If you spend a few months every year traveling, or if you’re overseas scouting a new retirement haven, who’s looking after your house while you’re away? Or perhaps you already have a home overseas that you don’t like to leave unoccupied. If your beloved pets are there, you might have a hard time relaxing, wondering if they’re OK. You can protect your biggest investment, your home, by getting a house sitter.
Or consider a position as a house-sitter yourself—which can be an ideal way for you to stay rent-free in a place you’re interested in exploring.
You can find a house sitter through services such as Mind My House. Susan Holtham, founder of this online community, says, “Our house sitters are generally experienced and know how to make the whole arrangement work well. We also provide 24-hour customer service by e-mail should our members need it. We also provide information and supporting document templates to help make the relationship between homeowners and house sitters run smoothly.”
Holtham adds, “Many of our house sitters are prepared to offer varied forms of reassurance that they are responsible people who can be trusted to care for your animals and property. It may give you peace of mind to search for house sitters who have commissioned a police check on themselves, who have references and/or referees, who are happy to negotiate and sign a written house sitting agreement spelling out both parties’ expectations of the house sitting assignment.” In the end, she says, “It’s all about the trust.”
Dorothy Schwartz has been a house sitter in her travels, and has also entrusted her home to a sitter. She suggests that you ask a potential house sitter lots of questions. “Speak directly with the person and ask for photos of where they live. Get references. Ask if you can get a background check done,” she advises.
People who are OK with being asked for references or a background check will make you feel better about their care of your home.
“We’ve only had good experiences. The people staying treated our house with the same respect they treat their own and probably even more so,” Schwartz says. The advantage she sees is: “Peace of mind knowing everything was being looked after. If something needs attention, it’s going to get it. Mail and paper don’t have to be stopped (which can alert thieves to an empty house). Garbage is taken out. The house is lived in and occupied.”
To save on hotel expenses, you can offer your services as a house sitter. This is a great way to live in a home abroad, while at the same time living as a local.
New Zealanders Phil and Glennis Drane have looked after homes in England and the Loire Valley in France, and have gained this insight: “The mutual trust exchanged by all parties has restored our faith in humanity, and the experiences have been so good that we find ourselves looking forward to many more house sits during the years ahead.”
Register as a House Sitter and Save on Hotel Bills
Heather and Fred Banyard, from Sydney, Australia, say, “We realized how much house sitting depends on trust, and we believe our correspondence before arriving in Denmark helped us to all feel we knew each other.” For months before their agreement to take care of a family home and dog in Copenhagen, they exchanged e-mails, telling about themselves and hearing about Happy, “a gorgeous Labrador who we came to like enormously.”
Happy’s owner Anette also offered information about places to see, where to shop, how to use the public transportation, where the special landmarks were, and so on. “We had the most wonderful month,” they say. “We saw and traveled to lots of places in Denmark, often taking Happy with us on marathon walks through the most exquisite forests that surround Copenhagen.”
R.N. of Vignau, Canada, describes herself as a retired little old lady with a small pension, and house sitting as “a great way to visit a country and not spend a fortune on hotels.” She house sat in Australia for four months and says it was a dream come true. Saving a bit of her pension for travel, she plans to house sit in Singapore and Hawaii. She wants to meet new friends and swim with dolphins. “Life does not get any better than that,” she says.
House Sitting Resources
Editor’s Note: Learn more about global travel opportunities, as well as information on retiring, living and buying real estate abroad, in IL’s FREE daily postcards.