UK Owners: reconsider 'Sitters need a car'

I am addressing UK owners only in that public transit is often relatively convenient there, compared to many US locations, for example. The UK also seems to be a location having some difficulty in finding sitters. My comments here are my personal opinion.

The tag ‘Sitters need a car’ limits the available pool of sitters. This tag does not mean the same as ‘I can’t provide a car’. It’s meant to be used when a car is essential. That’s a far narrower meaning.

I am UK born and raised, and visit regularly. I used to always rent a car from the airport, but have long ago stopped doing that. I visit family in various areas of the UK. Now I get myself to the closest pick-up spot - sometimes a nearby airport, or else using the train or National Express bus from the airport. Then a family member picks me up - usually a drive of less than 30 minutes. Although every family member has a car, there is also a bus stop or train within easy walking distance (0-15 mins) from their homes. I think this is quite common in the UK (as opposed to the US). I could therefore get around without a car, once I arrive.

Owners - can you maybe pick someone up from a similar nearby location? Can you add details into your listing that help a sitter determine these important connection points? Can you maybe take them for their first food shop? Offering to get bread and milk is not ideal, because of food preferences, but giving an hour of your time to settle someone in can make the difference in not having to consider cancelling your trip. Not an essential service, but a courtesy, if you can do it.

We are all - owners and sitters - trying to make a good match, not only for the pets (yes, they’re important) but also for the practicalities of how can I make this workable for everyone. I want to stress to owners to think twice and three times before tagging ‘Sitters need a car’.

My goal, in volunteering my time on this forum, is to help people get successful matches. That’s why I’m adding this post today. :slightly_smiling_face:

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I do hope to meet up with you one day @Snowbird either in the UK or in Canada (I’ve been to Canada twice but only in winter! :cold_face:) At the moment it’s looking like 2024 or 2025!!
Thanks for all your good advice on the Forum! :clap::blush:

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@Snowbird
I absolutely agree. I have never needed a car anywhere I have been even in remote locations in Spain and Portugal. I would never be able to afford to rent a car and I am now an expert at figuring out how to get from A to B.
As you have suggested, I have sometimes been collected from the nearest place accessible by public transport and either bought my groceries on the way, or been taken to a supermarket by the homeowner on the way. Once, because it was a Sunday that I was arriving, I gave the homeowner a list and she got my groceries for me on the Saturday.
In the UK it’s also very easy to get a delivery from many of the large supermarkets, which is what I do at home. I don’t have a car at home either and my nearest bus stop is over 3 miles away so I am accustomed to online shopping and know exactly what I need for a certain time period.
When I am somewhere a little remote if the nearest village or town is within 3 or 4 miles I’ll walk in maybe once a week and get a bus or taxis back.
I do my tourist stuff before or after the sit and maybe have a night or two staying in a city or town on the way there or on the way home. When I am house sitting I prefer to spend most of my time with the pets.

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Thank you for this @Snowbird. I’m spending 6 weeks in the UK doing 3 pets sits and would have loved to have added more. But the car rentals are astronomical. I have one crazy expensive rental for the first month, but a second rental car for my next 2 weeks was going to be substantially more. I reached out to those HOs and they agreed to get me at a somewhat distant train station.
Making it easier for sitters to get to a location could make all the difference!

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100%. I’ve never had a car for any of my UK sits. Especially since almost everywhere you can have groceries delivered, it’s almost never actually required unless it’s needed for the pet - in which case the HO should be providing a vehicle anyway.

ETA: HOs, it may be a good idea to research and add to your listing “If you come without a car, we can pick you up from x, y, and z, and you an have groceries delivered by a, b, and c supermarkets.”

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@CreatureCuddler I think you make a very valid point. If a homeowner wants a sitter to rent a car just for some reason connected to the pets then it places a large cost on the shoulders of the sitter.
That said, there will always be sitters who have their own vehicle so we can just scroll on past the listing.
It would be good, as has been suggested, that more option are given for owners to select from. An option of ‘sitters may prefer to have a car’ or ‘a car is useful but not essential’. I don’t have time to message multiple owners asking why they feel the sitter needs a car.

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Agreed! It’s wonderful when the HO offers to pick up from and drop off to the nearest train station or intercity bus stop. If groceries aren’t within easy walking distance, it’s very much appreciated that the HO takes the sitter for a first grocery shop before they depart. (I am not a fan of online grocery shopping; I want to choose my own food!)

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Yes please owners! Please stop using sitters need a car when there is easy access to public transport. You will miss out on us as great sitters if you say we need a car. We are more than happy to use public transport. Picking us up from the train would be great, not expected, but an added bonus that makes your listing more attractive if you mention that.

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This is for owners, sitters, and THS development staff.
My wife and I are in Europe for 3+ months, heading to UK beginning of July. I just started looking at potential sits. We have 20 completed, all 5 star.
Brexit made short term car leasing unaffordable when crossing over to UK. EU insurance no longer covers there, and impossible to find reasonable replacement. Car rental is insane. So, we are doing EU and UK by public transport.
At this moment there are just shy of 4000 sitter wanted listings in the UK. There are only 4,318 available sitters with either a review or experience tagged. “Available” meaning that their calendar shows them available, but clearly they are all not really available and applying. Many pet owners will not find a sitter.
Out of that 4,000 listings, only 200 indicate that sitter has use of a car.
Over the past week I have clicked on many dozens of listings, scroll down to see “sitter needs a car”, at which point I click BACK and move on to the next, and the next, and the next. No way will I spend the time to read every single listing hoping to see mention about public transportation.
The fact that a sitter user cannot filter (filter out) listings based on those home owner tags is ridiculous. There should also be a tag for “Accessible by public transportation” that could be used in a filter too.
THS is sorely lacking from a usability standpoint. Considering that THS charges the most of any other site, by quite a bit, it should be the flagship site also.

Rural homeowners, We would love to care for your pets and home. if you want 5 star experienced sitters (pet and house), make your situation attractive and feasible by offering use of the car. In our case, we don’t need the car for touring, just to get groceries, take the dogs to alternative walking points, etc.

We hope THS takes these recommendations seriously. If you want to be the best, you need to make it the best.

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@Terry I would love to see that tag, ‘Accessible by public transportation’. Even if a ‘car is included’ I don’t want to use it. If owners could put both tags it would be excellent. Then I could read the responsibilities section to see if the car is necessary for taking dogs to beach or some such task. But the ability to filter the sits by car or no car would be a huge advantage.
Having said that I have often done sits, without a car, that weren’t accessible by public transport It’s impossible to cover every option but a change of some sort is definitely needed.

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Hello,

I am new here, just created my first listing looking for a house/pet sitter.
I would be able to offer a car to my sitter I am just not sure how it would work from a legal side of things. As far as I am aware, only people stated in the car insurance car drive that car in the UK. It may be just lack of my knowledge but what would happen if for example my sitter had an accident?

Hi @Danilik and welcome to the forum and to TrustedHousesitters. You may notice that in my original post I didn’t suggest that owners offer their car to sitters. I didn’t intend that to be the point of this post. Rather, I suggested for homeowners to think outside the box - is a car preferable or essential? A big difference. I then suggested ways that may make it so that a sitter could do the sit without the use of a vehicle. My opinion about this topic is irrelevant as each member has to decide based on their personal situation and preferences.

A homeowner should look at the ‘what ifs’ when considering offering the use of their vehicle. If you search the forum posts using the spyglass you’ll see there are a few posts about this topic. Perhaps take a look at Cars for sitters

Although forum members are helpful, you should get specific advice from your insurance agent as each policy is different.

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I have been requesting improved search and sorting since back in early 2019.
Hasn’t changed anything.
Not holding my breath.

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I think it’s worthwhile to mention the website Rome2rio again in this thread. With this website or app you can search for alternative methods to get from one place to another anywhere in the world. For example, I just searched Southampton, UK to London Bridge, UK. I was given a list of two different train itineraries or driving a rental car. If you choose one of the options, the site will give you an approximate cost of the choice and often times a link to a train schedule. Travel times are provided as well. Since I have not owned a car for nine years now and I travel full time I have used this site a lot for planning my trips. We’re going to the UK from the US this summer and we used Rome2rio to find buses and trains to get to the sitter’s location. Give Rome2rio a try, it’s fun.

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I get the impression that making even the most seemingly minor changes requires multiple layers of research, review, and approval, possibly exacerbated by the recent funding boost and related involvement by lawyers. Flatten the hierarchy.

We are sitters from US who have done a number of sits in UK and a couple in France and I, too, agree that the ‘sitter needs a car’ could be more useful with some changes. We have been visiting UK and Europe on a regular basis over the last 40 years and have been house-sitting for the last 10 years. We have never rented a car and have done all of our travelling via public transport (train, bus, Uber/taxi) and with friends and HO’s. I don’t pay much attention to the ‘sitter needs a car’ because the HO’s idea of need and ours is much different. We do love being in villages and on properties outside of the big cities so I do my own research regarding transport if I find a sit that I would like to do based on the pets and the situation and the dates. Using Trainline, regional bus transport websites and any information in the description that helps me understand where the property is (Google Earth/Maps is REALLY helpful with even the slightest bit of info), I can in many cases actually figure out for myself if it is reasonable for us. However, if there isn’t enough information or none at all, I skip over it. (Take notice homeowners!)

A few years back we did 7 housesits over 5 months all over the UK, all with no private transport…we don’t even want to drive HO’s cars as we just aren’t comfortable with our British driving skills. Many time our HO’s picked us up at the train station or bus stop if I had already determined that I could shop either on foot or with bus/Uber. When I apply to a ‘Sitter needs a car’ sit I always tell them right off in my application letter that their situation looks like maybe we could use public transport for getting around while sitting and I ask them if they think it reasonable for us to make that assumption as we don’t drive in UK. Many of those were fine with it and agreed it would be ok. If we get asked for an interview and it sounds promising when talking with them, we ask about pick up and drop off at the station. If they can’t and we still want to do the sit, we simply plan for Uber or Taxi.

We have never had a problem and, while sometimes the public transport takes a lot of planning (like purchasing BritRail and Eurail passes) and takes more time to move around, in the UK and Europe it works! I’m totally on board with the suggestions that the HO’s add better information in their profile to help those of us who are not driving know whether or not it is feasible.

THS could also aid in this issue, as other have suggested, with more options/or descriptions and filters that would give sitters better tools inside the application to figure out for themselves if the sit fits their needs.

Now, as for housesitting in the US - whole different story! From my perspective almost every sitter needs a car unless the sit is IN a large city/town.

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And even then you never know. My mom’s old town was a decent size and there was shopping and restaurants within walking distance, but walking wasn’t really safe. There were no sidewalks for most of it so you had to walk on relatively busy streets. last time I tried walking there I literally caused an accident because people didn’t know what to do with a pedestrian and I was walking as far away from the road as I could.

Hi Terry, totally agree with what you are saying. As HOs we always say we will pick up/drop off sitters and always offer to take them shopping, we feel it’s the least we can do. Also we try to take them to our local to hopefully introduce them into the area. If you are still looking for a sit we are on the lookout from 11th July until 22nd. In the meantime good luck with all your travels.[quote=“Terry, post:9, topic:15514, full:true”]
This is for owners, sitters, and THS development staff.
My wife and I are in Europe for 3+ months, heading to UK beginning of July. I just started looking at potential sits. We have 20 completed, all 5 star.
Brexit made short term car leasing unaffordable when crossing over to UK. EU insurance no longer covers there, and impossible to find reasonable replacement. Car rental is insane. So, we are doing EU and UK by public transport.
At this moment there are just shy of 4000 sitter wanted listings in the UK. There are only 4,318 available sitters with either a review or experience tagged. “Available” meaning that their calendar shows them available, but clearly they are all not really available and applying. Many pet owners will not find a sitter.
Out of that 4,000 listings, only 200 indicate that sitter has use of a car.
Over the past week I have clicked on many dozens of listings, scroll down to see “sitter needs a car”, at which point I click BACK and move on to the next, and the next, and the next. No way will I spend the time to read every single listing hoping to see mention about public transportation.
The fact that a sitter user cannot filter (filter out) listings based on those home owner tags is ridiculous. There should also be a tag for “Accessible by public transportation” that could be used in a filter too.
THS is sorely lacking from a usability standpoint. Considering that THS charges the most of any other site, by quite a bit, it should be the flagship site also.

Rural homeowners, We would love to care for your pets and home. if you want 5 star experienced sitters (pet and house), make your situation attractive and feasible by offering use of the car. In our case, we don’t need the car for touring, just to get groceries, take the dogs to alternative walking points, etc.

We hope THS takes these recommendations seriously. If you want to be the best, you need to make it the best.
[/quote]

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Hello,
nice to hear your need for a sitter. Unfortunately, a few days ago we accepted a sit from July 11 to July 23.
Is there something special about that time period?
But have not scheduled any sits beyond that.
Enjoy your travels.

I find Google maps usually fairly good at displaying local transport, so if a listing has ‘Sitter needs a car’ the best thing would be to Google the location. But I’m guessing the potential sitter can’t see the HO address until they’ve been accepted for a sit…? Maybe there could be some sort of indicator of HO owners local area without giving too much away?