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Considering Becoming a House Sitter?
House sitting is an arrangement between two people: the house sitter and the homeowner. The house sitter agrees to stay in the homeowner’s residence rent free during the owner’s absence in exchange for performing specified duties in relation to the care of the property and any pets.
While the concept is straightforward enough, there’s much more to house sitting than just collecting the mail and leaving food out for Mittens.
Why Do You Want to Become a House Sitter?
Before diving into the house sitting business, take a moment or two to think about the reasons you're considering becoming a house sitter.
Do you want to do house sitting to save money on accommodations while on holiday? If so, it probably wouldn't be a good idea to quite the day job, sell the house and make a full-time commitment to house sitting. Doing this as a sideline with only a few assignments a year, however, would more realistic.
Is it your dream to travel the world, discover new cultures and maybe learn a new language? If your dream doesn't include expensive hotels and noisy hostels, you could conceivably house sit your way around the world. Many people do just that, going from one home to the next with scheduled stops to check on the homestead between assignments.
Do you imagine yourself kicking back in a luxury home, sipping the homeowners’ vintage wine and throwing wild parties while earning a neat pay package? If so, abandon any ideas you have of becoming a house sitter immediately. House sitting is a job like any other. And like any other job, a professional attitude is essential.
How Suitable Are You?
While there are all sorts of people who house sit, not everyone is suited to the job. You should ask yourself these questions.
Do you like to travel? Hopefully the answer is an emphatic ‘Yes,’ as you will be doing a fair amount of travelling to get to various assignments.
Second, are you a ‘people’ person with good communication skills? Homeowners will determine whether or not to trust you with their most valuable asset, their home, based on how well you present yourself. It’s vital to able to connect with them and convince them that their home will be safe in your hands.
Next, are you an animal lover? The main reason many homeowners choose to hire a house sitter is not just to look after their property, but to look after their pets, as well. It’s essential to love, honestly love animals because pets aren’t limited to cats, dogs and hamsters. Many people keep horses, chickens, ducks, sheep and goats as pets. Some pets may even be quite exotic such as snakes, peacocks and alpacas. If you have allergies or are not into animals, that’s OK. You can still be a house sitter, but your choice of assignments will be limited.
Now then, how flexible are you? Can you adapt quickly to last-minute changes? Circumstances beyond the homeowners’ control may require you to stay more or less time than was agreed upon. Your assignment may even be cancelled at the last minute. This is part and parcel of the house sitting game and you have to be able to roll with it.
Are you responsible, reliable, trustworthy and respectful? Can you pass a criminal background check and provide good references? If you can answer ‘Yes’, you’ve already got the makings of a good house sitter.
What Skills Have You?
Anyone who has ever lived in or owned a house probably already has some basic knowledge on how to look after a home. So what else can you bring to the table? Have you had any experience in caring for animals other than your own pets? Do you enjoy gardening? Are you skilled enough with tools that you can make minor repairs around the house as and when needed? More importantly, do you know when to call in the professionals if the job proves to be beyond your skill level?
Let’s review. You’ve thought long and hard about you’re reasons for becoming a house sitter. You feel you have the personality and traits that would make you a good house sitter, and you’ve got some pretty good skills. Excellent.
Now, there’s one last thing you should do before taking the plunge. DO YOUR RESEARCH. Please excuse me for raising my voice; however, I cannot emphasize this point enough. There are several house sitting blogs on the internet where you can read about the good, the bad and the funny side of caring for another’s property. You owe it to yourself to see what these people have to say.
Also be sure to take a look at the websites of established house sitting agencies. You will be able to get a clearer picture of what they are looking for in a house sitter as well as an idea of what kind of situations are available.
I hope this information has been helpful. If you decide to take the plunge, I wish you all the best in your new venture.
© 2013 Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon
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