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What homeowners look for in a great house sitter is important when applying for house sits.

To understand what homeowners look for when they advertised for a Housesitter, we approached a number of Homeowners for their feedback.

This is what they had to say, in their own words…….

Owners of two dogs in a small French village

We were looking for fit people who enjoyed walking and who had an empathy for dogs.

Also it was important that they didn’t mind living in a rural area far from the delights of city life.

As we walked for over 2 hours a day anyone who looked like this was possible for them was considered. We felt that there had to be at least a couple so that if anything happened the other person was able to help.

i was a little worried that our house was not considered ‘modern’ enough for some people and knew that it was important that transport was available for the sitters.

We have used home-sitters a few times over the years as we like to travel and we are always a little anxious taking our pets out of their home environments. Home-sitters seemed a good solution to us – our pets would be able to stay in their own home, plus we would have the security of having someone in our home whilst we were away.

Owners of a Dog and a Tortoise in a UK city

We decided to change from a house sitting site that paid their house sitters, to a site that no money changes hands. Our main concern was the cost – very little of which went to the home-sitter. Given the day-rate charges we were looking at adding thousands of pounds to the cost of the holiday.
When we started using online services our major issue was having to take a sitter on trust. Obviously with the old offline method the company concerned vetted the sitters; online it was all down to us and our judgement!

We selected on the basis of:

  • Availability
  • Commitment to the task (we had several applicants who saw this as a great way of sight-seeing all day – not great for our dog!)
  • References
  • Knowledge of the local area was not essential but an obvious plus
  • Experience with other sits
  • Experience with dogs (and indeed tortoises!)
  • Experience with life (we had one or two lovely younger candidates but we weren’t sure if they could manage in a crisis, plus several were really using the sit to look for work – see ‘commitment’ point)
  • We favoured a couple – for the same reason (they could help each other in the unlikely event something went wrong)
  • Simply – whether we liked them (we did face-to-face interviews over Skype)

Family in an English village with two dogs and a cat

When we go on holiday my dogs have never stayed in kennels, they are used to having freedom in the house and garden, and would hate to be shut in. Kennels can be very noisy. One of my dogs can be quite anxious and I think would be very unhappy in kennels.  This is why I prefer to have house sitters.

The key things I was looking for in a house sitter were reliability to arrive and depart when agreed, experience with dogs and cats, a liking for animals, the ability to manage a large dog, willingness to look after the house too, people I felt I could trust.

I did have concerns that I could be let down, that the pets would not be cared for properly, that the house would be damaged.

I  was really looking for house sitters who had past experience with animals, travelling, house-sitting, references, and the opportunity to skype.

Also, it was really important the house sitter had the ability to walk the dogs regularly, especially a large dog, that can pull. I turned down an offer from an older lady due to this.

English Couple in rural France with two dogs

When we advertised, it was primarily for someone to look after our 2 dogs whilst we were away as we didn’t want to put them into kennels again. I guess the obvious and main concern was trust, letting strangers into our home and entrusting them with the care of our dogs, which was why we looked carefully into the vetting process undertaken by the house sitting website.

Once we were satisfied with that, we advertised and had several responses. The things that appealed to us about the couple we selected were;

  • they were are a couple rather than a lone sitter,
  • they had their own transport and could make their own way to our home,
  • they had good reviews,
  • their back-story, professional backgrounds and reasons for sitting were clear and appealing

We had the opportunity to Skype (and on that call we noted that they had taken the time to remember the dogs names, which sealed the deal!).

A lesser reason – but one which did contribute to our decision – was that they don’t charge for sitting, and it wasn’t so much the cost saving, it was their non-financial motivation for doing what they do which appealed to us.

Couple in a small English village with 4 rabbits

We wanted a house-sitter as we wanted our rabbits to be looked after in their own home rather than putting them through the stress of a boarding home. We also liked the idea that our home would be lived in and kept safe whilst we were away.

We wanted a sitter/s who had some experience with animals and would be attentive to their needs. We were keen to have a sitter who was physically active and not afraid to get their hands dirty as the cleaning of their large runs requires some physical effort and agility!

We wanted someone who was trustworthy and reliable and would put the animals needs first, but we did not expect the sitter to stay in all day. We wanted someone who would also enjoy the local area and what it has to offer to make it an enjoyable experience.

We wanted a sitter who communicated well, and who was genuinely interested in looking after our pets and home rather than just free accommodation. We also wanted a sitter who would keep our home (and the bunnies home) clean and tidy and respect our home. The ability to do some background research is also helpful e.g. googling the person to ensure they are genuine.

We were turned off by free range hippies and wacky pet healers! No reviews or not so good reviews. Also people who asked to invite grandma, uncle Jim and aunt Lilly too, we felt this was overstepping the mark a little.

What made the difference in our selection was being able to communicate with them beforehand and talk through needs and whether the sit is for them. Some people assume a rabbit just sits in a hutch all day and requires little effort whereas the reality is they are just as hard a work as other pets.

Family in an English town with 2 dogs, 1 cat, 1 parrot, tropical fish and pond fish

We wanted house sitters in order to keep our dogs and cat at home. From the great response we had we finally chose our house sitters . Why this particular couple? Well they were a couple which I preferred. We kept in touch as soon as dates confirmed.  The references provided were excellent and many house sits under their belts.

Arriving the day before we left our home was a good way of getting to know each other and leaving the day we arrived within the hour was brilliant. I like to walk into an empty house (my preference) as I find you have to turn into a host on your return. We just wanted our home and animals to be cared for the way we take care of them.

Updates and photos were always welcome. The more the merrier for me.

By choosing the correct house sitters is having peace of mind through your holiday.

One of things that put me off one couple was all they were interested in was speedy Wi-Fi, this made me think that they weren’t interested in my animals. Also, another put off was house sitters not responding in an appropriate time .

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