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Housesitting. Pros and Cons. My Housesitting Nightmare.
Why a Housesitter?
Every once in a while home owners find themselves in need of housesitters for their unattended homes during vacations, business trips or quick getaways. This paid service may include the care of pets, upkeep of home,maintenance of plants and providing a "security service" as a deterrent to thieves and burglars. Leaving a house unoccupied for even short periods ot time is in some high crime areas an invitation for break ins. For those who opt not to employ home security alarm systems or simply prefer the peace of mind that someone is present during their absense, housesitters can be a great asset.
Professional help or call a friend?
Whether you opt for a professional housesitter found through a reputable service as Angie's List or Care.com or choose a friend, relative or neighbor, is not a decision to be taken lightly. One wants the peace of mind and confidence that one's home is being well taken care of and if beloved pets are left behind, that they are safe and sound. Sometimes the price for such a service considering that housesitters would be screened by the hiring service, are compensated for their time and efforts and are competent sitters is worth its weight in gold. This in no way insinuates that the next door neighbor won't do a great job or that your cousin "Billy Bob" is unable to do simple tasks as water the plants and pick up the mail and newspapers. It all boils down to our level of confidence in Billy Bob and how well we know our next door neighbor and if we are comfortable leaving either in our homes for that length of time.
Shopping for the right house sitter. Where to Look ?
Searching for the perfect housesitter does not have to be painful or daunting if we use the tools available to us through the power of the internet. Today, the internet savvy and not so savvy can find everything from a boyfriend, to a boat to a babysitter. Thousands of websites put products and services literally at our fingertips. One must remain vigilant and be constantly aware of the potential dangers of unscrupulous internet surfers, predators and scammers and take the time to research and verify each site's integrity. This is especially important when participating in online dating and seeking personal services. The horror of the Craigslist Killer comes to mind. Yikes!! Again this highlights the importance of sites as Care.Com and Angie's List where background checks are completed and reviews on individuals are available.
Word of mouth or hire by referral are great methods to finding great help, so letting friends, family and work mates know we are looking for a house or baby sitter is not a bad idea. It is comforting to know that the one we are employing as a housesitter has an already proven track record that can be authenticated by someone we respect and trust. Many have found amazing help through the grapevine. It is personal, often trustworthy and offers the opportunity of peace of mind in hiring someone who is already a friend, colleague or associate of someone we know. I must caution that this is the expectation but that there are always exceptions to a rule and room for error.
My Personal HouseSitting Horror Story.
This is a true account of my recent housesitting nightmare (all names have been changed to protect their identities).
In July of 2013 my better half hired a handyman, I will call Tommy, through Craigslist, to do some work on our house's cooling system. My hubby was at the time recovering from a major surgery and could not do the job himself. He was impressed by Tommy's pleasant personality moreso than his work ability or ethic but somehow the guys became quick pals. Nothing to it. I was soon introduced to Patty his common law wife and their four children. They seemed a great family. My better half eventually decided to help his newfound buddy find employment with the company for which he worked. It seemed like the right thing to do. No sweat. Anyway the time came for us to head out of state for that new job assignment and our friends were more than willing to grab the opportunity to housesit for the few months before they joined us for the job offer. All is well thus far, right? So fast forward when the time comes and the job is over and we return home to something short of every homeowners nightmare. Nails have been poked in the walls, their dog has chewed the cushions to our patio furniture, its sponge and fabric is still strewn around the yard, there is trash being housed in our kitchen drawers, unemptied trash cans with months old garbage in and outside the house. Shall I continue? There are overpowering, pungent smells emanating from a backyard shed where a bag of trash has been left for months simmering in its own filth. Dirty bed sheets, clothes and towels have been thrown on the floor of closets to conceal their owners lack of respect and expose their lack of character. The front gate has been bent from a vehicle running into it and has lost the function to latch and lock. These wonderful individuals allowed their cat to claw and damage beds and chairs and unashamedly left its food sitting in the middle of the bedroom floor. Our house guests were kind enough to change the oil on their vehicle on the car port and leave us a beautiful oil stain on the cement. Plants are dead from lack of months of care and the pool has leaks (don't ask me how) and lastly for the sake of stabbing the knife even deeper into our backs, are the many items that were broken or damaged. This may sound excessive but unfortunately for my husband and I, it is still our reality. It is the backlash of not knowing the true character of those with whom we associate. It is a true story that reminds us of why we need to use reputable sources when searching for those who are expected to care for our homes or pets or loved ones. Our error in this scenario was taking for granted that Tommy and Patty were who they portrayed themselves to be. We failed to do our homework. Had we done a little search online, we would have learned that they both had criminal records, a past of evictions and defaults that would make the credit worthy cringe. We learned not only a lesson for life but paid a high monetary price.
Housesitter for You?
Have you ever used a housesitter?
Save the Stress. Consider a Home Security System.
If your main concern is the time to time housesitter during vacations, time away for traveling jobs or weekend getaways, you may want to consider the investment into a home security system as offered by such companies as ADT Home Security, Capital Connect or Brinks Home Security. These companies offer home security systems at competitive prices and you can have from the most basic package to the high tech remote systems. Yes, you can be sitting at your desk at work monitoring the goings on at your home from the screen of your laptop or cellular device. These companies, to name a few, will offer you not only a secure home but some peace of mind and though they won't offer you pet or child care, their systems can effectively eliminate the need for a housesitter when you are away. You can get a free ADT quote here.
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The Bottom Line-Protect your Assets !!
The bottom line is that we always seek to protect our assets and our loved ones. Sometimes a little research and taking the time to do our homework saves us a great deal of money and heartache in the long run. A word of advice too is that anything that is offered free, (I will babysit or housesit for you, for free) may cost way more in the long run. When it comes to protecting the things that matter to us, it is worth its weight in gold to do that background check or thoroughly investigate motive, experience and reviews. Surely, we will not always make the right choice and there will be disappointment along the way, but checking first decreases the likelihood of error. Also, if our need for a housesitter is regular, then it may well be worth the while to look into a home security system that fits our budget.