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What is House-sitting and What do House-sitters Do?
Whether you’re a traveller or not, house-sitting is a service that provides a wide range of benefits for the greater good, for all that are involved. So, what is house-sitting and what does a house-sitter do? In a nutshell a house-sitter takes care of someone’s home whilst they are away in return for the benefit of living there for free. More often than not the house-sit coincides with pet-sitting the homeowners furry/feathered/scaly and/or shelled family members.
Scattered throughout this post are photos of all the furry wee cuties we have had the pleasure and privilege of minding thus far. Sorry Rulon (tortoise), Albuquerque, New Mexico and Mr. Goldfish, Alpine, Utah – we never did snap your photos!
House-sitting may involve other light duties too, which are listed in the house-sit’s requirements, but more about that later.
A Word of Thanks!
We just want to say a massive “Thank You” to all of the amazing homeowners we have met through house-sitting. Thank you all for your kindness and for welcoming us into your homes. We have loved every second of taking care of your fur babies, each and every one of them holds a very special place in our hearts. We’d love to do an individual shout out to each and every homeowner but this post would end up being a behemoth. All we can simply say is “Thank You”.
There are many online companies to choose from who act as brokers between would be house-sitters and home-owners. Each company charges a sign-up fee and in return you have on-line access to house-sits throughout the world. As a home-owner you get to list your home and all of it’s associated responsibilities that require tending. Do your homework and research each company thoroughly before signing up. Choose what works best for you.
Admittedly, we did not compare house-sitting companies and we signed up with the one whose name repeatedly kept cropping up on the travel blogs we follow. Even though we did not shop around we have no regrets about our choice to become home and pet sitters, and only hope things would have turned out as well as they have if we had chosen a different company. Therefore for the purpose of this post I will be referring solely to TrustedHousesitters.
The Cost of Signing Up
You can sign up as a potential house-sitter or as a home-owner seeking a pet-sitter. In fact you can even sign up as both, you can be a home-owner and you can house-sit when you travel. The annual sign up fee for TrustedHousesitters is $119 per service you sign up for. Keep in mind if you want to sign up for a combined membership, i.e. signing up as a home-owner and as a house-sitter the fee is $148. This is broken down as $119 for one type of membership and $29 to upgrade to both. Think of how much you are saving on accommodation as a house-sitter and think of how much you are saving on kennel fees as a home-owner. This annual fee pays for itself.
Where Can You House-sit?
You can potentially house-sit anywhere in the world providing there is one available. Naturally it goes without saying you have to be selected for said house-sit. The more desirable the location the tougher the competition.
In order to view the thousands of house-sits world-wide in detail you must first create an account with TrustedHousesitters. Get comfy, grab a cuppa and peruse the thousands of global house-sits. Supplement your travels by house-sitting and afford yourself the opportunity to explore places you have always dreamt of seeing. For example, there are hundreds of house-sitting jobs in Europe to choose from.
The Process of Signing Up as a House-sitter
For the purpose of the post I will explain how to sign up as a house-sitter, as this has been the role we have implemented in our travels.
- Create an account with TrustedHousesitters.
- Have potential referees lined up to provide character references for you. If you have ever house or pet-sat before for a neighbour, colleague etc… ask if they can vouch for you. The referee simply writes up a reference for you on an electronic form provided by TrustedHousesitters and they submit it directly to TrustedHousesitters. They do not provide any pertinent information.
- You agree to abide by the house-sitting guidelines in their “Code of Conduct”. Click here to find out more.
If you are travelling as a couple or a family, only one person needs to sign up. One membership will cover you as a family or as a couple.
You must be 21 or older to sign up.
Remember, even though you are signing up for house-sitting, probably 99% of the listings are for house/pet–sitters. It is rare to find strictly a house-sit. Please keep this in mind before committing your money, time and effort into an application. Again, I urge you take your time and submit any questions you may have to TrustedHousesitters (or any company) before completing the process.
For the purpose of this post I will use the terms house-sit or house-sitting, please be aware that in this case these are all-encompassing terms, i.e. meaning they incorporate pet-sitting too.
You will be requested to complete a profile. The profile is broken down into the following sub-categories:
- About …(who you are)
- Why you want to house-sit
- If you happen to have a website, mention it. We provided our travel blog address and were told that it really helped in providing more insight into who we are.
- Have photos of yourself and any pets you may have or have had.
- Express how much you enjoy being around pets. People need to know they are leaving their furry/feathered/scaly/shelled family members in the right hands.
- Post a video of yourself to provide an even more personal touch to your profile.
Upon signing up with TrustedHousesitters you may proceed to complete 3 further optional levels of verification to enhance your profile. Badges reflecting these levels will be displayed on your profile.
1) Basic Level simply requires an email and phone number verification from you and at least one external reference.
2) Standard Level is an ID document and address check – provide an electronic copy of your driver’s license or passport.
3) Enhanced Level, – a criminal record check, incurs a separate fee – $20 when we signed up, but is subject to change.
We recommend having all three levels (trust badges). Whatever you can do to secure a house-sit is in your best interests.
How to Become a Pet-sitter and Secure a House-sit
The Importance of References and Reviews
In order to increase your chances of edging out the competition you need to have some solid reviews behind you from previous house-sitting experiences. If you are new to house-sitting this is where it is essential to have some references behind you.
Remember at this point you need to secure your first house-sit to prove your mettle and get that first all important review on TrustedHousesitters from a TrustedHousesitter’s home-owner. Even if you have never house-sat before ensure you have at least a couple of character references in your standing.
Aside from your references and reviews spend time building a profile that really gives people an insight into who you are. Make it interesting, funny, eye-catching, unique, but do not exaggerate or fib.
Your actual house-sit application should be personable. Know the names of the pets and refer to them by name in your application. If the sit is in an area you are familiar with, share that with the homeowner. Acknowledge any common ground or interests you may have with the homeowner; maybe you are both expats from the same home country! Although you are essentially applying for a job, try not to sound too aloof and job applicant-like. Don’t get too wacky either though!
Until you get some reviews behind you, it definitely helps to be flexible with your time and selection of house-sit. Remember the competition is fierce for those highly sought after gigs. There’s no harm in applying though, perhaps your application may be enough to make you stand out from the herd.
Don’t give up. If you apply for a few house-sits and they don’t pan out, keep applying.
I Need Help
Throughout your sign up process and thereafter you will find support from TrustedHousesitters. Customer Care agents can be reached via a Live Chat online. Although this is not available 24/7 you can leave a message and an agent will get back to you. Alternatively, there is a messaging option or you may call toll free. Click on this link to see an example of their modes of contact.
Once you are a paid member, and if you unfortunately need vet advice, you are also privy to a 24/7 vet advice phone line from TrustedHousesitters. Naturally this is a service you hope you will never have to use but it is available in a pinch – in non-crisis times. Obviously depending upon the situation it is preferable in the case of an emergency to rush the pet to the homeowner’s vet or emergency vet.
What to Expect From House-sitting?
Alright, time for a couple of really bad puns I just couldn’t resist: you’re ready to embark on your first house-sitting adventure, what could it entail? All corniness aside there are some very important issues to address here.
All contact between you as the house-sitter and the home-owner is through TrustedHousesitters. As a member you have your own “Inbox” within the site for all correspondence between you and any house-sits you have applied for. Upon being considered as a potential candidate for a sit it is up to yourself and the home-owner to communicate however you choose.
Sometimes if it is a lengthy sit, a month or more, homeowners may request that you, as the house-sitter, pay for certain utilities that you are using. This is the exception rather than the rule and is actually quite rare. Typically this is disclosed within the listing so you should know before you apply. However, there is no harm in confirming details of this nature as you are discussing the house-sitting guidelines. Know before you go.
You are not paid as a house-sitter. You agree to this in the terms and conditions in the code of conduct which you agree to abide by.
Getting back to those light duties that I mentioned in the first paragraph, often there are miscellaneous maintenance duties that may be involved in the sit. Again these are normally mentioned in the listing and tend to include watering houseplants and gardens, hot tub and/or pool maintenance, filling wild bird feeders, etc… Read listings carefully before applying, know the details.
Welcome to House-sitting :
Once you have been confirmed for a sit you will get a notification in your TrustedHousesitters Inbox inviting you to request a “Welcome Guide” from your up-coming house-sit. Within this house-sitting guide from the homeowner you will find details of your charges feeding regimens, specific instructions pertaining to exercise, play-time, and any medications that may have to be administered. It will also contain other pertinent details relating to your new furry/feathered/scaly/shelled friend(s).
Homeowners can also complete other template pages within this guide which can provide information on local emergency numbers, local public transportation, restaurants, coffee shops, places of interest etc… essentially anything that you as a stranger may need to ensure a more comfortable, informed house-sit.
Some home-owners have compiled their own personalised list of house-sitting rules and instructions and therefore don’t use the “Welcome Guide”. Some provide both, it is at the home-owners discretion how they choose to convey their instructions to you. It is strongly advisable to have some form of “go-to” house-sitting guidelines with pertinent contact details and emergency numbers provided.
Depending on the home-owners, you may be requested to show up a day or more before the listed beginning date of the sit. Arriving a little early can allow extra time for a walk through some of the finer points of the house-sit.
Why Would You Consider House-sitting?
House-sitting is a great funds saver for anyone looking to travel – families, retirees, single travellers, couples travelling etc… Therefore for the purpose of this post I am directing my reasoning at long term travellers, as this is the situation we can identify with.
So why not weave house-sitting into your nomadic lifestyle? Indulge in those little luxuries such as cooking a meal, staying put for a bit, doing laundry, or watching t.v. Your added bonus is you have the pleasure of some furry/feathered/scaly/shelled company.
Furthermore, you can save money on accommodation – think house-sitting in Europe and all of those expensive cities worldwide you’d like to visit! Naturally the length of the sit can also provide a means of really getting to know a place. Finally, if you work remotely you will typically be privy to stable wi-fi.
Don’t Be a Creature of Habit
For those who have been travelling for a while and would like some creature comforts and the comforting company of cute wee creatures, house-sitting may just be your remedy. Put your packs down for a bit and enjoy the comforts of home without the commitment of renting or buying. Cuddle a critter and enjoy being “home”.
“House-sitting: Etiquette and Expectations” To Follow
The sequel to this 2 part post, “House-sitting: Etiquette and Expectations”, will deal with the actual house-sit.
- Find insights into easily over-looked requirements that you may need in order to fulfill your dream house-sit.
- Now that you have been selected to house-sit, let’s take a look at the considerations and scenarios you may encounter.
- Get details on avoiding faux-pas that are often not contemplated by house-sitters.
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