Think of it as babysitting...but instead of watching the neighbor's kids, you watch their house instead! Me and my hubby have been housesitting in our spare time here and there over the last 4 years. It's a pretty simple idea really, you just keep an eye on someone else's house while they are gone. Most of the time this means sleeping at their house, however I know that's not always the case.
To find house sitting jobs...it's always good to have a few references in your back pocket before you market your services to everyone. Do a few house sitting jobs for friends or family and instead of getting paid, just ask for a good reference if someone calls. After the first couple times when you've established a good house sitting reputation, go ahead and offer your services in the local newspaper, or any local classifieds. You can have a set price per night, or you can just be willing to work with them according to what they want you to do and how long they will be gone.
Most of the time, you will be house sitting homes with animals because pet owners want to know they their pets will be well taken care of while they are gone, and having someone stay at the house with the animals puts less stress on the animals while they are gone. Just know this ahead of time and think about how many animals you are comfortable with watching. It's a big advantage to be comfortable and knowledgeable about taking care of many different animals because those of us with many many different animals know how hard it is to find someone that will take care of all our creatures while we are gone!
When you visit a potential home, pay attention to detail. Make sure you are listening to what they want you to do. If it's alot, ask them to leave a detailed list before they head out so you make sure not to miss anything. Ask where simple things are, towels, bedding, pet food, ect, so you don't snoop around their house. Also, if they have any animals with special needs, make sure you find out what these are and if they need any medications ask how to administer and when. Also make sure the family has a number for their vet somewhere where you can find it in case you need it. Get the phone numbers of the family for where they will be while they are gone just in case you need to contact them about something, however only use those numbers if absolutely necessary. Do you like to be pestered while on vacation?
While the family is gone, keep the house clean. You want to make sure when you leave you leave the home in as good of shape or better then how you found it. Make sure you wash, dry, and put away any dishes you use. If the family let's you eat from their pantry, do not consider that an invitation for a all you can eat buffet. Replace anything that may need to be replaced. Something we always do is to make sure you wash the sheets of whatever bed you stay on, dry them, and remake the bed before you leave.
House sitting can be a great little side job and works particularly well if you don't have kids. It can almost be a mini vacation for you too! Plus, if you do a great job the family is sure to ask you back again for future vacations.
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