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A Guide to House Sitting

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by Julian Groneberg (subscribe)
Freelance copywriter and blogger. Avid dog owner, living in Brisbane's bayside. If you like my articles please hit subscribe or 'like' at the end of the post!
Published March 3rd 2012

What if I told you there was a way to live rent free in a fully equipped homestead in just about any location you can think of? What would you do if you wanted to travel but couldn't take your pets and also hated the idea of leaving your home empty? House sitter, meet home owner and home owner meet house sitter. This little arrangement could be the beginning of a mutually beneficial relationship. However like all relationships respect of the other half and careful consideration should always be given.

What is house sitting?
For those willing to housesit the possibilities to live in new neigbourhoods in your city, or new cities around the globe are almost endless. Many home owners are seeking people to look after and keep an eye on their house and possibly their pets for placements usually between one and three months. There are a absolute plethora of websites with house sitters wanted and house sitters listing their availabilities since the activity has exploded in popularity over the last 10 years. House sitters Australia and aussie house sitters are just a few of these websites which have listings from both homeowners and prospective sitters looking for a suitable house sitting arrangement.

Why house sit?
The reasons people house sit and the types of people who are attracted to the activity are as varied as the homeowners who put their home up to be minded. Some people are serial house sitters and go as far as even considering it to be their profession. There are a number of benefits for the owner including minimising the risk of burglary, and not having to worry about house and garden maintenance costs while away. For those who have pets getting a live-in house sitter to look after their pets is an appealing alternative to having to pay kennel fees or awkwardly having to ask friends or family to take on the responsibility. People keen to housesit have often moved to the area and looking to get a better idea on the city before selecting a neighbourhood or are saving for a down-payment on their own place. Sitting is popular with retirees who are looking to visit new areas and participate in new activities but also and have time to maintain the property.

How to find a suitable sitter
If you are a homeowner and considering the benefits of house sitting but it all sounds daunting and and risky - fear not. The selection process (think job interview and then some of an appropriate sitter should be rigorous. By time you have selected an appropriate candidate (again job interview terminology) the person should feel familiar and less of a stranger. Many house-sitters are seasoned in the activity and are happy to give references from previous house sits as well as negotiate a security bond. This should be in addition to a meeting where the owner and house sitter can discuss expectations and required tasks and to see whether both parties are on the same page. Being on the same page is probably the most crucial rule when engaging in a house sitting arrangement since if both parties know what is expected there should be no reason for nasty surprises or misunderstandings If possible arrange a face to face meeting to discuss expectations however this is not always possible depending where you live so it becomes important to have had regular communication before handing over the keys. Once there has been a placement it is a good idea to have some ongoing contact with each other to check in whether it simply be through email and is important that there is a way for the sitter to contact the owner if needed.

The homeowner when looking for a candidate/housesitter should go in with an open mind and be willing to take faith in their sitter and give their trust. They should also not have unrealistic expectations and realise that not everything will always go according to plan and be prepared for this.

What if I haven't house sat before?
The good news for a person looking to housesit is that even if you haven't house sat before each owner is as varied as their house is. They come in all ages and dynamics and are looking for different things so even though not all will be suitable there is likely to be a match eventually when both parties have the same values. Remember you are also doing them a favour and if all goes well you might even make a new friend or have an ongoing future house sitting arrangement with the owner.

So with all that said the next time you make that excuse that you can't afford to live or go anywhere different there is an answer. And next time you are needing to go away for a period whether it be for work, family or to see the world but don't want to leave you place unattended there is also an answer. Its called house-sitting and its not as scary as one might think. In fact the scope of the arrangement is unlimited and like any symbiotic relationship both halves benefit. Dating it is not but a mutually beneficial arrangement of convenience - that it is.
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Why? To live in new place like a local rent free/ to have someone look after your home/pets while you are away
Where: All around the world
Cost: negotiated with owner, usually free in exchange for care and upkeep of property.
Has anyone out there house sat before for an extended period? What was the experience? Good and bad xoxo
By Julian Groneberg - senior reviewer
Tuesday, 6th of March @ 10:14 am
I love my new lifestyle, pet and home sitting is the best thing I have ever done for myself and others. I have sat at 7 homes now for about 5 weeks each. I am booked up until March 1st 2013. That sit ends a four month sit in Atherton QLD. Wynyard TAS. will be my place for 4 weeks in October and Brisbane for a month in July/August. Until then I will sit in Mt Eliza, 2 dogs, 5 chooks and 2 cats plus an indoor fish tank, this owner inquired about my availability and then booked their trip to Vietnam around me. 5 weeks near Yarram too. I sat in Ballarat, loved the place, the walks were a delight as was the gorgeous lab. (I cried when I left him) but this owner was someone I would suggest never get a sitter again. Leaving pegs on the line and using too much toilet paper was her grip. Her dog was well exercised and loved 24/7, I told her she is a half glass empty person. I had mowed, pruned, cleaned windows and re potted her dried out planters at my cost (remember we don't get payment) and bought an antique doiley for her and I left the pegs out?? What do you think? No not going back there ever.
I am actually sitting two homes at present to help a lady out lucky the two homes are only a 7 minute walk apart. The second home has a young man who I keep company and no pets so we walk around and walk, feed and play with the 4 pets. I will have 2 more long sits with the 21 yo, I taught with his mum and I had also taught him. ;-)
When I tell people what I do, they envy my wonderful adventure and I can see them turning over the idea for something they would venture into.
I have friends in the UK and I aim to sit there as well as Europe and New Zealand. The world is truely my oyster, and sometimes the grit can be annoying but overall that is what makes you stonger.
If you ever entertained this lifestyle join Happy House Sitters, can't say anything but "excellent" about them. Easy website too.
Bonus is meeting wonderful people and pets, seeing places you would possibly drive through and get to drink coffee in quaint cottages, regal hotels and even a cafe in a chemist (Ballarat UFS) a first for me.
By Francien - senior reviewer
Thursday, 26th of April @ 06:31 am
Thanks so much Francien for sharing your experiences, it sounds like you have had overwhelming positive sits and maybe one day I will try it myself since I think it as a great way to have an adventure. It seems like the perfect situation where everyone wins.
By Julian Groneberg - senior reviewer
Thursday, 26th of April @ 07:46 am
I have been house sitting for several years now - have not had my own home for last 2 years. It is interesting - learning how others live etc.
By Anonymous
Monday, 9th of July @ 05:12 am
Ace article!
I've house sat - found it a bit stressful though. What if I kill the pot plants? Have I moved their belongings?
Next time I think I'll take photos at the start. Is that creepy? Oh well.
By - - senior reviewer
Wednesday, 1st of August @ 11:11 pm
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