Have you considered housesitting?
I am currently housesitting (with my husband) and looking after two delightful dogs. We are staying in an amazing house in the Worcestershire countryside that is straight from the pages of an interior design magazine. With the use of a well equipped kitchen we can cook what we like and not spend on eating out. We have access to a library of DVD’s that we can watch in the cinema room. The bed is comfortable, it makes getting up a tough decision. The bathroom has a rainfall shower and a big tub that if I were so inclined I could bathe in with glass of champagne that the house owners thoughtfully provided, stargazing through the skylight.
Sounds great, doesn’t it?
And it is. Not all house sits assignments are so luxurious of course. This was a lucky find in so many ways, right time, right place. And a bonus of some loving dogs to care for in a lovely home.
This is our sixth house and dog sitting assignment and the second house sit booked via Trusted Housesitters. The third via Trusted Housesitters assignment is already confirmed. The houses are all different. What they all have in common is that the dog and house owners want to be able to relax in the knowledge that you will take good care of their home and pets while they are away.
There are lots of resources out there – I particularly like We Love House sitting – lots of information for prospective and active housesitters.
Housesitting as an alternative to renting
The DH and I are housesitting as an alternative to renting accommodation or living on a building site whilst the builders knock part of our house down.
We have emptied the ground floor and sold or given away most of our furniture.
Housesitting on our doorstep
At the moment we are limiting our sits to assignments within 30 minutes commute to Birmingham. We need to be close to where we live as the DH has to work and we need to pop back to keep an eye on the building work.
When we have applied for the sits we have been upfront and honest with the clients as to why we are housesitting. They need to know that the DH won’t be at the house all of the time so that it is mostly me looking after the home and pets.
We will need to go home occasionally and so sometimes that will mean their pets can come with us is they are happy for that to happen, or be left for a couple of hours in the house. This honesty may mean that some people will decline us and that is just fine. It is about finding the right match for you.
What has been good about sitting houses and pets locally is that we have had the opportunity to meet the dogs and the house owners before agreeing to the sit.
We are new to Trusted Housesitters and so far all the people we have sat for are using the service for the first time. It has been reassuring for the people entrusting their home and pets to strangers to meet us – and we have had a chance to check that the assignment is the right fit for us. We have seen where the house is, how to use the appliances and be shown where and when to feed the dogs.
Housesitting far from home
Our first house sits were in Melbourne. These were arranged privately as they were for an old uni friend. We must have done something right as she asked us back to look after the dogs on two further occasions. Then her work colleague booked us too. Read more about that here.
How do you know the sit or sitter is right for you?
Using a service like Trusted Housesitters gives you a lot of assurance. Regular users of the service will have built up a portfolio of references and levels of verification. After an assignment both the house and pet owners and the sitters are encouraged to feedback on the experience.
Read the reviews. Look at the photos of the house and the pets. Make sure you are confident with the requests of the house sit and the needs and types of pets. Will you need a car or will you be able to use theirs?
I was recently approached to look after a house and two horses. I declined as I have no experience with horses. Another sitter told me that they had declined an assignment after meeting the dogs. The dog were very boisterous and she suspected they could be aggressive with her if the owners were not there. To test this she asked the owners to come out of the house with her and give her the house keys. She then went to the front door to open it and the dogs barked very aggressively and threw themselves at the door. The owners were shocked. And lost a sitter.
Some assignments ask for you to clean the house and look after the garden. Do you want to do this? Others will have a gardener and a cleaner as does my current sit. It goes without saying that we keep the house tidy and water a couple of plants in pots but I don’t have to, nor want to clean a big house and mow a lawn.
One of the motivators of selling a big house was so I didn’t have to do these jobs. The DH and I concentrate on keeping the dogs happy and I use the time catching up with my writing and reading. I don’t mind watering the plants and cleaning a small house. I do expect the house to be clean when I arrive.
Write an amazing profile
Read other profiles. What stands out to you and makes you want to be a sitter for them or ask them to sit for you? If you want to be a house and or a pet sitter think what you have to offer that would make people feel happy about you staying in their home and looking after their pets.
If you are looking for sitters, why would someone want to stay in your house, your town, city or village and look after your pets?
Sell yourself. Say what have you done in the past and why you want to house and pet sit. Bring some personality into the profile. Be honest.
Sell the house and the area. What is there to do in the area? For example if I was selling Birmingham I would say it has an emerging food scene with 5 Michelin star restaurants in the city and amazing street food events. I would mention the indie coffee houses, talk about the Museum and Art Gallery and the Staffordshire Hoard, the parks and surrounding countryside, National Trust Properties, Grand Central, John Lewis and The Balti Triangle. I would also add that it is near to Stratford upon Avon and the Cotswolds, because potential overseas sitters will be familiar with those and rarely realise that Birmingham is so close.
Take photos (with permission)
The DH and I take lots of photos of the dogs we look after and share them on our Facebook Page (not profile). I suggest that you do check with the owner first that they are happy for you to do so. Never share any photos of the house. If the owners prefer we would also email photos. Owners love to see their happy pets. I sometimes tag Trusted Housesitters in the posts. Again, make sure the pet owners are happy for you to do so. Some of my photos of the dogs we have looked after are at the bottom of this post.
Welcome them home to happy pets and food in the fridge
And leave basics for the sitters, especially if you live some way from shops. Milk, bread, tea at the minimum. On our last sit we cooked dinner and made a crumble for the house and dog owners. They had been to Australia and we knew from experience how exhausted they would be. We also met them from the railway station. This time we are leaving some fruit and salads and some chicken and cheese so they can make up a light meal when they get home. They have a long drive from the airport and we are sure they will stop for a meal on the way home.
Complete and read the housesitting welcome guide
This is where all the important information is. About the house, the animals, the responsibilities and the area. It is the housesitters bible. And it guides the house owners as to what information they need to provide. As a housesitter, read it before the assignment starts. This way if you have any questions you can address them beforehand.
Write a review
Once the sit is over you will be asked to feedback on the sit or the sitters. Please remember to do this. For a sitter like me it helps me get more assignments. For the house and pet owner it helps sell the sit. And if it was dreadful talk to Trusted Housesitters first before writing the review.
And enjoy looking after lovely dogs like this