What is a house sitting service?: Episode 120
April 2, 2018
Have you ever heard of House Sitting?
My husband and I have a running argument about traveling. I want to travel more. He's concerned about the cost of getting care for our two rescue dogs, Izzy and Winky, and my Moluccan cockatoo Mr. Grant. And it's not just the cost. It's the upheaval that the animals have to go through when we leave. So when I found out about these house sitting websites that are out there, I HAD to dig deeper and learn more.
What is a House Sitting service?
House sitting is the practice whereby a person leaving their house for a period of time entrusts it to one or more “house-sitters”, who by a mutual agreement are entitled to live or stay there temporarily. Either in paid positions or rent-free, in exchange for assuming any combination of responsibilities, such as taking care of the homeowner's pets, performing general maintenance (including pools, lawns, air-conditioning systems etc.), keeping trespassers off the property, readdressing the mail, and in general, making sure that everything runs smoothly just as if the owner was at home. It is reasonably assumed that pet-care is typically a paid service, although some “house sitters” may choose to include this as part of their agreement at no cost or a nominal fee. 
I found two people who use house sitting services regularly
The first person I spoke with was Jo Ann Schneider or Josie for short. Josie and her husband have been all over the world! They have been able to travel to places that others only dream about because of the costs. She and her husband are retired, and they receive Social Security among their other ongoing payments. But for most people on a fixed budget, traveling around the world might not be an option. How did they do it? They used house sitting matching services. Josie and her husband had been staying in bed and breakfasts when they found out about house sitting.
“In 2008, we were in Australia and we were staying in bed and breakfasts. I had a book of bed and breakfasts in Australia, and we would look in the book to find a place to stay in a town we were headed towards. In Alice Springs, in the red center of Australia, we booked a bed and breakfast, and we got there and our hostess said, “I'm not the homeowner here. I don't own this place. I'm just house-sitting for them.
We looked at each other and looked at her, and we were very confused. And she explained how you meet up with home owners on websites and that you can go and stay in someone else's home while they're on vacation, and it's an exchange that no money changes hands. It's free to the traveler, and the home owner gets peace of mind knowing that their home and often their pets are looked after.”
Their first house sitting experience was for a young couple in Copenhagen and they stayed in their home for 6 weeks while the couple traveled. However, when I interviewed Josie, they had just returned from an 8 month, around the world, house sitting experience!. They started in Helsinki, worked their way down through Scandinavia, UK, seven countries in Europe, Singapore and Australia, and then back to the US where they live.
I asked Josie how she was able to do this and get the trip scheduled in advance
“We kept adding on. It's logistically impossible to have them all scheduled or committed to beforehand. In an eight-month time period, the people eight months out were not posting their need for house sitters yet. So yes, we had to do it as we went along.”
Not only does the house sitter get to stay for free, but you get to have amazing experiences
“They're all unique and very, very different from staying in a hotel in that you have neighbors, and the homeowners often introduce us to the neighbors.