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Publié le by NmNomador

Living on Top of Other People’s Stuff: How To Keep Track Of Your Belongings While Housesitting

Keeping track of your belongings is trickier when you are housesitting and living on top of someone else’s stuff.  Some homeowners clear space in a closet or dresser, but others may not have the room. So, this is your chance to get creative. Here are my tips, gleaned from eight years of full-time housesitting:

  • As you settle in, find one place where you will always put the keys when you enter. It might be in the door lock (if it can’t be accessed from the outside), or in a bowl on a shelf near the door. The, um, key is to find a place that is intuitive and easy where you will automatically drop the keys upon entering.
  • If you are a chronic cellphone and key misplacer, you might want to invest in a Bluetooth tracker. These little devices (such as Qwer and Tile Mate) slide onto your key ring or into your wallet or suitcase.  Misplaced valuables are found by pressing a search button on an app that activates the device’s beeping sound and shows the last location of your valuable on a map.  (How’s that for tracking lost luggage?) Press the button on the device and your misplaced cell phone rings.
  • I find one hiding place for my passport, credit card and other valuables and one consistent place to hide my laptop every time I go out.
  • Even on long housesits, I limit my “living” to certain spaces in the house so my belongings and work items aren’t spread around.
  • I find one place to unpack where I keep all my clothes together. At one housesitting assignment in a cramped terrace house in London, I used the baby’s crib as my “dresser.”
  • Ditto for the kitchen:  I keep all of my dry goods in one space and arrange my refrigerated stuff in a single compact area.
  • Bathrooms can pose the biggest challenge, as they are usually small and already cluttered. For shorter sits, I have a small travel bag with pockets that hangs over a towel hook. This is where I can easily keep my toiletries and toothbrush.

For longer sits, I buy an over-the-door hanging storage organizer that has plastic pockets meant for shoes and hang it over the back of the bathroom door. This becomes my medicine cabinet where I can stow a hair dryer, toiletries, medicines, needle and thread, etc. I put my “office” items in these pockets, too. These organizers usually cost only a few dollars and I leave them behind. When I leave my recurring housesit in Mexico, I roll the filled storage unit up and stow it in a closet with my vitamins, shampoo and cold medicines -- all ready for me when I return.

  • I put a cup in the bathroom for my jewelry, and it’s where my rings and necklaces always go. Cups are tougher for curious cats to get into.
  • Computer and phone cables are easily left behind, so I proactively focus on where I plug them in.  I charge my phone in the bathroom and leave it on the counter near the sink where it is visible and less likely to be forgotten. I use only one outlet for my computer cord. Exception: Bunny sits. Computer, phone and other nibbly-tempting cords go up on a shelf – one shelf – and stay there!
  • Some housesitters take photos of how the house looks when they arrive before they move the homeowners’ belongings to accommodate their own stuff. When they prepare to leave, they return the kitchen cupboards, fridge, bathroom and elsewhere back to the original states.
  • One of my first purchases in a new location is hydrogen peroxide to keep on hand for emergencies.  I use it as a topical antibiotic for kitty scratches, a dental cleanser, and a “de-skunker.” (Mix 1 quart hydrogen peroxide, ¼ cup baking soda, and 1 teaspoon dishwashing liquid. Wearing gloves, apply liberally to area hit by the skunk, rubbing the mixture through the pet’s fur down to the skin. Let stand about 20 minutes and rinse. Repeat, if necessary.)
  • To absorb lingering smoke smells, place around bowls of vinegar.
  • I carry binder clips, the office supply that is usually used for securing stacks of papers. They have multiple uses: Pinning up clothes for drying, pinching bags tight, temporarily (or longer!) repairing a torn hem or busted luggage strap, holding electronic cords neatly, tightly closing recalcitrant shower curtains, and, of course, keeping my papers organized. They do anything that duct tape, clothespins, or safety pins do ...and more.

My Best Tip: I wait to unpack until I’m rested. I unpack with intention, really focusing on my task and paying attention to where I put my things. I leave my belongings out in plain sight, so as I pack to leave, I can easily scan the house for my stuff.


Author Bio

Kelly Hayes-Raitt

Kelly Hayes-Raitt has been sleeping around as a full-time housesitter since 2009.  An award-winning writer and journalist, she has just published How to Become a Housesitter:  Insider Tips from the HouseSit Diva, and is hard at work on a book about her experiences in the Middle East working with Iraqi refugees.

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