Providing a housesit that sitters want to return to

I have done two house sits so far, and the learning curve has been steep. I thought this topic may be a good way for other sitters to share aspects of their sits that made them awesome, so home owners can attract repeat sitters.

The things I really liked before the sit:

  1. Photos of the guest bedroom and bathroom, more than one photo of the kitchen, photo of the main living area.
  2. Organised video call where HO had prepared questions and communicated things about the sit we may not like. The open and honest communication means there are no surprises. I would not turn down a sit if the WiFi is bad, for example, but I like to know in advance so I can download movies, bring a book, etc.
  3. A welcome guide that gave me the address, contact details to connect via WhatsApp, and all the pet info I would need to refer to later.

The things I really liked during the sit were:
4. A welcome bottle of red and white wine (yes, 2 bottles!)
5. The offer to get basic groceries from a list I supplied before we arrived, this was for a remote sit.
6. The invitation to use anything from the pantry, or open food in the fridge. This made me feel comfortable using their spices and oil, etc, as I had been given explicit permission.
7. A thank you gift at the end of the sit. Very unexpected, but now I look at my gift and remember that house, pets and generous home owners who showed their appreciation.

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Glad to see we’re owners that provide what sitters look for. We check all those boxes, and more. :hugs:

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I’m not especially keen on repeats, because I like variety. So far, I’ve accepted only one repeat for 2024, and that was because I adored the location and the dog, and the house was clean and comfortable — not fancy. My sit there was idyllic and I hope that it doesn’t lose its charm in repetition.

My hosts asked what kind of groceries I might enjoy and offered me bottles of wine, but those would have no effect on my wanting to repeat or not. And I accepted only one bottle of wine and no groceries. I’m good with hosts who offer a clean, comfortable home and don’t need more from them.

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We enjoy local repeat sits, we have formed relationships with the Pets and Owners, friendships that in other circumstances would never have happened. For us it’s a change from our “tiny living” which we love however it’s “tiny living” so we do get to the point we all need some space from each other, so having our own rooms, usually bathrooms too is great.
Some HO leave loads of fruit and veg that they have not used behind, some use up nearly everything they have before they leave for their Holidays, some leave us food and gifts (especially if it is a Christmas sit) none is expected, though very appreciated. We might use a can of beans or some pasta every now and then if we run out or flour, being Vegan I usually pack the essentials we need and go out to the shops and get everything else. It doesn’t matter to us if they leave us food and drink. I always check in a week prior and let them know anything they don’t use up, just leave it, we will use it or throw it out. (we have cobbled together some great meals in this way)
As long as the Beds are comfortable, the House is clean and tidy we are not bothered. Most of our local sits are “car needed” or very limited Bus Service, we drive so it’s not a problem, we like sits that are out in the middle of no where, with walks in every direction from the Door with the Dogs and we just walk, they are usually big old farm houses and the Dogs have the run of Downstairs (exception usually the formal loungeroom/dinning/snug)
All other sits, it’s pretty much the same, it depends on what sort of Pets we are looking after and the location, however again as long as it’s clean, tidy and has comfortable Beds we are all good.
We don’t usually sit in built up area’s, that’s just our preference.
Happy Sitting and Travelling

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Yes to a clean, comfortable house with great areas to walk the dog or go to a dog park.

I also appreciate an accurate description of the dog’s personality, habits, and needs. It is nice also when there is enough dog food and treats so that I don’t have to buy any during my stay (this has happened at least 3 times of about 20 Sits).

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Like @Maggie8K, I like variety. But last year there were two sits that I would like to do again. Both were in locations where I would like to go again, but that goes for other towns too.

In one listing, I would really like to take care of this dog again. The HO were relaxed and very nice people. Yes, generous with a gift card etc but that does not play a role for me.

And the other listing, I made friends in that town. The pet was a super-easy cat. But I got to like the HOs during welcoming dinner etc, so it would also be nice to take a different sit in the same town so that we could eat and drink some more :slight_smile: Maybe before or after sitting for them.

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@pietkuip, I hear you. There are places I’ll return to, but maybe not sit or sit in a different area, because some cities or areas vary quite a bit, depending on where you stay. And for me, there are some places I want to see (again) without the responsibility of any pets. And there are some hosts I’d happily hang around again, but that doesn’t mean I’d want to do the sit again.

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For during the sit - I would note that not everyone drinks alcohol, and we’ve gotten many bottles of wine that we give away. So to be mindful that not everyone is a wine drinker or even drinks! Nate and I just have never been big drinkers and so we give the wine away. Although I most gratefully appreciate the thoughtfulness to welcome us with some kind of gift! I’ve had HOs leave sparkling water, with treats, coffee, etc things of that nature which I always love. However, I wouldn’t expect this on repeat sits necessarily - although it’s always nice. As a sitter, I always leave a welcome home gift & card, so I could see HOs always leaving a welcome treat also!

I agree with the explicit permission to make use of spices, things from the pantry. While I always bring plenty of our own groceries and have no need to eat food in the house, it is always very nice to hear that explicit permission incase I need some olive oil or especially if they will be gone awhile, to eat the fruit or what is in the fridge, that is nice and definitely makes me feel more at ease/home.

For us, cleanliness/tidyness is what makes the house a happy landing, so:
-clean, bright fridge (with some space for our items)
-definitely freshly cleaned bathrooms
-fresh sheets & towels
-clean, tidy kitchen

I also personally love space to unpack with drawers or closet space, esp. on longer sits. Or even another spare room to lay out my clothes is fine as well.

I think in general the feeling of trust and make yourself at home goes a long way! “Adjust the thermostat how you like, enjoy the workout room, here’s the heated blanket and pool pass, etc.” All those little mentions help us feel so welcomed and truly like you want us to enjoy the experience of staying in your beloved home, with your pets!

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Clean house.
Honest pet behavior.
Accurate location logistics.
Reasonable about the role/responsibilities of a THsitter.
Reasonable use of items/food in the home.
Communication before / during / after the sit for sit related talks/closure.
Creep free / interior camera/recording free home.
No changes unless mutual agreement.
Commitment to the review process.

I do not need any “gifts.”

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The gift thing doesnt bother me at all. If someone leaves us something we’ll reciprocate when we leave and if not we usually won’t to make sure they don’t feel awkward. I always leave a thank you note though.

Best things for me are tidy and clean house, honesty about the pet and friendly interactions. The number one make-or-break for us to be honest is sleep quality - give us a comfy bed with good pillows and a pet that sleeps through the night and we’ll probably want to come back!

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Same here!

I’ve been putting together a Guide that I print out and leave for the sitters. In it are the basic guidelines, contact info, etc, but also “things to do” in the city and the area, and favorite restaurants. I even leave out shopping bags for the sitters to use, and made a little map showing the nearest shops and public transportation.

One thing I really need to step up is what kind of little gifts I leave for the sitters. Usually it is some chocolate (hey, this is Switzerland, after all!) and sometimes homemade desserts.

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Well put. I agree except I don’t mind receiving gifts when I sit and I love leaving gifts for the sitters that come to my house. I usually leave a gift card for our delicious local Ice Cream store that’s a good dog walk away, and a pass to the Ventura Botanical Gardens where if they like, they can take my dog, on Wednesdays and Fridays. I do it as much to support our local businesses as to show appreciation for my sitters.

As far as food at my house, I make sure that sitters won’t encounter expired or soon to be expired food. Otherwise my standard comment is “Eat, drink and use whatever you want; just make sure I have coffee and some milk when I return” Easy peasie. I also enjoy either making dinner or taking my sitters out for lunch or dinner when they arrive so my dog and I can get to know them a bit beforehand.

Oh yeh—one thing I love to do for sitters and I love when homeowners do it for me—is to take a short drive around the area to get the lay of the land. It’s not always possible, but when it can happen, it’s great.

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You listed what I try to do: making everything smooth and nice for the HS. And yes I offer too to take groceries out of the pantry and fridge, even the freezer and esp. the garden. For me it’s ‘natural’.

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I have had excellent HOs and pets. Although I haven’t received any gifts. Haven’t repeat sits which makes it interesting and a great chance to learn a lot. This time would love to sit in Grenoble but so far haven’t been able to find a house :frowning:
I hope I get lucky this year

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I like your words :smiley:
I also like to see clear photos of the house and rooms and its outlook, not just loads of the pet. A nice clean house is a must for me on a pet sit. I always think its nice to receive a bottle of wine or whatever but I’m just happy if they do a review which makes me out to be the best thing since sliced bread :laughing: I’m on a short sit now, chilling out with a lovely dog and watching snooker :8ball:

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Great idea, very thoughtful and helpful.

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I’m usually in Australia and I have had a repeat sit in Canada. Same people, different dog. They picked me up at the airport, went home for dinner. conversation was very easy…like… you know where everything is, look after doggy, here’s the car keys, take us to the airport tomorrow, see ya in 6 weeks…use my cleats or you’ll slip on the ice. I still chat to them now, just today. My last sit was an invitation for 2 months on France and then they asked me to extend for 3 month…sorry have to go home for a while. Might go back in a few months.

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I agree taking all the guess work would make for a no stress sit.
I’m not fussy about alcohol but it would be great to have some groceries to prepare a few meals while getting acquainted with the neighborhood.

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Hi ShulasMom,
I have spent years in beautiful Ventura County. Hopefully, I’ll see a listing from you in the future.
Until then,
Bella

That’s great to know. Did you save my profile? I usually travel in May/June or Sept/October. Nothing specific planned at the moment but am looking at places to go. Are you based in CA?