Do sitters expect airbnb experience on a sit?

Just wondering what the expectations are from sitters when sitting a family home.
We have a lovely home but it’s definitely “lived-in”! Meaning it’s got ‘stuff’ which makes it a family home. Have decluttered as much as possible but it’s by no means an airbnb with the bare minimum of ‘things’.
Have tried to make some space available for sitter to put their things, but it’s impossible to pack everything out of sight - we just don’t have the storage space to do this. Like I literally have no where to put our winter coats other than on the coat stand where they always live!!
Would love to hear from sitters on what they expect and what they’ve experienced.

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Hi MichelleM,
I definitely do not expect an Airbnb experience. Housesitting is completely different and I don’t treat it the same way. In a housesit, it’s someone’s home and I’m a guest. I expect that they will have their belongings around the house and I’m extremely careful and respectful of their stuff. Don’t feel like you have to pack up everything to have a sitter.


I agree with @systaran
There is a wealth of information covering this kind of scenario. Perhaps use the magnifying glass at the top right and type in some key words for other threads to appear.


Hi Michelle,
I am happy with a home that looks lived in. I have had the two extremes I think. It can be a bit daunting if the home is over clean, with very plain light carpets, without any items anywhere in sight. You kind of feel that every tiny little fleck of fluff, will be noticed. On the other hand things can be so cluttered you cannot find anything. Kind of like the happy medium. Papers and magazines around to read through. Jars of pasta, rice etc. on show. And I don;lt mind boots/shoes, coats hung up or in porch etc. Means mine does not look out of place. I just like a home to look homely.


On a past sit everything appeared the level of cleanliness depicted in the photos. Then I opened the refrigerator, where the shelves were all sticky and covered in dirt and I knew I would have to clean it to feel comfortable storing and eating anything from it. I was shocked and upset, but then I gave myself some time to mull it over and cleaned the shelves and put my things inside. I thought about the way everything else was on the sit and decided to let it go as an oversight, maybe they had become blind to the state of their fridge.

All of this to say, just make sure your photos represent what someone is going to walk into and maybe take a second look at your fridge. Having possessions isn’t a problem, people will select sits that fit in with what they expect, misrepresenting things is what causes issues.

Here’s a link to another time this topic was discussed as well:


hi @MichelleM - Don’t panic! - Sitters definitely do not expect homes to look like an Airbnb. To be honest, It would be a bit creepy if they did!

A ‘lived-in’ home - clean and tidy is all we ask for and is the best welcome for us when arriving at a new sit.


I have no expectations that it would be devoid of personal effects, but it should be clean. My current sit I arrived to overflowing trash bins, kitchen benches grimy with hardened food stuck on it, mould food in fridge etc. If you leave your house clean, your sitter will be thrilled, regardless of whether or not it is lived in.


Clean enough that you wouldn’t be embarrassed if your boss/ mother in law / favorite professor came over to cook dinner with you, and decided to spend the night.

No dirty surfaces! clean bathroom, clean floors, fresh sheets, and tidy kitchen and living areas.

PLEASE clean the places where clean things are stored. No opened containers in cupboards, silverware drawer isn’t full of crumbs, and wipe down all the interior surfaces of the refrigerator, and please throw away food that is spoiled.

If the above is done, I have no problem if bookshelves are dusty, or the trash can is less than half full.


Some Airbnb homes are not clean, so it’s not an apt comparison in that respect.

Agree with commenters regarding clutter and fridge/pantry cleanup. Also please don’t leave me with cat pans that have not been fully cleaned (not simply “scooped”), and filled with fresh litter.


Hello @MichelleM This is a great question, especially for newer members. As a sitter myself I would second @Colin that we definitely do not expect our sits to look like Airbnb’s. We expect personal and household possessions to be present (it’s a home) and the home to be ‘lived in’ (makes us feel like a home from home) and clean and tidy.

I had a look at your listing and it looks just that, very welcoming, neat and tidy. The photos are great and we would happily stay in a home like yours. Plus Lilly & Turbo look super cute!
You can always add the link to your THS listing to your forum profile and that way other members can view it and give you feedback and tips.

Here is how:

If you need help let me know :grin:


I always appreciate a place that has a nice homely lived in feel to it so I certainly have no expectations of an Airbnb.

When I find a clean fridge with at least some space on a shelf for my own food. Plus, if there’s a bit of space to hang a few clothes in a wardrobe/closet, I’m always very grateful for that.

I appreciate you asking the question and showing such consideration for your sitters.


I’ve been a sitter with THS since 2018, for all types of homes. What’s most important to me is: 1) the homeowner photos match reality - I don’t mind a bit of clutter if I was expecting it, 2) the house is clean (clean toilet, shower, kitchen sink, fridge, appliances, sheets), 3) the bedroom intended for the sitter is ready (homeowner has removed, or minimized, personal items on bedside tables or bureaus, at least, to make a space for a few sitter items). I’m ok if there is some food/condiments left in the fridge. 4) the homeowner indicates if there are any ‘do not use’ items. On one of our recent Australia sits, I very much appreciated the owner putting a note on some glassware saying ‘antique/sentimental, please don’t use’. We tucked those away in the cupboard for safekeeping. Otherwise, as a sitter, I always leave a sit as clean or cleaner than I found it, with mail neatly stacked, and a thank you note for the home owner. Before they return, I spend a full day cleaning and have also mowed the lawn and detailed the homeowner’s car inside & out, if it has been left for our use. I think it’s great when the homeowner makes their home as welcoming as possible for the sitter and when the sitter shows their appreciation by keeping it clean and tidy throughout the sit: both parties showing that they appreciate each other. :smiley:


Cleanliness is the most important, as others have said. The other thing we appreciate is some space to put our things. We did a sit recently where we stayed in the master bedroom and used the master bath, but the owners had cleared out a bit of closet space for us and we just used the top of their dresser for our folded clothes. It was perfectly fine. We just used the top of their bathroom counters for our toiletries and again, that was fine. No expectation of all things being removed for the sitters.

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Hi Michelle
All sitters have their own standards as far as the types of houses they like to stay in, with many preferring more ‘lived in’ homes as they say it makes them feel more at ease. Like many other things in life, there is a lot of subjectivity and no firm ‘definition.’

Without seeing photos of your home, I wouldn’t know what yours is personally. This is coupled with the fact you are probably more critical of the space than an outsider. We are always more critical of ourselves and our own ‘stuff’ than others by far!

If you are talking about something like books on the coffee table, spices and canisters out on the kitchen counter or coats on the coat rack-items of that nature–I would expect to see those sorts of things and not think the owner should have put them away.

To me there is a difference between items like that, that serve a purpose and are used vs. items that are laying about because there is nowhere to really put them, or could be put away somewhere out of sight–like paperwork–but the person just leaves them out.

As far as stuff being around, some examples of things a HO might consider clearing out:

Old food in the fridge you know you probably won’t eat, like leftovers. Not having space for food can be challenging. In my experience, these full fridges often had things that could easily be thrown out, like almost empty jars. One interesting thing I have seen in many houses–even the nicest, cleanest ones–is the amount of expired foods in fridges, and especially pantries, like really expired. People stock up on so much stuff they must forget they have it.

Sometimes it might not be possible to move certain things, but if so, things like items stored in the guest bedroom, kids toys in common areas if there are a lot of them, personal care items off the bathroom counter to make space for the sitter’s

Like other sitters have said, sitters will care most about a clean space.

I rent my guest bedroom on Airbnb, the same bedroom that most of my housesitters stay in (with the option of staying in my more “lived in” master bedroom.)

I figure that Airbnb guests and house sitters want a lot of the same things: A clean & uncluttered space (including bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and other spaces they’ll be using,) clear instructions on how use home appliances, heat/AC, where to find towels, extra blankets, etc., and also information about the neighborhood (where to shop, eat out, hear music, etc, public transit, parking…)

There are differences, of course, with house sitters, I’m also giving pet & plant & home care instructions, and, since I won’t be around, I’m giving more details about the house than I do to Airbnb guests who I’m largely here with, but I do clean and tidy the house the same for Airbnb guests as I do for house sitters. Why wouldn’t I?

Edited to add: Since I host on Airbnb in my home, my house is certainly “lived in.” I have cats (and their fur, which I try to keep clean…) I have my art on the walls and books on the shelves, it’s not without personality and comfort. But, to me, “lived in” does not necessarily(?) imply not clean and neat.


Sounds great! I am a Sitter and not an Owner, but the Welcome Guide template provided by THS should prompt the inclusion of all of this information. I really appreciate the Welcome Guide.

We started out as home owners needing sitters and that helped a lot in our understanding the HO perspective when we decided to try house sitting ourselves. Have loved the experience and have sat in multi-million dollar mansions and rustic mountain cabins - for us it’s all about finding a new experience or a place that suits our plans.
It’s great that you are thinking about this and it IS important.

First, it makes a big diff if you’re expecting someone to stay for 2 - 3 nights or for two - three weeks. I wouldn’t care too much about space & clutter for a quick stop.

But for a long stay? People want to unpack and feel “at home.” Enough room to unpack suitcases, hang up a few things, put stuff in drawers, a place to set out personal items. Really this is about the bedroom & bathroom they’ll use.
Most sitters will not expect the rest of the home to be made perfect for them!

But maybe the BIG thing you’re telling us is that you need to declutter!
We leased out our home to a family for a year and were shocked at how much stuff was pure clutter we never used, didn’t need.
We stored the important stuff, left some for the renters, but WOW did we have TONS of stuff we’d collected over the years: donated & gave away most of it.

Bottom line: look at what you are offering the sitter for their stay and ask yourselves if you would be comfortable in that environment.

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No, I expect a five star hotel!
Joking of course.
As long as the bathroom, bedroom, living space and the kitchen are reasonably clean, I’m happy. Expired groceries etc would not bother me at all, unless something was mouldy or smelly.
The animals are most important to me


In my case it’s enough for me to have a bed, some place in the fridge, fresh towels and bed sheets and a place to put my luggage, that’s it :slight_smile: I can live out of luggage for all my stay. So in my case I don’t really care about the stuff in the house. If I have just enough place for my luggage, a bed and a shelf in the fridge - I’m happy :wink:

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