What We Look for in The Perfect House Sit
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House sitting is a great way of reducing lodging expenses while traveling. It’s also a great way to have many of the comforts of home while traveling. We find that settling into a new city, in a hotel is a dry, sterile experience. When house sitting, we have the chance to settle into a place that’s someones home. It’s lived in by someone, so it has character, comfort and conveniences that a hotel room doesn’t. We also like that many house sits come with the responsibility of caring for a pet, usually dogs or cats. Having a pet around, that we can play and cuddle with, gives a sense of comfort and calmness that is surprisingly nice, especially while being so far from home.
Wondering where we find our house sitting opportunities? We've had great success using Trustedhousesitters.com. It's easy to use, looks good and they are constantly updating and improving the website. We've done several house sits through Trustedhousesitters.com and communication through and tools on the website have been easy to use. We appreciate that a membership to the site comes with access to a 24 hour vet line, that thankfully we haven't had to use yet (fingers crossed!). It's a popular site, which means there are plenty of opportunities. That said, there is also plenty of competition for opportunities, so be prepared and apply to the one you want quickly.
In many ways, finding a house sit is like looking for a job. We need to find an intriguing one, apply, and go through an interview process. But one important thing to remember, is that just as much as the home and pet owner is interviewing us for a good match, we’re interviewing them as well. We’ve had many house sitting experiences and from each one we learn something new. We’re stepping into someone else’s home and life, so we need it to work well for us too. This isn't just for our comfort and benefit, but also for the homeowner and pets. There are, of course, compromises we’re willing to make, but there are also must haves.
When we apply for a house sit there are specific things we look for. These may not be things you’re looking for, but perhaps they’ll help you to think about things that you’ll want for a great house sit experience.
Read more about house sitting, the sites we recommend and other lodging options in Cheap Alternatives to Hotels: Save Money on Lodging!
What We Look for in a House Sit Assignment
Accessible by Public Transportation
We don’t want to rent a car if we can avoid it. We like walking and traveling by train and bus wherever we can. If a sit requires a car, we usually pass.
High Speed and Reliable Internet
We’re both consultants and work remotely. It’s vital to our livelihood that we have reliable and high-speed internet access. All ‘broadband’ isn’t equal, and peoples definition of broadband varies as well. Over time we’ve learned to ask the homeowner what their internet connection download, upload, and latency are, by asking them to run a speed test from Speed Of Me. It's a great lightweight, non-flash based speed test site that even works on mobile.
Not Too Many Animals
We both adore pets. Dogs, cats, turtles, guinea pigs, … etc. We love them and at one time or another have had them as pets and cared for them. However, we know our limits and capabilities. House sits with too many animals are beyond our current capabilities since we're sightseeing and working. Committing to a house sit with too many animals would be a disservice to the pets and the homeowners.
A Location We Want to Be
House sitting is more than just accommodations in exchange for pet or home sitting. We want to travel and see new places. So, we look for house sits in places that are on our travel bucket list. Usually, that means somewhere that we haven’t been before.
We look for house sit listings that give detail on the pets, homeowners, the home and the responsibilities. We’ve found that listings with very sparse descriptions aren’t good matches for our personalities. We’re very detail orientated, so having a homeowner who is similar, leads to a mutually beneficial experience.
House sit listings vary in the number of pictures shown, from zero to a dozen or more. Having pictures gives us insight into the pets, the home and the lifestyle of the homeowner. We want it to be a match for both sides, so making sure that personalities, organization, and lifestyle match, is important.
We occasionally run across a homeowner who has expectations that seem unreasonable for us to accomplish in conjunction with our travel goals. We have a clear understanding of what we can and can’t do. So we know how many dog walks we can fit into a day. We know how much time we can dedicate to daily chores, and we know how much time on average we’ll spend at the home, with the pets each day.
We’ve seen house sits range from a couple of days to a couple of years. However, for our current travel style the ideal house sit should last somewhere between two and three weeks.
Don’t Feel That You Have to Give Up a 'Must Have'
When we first started house sitting we felt that we needed to accept every opportunity that came our way. The competition for house sits can seem fierce, and it can feel like the homeowner has all the decision making control. In our case, we make sure we keep both the homeowner’s needs and our needs at the forefront. We want a good fit for both us and for the homeowner. Any other way is a disservice to both of us. If the opportunity doesn’t seem right, if it seems like we’re giving up too much, then we’ll pass. If it’s not us, there’s someone else out there that’s a good fit. Overtime, if it doesn't seem right, we’ve learned to step back and let the opportunity go to another person, because surely, there’s another opportunity just around the corner.
This strategy has led us to find amazing house sits. We’ve had homeowners contact us months later and ask us to sit, even when they originally found someone else. We’ve been asked back by homeowners on several occasions. We’ve seen big cities and small cities. We’ve met some amazing pets. Ultimately, we’ve fallen in love with house sitting and think, maybe, just maybe, we’ll do it in some capacity or another, indefinitely… Don’t hold us to it though…