Its been 5 months and 27 days since I started to housesit and I have to say I’m enjoying my novel new lifestyle.
I had initially heard about house sitting as an alternative way of travelling and signed up to a recommended house sitting site for a 3 month trip I was doing. Even though I didn’t find any housesits for that trip it did get me thinking about how I could housesit over a New Zealand summer as a way of seeing more of the country and keeping my costs down.
The experience has been great for me as its allowed me to live a freer life and take some time out from the rat race.
House sits can be anything from a couple of days to a year or more. They can involve looking after animals or simply providing peace of mind that someone will taking care of your home while you are away.
This is my guide to house sitting:
Finding your first house sit
Advertise locally – put a well worded notice up at the supermarkets in the area you want to go, in the book shop and in any local magazines. I’ve had 3 calls from a tiny 3 line ad I put in a local magazine so it does work.
Advertise on line – are you on Facebook or Twitter? Let people know what you are looking for and ask them to retweet. You never know what might come up.
Use housesitting sites – all of the house sits that I’ve found online have come from House Carers. Its been a great service and I receive email alerts for the areas that I am interested in. On this site you pay (only if you are a housesitter, there is no fee for home owners) an annual fee of only NZ55 (which has paid for itself multiple times) and create a profile for yourself. You can also upload photos and any references that you have. Also, this service provides a secure way to communicate with a house owner until you are happy to provide your contact details.
Tell everyone – I had a conversation with a woman on the street as I was trying to find a sports club, ended up giving her my number as they needed a house sitter in a couple of months time. Weeks later she rang and I will now be looking after her home and kitten for 6 weeks. All from a casual conversation on the street!
Friends have also been brilliant at putting notices on their work notice boards or keeping an ear out for people they know who are heading away.
You’ve got the House Sit!
Before you agree to a house sit do think about the practicalities:
Discuss who pays for utilities.
Can you have people around for dinner? To stay?
Do you or the house owner want an agreement (there is a standard form agreement on the House Carers site) setting out the details of your arrangement.
Time to Go
Before I leave someones home I always think to myself “What would I like to find when I got home from holiday?” This means that I always leave:
- a spotless house;
- fresh bread and milk, especially if the homeowners will be arriving back jet lagged or with kids or with jet lagged kids (Yikes!);
- a note saying that everything went well or an explanation of any issues. I also include a request for a reference that I follow up a couple of weeks later.
If I’ve been in a house sit for a few weeks I replace any cleaners (rather sneakily with environmentally friendly products – spread the message wherever you can I say!) and pantry essentials that I’ve used up as a extra courtesy.
Have a back up plan
It is very likely that you will have a gap between housesits at some stage. For details of the places I stay in between house sits read Where Does A House Sitter Without A House Sit Go?
Have you housesat before? Do you have any tips to share with others?