Compensation As A Sitter

Hi Friends! One fully nomadic petsitter here, Trusted Housesitters member since 2019. I’d like to ignite a discussion around how the exchange format that is the premise of this website is working out for everyone else.

I’m currently at my fifth sit of the last six months, and I’m finding that my work/life balance here is far out of alignment. The dog for which I am caring requires a lot of attention, and it’s been hard for me to get out and do anything else. “The freedom to travel” is not what I am experiencing right now - I’m actually just working for free, and still paying all my own costs of living, travel expenses, and membership fees. I don’t like to gripe, but I have to acknowledge that it’s quite expensive for me to remain available for this work, and it’s not sustainable for me to continue in this way.

Pet ownership is a heavily monetized industry, and housesitting used to be a paid gig. It still is, if you go through other avenues.

I’m curious to know how other owners and sitters have been approaching this issue. Homeowners, do you ever compensate your housesitters? Sitters, do you ever ask for compensation? Where is the balance and what is the culture?

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Hi @curiosity_roving. I’ve never requested compensation or reimbursement for travel costs. I love pet sitting and really would hate to turn it into a paid job. That would take the fun out of it for me. Just like many people have hobbies they’re experts at but would hate to turn into paid work.

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@curiosity_roving isn’t this about the type of sit you are choosing? Some pets require more attention than others and if you want to do other things then it’s not a good fit.
I’m new (currently on my 9th sit) but have found time to spend time with the pets I’ve sat for, do some local exploring and work remotely.

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It sounds as if your current sit is not a good match for you, but might be for someone else. I’d advise that one of the questions you should ask the homeowner before agreeing the sit is how long the dog can be left, and how often. If you know what is important to you, you can ask the right questions.

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We do both paid and unpaid sits. It has even happened during paid sits that we thought to ourselves: we’re seriously undercharging for our service! During one sit one person had to be 100% alert at all times for the safety of the dog and the property, it was just exhausting! The dog had just recently been rescued and wasn’t trained in any way + was destroying the high value house + trying to escape from the garden + a lot of other things. We use THS mostly for gaps in our schedule, easy sits and places that we really want to got to. We also interview the HO probably in more detail than they interview us and ask tons of questions about the animals and responsibilities. If it’s not a good fit we don’t apply or withdraw, but once we have confirmed we are 100% committed. The easiest sits were with a single cat that could also go out, very relaxing and/or productive + lots of lap love! Some people also do only cat sits and we know a lady who is a serial sitter who doesn’t do anything except for an easy cat on the beach (she’s also busy working online).

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I’m fairly new only had two sitters so far. I think it’s important to find out exactly what the home owner wants before you accept the sit. As a home owner I’m clear on responsibilities and assume anyone applying is happy to comply.

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I don’t expect compensation, but it’s nice when it happens. One of my sits in August gave me a $50 gift card, and the guy I’ve been sitting for for 5 years, last April, put $1000 in my hand at the end of the sit. I kid you not!

But mostly, nothing, because I figure I’m sitting for 2 weeks in someone’s house that costs 2 million bucks and they are not home and all I have to do is walk the dog twice a day and pick up its mess, which to me is not work at all, I love animals.

If I had to pay for an Air Bnb for two weeks in, say, New York City or Los Angeles, two places I love to go (I was born and raised and lived most of my life in NYC until being pushed out by through-the-roof rents) it would be a couple of thousand bucks, easy.

So, no, no compensation asked for. Because I fly so much for my job as a writer at someone else’s expense, the plane fare doesn’t factor into it, and I can work remotely from anywhere.

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Hello, I get what you mean, but consider this: If you work as a paid sitter your agency or business will send you where they need your services and you have no “freedom to travel” at all, but you are just working for an employer. With THS, on the other hand, you are indeed FREE to pick the sits you want, the place, the time, the types of animals, etc. By the way, I think it is against the rules to ask for or to accept any monetary compensation here, check the T&C.

I am fully nomadic, too, and I have done more than 20 or perhaps already 30 sits, and I never expect that I will have the time to do tourist stuff during those sits. Instead I do my online work, and if I know that the HO is able to do some regular work while living with their pets I know that I will be able to do that, too. I leave fun stuff and tourist activities for the Sundays or do them between the sits. Currently, I am looking after 4 dogs, 8 cats, 16 poultry birds, 8 sheep, 2 goats and a donkey, and I still can do at least 40 hours of paid work per week on my laptop. If I was retired I could spend the same amount of time with gardening, hiking or other hobbies, in addition to looking after the animals. So what is your problem?

Sitting with THS is not a job. You shouldn’ expect any compensation other than four-legged company (which is most often a bonus rather than “work”), free accommodation, power, water and Internet. Considering the rent and bills I paid when I resided in the UK, for me, this amounts to about £70 of savings every day.

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My solution is that I advertise elsewhere for paid gigs and I turn down invitations here that look like something I wouldn’t already do for fun.

I do think some home owners have unrealistic expectations. But maybe they are realistic in some other sitter’s opinion.

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As a sitter with THS, I didn’t think it was ethical to accept money from a homeowner. I was offered money once when I applied on a sit but turned it down for that reason. THS - can you comment on this? I was under the presumption that if I wanted to do paid sits I should join another organization. I have a few times been given gift cards to a restaurant which I gratefully accepted.

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Same here. I was also offered money once from an advertiser, when a sit involved miking cows every day which is a rather unusual requirement, but I turned it down for the same reasons as you. A bottle of wine, a welcome meal or a little souvenir from their trip on return is all I would ever accept.

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Hi @Globetrotter. You are correct; it is against TrustedHousesitters Terms and Conditions to ask for compensation for pet sitting. Here’s what it says:

5.3 The following applies only to Sitters. You will:

   1. not charge for your pet sitting services;

You can find the full T&Cs document here:

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Thanks for sharing, everyone. It’s really helpful for me get some perspective on who else is using this network and how it all balances in the big picture. Keep the stories coming!

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Thanks for the clarification Karen!

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We have been full-time sitters for 2 years and are now on our 30th sit. We do this to enable us to visit new places cost-effectively and so always choose sits where we can do the touristy stuff during the sits. Otherwise, what would we be getting out of the deal?

We definitely feel that we are being given the freedom to travel as it is 100% our choice where and when we go.

The exchange seems fair. We choose a place, accommodation and pet type that suits us and the home host gets free pet & home care. We would never ask for cash but were once given a £50 gift that we graciously accepted. Asking and being offered are entirely different.

We mix the house/pet sitting situations we put ourselves in, sometimes a house with no pets, sometimes cats and sometimes dogs. We find that this fluctuates our ‘workload’ and keeps house/pet sitting interesting for us.

For as long as we are making all the decisions as to where to go and what pets we want to care for then this all seems really fair. If we ever needed extra cash then we would advertise our services and go wherever we were needed, as opposed to where we wanted to be. This is a different situation entirely and, we think, is where it is more appropriate to expect to be paid in cash to do what we are doing.

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I’ve only joined the website 2 years ago, but as a HO I have not compensated any of my sitters. I always make sure my place is spotless, and leave a bottle of wine and/or chocolates for the sitter. On the other hand, I think my sitters have a fairly easy gig. All I ask is that the sitter feeds my cat twice a day and spend a bit of time with her in the morning or evening. Aside from that, the sitter is welcome to be out of the house most of the day if they like. I also don’t require them to clean before they leave, as long as they wash up and take out the trash then I’m happy.

When I go away for a weekend I sometimes ask someone locally to look after my cat. This requires them to travel to my place twice a day, for the sole purpose of looking after my cat. In those cases I do pay, as there is very little benefit to the sitter, unless they have their own pet and it is a reciprocal agreement.

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I am extending this line of thought today because I’m curious to see what everyone else has to say. By participating in this project, we are creating a culture and market, and I want to encourage everyone to create it mindfully. Once again, I really appreciate all the stories that have been left above and they are totally helpful to me. I’m really glad that THS opened this forum - it’s a great addition to the site.

My concern is this: a form of service that used to earn money for me no longer does. It’s hard to get away from the feeling that my skills and my labour have been devalued by the emergence of this network and the widespread willingness of people to work in exchange for only accommodation. If I don’t want to do any particular job, someone else will. Pardon my pun, but it does seem a bit…dog-eat-dog?

And to double-down on the animal metaphors, I think there’s an elephant in the room here: the global housing crisis. None of us would be interested in working for accommodation if accommodation wasn’t so expensive and hard to find. The balance of power between sitters and homeowners can become a bit sticky, and I hope that we’re all going to be kind to each other.

I’m not out to cause trouble - I’ve had some great experiences with THS and I just paid my annual subscription fees again. I understand the basic truth that if I don’t like it, I can leave. We all have to move with the times.

THS has sort of done the same thing with pet care that Spotify did with music: created a smooth, centralized platform for two things that used to be monetized, and changed it to a subscription format to divert some of that money into their own pockets. As on so many online platforms, you and I are the products being sold here, my friends.

I’m a young person. I don’t have a pension, I don’t own property, I don’t have investments. If this network and this format are one step in the direction of moving us toward a post-work, cashless economy that values community flourishing, mutual cooperation, and generous exchange, then I am all for it, but as long as I have to pay with Real Money for my food, education, clothing, etc. I am going to be somewhat concerned about making sure that I get paid or at least tipped when I perform labour.

I have other streams of income, like everyone here, but based on how this next year goes, I’ll probably make a decision about whether or not I belong in this volunteer role going forward.

Your thoughts?

Admin Notice: Post moderated, word removed.

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A clean home and a warm welcome is always appreciated. No compensation required.

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I agree with both views, some sits we happily do for free but on the other hand some HOs on THS have a bit strange expectations. E.g. just read a listing where hiring a car for 600 EUR per month is mandatory (and you care for 3 animals, one of which needs medical attention). We would happily do the caring part but are not keen to pay for our stay.

I think a lot of this depends on your motivations and the sort of personality that you have, but it can be interesting to break down the economics of the situation.

I used to live in the UK, but now I live overseas. When I return to the UK for work, or for pleasure, I don’t want to have to stay with friends and family. I love animals and I’m great with them, so for me, pet sitting is a no-brainer. It lets me visit the place that I’m from while not having to be a guest that needs to be looked after. I can cook my own meals, I can meet friends and family at their homes, or in a cafe, and I can use the home’s wifi to get some work done while I hang out with my new animal friends. It saves me a fortune in hotels/airbnb costs and it saves the HOs money too.

I’m not taking the sits with 6 dogs, 3 cats and 2 snakes, which in many cases sound like jobs for paid sitters. I’m not taking the very demanding sits that have a rigid timetable to follow; I’m finding the right sit to suit my needs. When I find that, no money is ever going to be necessary.

I know it can be different if you’re nomadic, but for lots of us, there are weird, specific reasons for our travel and the ‘mutual favour’ option totally works for me!

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