules provided by the homeowner and be a companion for their pets.
- When you are getting started, make sure your profile is complete and gives a clear picture of the experience you bring. Initially the key is to build experience and get positive references. Homeowners look very closely at your past references. You may want to pick a few sits in the area you live just to gain some positive feedback without travel commitments.
- After having one house-sit a couple of years ago where the home was less than ideal (bedroom was in a small basement with virtually no windows – that’s a safety issue in my book), we have gotten far more picky in what we apply for. If photos are not included, ask. But if the homeowners do not provide pictures with their posting, I usually move on figuring if they can’t take the time to upload some photos, then they can find someone else to sit for them.
- Information about what is required relating to the pets is also critical. You need to know what your care commitments will be prior to accepting. If you think you’re going to explore the nearby area but the pets can’t be left alone, then that would not be a good fit. Knowing health issues is a must along with feeding schedules. And make sure the sit is specific about the numbers/types of pets.
- While we would love to find sits during the winter months in warmer climates, by staying north we have far less competition in securing sits. We do make sure that there is a service lined up for clearing driveways, etc. If you’re looking for sits over the summer months, you will find lots in the southern states where homeowners want to head north. Using this opposite season method initially is a great way to build up your references.
- Make sure you find out what day the homeowner wants/needs you to arrive and the same for departure. Some list the day they are leaving in their ad but in reality they want you there ahead of time to get familiar with the home and the pets. If the homeowner did not have a place for us to stay and wanted us to arrive early, this would be the one situation where I would ask the homeowner to pay for the accommodations.
- Make a decision as to whether you will charge for sitting. Charging a fee could potentially reduce your options. We do not charge but based on our experience, we may in the future if there were a large number of animals that required specialized care. Note that some housesitting services have restrictions about getting paid.
- We bypass any ads that are asking for people to cover their absence for an AirBnB, guesthouse, or those that want to charge for utilities. If we are caring for their pets while they are gone, that is enough.
- Most homeowners like seeing pictures of their pets and regular updates. And some even like daily updates – they may not ask for it but they appreciate it when you do. Ask the owner before they leave how often they want updates.
- We use the site portals to exchange information with owners rather than our personal email accounts – that way we all have a documented record of prior conversations.
- Some owners will request a Skype or Zoom interview or a phone interview. Use this time to ask any questions that you have about the sit. I would recommend not making a commitment to the homeowner during these live conversations. Then you can weigh the pros/cons of a particular sit without the pressure of the homeowner being on the line with you. We have also gone to homeowners homes prior to the sit (and before a commitment) if it has been convenient to do so.
We are always available for questions. If you want further information about housesitting you can add a comment or send an email to [email protected].