How to Avoid House Sitting Nightmares – 10 Questions to Ask Before Confirming a House Sit

A fancy house with a large pool and some cute pets are enough for you to say yes to a house sit? Don't decide too quick, and ask these questions first to avoid a house sitting disaster!

How to Avoid House Sitting Nightmares – 10 Questions to Ask Before Confirming a House Sit

You found a house sit that looks absolutely amazing, you applied for it, the pet owners have gotten back at you and it looks like they even want you, too? Congratulations, this is awesome! But now hold on for a second!

 

Before you scream YES and buy your flight tickets, breath in and out first, and then ask the pet owners for a phone or video call. To make sure the house sit goes smoothly and is a perfect match for both parties, it's essential to share each others expectations upfront.

 

Wait... you're new here and don't know what house sitting actually is and how it works? Please read first my other blog post How to Become a House Sitter, Travel the World, and Never Pay for Accommodation. It's a great resource helping you to get started with house sitting.

 

You already know exactly what I'm talking about? Great, let's get right into this to make sure you have an awesome house sit coming your way! The checklist below covers some of the most important questions to ask the pet owner, before agreeing to house sit for them. 

 

 

01. What are the responsibilities regarding the pets?

Most important question. You must know what to do and how to handle the pet(s). Some pets need more attention and care than others, or show unusual or weird behaviours (such as peeing all over the place). Be aware of what are you going for. Ask if the pets need any special treatment or medication and make sure you are fully capable of doing this. 

 

If you dog sit, ask how many walks the dog needs per day, and also how many hours you can leave the pet(s) alone. If they say no longer than 1 hour, maybe it's time to reconsider.

 

 

How to Avoid House Sitting Nightmares – 10 Questions to Ask Before Confirming a House Sit

02. Is anyone else staying at the house during the house sit, or is anyone coming in while I'm there?

You might think it's a funny question to ask before confirming a house sit, but I experienced house sits where the mother of the pet owner came over occasionally to check on me. One time she even wanted to sleep over. Needless to say, I wasn't too excited about it. On the other hand, I don't mind a helper coming in for cleaning. 

 

 

03. Are all utilities included?

I'd be surprised if a pet owner would ask me to pay for AC usage or other utilities, when I'm offering free pet sitting services in exchange. Luckily, it has never happened to me, but unfortunately it seems common, especially when it comes to longer pet sits over 1 month.

 

My personal opinion is, I would only agree to pay for anything above the regular usage, for a house sit that lasts for several months. I understand pet owners concern about having a sitter, running the AC 24-7. I can pay whatever is beyond the regular monthly bills, but I'm definitely not willing to cover 100% of the utilities. Nope, I would not confirm that house sit.

 

 

04.  Are there any security cameras inside the house that I should be aware of?

This is a question that never crossed my mind in the early stages of house sitting... But oh boy, experience taught me otherwise. My friend confirmed a pet sit and discovered 4 cameras on her first day in the living room. She had no clue about it and the owners did not tell her before. Needless to say, she was quite upset.

 

Surveillance cameras are more common than you think these days, I came at least across this issue five times within 60 house sits. How to deal with this? Ask the pet owners upfront about any security cameras, before you confirm a house sit. No need to feel bad about this question. I definitely want to know about any cameras, before agreeing to a house sit.

 

Personally, I don't mind cameras in the outdoor areas to look for intruders, but a camera in the living room would be a deal breaker for me. Sorry, not sorry.

 

 

05. Is there AC or heating system in the house?

If you house sit in areas with extreme temperatures, you want to make sure to feel comfortable during your stay. Airconditioner is a must in hot regions, as well as a heating system is mandatory in cold areas. You'll be surprised not everyone has it. So go ahead and ask before confirming the house sit.

 

 

How to Avoid House Sitting Nightmares – 10 Questions to Ask Before Confirming a House Sit

06. What are the sleeping arrangements?

It's common that some pet owners will not offer their bedroom to sleep. I understand that. Privacy and stuff. If that's the case, you better find out if they have a guest room available, hopefully with a comfortable bed, and not just a pull-out couch so you can get a quality night's sleep. Personally, I would not confirm a house sit where I had to sleep on a couch for more than 2 nights.

 

Sounds unnecessary , but I always ask if they provide bed sheets, blankets, and towels. It happened to me once that there was no blanket on the bed. When I asked for it, the pet owner gave me an airplane blanket. It was not exactly what I was hoping for.

 

Another thing to consider is that some pet owners might wish you will let the pet(s) sleep in bed with you. Are you OK with this? If yes, cool. If not, better ask now before confirming the house sit. If it's a studio or open space, you might have no choice.

 

 

07. Is there a TV, Netflix, Internet?

A good Internet connection is a must for me. I usually ask if they have high speed WiFi, and make sure it's unlimited. If they live in a rural area, I ask them to do a speedtest and send me a screenshot with the results. I need to be sure to have a stable internet connection before I agree to house sit for someone. My blog is my livelihood, no connection would be a nightmare to me.

 

A non-existent TV isn't a deal breaker for me, although I do enjoy having Netflix.

 

 


08. How is the public transport, how far are grocery stores and restaurants?

There are a ton of house sits in complete remote locations. While some people might enjoy this, others might get crazy about it. I'm definitely the latter one. Usually the house sit description will tell you if a car is necessary to get around (and if they provide a car). Even if it's not mentioned, it might be a good idea to discuss the home's location, public transport and distances to the nearest restaurants and grocery stores.

 

 

09. Are there any other duties I'm expected to do, beside pet sitting?

Some house sits come with more responsibilities than other. You better be 100% aware of what the pet owner expects from you. I don't mind keeping the house tidy, watering some plants or emptying the mailbox besides my regular pet sitting responsibilities, but I wouldn't be keen to mow the lawn or clean the swimming pool. Generally, big properties come with bigger responsibilities. Ask the pet owners about all your responsibilities before you confirm to house sit for them.

 

 

How to Avoid House Sitting Nightmares – 10 Questions to Ask Before Confirming a House Sit

10. Can I see more pictures of the house, or do you have time for a quick video call to show me around?

This is an optional question, but it can be a very important one, especially if the house sit listing has no pictures of the home itself, but 20 photos of their pet. I get it, your pet is cute, but I want to see pictures of your home, too.

 

I want to see if the house is in a clean condition, I want to see if it's bright and if I can imagine myself being there for some time. Cluttered, dark and dirty houses are a no-go for me. Never ever assume their home is amazing, without seeing any pictures or videos of it. 

 

Always ask for pictures or videos of the home, before you agree to house sit!

 

 

Bonus Question (for you!): What do I know about this destination and why do I want to go there?

This question is not directed towards the pet owner, this question is for you. Sometimes I get overly excited seeing all those amazing house sit offers, showing large swimming pools or fancy interior... Just a few of these things are enough for me to think OMG I want this house sit!

 

Before you jump to sending out your application, save yourself and the pet owner some time, and ask yourself What do I know about this destination and why do I want to go there?

 

If your answers are because it has cute pets / a pool / great views / luxury amenities, or it's just a super long house sit, hold on for a second and do some research about the destination. An amazing home and cute pets are not always enough for a wonderful house sitting experience.

 

Make sure, everything about this house sit fulfills your expectations and fits your lifestyle.

Know that you are 100% capable of treating the pets the way they deserve to be treated, and love and care for them like they're your own.

 

If everything sounds great to you, go ahead and confirm this before the owner decides to go with someone else... I hope you found this checklist useful and it will help you to turn your house sit into an amazing experience – for both parties, the pet owners, as well as you.

 

 

If you think I may have forgotten some important questions, please leave them in the comment section below, so I can add them to this blog post, keeping this guide valuable.

 

If you think of joining TrustedHousesitters, you can get 25% off on your membership now, and apply for unlimited house sits around the world. Happy house sitting and happy travels!

 

 

Some further reading about house sitting:

 

How to Become a House Sitter, Travel the World, and Never Pay for Accommodation

If you're new to house sitting, you might want to read this blog post first, it will help you to get started with house sitting and explain you everything, from creating a profile, to finding house sits, application process, etc.

 

House Sitting Checklist for Pet Sitters  – 50 Important Questions to Ask the Pet Owner

You're off to your first house sit? This blog post will prepare you in every way, including 50 essential questions to ask the pet owners, covering everything from the pet(s) routine, the home and the surroundings...

 


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Sabrina Iovino is the founder of JustOneWayTicket.com. She's half German, half Italian and has traveled to more than 50 countries around the globe.

She feels weird to write about herself in the third person, so she'll switch now. Phew...much better! Let's restart:

Hi, I'm Sab! This is my blog and I write about the things I love. Mostly.

 

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