House Sitting is exactly the help you need when you are away

By Narelle Neville - Full time International House and Pet Sitter

As a fulltime house sitter I meet homeowners with all sorts of reasons on why they come to me. House sitting is increasing in popularity for both sitters and those requiring the assistance of a house sitter. For sitters, seeking out alternate solutions to manage travel or living expenses or perhaps expand their horizons through living in different places and getting a pet fix while they are at it. And home and pet owners who aren't satisfied a dog kennel or cattery is the right solution for their pet, or it may be cost inhibiting, or those services and options don't exist in their area.

For me personally, I chose to start house sitting as I had just moved back to the city where I was from after spending eleven years interstate. I had a new job to get stuck into and some family time to catch up on but showing some suspiciously commitment phobic traits I wasn't interested in committing to a lease or long term living situation. I saw house sitting to be a good solution for me to be situated where I needed to, keep my living expenses down and meet some interesting people and their lovely pets along the way.

I have house sat all over the world, in Australia where I am from and where I started house sitting. More recently I have been house sitting in Spain, France, Portugal and Tunisia. In seeking house sits and connecting with homeowners I was very quickly able to identify that where ever there is an expat population there is a need for house sitters.

This makes a lot of sense as expats travel frequently to return to their country of origin, but as they are settled in the county they now reside they usually have a home for which they are responsible and often have pets to care for. Some of the homeowners I have helped recently were new to house sitting and needed help to understand how it works, connecting, setting up and agreeing to an arrangement. All homeowners I have sat for share one common thing, and that they are grateful to have someone care for their pets and home while they are away and relief is not too strong of a word for the comfort they feel when they leave their assets and pets in the hands of a respected and experienced house sitter.

Recently I was contacted by a homeowner who had bought a property with her husband in the Algarve in Portugal but had only been there for six months. It was a real joy to be able to explain how it works and what she should expect and hear the ease settle over her as we spoke about me coming to care for her cats. I welcome any homeowner, fellow sitter or those interested in house sitting to get in touch as one of the things I love about house sitting so much is the connections I have made and the interesting people I have met.

If you are a homeowner and have some travel coming up and need your home maintained and kept secure, garden cared for and pets doted on then house sitting is the only option I would recommend. A responsible individual or couple can come into your home and pick up exactly where you leave off as you head to the airport, train station or down the motorway. And this is one of the most significant benefits. A sitter lives in your home so that solves any security concerns, if any inclement weather should occur preventative measures can be put in place to manage storms and other weather events, and the disruption to your furry, fluffy, flappy and fanged family (while they will miss you) will be at an absolute minimum.

The process of finding your perfect house sitter is reasonably straight forward. It does take some time and forethought, but I believe for every homeowner there is a house sitter that is a perfect fit. Think of it a little bit like going through the process of employing someone but remember house sitting, where payment is not involved should always be an arrangement of mutual benefit. For the security and upkeep of your home and care for your pets, the house sitter will expect comfortable, clean living with the conveniences that are found in most modern homes. Wifi is a must, own bedroom and bathroom, utilities included and possibly access to a vehicle if your home is remote and not serviced by public transport.

Once you have decided getting a house sitter is the solution you can choose to seek out a sitter by advertising or select a sitter from the many who are actively offering their services. For homeowners advertising is usually free and there are a number of house sitting websites you can join, create a profile and have applicants send through their credentials to you. You may not even have to advertise, perhaps there is a colleague, friend, family member who can do it, or recommend someone. The other option is on the same websites run a search on your area and the house sitters available and see if you can set up a chat with a few, or perhaps there is one that really strikes you as suitable and you can just start with them. Once you have a connection you may wish to check for references, if they are local have them visit the property and meet the pets.

Once you have decided on a sitter, make sure your schedules match up, be very specific with this. Dates, times, arrivals, departures and modes of transport all need to coordinate. Make sure you swap at least two forms of communication like email, phone, Messenger, Skype or WhatsApp and stay in touch in the lead up to the sit. So if you would like to get away but haven't in a long time because you weren't sure who would look after the pets and the garden, or perhaps you have relocated or don't want to burden friends or family there is a solution.

Narelle continues to travel while house sitting and has just completed looking after a kitten in Tunisia, the owner an American woman returned to the US for Christmas and didn't want to burden her friends for the twice-daily pop-ins to feed Matteo, and he is also a little terror, prone to mischief so having someone in the home to play with provided peace of mind. Narelle would love to hear from you if you need a house sitter or maybe you just want a bit of advice, she also offers a house sitting placement service called Find me a House Sitter if her availability doesn't align with your needs.

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