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HOMEOWNERS: 23 Things to Consider About Your Home, Pets and Neighborhood to Find Your Right Housesitter ~ PART TWO

Finding the right housesitter isn’t rocket science, but finding the wrong one can mar your experience and holiday – as well as the housesitter’s.

In the first part of this series, we considered 9 things you should discuss with your potential housesitter to be sure he or she is right for you and your pets. In Part Two, we’ll consider things about your home and location that are worth discussing with your potential sitter.

YOUR HOME

Consider your home as a stranger would.  Homes are quirky and no housesitter is looking for perfection, but it’s best to describe drawbacks upfront. The goal is to allow the housesitter to determine if this is a good fit for her – not to "sell" your house. Here are some things that you might no longer "see" about your home:

10. Odors

Do you smoke, frequently use incense, or have mold? If so, disclose these things so you don’t engage a housesitter who is allergic and won’t be able to stay in your home for health reasons.

I once traveled – at great distance and expense – to a home that had mold throughout. I got sick the first day and spent the rest of the housesit “living” in one bedroom. I needed to be out of the house during the day in order to escape the impact of the mold – debilitating sinus headaches, flu-like aches and exhaustion. It took me a month to recover fully!  

The homeowner was obviously not affected by it – as her right housesitter would not have been. I, on the other hand, was not her right housesitter!

11. Internet

Is your internet slow or unreliable? Do you have frequent power outages? If you’re not on-line all the time, as some digital nomads who housesit are, then you want to search for someone who won’t be bothered by this.

12. Weather

During the time when your housesitter will be there, is your home drafty? Hot? Out of power because of frequent storms? One homeowner forewarned that her flat was drafty during the chilly winter weeks I’d be there. I appreciated the “heads up” as I knew to pack extra clothes to keep me toasty.

Although the weather in Turkey was colder than expected, Kelly Hayes-Raitt still enjoyed her "kitty-time." Safranbolu, Turkey

13. Clutter

How cluttered is your home? You will, of course, want to make space for your sitter in a bedroom, closet, the bathroom and the dining area or office. But if you are a bit of a collector, let your potential housesitter know so she knows what she’s walking into.  

I’ve housesat for some avid collectors whose boxes of stuff lined walls throughout the home. I travel with colorful shawls, which I drape over the boxes to “hide” them. Experienced housesitters know they are "living on top of" other people’s stuff and have learned to adapt to accommodate your home and stuff – and their own needs.

14. Lack of Amenities

How unfurnished is your home? If you’ve recently moved or are setting up your household for the first time, you might not have a fully stocked kitchen, or a comfortably furnished home. This isn’t a deal-breaker – there’s no need to be self-conscious about your home – just be honest so you attract someone who will be comfortable.  

I once nearly took a sitting assignment in London in a flat with no shower (or shower head). When I realized that during our Skype tour, I asked the homeowner, who had envy-inducing waist-length tresses, how she washed her hair. She used the kitchen sink. I can think of many housesitters for whom that would not have been a problem – but it was for me. I love my morning shower, so I would not have been her right housesitter.

And best to disclose if you have no TV!

15. Cleanliness

How clean is your home? If you’re a white-glove clean-freak, you will be happiest with a housesitter who is, too. If you aren’t, you might consider hiring a professional cleaner to come a day or two before you leave to deep-clean the gunk off the kitchen cabinets, clean out the fridge and give the bathroom a welcoming sparkle.

16. Unusual Features

Do you have any unusual features that may impact your housesitter’s comfort?  E.g., a waterbed? A fireplace that has its own maintenance requirements? Don’t assume anything when you are asking someone to live in your home. What you love might not be in their comfort zone.

17. Physical Limitations

Does your home have a lot of stairs?  Is it a steep walk back from the mailbox? Is your tub difficult to get in and out of? Is your home on the seventh floor of a building without an elevator? Will your sitter need to haul around large bottles of drinking water or big bags of pet food? Is your dog huge – and a jumper or leash-puller? Is it a home with small spaces that would be uncomfortable for a tall person?  

Be sure to mention these things so you don’t end up with an unhappy housesitter who can’t maneuver around.

18. Bugs

Everyone’s got ‘em. How bad are yours?  What kind are they? What do you do about them?
I housesit regularly in Mexico. We have cockroaches and the occasional scorpion. I deal with it – but not every housesitter will, so I’m sure to disclose that when I interview potential housesitters to take over for me.

Fleas? Some people are more sensitive to their bites. If you don’t regularly use a flea regime on your pets, and you don’t notice fleas, start looking! You don’t want to engage a housesitter who can’t interact with your pets because she’s allergic to flea bites.

A recent housesitter blogged with photos of her extensive flea bites incurred at a housesit where the homeowner was impervious to bites. Turns out, the homeowner had a severe sensitivity to flea powders and was upset with her for taking it upon herself to treat the kitty with flea powder. – A classic case of wrong housesitter/homeowner match!

YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD

19. Noise

You’ve probably tuned out the church bells ringing down the street or the neighbor’s dog barks, but that doesn’t mean your potential housesitter will. Some people are more sensitive sleepers, so it’s good to disclose if your upstairs neighbor gets home from the nightshift and unwinds at 3:00 am with a loud movie. Or, if you share a wall with the newborn next door who hasn’t yet learned to sleep through the night.

Do you live near a fire station? Police station? Hospital? Church? Mosque? Are you in an airport flight path?

Be sure to mention any nearby mosques or churches that might be a noise problem for your housesitter.  Penang, Malaysia

20. Location and Transportation

Consider your location – honestly! How far away is the nearest grocery store, pharmacy, vet, restaurants, public transportation stop – in walking time, if you are not leaving your car for your housesitter’s use. Will your sitters be schlepping up a steep hill carrying groceries?

Will your housesitter use your car? If so, what are the housesitter’s license requirements? Additional insurance? If not, but a car is necessary, disclose this and what options exist (cheap taxis?  neighborhood car rental service?).

If you are providing the use of your car, are there frequent maintenance issues? ("Air in tires needs topping up frequently.")  Quirks? ("It pulls to the right.") Special parking or traffic regulations (which your housesitter, who might be coming from a different culture with different laws, might not know of)?

21. Neighbors

Discuss any issues you have with neighbors that might affect a housesitter’s enjoyment of your home.  No need for a housesitter to stir a hornet’s nest unnecessarily.

22. Security

Disclose any recent break-ins and how you adjust your security to deal with it. Disclose any nanny-cams or security cameras. Some sitters will not accept an assignment if cameras are active. Best to disclose this before you engage the wrong sitter.

Mention any security issues occurring in your city or country. Are there frequent political demonstrations that should be avoided? Particular neighborhoods that are unsafe? Don’t let your housesitter discover a problem the hard way!

23. Season of Housesit

Consider the specific time of year the housesitter will be at your home. Is it during a holiday when many restaurants and services will be closed? I once had a housesit during Ramadan in Penang, Malaysia, just up a hill from a mosque that broadcast nightly prayers. Frankly, I loved this and sat out on the balcony every dusk meditating during it, but I know many sitters who would have found the noise intrusive.

What will the weather be like?  Is it during storm season?  Be sure your housesitter knows this and is prepared. I once applied for a housesit in Mongolia during January – before I learned that the weather is so cold then that one’s eyelashes freeze! Walking a nine-month old puppy during that time was not the right housesit for me!

By being honest about your home, pets, needs, expectations, and limitations – and by avoiding trying to oversell – you will weed out housesitters who are not right for you and attract those who are, thereby saving applicants’ time – and yours.

Finally, consider what you think is special about your home and pets. Your right housesitter will feel that those very same things make your home and pets special to her, too.


Author Bio

Kelly Hayes-Raitt

Kelly Hayes-Raitt has been housesitting full-time for nearly a decade.  She also engages housesitters for some of the homeowners for whom she regularly sits and estimates she’s screened more than 100 housesitting applications.  She’s recently written How to Become a Housesitter:  Insider Tips from the HouseSit Diva, available on Amazon or www.HouseSitDiva.com

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