If you like the idea of scoring free vacation accommodation or switching up your career and exploring a bit of the world at the same time, you might consider getting a job as a house sitter.
Living like a local in a different state and stepping into someone else’s shoes for a few weeks, all whilst looking after their home and pets, is an appealing prospect for sure. But the obvious question for anyone considering it is - can you really make money by house sitting?
House sitting is exactly what the term implies. Homeowners in need of pet and/or property care invite an individual, couple, or family to live in their home and take on their daily responsibilities while they’re away.
No two house sits are the same and as such there are a wealth of different opportunities on offer. Some require the sitter/s to commit for just a weekend, some for a month, others for over a year.
You’ll often hear people refer to house sitting and pet sitting as the same service, however the requirements for each can vary greatly.
As the term suggests, pet sitting requires a sitter to look after one or multiple animals. Pet owners can either choose to have a pet sitter take the pet into their home for the duration of time the owner is away or invite the pet sitter to care for the pet in the owner’s home.
In a situation where a homeowner does not have pets and requires a sitter for property care only, this is referred to as house sitting. However, some people also use the term house sitting to cover sits that involve pet care too!
The important thing to note when considering a house and/or pet sitting opportunity is what the owner expects from their sitter and what they are offering in return. Make sure you read the details of the listing carefully and make sure you’re happy with what’s outlined and are confident that you can fulfil the role before applying.
If the owner expresses an interest in having you sit for them, ask questions and communicate any concerns you might have before accepting the opportunity. A good idea is to have a list of questions to ask so you make sure you cover all bases.
It’s important to ensure that you’re both on the same page to avoid any misunderstandings once the sitting job is in progress.
It is your choice whether you charge a fee to house and/or pet sit. There are arguments for both charging a nightly rate and for offering to sit for free depending on your motivations and personal circumstance.
If you register with a popular house and pet sitting platform like House Sitters America, you can choose either to charge for your services or house sit for free. Some house sitters may opt to offer their services for free as the benefits of house sitting itself will be enough. Other house sitters choose to charge for their services in order to earn a living. These ‘paid’ house sitters usually house sit predominantly in their local area, have insurance and/or are bonded, have a lot of house and pet care experience, and come with a lot of references and 5 star reviews.
If you search online, you’ll find a number of resources suggesting nightly rates for a house sitter that vary between $25 and $150 a night. Prices vary by State and often reflect the number of pet/s and level of property/yard care required.
When the owner chooses to have the sitter care for their animal/s in their own home the nightly rate can vary dramatically depending on the situation. It is here where the definition of a pet sitter can also be extended to include that of a house sitter. In this situation the nightly rate is set at the discretion of the sitter and may be adjusted to reflect the additional responsibilities, such as house and yard work, taken on during their stay.
In short, there isn’t one standard rate that house and/or pet sitters can expect. Fees should be agreed by both the owner and sitter and reflect the circumstances of the sit.
If you choose to charge a fee to house sit you could consider the following factors when deciding on your day rate;
The national average nightly fee for a dog or cat kennel is around $40 per animal. By employing a house sitter, the homeowner is already saving on these pet motel fees. They may be better off putting this money towards a house sitter to care for the pets in the comfort of their own home and familiar environment. As a house sitter you may take this into consideration when determining what to charge.
It’s important to understand exactly what you’re committing to by accepting a house and/or pet sit. Before agreeing to an opportunity, take the time to talk to the owner to find out what their expectations are and what financial commitments you will need to take on during your stay.
Ask whether or not they expect you to cover the cost of basic utilities like power and water, and if you will be expected to budget for gas and pay for vehicle insurance during your stay.
If you’re being paid to house and pet sit in the USA and are not a resident of the country, you will need to apply for an employment visa. If you are accepting payment to house sit you may consider drawing up a contract between yourself and the owner that outlines the terms you have both agreed to. You must declare any payments you receive for house and pet sitting on your annual tax return.
Whatever your motivations to house and pet sit take the time to work out what sort of opportunities you’re looking for and what you feel is fair in terms of payment. Remember, not all homeowners are looking to pay for a sitter so be upfront about your expectations in your online listing and initial conversations. Outline your fee structure clearly and provide references from recent sits you’ve completed if possible.
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For the last six years, I’ve been pet sitting so that people can travel and be assured their precious pets and homes are going to be taken care of.
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This site has changed my life, allowing me to explore the country in an affordable way, with short term commitments, so I may see where I might like to settle down after 15 years in Alaska. The homeowners who have endorsed me have become new friends in many ways, and my life is richer as a result of this very interesting experience. Thank you for keeping it going! Evan
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