500,000 bottles of sparkling wine mature in this section of the underground cellars at Cricova Winery just north of Chisinau, Moldova. Photo taken December 3, 2016.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Chisinau, Republic of Moldova.

Where are they going next? Transnistria. The country that doesn't exist!

Friday, September 28, 2012

House Sitting

Well, only a couple of days left in our current house sitting assignment. This is the first time we've looked after a pet as part of the job, and we really enjoyed it. Have you considered house sitting? We thought we'd tell you how we got into it, and what our experiences have been like.

There are quite a few websites out there for house sitting. Some better than others, and I don't think any of the ones I've looked at are perfect. We've paid the money to become members of two of them, and they've each resulted in a house sitting assignment for us, so it has been money well spent.

But, it's not been without it's frustrations.

Here's the two that we belong to...

www.mindmyhouse.com
www.housecarers.com

And then there are all of these...

www.trustedhousesitters.com
www.housesittersamerica.com
www.housesitworld.com
http://www.housesitmexico.com/

And I'm sure there are others too. It's become a popular thing because it provides value to both parties.

For most house sits of under a month, there's usually no money involved. It's rare that a house sitter would be paid...usually it's enough just to have a free place to stay. But for longer term house sits, the house sitter is normally responsible for utility bills if all they are doing is making the house lived in. If you're caring for pets or have other responsibilities, then longer term assignments may be totally free as well.

We did a four month house sit in Kingston, Ontario back in the winter of 2009. It cost us about $260 per month for heat, hydro, internet, and telephone. This was a situation where the homeowner contacted us through our profile at http://www.housecarers.com/housesitter-profile.cfm?mem=2145561395

Our current assignment here in England was also the result of the homeowner contacting us, but this time it was through our profile at http://www.mindmyhouse.com/owners/sitter_listing/9639

However, we have applied to at least a dozen advertisements on both these websites where the homeowner is looking for a house sitter. This has been where the frustration occurs.

We received very few replies. I think this is nothing short of ignorant on the part of the advertiser. If you're going to advertise for a house sitter, at least have the common courtesy to respond to each and every inquiry. I've even seen where I've applied for a house sit, received no response, and then the advertisement remains posted for weeks (and sometimes months) after the fact. www.mindmyhouse.com seems to be the worst for this...they have a lot of advertisements that are outdated and I think you have to be pretty quick to apply for the new ones.

I've also seen listings where it's not really house sitting. So you have to be careful to sort through the ones that are really looking for cheap employees, or the ones that say you have to pay them "reduced rent" in exchange for looking after their house. Fortunately, these two items aren't that common.

You need to be really flexible for house sitting. There are flaky people on both sides of the agreement and I've seen where a homeowner has had to re-list their opportunity at the last minute because a house sitter has cancelled out on them. And, we've had two situations where we thought we had an agreement and they've both been cancelled by the homeowner. Very frustrating, but some people obviously don't know the meaning of the word commitment.

But when it comes together, it can be a great experience, so we'll continue applying for house sitting opportunities despite the frustrations involved. We've loved looking after Harvey the dog for these three weeks, although three weeks is enough. For us, we don't like to stay in one place very long, although it would be better if we had regular use of a vehicle.

Ruth did a roast chicken with stuffing and all the trimmings last night. Sure was good. What does this have to do with house sitting? Absolutely nothing!


22 comments:

  1. If you weren't house sitting you probably would not have had a kitchene to cook that yummy looking roast chicken dinner.

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    1. It would depend on where we are and what we are doing.

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  2. Really nice informative post about house sitting. We'd thought about listing our farmhouse but there are so many crazy identity stealing people and rip off artists out there this looks like a pretty easy place to sign up, get the job, bring your van and tote off everything. Or am I just too cynical in this 21st century??

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    1. It all depends on everyone's personal comfort zone. From our experiences and others that we have read about it has been a positive experience for both parties. We personally think that this is a not something that a criminal would look at (it would require too much work on their part). We tend to look at the positive side and feel that most people are good people. Plus if it was that easy to "rip" people off there wouldn't be so many people looking for house sitters.

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  3. Not for me. The thought of being responsible for somebody elses' property makes me cringe. And I'm like Sherry - pretty cynical. What's to stop them from accusing me of stealing stuff. Glad it works out for you guys though even with the frustrations.

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  4. I can see the difficulties from what you posted and from the comments above. It is a great opportunity for those who do their due diligence but personally I would not be comfortable giving someone the run of my house and my bed to sleep in. When we are away over the winter we pay someone a small token fee to come in and check the house at least weekly.

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    1. As you say if you're not comfortable with leaving your place to someone else then this isn't for you. Our point really in the post was showing people that there are other affordable ways to travel that can make your trip better on the budget and give you a more personable approach to the country and the culture. Anyone who puts their house up for house sitting has their own measures for picking out their candidates, normally asking for references and abilities for the tasks that are needed, everyone is different, it's not like, saying yes to the first person that comes along. Both parties need to feel secure with their choice.

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  5. This is one of the reasons I love reading your blog every day...quite often I learn something new. This never occurred to me.
    I used to travel a lot and I can tell you that having someone look after your dog or boarding your dog, can be at least $25/day and more. A home needs attention on a regular basis as well as looking like someone's living in it. This is a win-win deal.

    Despite you writing about your direct experience, it's interesting to read other comments that immediately show the fear side of this arrangement. But I guess that's human nature. Or perhaps the effects of a fear-based media system.

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    1. CAE, I think you hit the nail on the head with your comment. We realize that not everyone will feel comfortable with this option but we feel that it is a win-win situation. We certainly hope do to more house sitting in the future.

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  6. It's great that it worked out for you to stay with Harvey while his family was away. As a pet owner, that would have been a positive for me to have someone stay at the house. Love to see red in sunsets!!!

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    1. I think Harvey is pretty happy with this option too! He is loving his walks with us and can't wait to head out the door.

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  7. I found this post very helpful as once I quit my part-time job (am in semi-retirement mode!) I plan to do this. I have done quite a bit of live in pet-sitting and feel quite comfortable in other people's homes. (especially as they tend to live much more luxuriously than I do!) It is much better for the pets as well. I must admit I have gotten my "gigs" through word of mouth and it's always been friends of friends, etc. Next month I am flying down to Chicago to dogsit for a friend. (from there I will be roaming around the Midwest) I look forward to doggie time and long walks as well as being able to explore Chicago at my leisure with a free place to stay! My dream is to do some pet/house sitting in the UK as well as throughout North America and other parts of Europe. I am hoping with a combination of word of mouth and places like Mind My House I will be successful. I've done extensive world travel but once I am retired I have to look at cheaper ways of doing it so this will be ideal - plus I am a dog fanatic! Have really enjoyed visiting Europe and the UK through your blog - can't wait until "we" get to Iceland!!! Laurie

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    1. Good luck with your house sitting. We think it is a great and inexpensive way to see the world. Any house sitting job you do you should get a reference letter from them as it will help you in your search for places. We have found that the good ones go quickly and we think the more references you have the better. It is a great way to visit many interesting places and mix with the locals and the culture.

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  8. Pro's and Con's I guess as with anything but it does seem like a win win situation if everyone is honest. You would think in this sort of situation people would be, but I must admit that I would feel a little nervous about leaving all my valued possessions in my house with strangers. I guess there's ways around that too.
    Like your take on it though, certainly worth checking out in my mind, just might do that on our next trip to Europe or anywhere for that matter.
    Thank you for sharing all this valued information.

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    1. We think that is it like minded people doing this. If they have valued possesions then they can lock them in a separate room or remove them from the house altogether. I know that if we had a house and needed someone to look after it while we were on vacation we wouldn't hesitate to get a house sitter. As we have mentioned above you can do as much or as little research into the canditate as you see fit. Again we think it works our for both parties.

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  9. I too am very interested in this topic as it could open opportunities for us to travel to different areas, your informative post about house sitting helps people like me sort thru this mess... at some point we think we will travel away from the US and do somewhat what you two are doing now. Thanks for the opinions and wisdom...

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    1. We think you will love the idea. Good luck when the time comes.

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  10. Personally I see nothing wrong with this at all.
    There's lots of people that find comfort with having "someone" in their house to ward off criminals.
    This, and couch surfing, lots of great opportunities to stay somewhere warm and safe for sure!

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    1. Yep, we agree for sure. It also allows you to experience life in the local area, definitely a bonus.

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  11. House sitting is something that I would definitely consider trying sometime in the future. :)

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