If you’ve spent any time at all on this site, you would have realised how much we love a list. They’re not just a pedantic thing, (okay, they may be a little bit in my case… I may have lists of my lists!) they’re essential to making sure that we’re able to continue living the life we want to live, traveling and house sitting around the world. If we do a bad job of it and get bad reviews, then people aren’t going to trust us with their pets and homes. With a couple of handy checklists, we’ve streamlined our house sitting process so that hosts, pets and their homes are left content and happy and we have a great time in new and exciting place.
And although the cultures and countries we’ve visited can be vastly different, when it comes to house sitting one thing remains a constant: We are taking care of someone’s home and pets.
No matter where you are in the world, people’s expectations of their house sitters are going to be similar—if not the same. People want their homes kept in good order, their property respected and their pets given the same care and attention their humans give them every day. It sounds really simple, but we’ve found that life in reality is a bit more complicated than that.
So with all that said, here are the rules/things we always do to make sure our house sits run as smoothly as possible every time:
We take all care to only accept sits that we know we’re one-hundred percent able to do. This means that we’ll be able to get there on the expected date, at the expected time and that we have experience with all the critters involved. It also means we’ll have gone through a process of vetting the home owners to make sure we understand all expectations and that there are no red flags.
We make sure we respond to all communication with our hosts promptly and politely in a conversational tone. We’ve found that it’s much better to take the time to write a considered reply to any communication than to send a rushed one-line message that comes off as abrupt or rude.
We manage both our and our hosts’ expectations by clearly going through all the things they expect from us while they’re away. We ask as many questions as we need during our video call (which we encourage you to have), via email, or in person if we’re meeting them before the sit.
We check with our hosts on how much communication they’d like while they’re away. Some people love daily pictures of their pets, some just want to go away and come home know their pets are fine. (We do this in our pre-sit questionnaire.)
We arrive on time and leave on time and make sure we notify our host ahead of time if we’re going to arrive more than twenty minutes early or leave more than twenty minutes late.
We meet our host’s expectations during the sit. This means that if they ask us to give their dog a treat each time it poops, or to play with their cat for an hour before dinner, we do it. That’s why they’ve agreed for us to be in their home, taking care of their animals. We do our utmost to match our hosts’ routines with feeding and walking times as much as possible and we find their animals are chilled out and happy because of it. (That said, your hosts should have let you know about any extraordinary expectations before you arrive.)
We manage our sleep and work spaces in a way that leaves us rested and able to meet the needs of our daily routine.
During the sit, we don’t have any guests to the home unless we’ve got an agreement with the home owner. The same should go the other way around with the home owner having notified us of anyone who will be coming to the property. (Again, we double check this one using our questionnaire.)
Before the sit ends, we top up any kitchen cupboard items that we’ve used. This includes leaving a fresh bottle of milk (or its equivalent depending on our host’s preferences) in the refrigerator and any other items we think they’d like on their return. If our hosts are non-vegan we leave a milk/milk equivalent, eggs and bread or fruit. If our hosts are vegan we generally leave their preferred milk equivalent and fresh fruit.
We clean the home thoroughly and make the sure the garden is in a great state when we leave. We always wash any linens we’ve used and fold them before we leave if they have time to dry. If there’s time before our departure and there are spare linens, we always try and make the bed fresh.
We always email or write a letter for your hosts before we leave the home detailing anything they need to be aware of, thanking them for their hospitality and the opportunity to spend time with their pets.
We give ourselves time to say goodbye to the critters. (We always get attached and it’s always a little bit sad to say goodbye.)
We always check in with the home owner after the sit to make sure everything is fine and their pets are okay.