What Lessons Did I Learn after 6 Years of House Sitting?

  October 5, 2020 travel posts 🕑 6 minutes read

Jimbaran, Bali house sit. Pool on the property.


Kelli and I have done a fair share of house sits over the past 6 years.


We rented a handful of spots and also had a home base in the USA until 2 months ago – we sold the home – but we usually did sits as we circled the globe.


Cappadocia, Turkey house sit. Living room.


I have learned a few lessons during 6 years of house sitting. I want to share these lessons to help you land more sits.


Be Personable and Warm


Kelli handles 100% of interacting between us and homeowners from first contact through the end of the sits. She is a pro’s pro in terms of being personable, warm, genuine and caring. She touches base on the potential sit by noting the pet’s name – and the homeowner’s name as well – with an introductory message. Being personable distances you from most applicants who use generic, less genuine approaches; at least based on feedback from homeowners. How would you feel as a homeowner interviewing people to care for your beloved pets and to care for your home too? Put yourself in the homeowner’s shoes. Being mindful, kind and warm eases anxieties which lets you land more sits because homeowners tend to pick sitters who emit a kind, caring, warm vibe. Would you give your house keys to anybody else?


Mansion where we house sat in Doha Qatar.


Be Accessible and Responsive


Kelli replies to messages in minutes a good 99% of the time. She is accessible. No playing around here. People want to secure someone for pet care and home care ASAP. Homeowners work off of different timelines of course but most want to hire a sitter to square that part of their travel duties away. Reply to homeowner messages in timely fashion. Instill trust. People need to know you will be accessible and responsive during the actual house sit.


Nicosia, Cyprus

Nicosia, Cyprus house sit. Front porch view.


Virtually All Homeowners Will Be Kind, Genuine, Generous and Warm


I feel it takes a special person to give you both the keys to their home and care of their beloved pets. True to form, virtually all homeowners have been incredibly generous, kind, genuine and warm. Stepping into someone’s home feels easier and more comfortable if the homeowner is generous, warm and relaxed about the sit.


Nizwa, Oman house sit. View from the roof.


Honor Intuitive Red Flags to Avoid Bad Sits or to Prepare for Negative Outcomes


We turned down a few sits because even though the sit sounded amazing, the homeowner gave off red flags. Some did not respond in days or even over a week; this flashes a big red flag on the house sitting circuit. What if something goes wrong with the pet or house and the homeowner does not reply in a week? No thank you. Never take a sit if the homeowner does not respond to you in prompt fashion during the interview process.


We only had 2 genuinely negative, post house sit experiences.


Granada, Nicaragua house sit. The home office.


One individual seemed nice as we spent a day with him before the sit but he posted a highly negative review based on untrue observations which largely did not happen. I own making one mistake but the rest involved us fulfilling his duties and he simply lied about us not completing the job. Turns out, none of the expats knew him or talked about him in a tight knit expat community in this small, little town. He could have been a miserable loner but I intuitively feel the local expats knew he was bad news and took the high ground by acting like they did not know him. Anyway, it was a rare occurrence but looking back, we should have never even asked him for a review.


Elizabethtown, New York house sit. View from the living room.


One individual did not give an honest assessment of the place where we would be sitting. Nor did he prepare us with a breakdown of the proper gear we’d need for the sit. He was nice enough but odd and downright bizarre with a few of his requests. We cut the sit short and did not bother to ask for a review from this person.


Buena Vista, Costa Rica house sit. View from the kitchen.


Again; after doing a high volume of sits we rarely had negative experiences. Most everyone we sat for was kind, caring, genuine and honest.


People Pick You for a Wide Range of Reasons


Our first house sit was in Savusavu, Fiji. We had no references prior, obviously. The homeowners did 4 Skype interviews with us. We spent 4 months watching their cats on this island paradise. One homeowner picked us because she loved Kelli’s eyes. One homeowner felt confident picking us because we had spent a month in the town where we’d be sitting, a few years prior. A few homeowners mentioned our positive reviews but most picked us for other reasons, solely based on the individual preferences of the homeowner.


Savusavu, Fiji house sit. View from the front deck.


No one needs positive reviews or a background check. Be personable, compassionate, warm, accessible and responsive to land house sits.


Treat Pets with Care


Homeowners have told us how on arriving home that their animals were happy, loved and well-cared for during the sit. Kelli and I love and care for house sit pets as we loved and cared for our kitties, back when we owned the home. Be loving, caring, compassionate and mindful of homeowner instructions. I am hardly a morning person but woke at 5:30 AM in Bali to keep with the dog’s walking schedule. Ditto for waking at 6 AM in New Zealand; animals are creatures of habit.  Treat pets with love and care. Make pets and homeowners happy. Generate good house sitter karma. Land fabulous house sits.


Tokay Gecko, Chiang Mai, Thailand house sit. On the back porch.


Treat the House with Care


More than one neat freak remarked how spotless their home was after Kelli and I got done cleaning, on their return home. Respect the house and leave it absolutely immaculate to generate good house sitter karma. I noted last week how the outside porch of a place where I sat generated some spider web tumble-weed-type collections. I clean in areas the homeowner may have missed for a few months to do the right thing and to wow them with my thoroughness. Go above and beyond. If homeowners keep 95% of their house immaculate I find that extra 3% and sweep neglected areas under couches, in tight kitchen corners or I wash walls 7 feet up in shower stalls, out of reach of shorter homeowners. These folks notice, feel grateful and in addition to boosting our house sitter karma we also get sweet reviews.


Spectacular view from high above New York City on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Kelli and I love our Yorkville house sit. The East River lies straight ahead and Roosevelt Island to the right.

Yorkville, NYC house sit. View from the living room.


Send Pictures


Kelli emails homeowners pictures of their beloved pets early and often along with updates of how the pets are doing. Homeowners love seeing and hearing about their fur babies and deeply appreciate mindful sitters who put their pet attachments at ease with pictures and updates every 3-5 days or so.




How to Land the Best House Sits Easily