What to Look For in an Ideal House Sitting Website
Thanks to the rising popularity of house sitting websites, services such as these are slowly becoming a dime a dozen. While more options is definitely great news for everyone, it also comes with the burden of choosing which website to ultimately go with. So to help you make a better decision, it is best to familiarize yourself with some of the things you need to look for in a house sitting website.
- Price: As is always the case, price is usually one of the main deciding factors when choosing a service. However, this works a little differently when it comes to House Sitting Websites. A lot of these services actually allow homeowners to register and post ads for free, but charge aspiring house sitters for a monthly or yearly fee. Of course, there are a few that also charge both parties. Also worth noting is the fact that most don't actively encourage you to pay house sitters for their services because most would be more than glad to house sit for you in exchange of free accommodation and possible adventure in a new setting. However, there are those that require payment so it is up to both parties to work out a deal.
- Browse Listings Freely: Would you pay for something without knowing what exactly it can offer you? Of course not! Thankfully, all of the house sitting websites in our list allow non-members to browse through their respective listings without any charge. Do take note that there are a few that only allow this up to a certain point, so you may have to become a member in order to peruse their entire listing.
- Ease of Use: House sitting websites, like any other service where the meat of the experience lies in searching through listings, should be able to provide an easy to use experience. Is the layout organized and logical? Are photos of properties and/or house sitters mandatory for profile completion? These are some of the questions you should be asking yourself when choosing which service to go with.
- Customer Support: As with any other service, customer support is of the utmost importance, which is why house sitting websites that provide ample channels of contact is ideal. That said, there seems to be a lot of services that solely rely on online support forms only -- which is a good enough alternative, given that support representatives reply in a timely manner.
House Sitting Tips
A successful house sit is in the end a relationship that is built on trust. We have had amazing experiences with house sitting and are confident anyone can do the same as long you adhere to that core principle.
Tips for House Sitters
For house sitters, we have two main types of tips. One category is for actually getting a house sit because this can be tremendously competitive. The other category is for actual house sitting.
- Build a Great Profile: House sitting is not Airbnb! Homeowners have a crazy selection of people to choose from and you will need to stand out from the crowd. When we put our house up, we got over 80 applications in 48 hours. Profiles without reviews, pictures, and a well-written introduction instantly didn't make the cut. Many sites, like Trusted House Sitters have a review system where homeowners can leave reviews for house sitters. Haven't done a sit yet? You can still get character references and you should! Importantly, you should know, paying the fee for a house sitting website does not guarantee you will get a house sit. You'll need to work for it!
- Apply Fast and Apply Well: When we got 80 applications in 48 hours, we immediately shut down our listing to new reviews because there was too much to choose from! Many websites will set up e-mail alerts for new house sits. You should subscribe to these alerts and, as soon as something comes up, apply! That being said, like your profile, your application needs to be well thought out. Take the time to carefully read the listing and reply to it specifically. Does the listing include horses? Well then do you have experience with horses? Is the listing in Spain - do you speak Spanish?
- Make it Personal: Once you have sent your application, if you get a response from the home owner, push to get on a call / Skype call or if you're in the same area, meet in person. A great profile and application are an important start but, in the end, nothing beats a personal connection. Come prepared with a list of questions so they can see you are organized.
- Stay in Touch Before the House Sit: Many of the house sits we applied to were several months away. If you get accepted, send the home owners a periodic e-mail update letting them know what you're up to and keeping in touch. No home owner wants to feel unsure about whether their house sitter will actually show up!
- House Sitting is Not a Normal Vacation: If you travel somewhere and stay in hotels, you can do whatever you want and go wherever you want. With a house sit, you have responsibilities and you need to be prepared for that. If you have pets to look after, you can't go away for two days at a time. You will be able to explore the local area, but this is not a standard vacation.
- Follow the Golden Rule: This one is obvious, but be a decent human being. Home owners are going out on a limb letting strangers into their house to watch their belongings and pets. Go the extra mile, keep home owners at ease, and follow the golden rule - don't do anything in their house you wouldn't want somebody else doing in yours! Be respectful, clean and proactive.
- Send Pictures: In each house sit we were in, we would send updates every couple days on how everything was going including pictures and videos of us with the pets. We bought a laser to play with a cat we were watching. The cat ended up ignoring the laser, but their dog went crazy for it chasing it all over the house. The home owners loved getting the video updates.
- Go the Extra Step: We were very clean and tidy house sitters but at the end of each house sit, before the owners returned, we went a bit crazy. We washed floors, cleaned window sills, and even had a dog groomed! We made a meal for the home owners to have when they got back from the airport and baked cookies as well. All in all, it was only a few hours of work per house sit, but the home owners were so pleased when they came back.
- Ask for a Review: Stay in touch with the home owners and ask for a review which will make your life much easier when applying for the next sit.
Tips for Home Owners
- Write a Great Listing: Putting together a great listing will get you way more applicants and will also make house sitters more comfortable applying. First things first, take lots of good pictures! You're "selling" your house sit to applicants so take pictures during the day of your house, the grounds, the surrounding area and your pets. Make sure to write about what house sitters will need to do in terms of responsibilities and also what they can expect from the house and the area. Will they need their own transportation? Will they need to deal with groundskeepers, etc?
- Make it Personal and Get Comfortable: You need to feel comfortable with the people who are coming into your house. If you have put together a good listing, you will get lots of applications. With the applicants, set up a video call or a meeting if possible and get to know the house sitters. If you want, you are totally allowed to ask for references, background checks, photo IDs, or whatever else puts you at ease.
- Make the House Sitters Feel at Home: In one of the best house sits we did, the woman whose house and pets we were taking care of had printed out several pages of things to do in the area, local supermarkets, tourist attractions, restaurants, and even the numbers of some of her friends if we wanted someone to hang out with. She opened her house to us as if we were family and it made a huge difference to us.
- Leave Emergency Contacts: While it's certainly the exception, emergencies can happen. Leave the details for veterinaries, emergency veterinarians, plumbers, electricians, family and friends in the area and whatever else you can think of so the house sitters can hope for the bests but be prepared for the worst!
- Go the Extra Step: Your house sitters may be exhausted after a journey to get to wherever you are. One pair of homeowners had prepared lunch for us for when we arrived. After we ate and settled down, they showed us around the area and then took us out to dinner at one of their favorite restaurants. They were leaving for a while and had bought milk, bread and some other basics and left them in the fridge for us. It was a great start to our trip and was highly appreciated.
- Leave a Review: Were your house sitters great? Leave them a glowing review! It takes five minutes to do and will help them out a ton for their next trips.