House sitting experiences are my favourite conversation topic! The things experienced when house sitting are really fun for me. Isn’t it great to be able to go outside and enjoy the weather, while also taking care of someone’s house (and their pets, if that’s your love)? It’s also a good way to be able to relax and earn a little income at the same time.

Would you like living in a luxury home with swimming pool inside the building and a hot tub on the roof? Sometimes it is just ridiculous to see how “the other half” lives.

Of course, that’s not always the case, but most of our house sits have been in upmarket homes with all the mod cons one might imagine.

Back to reality. So, what is house sitting? For us at House and Home Sitters, house sitting refers to one of our professional sitters or sitter couples taking care of a client’s property (and pets, if applicable) for a fee, either for an agreed period of time or as a continuous service.

Many of our hundreds of sitters are retired folk (and homeowners themselves), some are writers, artists, those who work from home and can be based anywhere as long as they have reliable Wi-Fi, intrepid travellers and even nomadic full time sitters who move from one sitting assignment to the next, because they love the varying local cultures, accents and “flavours” of different parts of the country, and, finally, include people who no longer have pets and are able to engage with their favourite furbabies through house and pet sitting.

Responsible, friendly and reliable sitters taking a break from their normal routines to spend time doing something they enjoy…

This service is used by homeowners and people who are not living in the property themselves but need someone to take care of it, including, for example, executors administering a property under probate which needs a “caretaker” to secure the property pending its sale.

House sitting is a contract of exchange whereby a traveller seeks to reduce their accommodation costs, while homeowners need home security, someone dependable and experienced to take care of their pets, while also needing a way to reduce their pet care and home care costs, when they’re away traveling. The person with the pet gets professional pet care. The home’s security is enhanced by the presence of someone staying there; a real consideration in the UK with its staggeringly high home burglary statistics, a one-in-twelve chance of every single home being burgled each year. The house sitter gets free accommodation, while moving around.

OMG, ooh… Okay. Free accommodation sounds nice. But there are responsibilities which come with this “job”.

If you love pets and wish to travel more, without spending a fortune, then house sitting can be great. Forget about earning a living from house sitting though, that’s simply not a viable proposition. If you’re in house sitting “for the money” you will be sorely disappointed, and there are much better ways to earn a living.

It is certainly different than, say, paying for a hotel or B&B somewhere. Through house sitting you get to connect with people who are residents where you will stay, to fully experience what it is like to live there. While house sitting you actually become a local “resident”.

Not quite the same as Airbnb saying, “Live like a Local”.

There are two types of house sitters. Some sitters do it full time, so they don’t have a permanent home elsewhere. Often they will have a camper van for those odd occasions when they do not have an assignment. A sprinkling of sitters rely on public transport, which usually poses no problem, unless the sit is rural. Good sitters are always in demand, and can be booked up for months, sometimes even years ahead.

Then there are people who approach being house sitters as a means to a travel break. In line with the old saying that, “A change is as good as a holiday”?

They have their own home and do house sitting as a way to make their holidays more affordable.

And those who focus only on long term assignments because they work online, perhaps on their website or blog full time or, increasingly, those who WFH, i.e., work from home and that’s their job, so all they need is reliable Wi-Fi and the least disruption possible – while at the same time filling a need for the homeowner clients.

House sitting is not for broke travellers. You must still be able to afford the cost of travel in terms of getting to and from an assignment, feed yourself, and cover any personal emergencies which may arise. Of course, the major saving is not having to pay for your accommodation; but, in exchange, you have to take good care of the client’s home and any pets that may be included in the assignment (contractually) undertaken.

You might find you can suddenly afford a couple of weeks in an expensive city like London, for example. We have had many assignments in magnificent homes in London with no pets, the primary focus being on home security.

For the homeowners, it’s often more cost-effective and infinitely better for their pets to be cared for in their own home and familiar environment, than to place them with pet boarders or in kennels. Clients are also aware that the quality of pet care provided by an experienced professional sitter who lives and spends time with their pet(s) is simply worthwhile and better than what they might pay for elsewhere. Not only that, but a house sitter will also live in their home while they are away, and this decidedly enhances home security.

There is a huge variety of house sits; from those with or without pets, to those for a day or two, up to those for a year or two. It must be said though that fulltime house sitting is a really small part of the house sitting demographic.

Usually, you will have found your sitter online. Reviews may play a significant role in your choice of house sitting agency. At House and Home Sitters we have more than 150 reviews on independent review sites such as Trustpilot (4.8 stars out of 5), Google (4.6 stars out of 5), and Yell (4.9 stars out of 5), thanks to our selection of awesome professional sitters, who are ID- and address-verified, have been carefully screened, each of them personally interviewed in-depth, and reference-checked.

We constantly remind ourselves that our company is only as good as our people in it. We have rejected many sitter applicants, even some with glowing reviews on other house sitting platforms, because they have been poor communicators, displayed wrong (non-service-oriented) attitudes, promised to do something then failed to do as promised, and we have strict eligibility criteria for successful selection. In short, at House and Home Sitters we have done all the checks and balances for our homeowner clients.

Before a house sit begins, the client(s) and the sitter(s) will have a pre-assignment chat, which may include a Zoom or other format of video call, which gives the parties a chance to get to know each other, find out about say, meds needed by the cat, and so on.

Practically all of our clients feel perfectly reassured after this preliminary chat, but if they wish (and the client is prepared to pay for this), our sitters will travel for a pre-assignment meet up in person before the main assignment begins.

Our homeowner clients are also provided with our comprehensive 50-point Homeowner Checklist which must be completed for their sitter(s) before the main assignment. This includes very specific questions, and seeks to cover any issues which might arise in the client’s absence.

It’s great to be able to travel as a house sitter, without pots and pans, and reach your destination with everything already there for you. On the odd occasion, there may be special dietary or other (e.g., coeliac) requirements stipulated by the clients, but these are known upfront and ideally, the key being clear communication, there will be no surprises for either of the parties.

A sitter needs to be flexible, adaptable and able to solve any problems that might arise. As the house sitter it is your responsibility to take care of it. That’s why you’re there. We have averted some disasters for our clients during our house sitting assignments, from fire (electrical short circuit), flood (pipe burst), to preventing the spoiling of freezer contents (a simple switch trip), apart from various emergencies with pets.

If you are a homeowner seeking a sitter, you need go no further than House and Home Sitters Ltd, now in its 10th year of business. We provide the full package and, unlike other house sitting platforms, you are able to speak with a real person. We remain involved throughout the process, before, during and after your house sit. We are not “Missing in Action” on those odd occasions there are any problems (as is indeed the case with some of our largest competitors) and, lastly, we provide a premium service at the lowest rates in the paid house (and pet) sitting marketplace.

Conversely, if you are interested in becoming a sitter with us, there is no need to pay any sign up or other fees. We would love to see if we are a good fit for each other, and although our eligibility criteria are strict, and everyone is welcome to apply. The rewards of house sitting are awesome and 99.9% of assignments go smoothly, with all parties happy. You just need to take a look at our reviews on Trustpilot, for example, and you’ll see what we mean by that.

David Price, April 2022