THINGS I LEARNED FROM HOUSE-SITTING
1) Start planning well in advance Sign up for alerts notifying you of opportunities in the area(s) you’re interested in. Often homeowners post adverts and start their search months ahead, as it gives them time to find a house-sitter suited to their needs.
2) Trust your gut There are many ways to build trust in any internet-based scenario. In addition to advice from experts, it’s important to remember that if something doesn’t feel right, it most likely isn’t. Listen to your instincts and adapt accordingly.
3) Communicate Be proactive when it comes to emails and Skype. In your initial contact, be sure that you write an email with content specifically for the advert you’re replying to. It’s tempting to send a generic ‘hello-this-is-me’ email when you’re replying to several adverts in one go, but remember that there is an actual human being at the end of that email.
4) You have to love animals (99% of the time) Most, if not all, of the house-sitting adverts I encountered involved looking after pets, which could mean anything from feeding the cat to mucking out the stables. If you’re not a fan of the furry or the feathered, you may well be limited in what services you can provide as a potential house-sitter.
5) Be thoughtful You are a guest in someone’s home, so behave accordingly. Be neat and tidy, say hello to the neighbours and don’t be too noisy. It’s also nice to say thank you to the homeowners. Write them a card, offer to get a few groceries before they return, buy them a bottle of wine – small things can make a big difference.
6) Enjoy the experience I freely admit that I was nervous before house-sitting. I was worried that something terrible beyond my control might happen, or that I’d lock myself out, or that I’d set off the burglar alarm in the middle of the night. Of course, none of these things happened, though it did take me a while to settle into someone else’s home. Trust in the process and enjoy the experience.