How to be a Great House Sitter
We signed up for Trustedhousesitters before we left on our round the world trip. It was 9 months into our travels before we had our first house sit. It was in Northern Italy for 3 months, and it was fabulous.
We've been house sitting almost exclusively for the last 9 months, and as of this writing we have 3 more house sits booked in England, Israel and Italy, respectively, with one more pending. Cross your fingers.
All of these tips may seem like common sense, but we've heard some horror stories from our hosts - experiences that leave them with a bad taste in their mouths. While not an exhaustive list of how to be a great house sitter, it's a little taste of what we've learned while sitting around the world.
Be a Conscientious Housesitter
This might seem like a no brainer, but really it isn't. You have to remember why you are where you are. You are there to care for a house and very likely a pet. Which means you'll have to turn down some great opportunities to explore because the cat is sick. And that's okay.
Also, if you commit to a project for the owner, you better well do your best to get it done. There are a few instances where we trimmed some hedges and raked some leaves - not because we said we would, but because the house was for sale and we were determined for it to sell by the time the owners came back. :)
Be a Communicative House Sitter
We may tend to be a bit over communicative with the people we house sit for. Obsessive with their pets a bit. They become our pets. We love them like they are our own, because for a while they really are.
What does this mean in practice? It means connecting with the home owner on their media platform of choice and sending frequent updates on the well being of their home and their pets.
We watched a poodle for a friend while they were in Mexico for several weeks. We created a tumblr called 'Postcards From Rocco' that was obnoxiously written from the dog's perspective. What can I say. It was a cold winter in Minnesota, and there wasn't much else to do!
Leave No Trace
Jill and I have differing opinions on this in practice, not in theory. While it isn't always possible to leave your house sit as if you were never there, it is imperative that you try.
Currently we are house sitting for 22 chickens in Brittany France. The only place we found we could do yoga is in the living room, so we moved the cocktail table to another part of the room. There are also a few chairs we repositioned to create additional lounge/reading areas. All of this will be put back before we leave.
We've also made note of any of the food we've consumed that was left by the homeowner. Nobody wants to come home from vacation and find that their house sitters ate them out of house and home.
Act Like You Own It
Actually that's bad advice. Don't act like you own it. People tend to be really hard on their own possessions. What you should do instead is act like it belongs to your dad, and he will be pissed if you bring it back with a scratch on it. There is a lot of trust that goes into letting a near stranger live in their house for a stretch of time. So be gentle.
Fess Up/Be Honest
At our house-sit in Scotland Jill had a spate of breaking things. It started one day with some decorative ceramic geese that were hanging in the bathroom. Then it was a ceramic duck sitting on the windowsill. We messaged the owner and told them we would try our best to repair them or replace them if they weren't satisfied. We had some laughs and I worked wonders with the superglue. All was well.
We've taken the fess up a bit further and have a page dedicated to our travel mishaps. Because as you know, life travels with you.
Put a Bow on Your House Sit
We learned that the end of our house-sit coincided nicely with the homeowners birthday, we got a card and bottle of wine for her. Any small gesture will do. It's a great way to come home, and a great way to finish a housesit.
This is a series of blog posts on house sitting. If you liked this post, check out it's sister post "How to Be a Great House Sitter: Homeowner Edition", or "4 Reasons You Should Consider House Sitting" which takes the perspective of the homeowner, and what they are looking for when choosing a sitter.
If you are looking for a house sitter, you can get a discount at Trustedhousesitters.com. We get free months if you sign up!
Or if you prefer to contact us directly about a house sit, feel free to do so here: