Money buys bet­ter chance that you’ll find hap­pi­ness

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS -

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. Neigh­ 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 Neigh­ 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. 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.

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