It makes no difference if it’s your first house sitter or your tenth, packing for a trip abroad and preparing for a house sitter to care for your home and pets while you’re away can be overwhelming. When preparing for a house sitter it is worth considering what kind of information you should provide, how much detail you need to give, how you can make them feel welcome and comfortable in your home and city. When preparing for your sitter you also need to consider their experience especially if you have pets to be cared for. Here are some top tip for those all important preparatory notes and boundaries you might want to consider…
My family and I have successfully completed ten housesitting assignments in eight cities around the world. We have had wonderful experiences getting to know homeowners and the lovely places they live. We know how hard homeowners work to prepare for our arrival so we’ve created this mini guide to help make getting ready a little easier.
1. Homeowners, when preparing for a house sitter you need…
Having a house sitter come stay in your home is much different from having friends or family come stay. You don’t know much about your house sitter personally and they don’t know much about you.
Naturally, when a pet is involved, homeowners focus on preparing detailed information about how to best care for their beloved animals. But, there are lots of other things in your home that are important to you too, right?
Establishing some house rules including area’s that are off limits, food and drink that house sitters should and shouldn’t consume, and clear guidelines on do’s and don’ts when it comes to personal property will make both you and the house sitter feel more at ease.
The thing that causes the most anxiety for homeowners and house sitters is uncertainty. Homeowners are handing the keys to they’re home over to a virtual stranger and house sitters are traveling sometimes long distances to stay in a place they’ve never been.
Here are a few key boundaries homeowners should define before they depart for their trip.
What areas of the house do you want house sitters to enjoy?
Are there any important items or valuables in those areas that you don’t want anyone to use or touch? If so make sure your house sitter is aware these items are off limits or remove those items all together. We’ve had homeowners who’ve designated an office or bedroom as off limits. They placed expensive or special items in that room to prevent them from being broken or damaged.
Set expectations in the kitchen.
When preparing for a house sitter some homeowners provide a few staples like milk, bread, and eggs to get house sitters started. But, is everything in the fridge okay to consume? We usually bring our own provisions and purchase any other food we need and want during our stay. Condiments and Spices are usually available for house sitters to use. We always replenish anything we’ve finished. What’s in your freezer, steaks or an expensive roast? Establish what’s available for use before you leave.
Some homeowners leave some wine or beer as a welcome gift. That is very considerate and we understand that doing so is not an open invitation to raid the liquor cabinet or empty the wine cellar.
Make it clear what your house sitter can and cannot eat and drink. Doing so will help them avoid making big mistakes like drinking that nice bottle of wine you were saving for a special occasion or eating the expensive steaks you bought for a barbecue you’d planned for your return.
2. When preparing for a house sitter share what you love about your town
The thing we love most about house sitting is getting to know the places we visit on a local level. When homeowners share what they love most in their town, the places they love to eat, shop, or grab a coffee it makes our house sitting experience so much better.
We’ve had so many great experiences because of homeowners tips. Befriending an off the beaten path restaurant owner in Panama, seeing the most incredible castle in wales, and sharing pints with locals in the smallest pub in the UK were all unforgettable things we did because of homeowner recommendations.
Think of the cafés, restaurants, and bars you love, and share that information with your house sitter. Who serves a cheap and delicious lunch, where’s the best coffee in town, share your expert knowledge to help your house sitter have a great experience in your city. Don’t just limit it to places to eat. Where are the best walking trails in town, what is your favorite park for a picnic, which markets are popular with locals? All of this information is like gold to a traveler. Inside knowledge about hidden gems in a new city saves travelers time and guarantees more authentic travel experiences too.
Don’t just limit it to places to eat. Where are the best walking trails in town, what is your favorite park for a picnic, which markets are popular with locals? All of this information is like gold to a traveler. Inside knowledge about hidden gems in a new city saves travelers time and guarantees more authentic travel experiences too.
3. Play tour guide
Visiting a country where you don’t speak the language comes with its own set of unique challenges. Doing so can make finding things like movie times and information about events happening in the city more difficult. You can help your house sitter by sharing information about popular entertainment venues and events that will be happening in town during their stay.
If you can, pick up maps and brochures from your local tourist office so you can review them with your house sitter. Mark your favorite places to eat and shop on the maps and offer your opinion on which attractions are best to see in the brochures.
Information homeowners have left us that was helpful included local websites for tourism and events in the area, maps detailing key attractions and services in town, information on visitor discount programs like city cards, and train and transit schedules.
4. Make some introductions
We love to be introduced to people we will be interacting with during our stay, especially when an assignment is more than a few weeks. How you go about doing this when preparing for a house sitter depends on the size and culture of your community. But knowing neighbors’ names and meeting a few of your friends will go a long way in making your house sitter feel like a temporary member of your community.
During one housesit; the homeowners introduced us to their pets’ vet before they left. This introduction turned out to be invaluable when Nemo, their sweet Corgi dog suffered an unexpected setback with his arthritis.
Think about introducing your house sitter to your neighbors, friends, and any key people they might need to contact during their stay.
5. Help your house sitter fit into local life
House sitting assignments are usually longer than a typical vacation. Because of this, your house sitter will need to do everyday chores around your house as they would in their own home. Certain challenges can exist for house sitters that wouldn’t be an issue in their home country. Language barriers, cultural mores, and logistics can all make completing everyday tasks more difficult. Your knowledge and guidance in these areas can prove to be invaluable.
If needed, focus your educational efforts when preparing for a house sitter on the following points:
Local customs– If there are any specific cultural practices a house sitter should know, discuss them before you leave for your trip. Things like tipping practices at restaurants, opening hours for shops, and common greetings is all helpful information.
Important locations– On assignments we sometimes need a post office, a bank, or hospital. Having key community spots like these on a map is very helpful, along with any other tips, like the best places for different everyday tasks.
Getting around town– Make sure your house-sitter knows where to find public transportation schedules and how to buy tickets ( pay the driver / buy in shops or from machines). Tell them about any websites or apps that will make getting around easier as well.
Grocery stores and local markets– Where do you like to purchase meat, bread, and household supplies. Tell your house sitter, your knowledge will make finding things easier for them. If you have a loyalty or discount Card for stores, think about leaving it so your house sitter can benefit from the discounts.
We understand that preparing for a house sitter can be confusing. Setting clear boundaries, sharing your favorites, and educating your house sitter on where to find key products and services in your city will set your house sitter up for a successful house sit. Homeowners that have taken the time to do the things listed above helped us relax and feel at home. Their invaluable suggestions helped us have a great time and make the most of the places we’ve visited as well.