Reality Check

I think a gentle reminder to the community of what this site is about is called for.

We all understand the ethos of what we are trying to achieve. Both parties want what is best for their homes, animals, and travel. We all come together as individuals with different aspirations but one thing unites us, the love of animals and the joy of travel. This is not a site if you are after a five star holiday, lying around in the sun and sightseeing all day. On each listing the owners list what their expectations of the sitter is. Some sits are far harder work than others but all of them have some sort of work/commitment. It’s up to the sitter to chose what sits they want to apply for and up to the owner to read the application and profile and decide if it’s a good fit.
Communication is everything. Each party needs to talk to each other, discuss the finer points and make sure they both understand what the sit entails.
The first point I would like to reinforce is for the potential sitter to read the listing carefully. Don’t just look at the pretty pictures or ooh and ahh over the house or location. Being in NYC is fantastic but being in charge of two dogs who have to be walked three times a day doesn’t give much chance of siteseeing. We all have reasons to visit somewhere just make sure the sit suits your reasons. Make sure you can cope with what is being asked, can you give a cat some pills twice a day? Can you live in a bed sit for two weeks surrounded by the owners worldly goods? Can you stay on an isolated farm in the middle of winter with the nearest neighbours five miles away? At 6pm, with a glass of wine in your hand and the smell of the evening meal wafting from the kitchen it all looks so easy and wonderful. On a snowy winters morning, temperatures below freezing and the water pipes to the cattle’s feeding troughs frozen it’s a nightmare.
Secondly, owners, read the application, look at the profile (and anything else they send a link to) carefully. Don’t get carried away with nice pictures of them with lots of animals. Make sure they are a good fit. If your dog must sleep in the bed with someone make sure that’s ok. If you like your house to be pristine at all times read the reviews.
The last part is communication. No matter how much you want the sit, don’t lie. No matter how desperate you are for someone to care for your animals make sure they are up to it.
This is hard work. From applying to being accepted to doing the sit properly to leaving happy pets and owners at the end, it’s lots of work and commitment. This site is not for someone who sees it as a cheap holiday or a good way to avoid paying rent. From beginning to end the good sitters put a lot of time and effort in getting these good reviews. It’s even harder just starting out as there are no glowing reviews for potential pet owners to read. Your actions and communication have to convince them that you are the right person. I can only imagine what a pet owner goes through, handing over their animals and home to a complete stranger. It must be nerve racking, walking away wondering if everything is set up to the sitters liking. Is there enough toilet rolls (don’t fret, the sitter can buy more if needed). Is the house clean enough? Will I come back and my back garden looks like a jungle?

We all work hard to make this site work. The management team have got one of my nightmare jobs - trying to keep everyone happy and onside. I, for one, do not agree with everything they have done recently but one thing they have done to improve this is to set up this forum. What a difference it has made to me and my experience. I find it very interesting to read about others experiences, expectations and gripes. One thing I have found is I’m not such a fusspot as I though I was was which my husband thinks is hysterical.

So summarise, it’s damned hard work but all can be overcome by communication, (both verbal and written), hard work and a sense of humour. And never give up…….it’s worth it.

51 Likes

well said Elsie :-).

2 Likes

This is very well put @ElsieDownie and words dear to my heart as long term house sitters. Thank you for taking the time to share and express your thoughts.

We wrote an article aptly named “The reality of house sitting” a couple of years ago and this mirrors most of our thoughts too.

There is so much that is good and wonderful about what we all do and experience when approached with the right mindset, expectations and as you say…

all can be overcome by communication, (both verbal and written), hard work and a sense of humour. And never give up…….it’s worth it.

Sometimes we need a reminder… Thank you :pray:

10 Likes

I agree with much of what you say except for one major point - I don’t think housesitting is hard work at all. In fact, I would say it is easy work. There is obviously a commitment and responsibility to adhere to but the work itself, in my opinion, is enjoyable, rewarding and very easy.
Very occasionally I see a listing that I would call hard, many animals or extra commitments but these are very much in the minority.
I left school at 15, became self-employed at 17, retired at 56, Often working very long hours and never having taken a single day off with illness. I have had many ‘hard’ jobs during my lifetime, housesitting is definitely not one of them.

13 Likes

Indeed very well said @ElsieDownie and I also agree with @Colin.
Being a full time pet and home sitter as a retired person, who has had a very full productive and meaningful life, this is for me a most enjoyable lifestyle. It enables me to do things and go places but it is not my primary focus, those are the perks. I love how I feel when I know that I am contributing, doing something that continues to make me feel productive and gives meaning to my life. I thoroughly enjoy the animals that are entrusted to my care. They are my buddies.
There is no best way, only way, this is how you should do it way. The only and best way and the way YOU should do it is by knowing what you really want to do and what you are willing to do and not do. That requires a bit of reflection and self analysis and if you do not really know then you will only learn by doing it and then your experience will serve to guide you.
I am willing to do any work that I know I can do. If I am unable or prefer not to, I just won’t apply or politely decline. Every experience is different, that to me is part of the joy of doing this.
This approach works for me and has allowed me to have extremely satisfying sits for all parties involved. I have had a few bumps along the way but that is the learning curve.
That’s when “work” is fun.

12 Likes

I do agree, but also know for ourselves after many years of sitting all over the world, that some sits are more of a “challenge”. That’s my interpretation of “hard work” :slight_smile: When we are in Europe, on familiar ground, have the option to pick from a wide range of sits, then it is (and always is in it’s way) an “easy” rewarding job.

I agree with you also that my prior job running a business for 15 years was hugely more stressful… and part of the reason for selling up to travel.

But, since then we’ve chosen (and I want to be clear… we made choices and were totally up for new challenges whatever they were), sits in remote, off-grid, tropical situations where day to day it has been hard work. Or finding yourself in the middle of a cylcone or bush fire. Situations outside your normal experience.

However, we wanted, as I say, that challenge as young retirees and get immense satisfaction from these experiences and our wonderful time with the pets. What worries me is when new sitters sometimes have a perception that, for example, a deep jungle house sit will be the same as a 5-star hotel experience where someone deals with the bugs and critters, and keeps the air-con at a constant temp :slight_smile: And believe me there are people that do, and that’s where I think the “reality check” is good occasionally. If you know what’s ahead of you and it’s within your limits and expectations, as you say then it’s incredibly rewarding. We wouldn’t be doing anything else anytime soon :slight_smile:

10 Likes

Exactly and to date myself, right on or spot on as they say.
I would much rather stay somewhere without AC and mosquito netting and a machete than in a pristine walk on glass place or shovel snow type of place.
They are polar opposites and definitely add to the cool factor where you can say “I did that” once. I think it’s important to learn and have a variety of experiences when you are starting out and then you can sift and decipher what is suitable and find that match for your greatest rewarding experience.

6 Likes

Bravo @ElsieDownie, at the risk of being repetitious “Well Said” :slightly_smiling_face:

We need a reality check from time to time and opening up a discussion about the who, what and why of our chosen lifestyle can remind all of us why we are here, what motivates us, what we have learned about others and ourselves, and importantly whether or not this lifestyle is the best personal choice.

“We recognise TrustedHousesitters is not for everyone. if you’re looking for a vacation book a cruise, house sitting is many things but a vacation it’s not”

Regarding conversations on the forum and it is your forum, one thing that concerns the team is when those in our community who have lived a successful pet and house sitting lifestyle or have had great sitter experiences choose to focus more on their negative experiences without balancing their insights with a "it was unfortunate but we… "

We’ve all had the odd stumble and disappointment but that’s life, not just house sitting.

Of course we need to discuss both the positive and negative, it’s the way we grow and improve and the forum has been a real catalyst for improving communication between members and between you our members and the TrustedHousesitters team.

Every member is important, owner, sitter & pets, we cannot function as a community without each other, taking the time to be considerate and fair minded when making a point or opening discussions will ensure our forum functions as it was intended … as a place where everyone feels welcomed and valued.

We thank you for your feedback, insights, contributions and for making the forum an incredible success on so many fronts, we’re looking forward to growing our forum community and connecting more members around the world …

with the occasional reality check of course.

6 Likes

Hi Colin, hope is all good in your world today
Yes, it is not hard work compared to a 40 hour a week job or building a career up but neither is it laying around in the sun or site seeing everyday, all day. That was the point I was trying to get over. Some sits we have done are feeding the cat. Making sure the cat isn’t getting into trouble and talking and listening to the to cat while it tells us about it’s day. Definitely not hard work but looking out the kitchen window, that grass needs cut. Hanging out washing, look at these weeds. There’s always something supplementary to do and doing these things turns a sitter from good to fantastic.

6 Likes

Good morning Amparo, yet again a very thought provoking post. Yes, I do feel productive and worth while even in retirement doing pet sits. A very good point. I would hate to vegetate doing absolutely nothing. The highlight of the week going out for my shopping and having a cup of tea in Morrison’s cafe. We have all seen these people.
I have always been a busy person, working 60 hours a week, looking after family, walking dogs and generally having a good time. Sitting serves so many purposes in our lives.

4 Likes

Your example in the last paragraph is exactly why I chose to post my thoughts. It’s not all happy smiles and free time with someone else dealing with all the problems and picking up the bill.

I love new experiences and sometimes we have pushed ourselves to our limits but always we have survived. One thing that may help people getting carried away would be for pet owners to post outside pictures that reflect the season they need a sitter for. I’ve fallen into the trap of seeing a beautiful scenic mountain view, all green and lush looking then reading the post and realising it would be covered with six feet of snow at the prescribed time of year.

6 Likes

Absolutely. Perfect example my last sit in Minnesota. Fabulous long term sit in beautiful setting but even the HO, knew that I would not have wanted to spend the winter there and we discussed all of this in our initial video chat.
Those initial conversations are indeed crucial conversations.

Oof, been there, done that. Except it was a freak cold snap in the UK spring and chickens and ducks rather than cattle. Using a shovel to break through the ice cover on the water bowls/pools for the birds and having to carry buckets of warm water out to melt things was a lot of work. But it’s all part of the game. Sometimes it’s super easy, sometimes you’re chopping up ice and picking up murdered chickens. :slight_smile: I obviously choose to keep doing it so what does that say about me? :joy: :joy:

I appreciate your post and it’s a good reminder. I try to be brutally honest with people who are thinking of joining because many have rose colored glasses on and I’d hate anyone to be disappointed and then bad mouth things.

4 Likes

Excellent!

1 Like

What’s this in response to, Elsie?

Well said, everyone.

I agree with both sides of the “hard work” comments. Some sits are more “work” than others, but as long as you know what you’re getting into ahead of time, “hard work” can be totally acceptable, and of course, if you enjoy it, it’s not really “hard” work. It just be more time-consuming. It’s one of those things that can be interpreted very differently from one person to the next.

Anyway, good thoughts and thanks for posting!

4 Likes

It’s in response to nothing. I just feel it was worth pointing out.

1 Like

In my opinion “hard work” does not necessarily mean “unpleasant” work. As Vanessa suggested, “challenging” might be more accurate. There have been some sits where we have been exhausted at the end of the day but that isn’t to say we didn’t enjoy the day and the experience :slight_smile:

2 Likes

Totally agree. I used the phrase “hard work” instead of commitment to emphasis there can be a lot of physical labour at a sit. Walking dogs for five or six miles every morning is an absolute joy for me. It could be a nightmare for others.

3 Likes