In my last post I described the positive aspects of housesitting. Here is the flipside of the coin with some potential negatives to consider.
- Flexibility required
Since housesitting arrangements usually have a set time frame, you need to plan around the end dates.
Housesits come with basic chores and maintenance to perform, at a minimum. Most of it is regular stuff you would do anywhere like feed the pets, check the mail, water the plants, keep the place clean, etc. This is usually not much trouble, but important to stay on top of.
If anything goes wrong, you are responsible. One time in Cambodia I accidentally left the back door unlocked and the cat I was looking after snuck out during the night. Since it was a young indoor cat and had probably never been outside before, I feared the worst when I realized my mistake. Luckily he didn’t run away, but it would have been hard to tell the owners “I lost your cat”.
- Lack of mobility
For obvious reasons, housesitting requires you to be physically at or near the house the entire time. This can prevent you from taking side trips, although I’ve been very lucky with homeowners allowing or even encouraging me to take side trips for up to a few days. It’s also much easier to take a day or weekend trip with cats as opposed to dogs.
- Time and energy spent finding a housesit
For me it only makes sense to do longer term housesits. At least two weeks in length but ideally a minimum of one month. That means I need to constantly scan the e-mail alerts to look for housesits that meet this criteria. If I see a good one, I will send a message expressing my interest. (I have a template for this that I modify slightly each time.) I’ve had luck with getting responses and landing desirable housesits, but realistically it may take a while to find a housesit that suits you.
- Availability not always great
Depending on the country, the housesitting “inventory” can be sparse. English speaking countries around the world tend to have the most listings.
The site I use, TrustedHousesitters, is not free. It costs around $95 for a yearly membership, with a slight discount if you can find a coupon code. And of course membership doesn’t guarantee that you will find anything. It just gives you the option to message the homeowners. There can be also be other associated costs like airfare and some housesits require you to pay for utilities during your stay.
Overall, housesitting has been a great experience and I would recommend it to anybody who likes the idea. It really is a win-win for both the house-sitter and homeowner. I’m not sure how many more of these I will do, but it’s a great tool to have in your travel arsenal.