House sitting is an ideal way to travel the world, especially if you’re traveling on a budget but prefer all comforts of a home. For me, the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions house sitting is free accommodation. That was one of the main reasons I’ve decided to join this ever growing community of people living in other people’s houses.
However, as I’ve learned from traveling around my home-country of Australia, there is so much more to house sitting than just hanging around in some stranger’s house, making sure the stove is turned off. So, if you’re somewhat of an adventurer, you’re in for a treat, because house sitting is all about expecting the unexpected.
Here are some things you should take into consideration before embarking on this great adventure:
1. Cleanliness is next to godliness
When it comes to paying 0$ for accommodation, there are bound to be some issues involved, like sleeping on a park bench or having to go to a public toilet. Luckily, that’s not the case here. Imagine having a comfortable bathroom and walking around the house in your underwear after a nice long shower. There is always plenty of hot water and no queues for the toilet. This is especially important for us girls. Also, having access to a domestic washing machine is priceless. Clean underwear and sheets are a luxury you can’t afford while staying in a cheap motel. There’s nothing better than coming home after a long day of sight-seeing, taking a relaxing bath and falling asleep in a freshly made bed.
On the downside, not every house owner is completely honest when it comes to the state of their home. Here’s where you learn the proper meaning of the phrase ‘variable standards of cleanliness’. You can end up in a construction nightmare like Peter and Tracy McDermott did, house sitting in England. Or Jill Shelton after not following her usual protocol of requesting photos because it was someone she knew. When confronted with a huge pile of dirty dishes, wet towels on the floor and a filthy bathroom, you’ll probably think twice before applying for a house sitting position ever again.
2. You can end up winning a housing lottery
According to Travelling Weasels, my fellow house sitters, it is possible to travel in style, even if you can’t afford it. Staying in mansions with swimming pools, for example, might be in store for you if you decide on house sitting for your next trip. They’ve also been looking after houses with tennis courts, home gyms, nature reserves as gardens, deserted beaches round the corner and the best of all – an organic vineyard in Italy.
The only downside of being able to sit these spectacular houses is that you probably won’t be staying in the city or the location might not be that great. Usually, the houses in the city are a bit less fancy because of their location.
3. Some homeowners are the best
Most of the homeowners cover the basics – picking you up from the airport, preparing you a home cooked meal or leaving some food in the fridge which is all much appreciated upon the arrival. Being somewhere for the first time can be a bit stressful since you have no clue where anything is. Some will be so kind to show you the area and the secret spots known only to locals. However, there are some homeowners who will go a bit further, like stocking the place up to the max and expecting you to eat it all. Or preparing you a wonderful feast consisted of the most famous local dishes. Others will treat you to some amazing day trips which was again the case for the fortunate Travelling Weasels. Their Australian homeowners invited them to stay in their unit when they were visiting the Kangaroo Island. It was certainly a trip they will never forget.
On the other hand, there are some house owners who are not that great. Before accepting to sit for someone make sure you’re on the same page regarding your daily schedule. There were cases where neighbors informed the owners about sitters not being on the property for hours at a time which is completely normal when exploring the area. So, make sure you cover all the bases during the interview and get homeowners to be very clear about their expectations.
4. Have a pet like you’ve always wanted
Because of my hectic schedule and frequent travels, I was never able to have a pet even though I’ve always wanted one. So, being able to take care of a homeowner’s furry little creature is a dream come true, especially for a huge animal lover like me. I consider it to be the most important task when it comes to house sitting. It spares owners the stress of leaving their adored pets in kennels as well as not knowing if they are in safe hands. Kennels and catteries are often very busy places where not all the animals get enough attention. This is extremely important when it comes to elderly pets or the ones with certain health issues.
But, for someone who truly loves animals, nothing says home more than a warm cuddle from a man’s best friend or a cute little kitten. And if you’re looking for that unique farm-like experience, sit for owners who have horses, sheep, chickens and everything else. Just make sure you realize the amount of work which this type of house sitting requires.
Downsides to this are many:
You are confined to the pet schedule. Animals do get sick and need to be cared for; well-behaved pets might not behave that well when their owners are gone; very old pets may die. Just make sure you’re up to the task when applying to be a pet sitter as well.
5. Have fun being a weirdo
Don’t worry, it’s not just you, it’s everyone!
When it comes to snooping around and doing weird stuff in other people’s homes, you’d be surprised how many house sitters confessed of doing exactly that. According to a survey done by an Interior design company Hillarys, 54% of questioned 3,015 Brits, answered ‘yes’ when asked if they’ve done something while house sitting that they didn’t want the homeowners to find out.
The list of these misdeeds includes: Snooping through cabinets and drawers, neglecting chores, trying on homeowner’s clothes and/or shoes, inviting friends/partners to the house, opening the homeowner’s post, driving the homeowners’ car/vehicle, drinking the homeowner’s alcoholic beverages, impersonating the homeowner, sleeping in the homeowner’s bed and using the homeowner’s toothbrush or personal items.
In their defense, traveling is all about discovering new things and what better way to fully emerge into a new culture than to thoroughly experience the life of a local.
The only downside to this is ending up in an uncomfortable situation if the owners ever found out. So, be careful, stay crafty and have as much fun as you possibly can. House sitting is definitely one of the best ways to ensure exactly that.