House sitting - 5 vital questions every house sitter needs to ask
5 questions you can´t afford not to ask before confirming any house sitting gig
So you created your house sitter profile and applied for a couple of sits. After some declines (that´s totally normal), you are now in contact with a potential (first) home owner. Congratulations!
But before accepting the sit, make sure you ask a couple of questions to avoid surprises and stress.
Ideally, ask them in a video chat, via phone or even in person (if you live in the area). You can also ask in an Email or text, but I personally prefer a video chat. You just get a better feeling for the home owner. Also, you can see the home and pets, which is a big plus.
Find out the pets´ routine and character
The pets are the main reasons why the home owner looks for a sitter (at least with trustedhousesitters.com). So ask as many questions as you can think of. Having an untrained puppy, who pees everywhere, chews on everything and needs nearly 24hours care, can be quite stressful.
However, your questions can also show the owner that you care! That you know what matters and you can show off your experience. The owner will feel much more comfortable having you as his/her sitter.
Look up the breed online in advance, so you know what to expect and what to ask. You will feel much more confident. You know what to expect and how to handle the pets.
Some examples. What do the pets like and dislike? How do they interact with other pets? Do they need medication? What is allowed and what isn´t (furniture, in/outside, food, off leash)? How long can you leave the pets alone? When do they eat? When do you walk them? Do you need to brush, groom or wash the dog? These are only some examples of what to ask.
Talk Arrival and Departure dates
Always talk about the date of their arrival and departure as well as your arrival and departure. It´s one of the most important things! Additionally, ask to get their dates in some kind of writing.
It happened to us more than once that the dates were messed up. Luckily, all three times we asked about their arrival a couple of days before the sit ended. Also, we traveled by car and were therefore a bit more flexible.
Believe me, the last thing you want is to change your flight because the home owners come back one day later. And nothing is more stressful, than a home owner coming back earlier. You may haven´t even started cleaning the home and packing your stuff at this point.
So to avoid this stress. Always ask home owners about their travel plans. Where are they going? Which airport or airline do they take? So you can look up flight times online. Offer to take them to the airport/ to pick them up. This way you really know for sure.
This is mainly for your peace of mind. How do you get there? Can they pick you up? What about public transport? Will you need a car? If you have a car/ need a car, what is the parking situation? If you sit a dog, how do you get to dog parks or other places? Do you take him in your own or their car? Does he have a service west? What is in case of an emergency when you need to get dogs, cats or other pets to the vet?
Clear these things up before accepting a sit. If you don´t have a car, but you even need a car to get groceries, it complicates things. You may need to rent a car (extra costs). Also, if you don´t like dogs in your car, say that. You might find a solution together.
Good sleep is important. After all, you are housesitting to travel, explore and relax. The best location, most adorable pets or most beautiful home won´t do you much good if you are too tired or stressed to enjoy it.
I think it´s safe to say we had it all by now. Beautiful, quiet bedrooms with comfy beds where we slept better than in our own bed. We had cute snuggling pets sleeping with us in the bed and didn´t even notice. But we also had very small beds, uncomfortable beds and noisy bedrooms. We also had dogs sleeping with us in the bedroom and waking us up multiple times in the middle of the night.
If you are not big on sleep, you are fine. But if you need your beauty sleep, or pets in the bed are a no-go for you, ask where you will sleep and where the pets will sleep.
Home care and maintainance
Even so the pet is the main concern of/for most owners, you will live in their home. And that is a huge deal for many people. So be respectful and ask some questions about the home as well.
What will be you responsibilities besides the pets? Besides mail and recycling, ask about cleaning, plants and the garden. Some people may show you on your arrival how to clean the home or how to water the plants. Most homes are smoke- and drug-free. So if you are a smoker, ask if/where you can smoke as well.
House specifics and emergencies. Doors and windows might need a little twist to close. Some alarm systems or ACs have their specifics in order to work. And some homes might have a sump pump in the basement that can fail, leaving the basement under water (yes that happened). Other homes are in areas where electricity is unstable or Hurricanes and Tornados can happen. Just ask about such things and what you need to know for such situations.
It´s okay to say NO
As you can see there are many questions to ask. And there will be more questions to ask on your arrival. But ask these five questions before accepting a sit and it will take off many concerns and stress on both side.
Also, don´t accept the home owner to be fully organized and prepared. Most are not as familiar with house sitting either. For some it´s maybe the first experience with house sitting. Others are just not organized that well.
So even so the main decision is with the home owner, you should also ask questions and decide for yourself if the sit is for you. It´s totally okay to say no if you don´t feel comfortable. In the end, it´s your holiday and your free time.
If you liked this post, please share it with your friends and family! The more, the merrier! Let´s change the way of travelling together!
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