By Jaime Byrd
Two years ago, we purged most of our belongings, rented our house and started to travel indefinitely.
Since then, we’ve lived in dozens of luxurious homes in some of the world’s most desirable places. Two different large villas in Bali, a modern apartment in Vietnam, a beach house in Thailand, and several luxury homes in Mexico. All these experiences were possible by house sitting.
For some people it’s a great way to vacation, but for us, it’s a way of life. It’s a way in which to help us shed our belongings, live more simply, meet more locals, and concentrate on “experiences” in our lives rather than material things.
I get asked regularly about how we find our housesitting jobs and how we travel the way we do. But I never seem to be asked, “what does it take to be a house sitter?”. Most of the people I talk to seem to think it’s a lot easier then it is, even suggesting their teenage children or anyone can do it. Well, I don’t believe this to be true.
House and pet setting is not for everyone. Some people think it’s just free lodging. Many people I know only have a short time available for a vacation and housesitting may not be the best option in these cases. Plus, there are many different things to consider when becoming a housesitter before you buy that airline ticket or hit the road.
So, is house sitting right for you? Before you actually start your journey it may be important first to take a reality check and answer a few questions. Below, I’ve listed some things to consider before taking the leap. If you’re able to answer “yes” to all of these questions, then pack your bags and get ready for an adventure of a life time!
1. Are you responsible and reliable?
If you said yes, then good for you!
Remember, housesitting is a job. It’s not a way to only get free lodging while you’re on vacation. Good communication, showing up on time, taking care of the house as if it were your own, feeding and treating the pets with special care, recognizing an unwell animal, and respecting the home and it’s owners are just a few important things to take into consideration when accepting a housesitting position. Homeowners need someone they can trust to look after their pets and home and they want someone responsible, reliable, honest, and caring.
2. Do you love pets?
Yes again? You’re on a roll!
Not all housesits have animals, but many homeowners are looking for a sitter to not only care for their home while they’re away, but also to look after their beloved pets. Many sits involve animals that will not only need to be fed and walked daily, but they also need to be loved and played with. Being present and part of the pack is the best way to make for happy pets!
For many people, pets are family members, so reassuring them that you will show the same level of love and affection you would as if they were your own pets can help you secure your perfect house sit. Pet sitting does have responsibility attached, but if you love pets then it can be more of a pleasure then a job.
3. Are you willing to commit to stay in the home every night?
If yes, then you’re still in luck!
One of the biggest commitments with house sitting is being present in the home. Homeowners don’t like to leave their homes empty for many reasons. The owners may want to deter criminals from vandalizing or breaking into their home, or they may want things to be looked after to make sure there are no accidents or water leaks that could do further damage to their home. Leaving all day long and only returning late at night to sleep is not the best option either. Owners want to know someone is there regularly and making sure the home looks as though it’s lived in and lights are being turned on and off regularly.
4. Are you flexible?
Yes again? Great. This is looking good!
Having flexible travel dates and travel locations can help in your search for a perfect sit and experience. Try to look beyond the popular beach spots and go somewhere on a less traveled path. You may be pleasantly surprised with what you will discover! Also, the more flexible you can be with dates, the more house sits you will find.
5. Are you looking for more then just a free place to stay? Are you up for additional challenges?
If you said yes again, you may be a housesitter!
You may be lead to believe that free lodging is the best part of housesitting – and there is no doubt that it IS a very good part – but it is not the only part. Keep in mind that there are responsibilities and some that may put a damper on your daily excursions for sight seeing if you plan to be on vacation.
There are other factors to housesitting that some people might find challenging, such as living in a homeowners space on top of their belongings. We don’t mind it, but some people do. Many housesits include the ongoing duties of a household staff including a housekeeper who might clean weekly, semi-weekly or even daily, a gardener who comes regularly, and/or a pool maintenance worker. It is the responsibility of the housesitter to oversee these workers in order to maintain the household’s continuity. This can be a luxury or a burden depending on your perspective.
Yes, there are some homeowners out there looking for part time employees, but most of the time they just need someone who can take care of the small things that often go wrong around a house. Things that deal with simple plumbing, electric, heating, and appliances. If it’s beyond a simple repair, then you may need to make sure you can get a professional there to help with the problem and communicate well with the homeowners.
6. Are you willing to go the extra mile and show you care?
If yes, then housesitting is in your future!
We think it’s important to do your very best and whenever possible, even go beyond what may be expected. We like to make sure things are put back exactly as we found them, wash and fill the gas tanks on any cars or motorbikes left for our use, make sure all the linens are clean and bedding is replaced, clean up, and even have cold beer, wine, juice, snacks, (or even dinner if you are so inclined), waiting for the homeowner on their return. The smallest of gestures can show your appreciation and could earn you an invite to house sit next time they are away.
So, if you answered yes to all the questions, then you are ready to begin your journey of becoming a housesitter! There are so many opportunities out there and even though competition may feel high at times, there is always enough for everyone! Good luck and enjoy your travels!