The New Generation of Travel – Housesitting
Perfect for the budget traveler or to discover a new culture
House sitting is the practice whereby a person leaving their house for a period of time entrusts it to one or more “house sitters”, who by a mutual agreement are permitted to live or stay in the property temporarily, in exchange for assuming any combination of responsibilities. These can include, but are not limited to, taking care of the home owner’s pets, performing general maintenance (including pools, lawns, air-conditioning systems, etc.), keeping trespassers off the property, readdressing the mail, and in general, making sure that everything runs smoothly, just as if the owner was at home.
– Vanessa Anderson, “House sitting expectations”. HouseSittingMagazine.com. Retrieved 4 June 2018.
With budget travel becoming ever more popular, many millennial travelers have become increasingly creative with methods to see the world. House sitting has historically been a paid-for opportunity which many locals would employ a friend, family member, or trusted referral to care for their home and possessions in exchange for an agreed upon monetary amount. Budget conscious travelers wishing to explore the world and different cultures further have learned the art of negotiating their artistic of business skills such as photographing the family or writing about the owners business on a blog, in exchange for simply staying for longer periods to explore the region or offering unique services.
Often times, homeowners seeking a house sitter are housesitting on their holiday. This has created a cycle of pay-it-forward attitude within this growing industry.
To jumpstart your housesitting career or to locate the perfect house sitter for your home we have put together a few suggestions to make the process seamless.
For the Homeowner
First, sign up for a third-party service which offers a listing of your needs and provides guidance on the process from A to Z. We recommend Trusted Housesitters for beginners as they are very engaged with their community and offer several resources for owners and sitters alike.
As an owner you will need a few things to get started: your travel dates, a detailed ad, profile pictures and information on yourself. Go ahead and list the key things you want in someone staying at your home. Remember, these people will be in your space and engaging with your local community from your home. If you have a pet to be cared for who is not fond of children, make sure to note this in your ad. Don’t be afraid to list our exactly what you are looking for, this will only help to ensure that you book with the perfect sitter.
Prepare to interview a potential house sitter using a video chat such as Skype or Facebook video chat. Remember, you are only interviewing and don’t have to commit to anyone during this time. Take your time and trust your gut instinct when deciding on your sitter. Utilize the contracts which are readily found online or create your own. Consider the sitter, and provide any contracts to them in advance of their arrival so they have ample opportunity to decline. This is as much about their comfort as it is about yours.
Be willing to meet the sitter at an airport or train station to transport to your home. Many sitters are from out of the country and may not be comfortable finding their way to your home.
It is customary to empty our kitchens of foods which can easily spoil while on holiday, however if you are booking a sitter, check with them to see if they would like any of the items first. You may be saving them from exploring your local marketplace while still jet lagged and nervous with new currency and language barriers.
For the Housesitter
If you are planning to housesit while visiting a new country or even just within your own state, the most important step is your first step: a killer profile. Think of this process as applying for a job the old fashioned way. You need a dynamic cover letter, an in depth resume, solid references, and an interview to die for.
Once you have registered for your preferred facilitation site, begin creating your online profile. Discuss where you come from, who you travel with, and any fun facts about yourself. Share any credentials which make you a more valuable asset to a home owner, such as veterinary training, HVAC licensing, or farm skills which would benefit an owner while you are caring for their home. Upload pictures which show your personality and are recent. No one likes seeing a picture from 1973 – no matter how cute you were!
Gather up 5-8 references which you can upload to your profile and a few extra on the off chance an owner would like to see more. Then prepare your cover letter. This is the first impression an owner will see of you, so put some extra effort and time into it. Discuss why you are interested in applying to their ad, and how you will fulfill any requests they have shared. Be confident in yourself and enlist the confidence and trust of the homeowner.
Prepare any questions you might have regarding pet schedules, dietary needs, mail/package needs etc.. before any interview. Ask if there is a contract and request a copy before committing to the housesit. If you require transportation during your housesit, don’t be shy to discuss your needs with the owner, you never know what might be on offer.
Be polite and respect the owners home and property. Remember, this is your job for the duration of the sit and you are a guest in someone’s home. Be sure to write a review of the owner, to maintain the cycle of pay-it-forward.
If travel plans change keep the lines of communication open with one another, and always try to offer alternative dates or recommend another person who is willing to fulfill your side of the arrangement. Join a housesitting Facebook group to engage in the community further and to assist in any concerns which may transpire.
Most importantly, enjoy your time discovering the local culture.