We’ve been house sitting for a few years now. I wouldn’t say we are experts, but we have a pretty deep experience caring for other people’s pets in a variety of countries around the world. As I type this, we are on our 13th house sit and have two more scheduled for the rest of the year – One in the UK and one in South Africa.
We have always sat for free, and often consider ourselves to be the beneficiaries in any exchange between the homeowners and us. In exchange for feeding and loving a pet (easy if you like animals!) we often get to dive deep into different cultures and locations we wouldn’t normally visit. Not to mention the use of a car and a library card, which for full time travelers is a tremendous gift!
But we recently were asked how much we charge for a house sit and we were taken aback. While we know there are tons of people who house sit for money, it never really occurred to us. We’ve used Trusted House Sitters as our main source of getting sits around the world, and they pretty much encourage free sitting.
So I took to a popular house sitting Facebook group to crowd source my question, and here is a summary of the responses. Not surprisingly people were all over the board. The question I asked was:
Should You Charge For House Sitting?
It’s hard to charge people for something they can get for free. Trusted House Sitters dominates the house sitting market so there is an abundance of people (like us) who will sit for free.
You get what you pay for. In other words, free things aren’t always the best. Example: sexually transmitted diseases are free, but do you want one? No. Some folks responded that they have higher quality house sits when they charge because the homeowners understand that they are professional and not looking for a “free vacation”.
Don’t be greedy. Some said that you are already getting paid through accommodation you would otherwise have to pay for along with a car and utilities. I’m on the fence here. While there are benefits to house sitting, we certainly aren’t getting paid. Being paid means there is an exchange of money for a service. In the case of free house sitting, the exchange is a bed and maybe car for keeping a pet out of a kennel and your house from being broken into.
It’s easier to charge when you stay local. I saw this one come up a few times. Those professional sitters who get paid tend to stay in one city or country and develop their business through word of mouth. Since they have an apartment of their own, they feel justified in charging for their house sitting services.
It depends on the type of sit. Many companies give you a pay boost when you work overseas in dangerous places. Now we haven’t sat in any dangerous places (well, aside from Jerusalem) but we did take care of 22 chickens in Brittany. That was a lot more work than say, a cat in Taipei. So the type of work you are doing could dictate whether you ask for a daily rate. Farm work seems to fit quite easily into this model.
I would rather pay a house sitter than board my pets. Kennels are notoriously expensive and probably not so great for your pet. Small cages and over crowding in unclean environments, and aggressive dogs are but a few down sides to a kennel. Forget it if you are a cat owner – cats like their own space. Not to mention the fact that at the end of the day, your house is still empty and easy prey for any criminal element savvy enough to notice your absence.
So, will you charge for house sitting?
It seems that there is no one size fits all answer. And that’s the way it should be I suppose. Not everybody is comfortable charging for their house sitting skills as they think they get enough out of the deal. If you have work that brings in other income, it’s easy to walk away from getting paid as a house sitter.
Going forward I think we are going to evaluate our house sits on a case by case basis. If it’s a farm with tons of labor involved, we will likely ask for a daily rate. If we are sitting for a cat or two and there is very little work, we aren’t very likely to ask for a daily rate.
What about you? Are you a house sitter? If so, do you charge?