What does a house sitter do?

What does a house sitter do, Suzie? What does it actually mean to be a house sitter? Is house sitting your job? These are the types of questions people fire at me when they hear about my living arrangements! If these come to mind for you too, let me answer the question of what house sitting means and what a house sitter does.

What does being a house sitter mean?

Well, it’s kind of what it says on the tin but what it entails can vary. A house sitter basically stays in your home to look after it while you’re away. It means that your home is safer and more secure than if it were left empty. Whether you’re travelling for work, off on holiday or just going away for the weekend many people prefer the thought of their house not looking obviously uninhabited.

For me personally, house sitting has always been combined with pet sitting. I’ve never done a housesit where there wasn’t a pet to look after. However, I do see listing come up from time-to-time where it’s just the home to look after.

I use the house sitting site, TrustedHousesitters, for my bookings and it’s is very much pet/animal-oriented. You might find that other sites have a bigger mix of the two or even veer more towards listing without pets. Part of why I became a house sitter was so that I could have animals around, so this one suits me well.

How does a house sitter live?

A house sitter will live in your home the same sort of way that you do. Although I was based in London for a while and had a job in Holborn, that’s probably a bit different from other sitters. Lots of people who house sit are retired. Others work remotely either for themselves or in a job that allows them to be location independent.

Usually, house sitters are expected to stay the night. One, it keeps the house more secure at a time it might be more vulnerable. And two, it means that the pet has company for a while, especially if the sitter is out for stretches during the day.

On longer sits, they might make special arrangements with the pet owners for the odd night away from home. Many house sitters combine house sitting with travel. It makes sense that they might want to use their house sit as a base to explore a bit further afield. Exploring a new area for the weekend is easier if you can stay overnight.

What does a house sitter do?

Going back to the original question, there are lots of things a house sitter can do, beyond just basically occupying your home.

Pet care

As I mentioned, the main job they’re likely to be doing is feeding and caring for your pet(s). How convoluted that is, depends on the sit and the animals. It could just be a case of putting dry food out for a cat once a day and checking they have fresh water. (And then providing cuddles when they choose to receive them!)

You might need to change cat litter or clean out a rabbit’s hutch. You might need to feed goats and count sheep if you’re looking after a farm. Or if you’re skilled, you could be picking out horses’ hooves, grooming them and mucking out their stalls.

Obviously these types of responsibilities are mentioned in the listing. Usually a house sitter and the pet owner would have some kind of conversation before the booking is confirmed. Sometimes a couple of emails back and fourth is enough. Other times it will need to be a telephone or video call.

Daily house sitter tasks

Aside from the pet care, house sitters just need to keep the house clean and tidy and return it to the owners the way they found it.

Other types of jobs house sitters might do during their stay are:

  • bringing in the post
  • receiving parcels or deliveries
  • watering the plants
  • letting in the cleaner or workman
  • light gardening
  • picking fruit (for your own use!)

Special arrangements

Some house sit listings might ask for more special request type tasks. I haven’t accepted any house sits where anything more than just the basic kind of everyday things listed above was needed.

However, I have seen things being requested from time to time. It’s then up to the house sitter to decide if they want to apply for that particular sit and take on all that it entails.

Special requests could be:

  • giving pets injections or other special medication
  • checking in on an elderly relative living in an on-site granny annexe
  • more involved gardening or groundsman type work
  • maintaining a swimming pool in terms of cleanliness and water chemical levels
  • staying in the house alongside the owner because the owner has health or mobility issues and needs some extra support with the animals for a period of time

Every house sit is different

Although every house sit is a little bit different, after 65 of them, I’ve found that most people live quite similarly. It’s always best to make sure that the responsibilities are agreed before a sit is confirmed. House sitters need to make sure they can deliver on what is required of them. Pet owners need to feel comfortable that the sitter is experienced enough to do anything out of the ordinary.

Just ask your house sitter

House sitters are normally quite happy to help out with things like receiving deliveries etc., where they can. We appreciate the opportunity to live in your space, and many small things can be looked after without any bother.

If there’s something you’d like a house sitter to do on an upcoming sit, just put it in the listing and ask. That way, you can filter out people who wouldn’t feel comfortable. Your left to choose from people who’ve made an educated decision to apply. Win-win!

I hope this article has given you more of an idea about what a house sitter does. Perhaps it’s made up your mind to become one, or to use one. I’d love to hear from you if it did!

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Suzie Young

Suzie writes informative posts for solo, nervous or first-time travellers to Greece, Turkey and other countries on her 50-before-50 bucket list. She became a Greek resident in 2020 and intends to visit every inhabited island (13 down!).

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