HOUSE SITTER TIPS OF THE TRADE
It probably goes without saying, but to be a successful house sitter you need to go with the flow and be open to possibilities. Here are our house sitter tips of the trade about being flexible.
Commit to living without some of your creature comforts. Things will not be the same as they were at home.
Roll with the punches. New adventures and opportunities to see and learn about another part of the world are always at your fingertips. Being rigid and stubborn in a ‘Well this isn’t the way it is at home’ type of thinking will only lead to disappointment.
If you have plenty of time and an unlimited budget, whenever possible, have an open agenda about destinations. You may find yourself in a place you knew nothing about which turns out to be one of your favourite spots on the planet!
Attempt to stay for at least a month in any one place. It’s essential to fully experience life in that part of the world.
Be open to whatever living situation shows up. It’s only for a while and that’s why you’re doing this, right?
If you don’t like something about where you’re staying, do what you can to change it! If you find a place untidy or not up to your standards of cleanliness, fix it! This is your home for the next few weeks, so make it comfortable for you.
If you can’t live without a specific kitchen gadget, buy one. Leave it behind or give it away. Change around anything that’s not working for you until the homeowners return. Make it work for you. Note: it helps to take photos before you rearrange the furniture. After a few weeks, you will have forgotten.
Communicate regularly with homeowners. Just a weekly update to share some basic news is fine. Some home owners really appreciate this while others consider it unnecessary. It’s wise to err on the side of too much rather than too little. People especially like to hear about how their pets are faring in their absence.
For clarity and comfort, try to meet with homeowners before their departure. If not, be really specific about receiving detailed notes.
Insist that they leave the contact names and numbers of their vet and the go to person for emergency repairs or car problems.
Find out where they keep their spare keys and fire extinguisher, and where the water and gas shut offs are located.
Request Wi-Fi login name and password (more on this later).
Request notes about household appliances (especially if there are any quirks), and names of favorite restaurants and places to visit.
Discuss the need for a house sitting contract. All the house sitting websites provide samples. A contract between homeowners and house sitters provides protection and clarity about costs and expectations for both parties.
Even if you plan to meet the homeowners before the house sit begins, connect with them via Skype prior to the start of the house sit. It’s a great way to get to know each other and to discuss pet care routines, Wi-Fi information and final details of any contract you have decided to create.
Discuss who will pay for what. Generally the shorter the house sit, the less likely it is that homeowners will require you to pay for basic utilities such as water and heat.
Ask for what you want. Remember, you want a good reference to come from every house sit, and clear, honest communication is key.
If you use their car, be sure they have adequate (third party) insurance or purchase some for yourself. Peace of mind is more important now than ever, especially if you’re driving on the other side of the road.
If you want to invite a friend to stay, be sure to clear this with the homeowners before the house sit begins. They will likely be more than happy to have someone join you while housesitting and understand that you will be happier. This translates to an all-around better experience for you and ultimately, for them.
If you plan to spend a night away from the home, ask if this is acceptable beforehand. Offering a plan of action is more likely to calm their concerns if pet care is required.
Be completely open and transparent with your homeowners. Secrecy, lies, or cover-ups do nothing for your own comfort or for any respectful relationship between you and your homeowners. If you make a mistake or something goes wrong, admit it, be open and up front. They’re not likely to cancel their plans and come home to deal with an issue. They expect you to deal with it. Asking for guidance is appropriate (after you’ve contacted the emergency contacts they provided). Use your discretion.
Sometimes things come up in your life too. If you need to cancel an arranged house sit, CONTACT HOMEOWNERS IMMEDIATELY. Remember, they are counting on you to show up and to care for their pets so they can fly away on vacation worry-free. They need time to make alternate arrangements. Be considerate of their needs too.
Be sure to ask homeowners to connect you with their friends. For maintenance concerns and for social reasons, this is essential.
Accept offers to go out with locals. Put yourself out there. Find out what’s going on in your area. Immersing yourself into a new environment is pivotal to your enjoyment.
Get to know the neighbours. They are your safety net and are usually keen to offer their help and ply you with all kinds of tips about places to visit.
Get involved in community events. Be in the place you’ve chosen to call home. Solitude certainly has its place, but not 24/7.
Hanging out with locals and friends of the homeowners is a highlight of house sitting. This means talking less about yourself. Listen to others’ stories. Find out what they love about where they live and a little about their life stories.
Check out local deals and read the literature about a city or country before you arrive.
Be respectful of others’ hospitality. If people invite you to their home or ask you to join them at an event, be sure to reciprocate or find an alternate way to express your gratitude. Be good company.
Leave a thank you note. It is a privilege to live in someone else’s home for free.
If homeowners left things for you, be sure to do the same for them. Leave coupons for gas, or special time-limited offers at stores and restaurants.
When your homeowners return, they will likely be exhausted and travel weary. Make them a dinner on their first night home or leave some freshly baked goodies.
Leave the fridge freshly stocked with basic foods and drinks.
Leave flowers on the counter and sort the mail.
Leave the house cleaner than when you first arrived.
Offer to pick up and drop off your homeowners at the airport.
FINAL HOUSE SITTER TIPS OF THE TRADE
Figure out what comforts you while you’re away from home and prepare yourself adequately.
Being away from the familiarity of home can be unsettling. Prolonged solitude can also lead to feelings of loneliness. Be prepared.Then again, be sure to enjoy the times of solitude. It may be one time in your life that solitude is gifted to you in a way you’ve never experienced before.
Take advantage of not being ‘at home’ with all the busy-ness of property maintenance and social expectations.
Dates for house sits often don’t synchronise perfectly, so you need to make other plans while you’re between jobs. Consider all the people who might want to see you and vice versa.
Breaks between house sitting jobs provide wonderful opportunities to travel.
House sit for free. Some house sitters do charge for their services, especially if there are many animal and/or household responsibilities.
If you are house sitting and travelling simultaneously, book one way flights.