Following on from last week’s article on how to become a house sitter, today’s article will help you with your duties once you begin house sitting.
House sitting is a fairly straightforward affair. For the most part, you simply have to look after someone’s home and pets while they are absent. However, things can sometimes get complicated, especially when the animals of the house are not your typical pets. You may also be asked to fulfill duties that you would never have expected. Here are some tips to make your life easier.
1. Make sure you get a list of all responsibilities before you arrive, without exception. You don’t want to get all the way to your destination to discover that you’re expected to do something way beyond your comfort level.
2. Have some form of personal transport.
3. Respect the house, property and pets more than you would your own.
One of the not-s0-friendly cats we’ve looked after
4. Do every task whole-heartedly. At the moment we make a 60km round-trip twice a week to take our home owner’s Alzheimer-suffering mother for a coffee. It is emotionally difficult, especially visiting the home, but we always do it with enthusiasm. She doesn’t deserve to feel like she’s a burden on us. And after all, we knew exactly what we were getting ourselves into before we came here.
5. Go the extra distance for the home owners. Once a home owner suggested if I had free time I could stack the logs of wood lying outside. He didn’t demand it, but I was more than happy to oblige.
6. Replace what you eat or drink, if you consume their goods.
7. Don’t let people take advantage of you. Some people are under the impression that you have to work for your accommodation and will quite literally ask you to do all the jobs they’ve been meaning to do for a while but never got around to. In my opinion, you should be looking after everything but you shouldn’t be working all day – this is not a full-time job. You are doing them a favour by being there as much as they are doing you a favour by housing you. The costs and hassle of putting pets in kennels makes pet sitters a very attractive alternative.
8. Don’t expect the homeowners to entertain you when you first arrive. Usually they are pressed for time since they are about to go away. Make it known to them that you can entertain yourself while they’re busy. Even offer to cook for them the night before they leave, giving them more free time to pack.
7. Buy a GPS sat nav. This was the best buy we ever made. Life is far less stressful when you know where you’re going.
8. Get phone numbers for doctors and vets.
9. Get directions to all important places such as supermarkets.
10. Ask to be introduced to some neighbours. They will prove to be your lifeline should anything go wrong.
11. Get the homeowners’ number before you arrive in case you experience any difficulties.
12. Find out where the fuse box is. We’ve experienced a couple of blackouts.
13. Be fuel-efficient. Usually you won’t be asked to pay bills. Don’t leave the homeowners with large expenses.
14. Mingle with other locals. They may also need house sitters at some point. Some of our house sitting has been done through word-of-mouth.
15. Start an Internet business! You may find you have a lot of free time on your hands, you may as well use it productively!