How would you like to live in a comfortable home for free?
Welcome to house sitting, where homeowners offer their homes for free in exchange for trustworthy people to take care of their house and pets.
After meeting many great house sitters and spending 1 month on a 3.2-acre cinnamon plantation in Sri Lanka as a house sitter, I came to the realization that most pro house sitters have certain traits in common.
These are traits that homeowners are looking for to make sure they are leaving their house in the right hands. By knowing them ahead of time, you can be sure to prepare and communicate these when you apply for your house-sits.
They Are Respectful
One of the most important differentiating factors between amateur and professional house sitters ones is the degree of respect with which they treat the entire experience.
Respect of one’s property, respect of one’s pets, respect of one’s customs and respect of one’s privacy. Are they the type of person that would get mad if you post pictures on Instagram of your time with their pets, or are they looking for such pictures to ensure their animals are in good hands?
You can only know if you are able to listen, which leads me to the next most important trait pro house sitters have in common.
They Are Great Communicators
As most great communicators, you must know when to listen, and when to communicate any important news to the homeowners.
Would they rather get a daily, weekly or monthly update? Do they want you to clean the bathroom, wax the doors and fix the broken lightbulbs, or are they solely interested in you taking care of their pets and walking two hours a day?
You should know which questions to ask and what to report. This really depends on the homeowner’s preferences, so be sure to ask ahead of time.
Here are some of the questions you should ask;
- Have you ever house sat before?
If so what did you like/ not like about your experience?
- Do your animals have any important preferences or habits I should know of?
What are their names?
- How often would you like me to give you updates?
- Do you have any plants I need to take care of?
How often do you water them and how much water do you give them?
- How often do you usually clean your house (or get your house cleaned)?
- How are the neighbours? Would you like me to integrate into the community or to stay reserved?
- Does anyone in the community know you are leaving your house?
- Is there anyone you can trust in case of an emergency?
Do you have their contact information? (If not then creating a document with the important numbers is a must.)
- Any allergies in the home?
- Anything else we should know about the house?
Runny water faucets, insect infestations, pool sanitation, landscaping, etc.
- Any other questions about us?
They Are Animal Lovers
Many of you may have asked yourselves, why would anyone want a stranger staying in his or her home for free? Well, the most common reason homeowners offer their house is because they need someone trustworthy to take care of their pets.
This is the most important common trait all professional house sitters have in common.
If you don’t like animals, then you probably should not apply for any opportunities that ask you to take care of pets. The homeowners will automatically know if you are a genuine animal lover or not.
Boy, do we miss Pumba!
They have Green Thumbs
Knowing how to work around a garden is a huge plus. Many homeowners are already retired and own a small garden. They will be counting on you to make sure their plants stay alive.
While living on the cinnamon plantation, I was asked to help unload, mix, and transport over one ton of soil. Although I did not expect to be working so hard, the experience kept me in shape and taught me the value of building a garden from the ground up.
They Can Be Handy Men/Women
I’m sure you can take care of a broken light bulb, but what about a clogged drain?
Or how about remaking cement stairs with a local in Sri Lanka? To my great and happy surprise, I had to do just that! You never know when you will need your hands, so having dexterity and being coachable can be advantageous.
If you already own a home this can also be a positive differentiating factor, as you will have a better idea of what it takes to keep a house healthy.
They are Autonomous & Experienced
Having a sense of independence is very important. Will you need to call someone every time something goes wrong, or can you put on the gloves and fix it yourself?
Most pro house sitters will never have to communicate the minor things, as they will fix it themselves. The homeowners are out on vacation, so the last thing they need is someone back home stressing them out about all the minor details.
They are Trustworthy & Clean
Last but most certainly not least, all pro house sitters exude a sense of trust. Homeowners must feel they can depend on you, and that you will maintain and protect their home while they are gone.
This is the key to a successful and satisfactory house sit.
Have These Traits? Then Give House Sitting a Try!
Having these seven traits makes you the ideal candidate. In the event that you are not yet good with your hands, or don’t have any experience taking care of plants, don’t worry. The beauty of it as that you now know what you need to work on if you want to make a great house sitter!
If you have already house sat or are planning to do so, I invite you to comment on your experience. Did these traits help you have a successful house sit? Are there any other traits you would add to the list? Looking forward to seeing your answers!
About the Author
Joaquim Miro is a happy and curious adventurer, digital marketing guru and founder of The Alternative Ways travel blog. He is currently on a never-ending quest to discover the undiscovered food, cultures, landscapes, and alternative lifestyles. His dream is to become a professional paraglider, cook, and digital marketer, all the while helping people build and grow their career through travel. You can also find him on Facebook and LinkedIn.