Deciding to house sit full time is one of the best decisions we made outside of deciding to become global expatriates over a decade ago. It suited where we were in our lives perfectly, even if the decision didn’t come in a linear fashion. (If you want to read about that, it’s all here.)
As writers with the ability to work anywhere in the world, we can live anywhere with an internet connection. As people who—between us—have extensive experience with numerous animals and love their company, it meant we’d get our animal fix during our travels. But that’s us. What about you? Maybe you’ve been thinking of house-sitting on a continual basis for a couple of years like we are. Maybe you’re thinking of doing a couple of sits overseas while you’re traveling. Or maybe you’re thinking of sitting locally because you’re in-between houses or because you’ve realised it’s a brilliant way to have new experiences. Whatever variety of house sitting beastie you are, we’ve popped together a couple of qualities we’ve worked out benefit any person who is looking at house sitting.
Here we go:
You’ve gotta love pets. Pretty much all house sits include pets. That’s why people are paying your bills and trusting you with their homes.
You’ve gotta get on with people. In order to get great house sits, hosts have to actually like you enough to trust you with their homes and their pets. This also means you’ve got to be prepared to be open to people who might not have exactly the same political or religious beliefs as you. When we say this, we’re not talking about house-sitting for fundamentalist racists (we’ve never encountered those in the world of house sitting.) We mean people who are kind, sensible and decent, but who may have a different perspective on the world. Generally our rule is that we keep our politics and religion to ourselves while respecting other people’s views. It’s worked for us pretty much every time.
You’ve gotta be a tidy person and you’ve gotta know how to clean a house and keep a garden neat. Have a bit of a think about what your standard of tidiness is right now. If you think tidy is vacuuming maybe once every two months, maybe house sitting isn’t for you!
You’ve gotta be trustworthy and reliable. People are trusting you with their homes and their beloved pets. If there are things in your life that get in the way of you meeting commitments right now, maybe sort those out before you take on house sitting.
You’ve gotta be open minded and compassionate! House sitting gives you an amazing insight into other people’s worlds. Having an open mind to the fact that everyone does things a little bit differently is a definite must-have. If you’re willing to embrace living in environments with routines that are a bit different to what you’re used to, you’ll find that your capacity for compassion and understanding people increases exponentially.
You’ve got to be able to say no. Apologies for the downer, but every now and then you’ll come across a situation where your mental or physical safety is at risk. If you don’t think you could cancel on the spot when you’ve arrived to a house sit for someone who has told you they’re going away for their dream honeymoon, only to find they lied a whole bunch of things, including the friendliness of their dog, the giant hole in their roof and the availability of heating fuel in the middle of winter, you might need to rethink house-sitting. The chances of this happening are really tiny—and we have ways to ensure that it never happens to us again!—but if you’re someone who is so nice you’d have trouble saying no in a situation like this, just keep in mind that house sitting may not be for you.
You’ve gotta be curious! House sitting is all about new adventures, meeting new people and new critters. If that sounds like your cup of tea then go for it!