What is House Sitting?

House sitting is where you look after someone’s property while they’re away. They could be on holiday, travelling for work, or spending time elsewhere looking after an elderly relative.

House sits differ greatly in length. Often it could be to cover someone’s annual holiday for a week or two. It might just be a weekend or a couple of days mid-week. Alternatively, it could be a much longer period if the person you’re sitting for is on some type of work sabbatical.

Basically, I’ve seen house sits advertised for anything from one night up to one whole year. That information is given on the listing when someone is searching for a house sitter. For longer sits – like a whole year – they might break down the duration and have, for example, different sitters for 3-month stays at a time. That way, the sitter doesn’t need to hire a sitter if they want to go away for a holiday themselves.

House sitting doesn’t always involve looking after a pet or animal but often it does.

House sitting keeps property secure

It goes without saying that a house is more secure if it’s occupied and not left empty for long periods. Part of my role as a house sitter is to keep the home I’m staying in safe. When I apply for house sits I often have a similar routine to the people I’m sitting for. That has been either as an employee who’s out a lot in the day or as a self-employed person who works from home a lot.

If I’m looking after a pet that helps with its routine. But it also means that it’s not immediately obvious to any opportunists that anything is out of the ordinary. Having a friend or neighbour go in to draw the curtains and collect the post can help. Some people hire pet sitters to come in and do this as well as feed and walk the pet. But having a sitter there living a normal routine is even better. Plus the pet has much more company than if someone’s just popping in for 30 minutes a day.

House sitting keeps a home safe

As well as helping with the security of someone’s home a sitter can help if something goes wrong while the owner is away. It means that any damage is limited because a sitter can take action straight away and the problem isn’t left for the duration. For example, one pet owner I sat for told me about a previous holiday where the house had been empty the whole time. (They’d put their cat in a cattery.) While they were away, a pipe had burst and had leaked for several weeks. They returned to a huge amount of expensive damage.

I stayed at their house for 7 weeks one summer and while I was there we had a small gas leak. Nothing disastrous happened because I was able to get a plumber and liaise with the owners. However, it could have been a different story if no one was staying at the house.

House and pet sitting

All the housesits I’ve done have involved pet setting. Although pet owners are concern about their property, the most important thing to them is their pet’s welfare. Above all, they want to know their pet is happy and healthy while they’re away.

What’s involved in the pet sit varies from sit to sit. The information is giving on the listing if you go through a housesitting site. That way, you know in advance what is expected. I’ve mainly looked after cats. Some cats are very low maintenance and just need food and fresh water once a day – plus cuddle! Others need to be given medication, have their litter tray cleaned out often and I’ve even had to hand feed a couple of fussy eaters!

But mainly, it’s day to day things like, feeding, cuddling and walking. Sometimes sits mean looking after horses, making sure all the livestock are present and correct, letting chickens in and out of their houses or feeding a lizard. As a housesitter, you get to choose what you apply for based on your skills and experience.

Usually, there are other adhoc tasks that I mentioned above. Things like bringing in the post, watering plants, receiving a parcel for the owners. All pretty normal, everyday things. Sometimes housesitters might be asked to check in on an eldery relative living on the property or other extra things like that. Anything like that should be in the housesit listing so you can decided before you apply whether that’s something you’d be prepared to do. I’ve written more about what house sitters do in this post.

Do housesitters get paid?

Normally all of this is done for free. The payment for the housesitter normally comes in the form of accommodation. If you use a housesitting site the housesitters, owners or both are charged a membership fee. Once that’s been paid for the year, then everything is included.

For me, it’s worth getting to live in lovely homes in exciting places with a furry friend thrown in. If you wanted to make a living out of housesitting you’d need to either find a site that allowed sitters to get paid or you’d need to set up on your own.

Is housesitting safe?

If you want to set up as a self-employed housesitter you’d need to find ways of verifying your clients. This is normally done for you through housesitting sites and a variety of things are in place to keep you safe (and the owners) safe. If you don’t go through a site you’d need to put your own safety measures in place. Housesitting is really all done on trust so you need to find a way to build that with potential customers and make sure that you trust them too. I talk a bit more about whether housesitting is safe in this post with housesitting frequently asked questions.

Want to know more about housesitting? You can click to read more housesitting posts.

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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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