House Sitting

This article highlights the finer aspects of house sitting for travellers, with practical tips and advice for both parties in the equation - those who wish to hire a sitter, and those that want to become house sitters.

Home & Pet Care Options

For many people, the prospect of being away from home for any length of time poses significant logistical nightmares. Home security, general garden care, mail collection, and pet care are factors that require solving before you can just lock the doors and go off into the bush for an adventure!

Whilst there is a growing acceptance of pets in some caravan parks, travelling with pets will still be quite restrictive. National Parks strictly forbid pets for a start which immediately limits your ability to wander. Those camp ground and caravan parks that do allow pets, usually have very strict terms and conditions, and often during peak season pet owners are refused to limit overcrowding of pets. Bookings must be made well in advance (over a year in very popular tourist towns like Broome, WA).

Another option for pet care, is to take your animal to a kennel or boarding house. Only you will know if this option is right for you and your pet, however cost quickly cancels out this option for extended trips over 2 or 3 weeks and most people generally only feel comfortable leaving their pet at kennels for short stays.

If friends, or family are not able to help out, getting a house sitter is worth considering. In fact, for the same cost as putting your pet in a kennel, you can get a professioanl in-home service including house care too. Another option is to seek a traveller who desires accommodation in your area and would be willing to take care of your property and animals in return.

Finding a credible house sitter

If you've already exhausted your list of friends/neighbours/family you can also check with local universities for students who often opt for house sitting during semester breaks, but this means putting your home and pets in the trust of a stranger.

If you've no choice but a stranger, start with a call to your local vet and even pet shop as often someone will snap up the chance to help out another pet lover in return for a bit of spare cash. Knowing the person coming to your home works in a local business, particularly one in the area of pet care is often a great indicator that they'll be responsible however there is no guarantee when it comes to what people can do - strangers or family!

Paying for a professional house sitting service can fill that void of uncertainty. To find a professional house sitter you can look on the internet. Run a quick search for "house sitting" in the search engines (such as Google, Yahoo, Bing etc) and you will find a whole range of different websites. Some will be sites that allow individuals to register their availability and you simply pick your way through the listings of available people or you might need to place an "advertisement" on their site to outline what you're after. There are also many websites of owner/operators that offer their professional services with a range of options to choose from. Some can offer to visit your home daily to walk the dog, put the cat out, bring in the mail, water the garden etc (from around $25/day), whilst others offer the full in-home service. You may find limitations finding these services if you live in a more regional area however.

So that's where ExplorOz comes in - don't forget what you've already got access to right here - through our site you have the potential to reach a massive volume of people throughout Australia. Many of course, are using this website for the purpose of planning a trip - wouldn't it be great if you could find someone interested in coming to your area that would look after your place in return for accommodation? If this sounds like something you'd like to organise, simply run a WANTED advertisement in the Classifieds within the House Sitting section stating exactly what you're looking for. General feedback for using strangers is to select a short list of potential candidates and provide them with as much information about YOU and what you expect from them. Your requests may not suit some candidates, so better for them to have the opportunity to pull out before they start. It is typical to sign up a house sitter for this sort of scenario about 9-12 months in advance if you can so try not to leave it to the last minute.

There are some people who love travelling and will avail themselves at the first opportunity to house sit. Travelling house sitters from other countries is also widely done these days with many individuals and families seeking to vacation in a foreign country at an affordable price. House sitting is now offered from a wide range of people, this includes seniors – they may be retired but healthy and willing to bear the hardship of doing odd jobs around your home or property for a short spell of time and then moving to another. The advantage is that they do not pay anything for their stay. Instead they earn money by giving house sitting service. People of many respectable professions who have retired and have the passion for travelling opt for such services. Their referrals and their advanced age give them an edge over younger house sitters.

Because the incentive for a person looking after your home could also be a place to park their vehicle, use of your facilities (water, power etc) and free accommodation, this option would be most successful if your home was set in a popular holiday or tourist area or if it offered a unique experience such as a rural setting, farm or even remote station as then you could probably come to a mutal agreement that was a bargain for all. So don't give up on your dream of a big holiday away. The logistics of house sitting and pet care could be solved more easily, and more affordably than you think!

How to be a house sitter

The job of a house sitter is multifarious. In fact, you ought to learn how to be a house sitter. Knowledge gained from practical experience on how to be a house sitter would earn a good name for you and plenty of referrals for future jobs.

Entering a contract or agreement

The responsibility of maintaining the house, garden, pool, pets and overall security lies on the house sitter. The standard practice is to enter into a contract. Regardless of the contract and source of finding the house sitter, both parties should make sure to check every reference. Home owners might even ask for a security deposit or bond to cover any damage to their property or possessions. They should also check with their insurance company if the personal possessions of the house sitter would be covered under home insurance.

One thing to set out in the agreement should be catering for the facilities and consumables the sitter would need. This includes food, utilities, and jobs to be performed around the house. Most house sitters arrange their own food and just ask for cash to provide food for your pets, if any, and other house-related needs. The contract should provide for all these in detail.

Utility payments are usually negotiable. The house sitter can be asked to pay for excess electricity, gas, and telephone use.

Here are some tips on how to be a house sitter:
  • Before taking over your task as a house sitter, make sure you have a list of phone numbers of the house owner so that he can be contacted in an emergency. Also, telephone numbers in case of emergency must be kept with you at all times.
  • Make a list of equipment you are permitted to use. This could include the refrigerator, TV, washing machine, phone, swimming pool, gym, computer, and more.
  • Get to know clearly what rooms you are not allowed to enter and where would you prepare meals, eat, and sleep. Location of cleaning supplies should be made known to you.
  • One of the most important things to clarify with the owner is the list of people that should be allowed entry for domestic chores. Also make sure that the police have been notified about you being permitted as a house sitter.
  • As a house sitter, do not make use of a room that you are not permitted to in your contract. Never give away any security code to anyone, no matter who they may claim to be. It may land you in trouble if there is a burglary later on. Needless to say, there should not be any question of taking anything away from from the house - ie. no borrowing, or lending items to others.

Finally, don't forget to look for opportunities for house sitter in the ExplorOz Classifieds - House Sitting section.

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Created: February 2012
Revised: February 2014
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