Money buys better chance that you’ll find happiness
Holidays are dreams in real life.
The idea of swapping the humdrumness of normality with luxury, relaxation, adventure and escapism is dizzying.
But holidays are so much better when you know your home is being looked after too.
Enter the house sitter – your holiday’s knight in shining armour.
A house sitter offers peace of mind that your personal belongings (and even your pets) are OK while you’re away gallivanting at the other end of the country or on the other side of world.
So how do you go about finding your next house sitting star?
We’ve pulled together a few house sitting tips to get you started:
Start searching for a reliable house sitter at least three months in advance if you’re going away for a long period of time. Neighbourly.co.nz is a great way to advertise for people close to home who already know your neighbourhood.
Don’t be afraid to hold interviews and ask for references to find the right people.
You want to make sure the person you entrust your home to is actually trustworthy.
Got pets? You’d better decide if house sitting also includes pet sitting. If not, book a place in an animal hotel well in advance to guarantee a space.
Make sure you clearly establish house sitting expectations.
They could be as simple as collecting the mail from the letterbox every day, right through to walking the dog every morning and mowing the lawns every fortnight.
Think about paying your house sitters if they’re going to be away from home for a while.
Just a few days is normally fine without reimbursement but for weeks at a time a house sitter may expect to be paid if they’re putting their own life on hold to look after yours. If in doubt, have an open and honest conversation with your house sitter about their expectations and go from there.
Establish whether you need a house sitter or a house minder.
If you’re just going away for the weekend, your neighbour might be able to keep an eye on your place from the comfort of their own living room.
Tips for becoming a house sitter:
If you’re not planning a holiday in the near future, house sitting could be a great (and affordable!) alternative.
Tell your community via the Neighbourly.co.nz website that you’re keen and respond to any public request for a house sitter immediately.
Sell yourself. If you do spot an advert for a house sitter needed, make sure you offer a little about yourself so your neighbour can trust your experience.
Consider sharing previous experience, what you’re comfortable doing (eg pet-sitting) and why the opportunity interests you.
People are more likely to hire house sitters if they already know and trust them so start meeting and being friendly to your neighbours!
Ask for a reference if you’ve done house sitting before. This is a great thing to offer to share with those who might be looking for someone to care for their home.
Some people are professional house sitters.
These are the types of people who subscribe to house sitting websites and book so many backto-back stints that they rarely live in their own home.
Register with a house sitting website like housesitters. co.nz if this sounds a bit like you. Having money increases the chance of you being happy. But judging by a recent survey, the link between money and happiness is not a simple one.
Asked to gauge their life satisfaction by Statistics New Zealand, 69 in 100 people in households with incomes of $100,001 or more rated their satisfaction eight, nine or 10 on a scale of zero to 10. That’s high considering some folk in rich homes will be in unhappy or violent relationships, some will be frustrated at work, some will feel their existence is essentially pointless and some will support the Auckland Blues.
But then look at those in households at the bottom end of the earnings scale. About 55 per cent of people in households with incomes of $30,000 or below rated their happiness at eight, nine or 10 too. I would have expected greater happiness at the top, and a greater lack of it at the bottom. For those in households with incomes of $70,001-$100,000, it was 63 per cent. For those in households with income $30,001-$70,000 it was 66 per cent. So what’s going on? I suspect humans learn to live with bad stuff and train themselves to see value in other things when their money lives are not going great.
If that’s so, it provides a shield against lack-of-money misery. It may also help explain why more than 40 per cent of the unemployed claimed to have a life satisfaction of eight, nine or 10, which seems mystifyingly high.
A proportion of the lower earners claiming high levels of happiness will be older folk living on NZ super.
Older folk are often happier than the young.
But lower income folk are much more likely to be unhappy.
In fact 27 per cent of low-income householders rated their happiness at zero to six, compared to just 12 in the top bracket.
That’s not surprising. Money brings status and humans love status. It confirms they are doing better than their average countryman and woman.
Lower income also equals worse homes for many and a far greater likelihood to feel the money just isn’t enough to make ends meet.
New Zealand may have lost a great many of the links between the rich and the poor, but leaky buildings has kept one in place: The shared experience of living in damp homes. Six per cent of low income households have a major problem with damp.
Four per cent of income-rich households do too. But more homeowners scored themselves between eight and 10 on the happiness scale. What can be learnt from all this? I see some money rules of life at play here.
Rule one: Higher incomes increase your chance at being among the happy.
Rule two: Owning your home increases your chance of being among the happy.
Rule three: Money on its own does not guarantee happiness. Funnily enough, more people earning personal incomes of $30,001-$70,000 rated themselves perfect 10 happy than people earning more.
What else counts? I’d guess job satisfaction and leisure time, which can be sacrificed when people move up the corporate ladder, or work all hours on their business. Parents, get the foundations of education, emotional maturity and work ethic right for your kids and their chance of happiness increases. Get them wrong and the chance of their being unhappy increases.
But remember, these things are merely a snapshot of now, a New Zealand with a (half-)decent welfare state, universal super and (modestly) rationed healthcare.
Things change and money in the bank provides some insulation against change for the worse.