When you have a house, and especially pets, there comes a time when you need to leave for a while, like when going on vacation. When those times come, you need someone to make sure the house is ok. This is even more needed if you have plants or pets that need care. Small problems like a dripping pipe can become huge financial burdens if left for a week or more. A housesitter can help by making sure the house is safe and also feed pets and water plants.
There are services for hiring professional housesitters, which might be necessary for houses or pets with special needs, like hard-to-maintain gardens or pets with medical needs. But for the average owner, a person that you trust is all you need, plus it saves you money! With the magic of the internet, a homeowner can be paired with a trust-worthy housesitter to the benefit of both! Instead of paying for the housesitter (or kennel for a pet), you let someone stay in your house to watch over things. For the housesitter, you get to travel and really experience the area while not paying for hotels or apartments! Sure, it adds a bit of responsibility, but we think it's worth it. But it's definitely not for everyone.
What to expect...
... when getting a housesitter:
It's important to be reasonable with your expectations when getting a housesitter. Remember, they aren't you. You know how your stuff works and how it's organized. A housesitter should be clean and tidy, but they aren't professional cleaners nor groomers.
If you want them to do chores around the house, make sure they have the appropriate supplies. If you have pets, make sure you have ample food and cleaning supplies, or leave them a small budget for purchasing such things, if need be.
Keep in mind, this is good for both of you. You aren't doing them a favor. They're saving you money and a lot of headaches. But make sure you're clear with them about what you expect while you're away. It's also your responsibility to keep to your agreement. If your plans change, let them know as soon as possible and be accommodating.
... when housesitting:
This is someone else's house. Even though you're going to be living there while they are gone, you are there to care for the house and pets. Be respectful. You shouldn't rearrange their stuff, but if you really need to, take a picture of it, so you can return it to the way they had it.
Just like you are counting on them for a place to stay, they are counting on you to be there when you said you would. Book your travel early and try to work out the earliest you can arrive (usually the day before they leave). Then you can go through all of your responsibilities with the owner. Because of these responsibilities, you will often not be able to go far from the house. Pets make it difficult to spend much time away, but that is why they have you there. Check with them to see what their constraints are for being away.
See if you can get a written list of chores that need to be done. Plants need to be watered, the garden might need care, pets will need attention, and cleaning should be done. The owners should supply you with everything you need, but contact them if something runs out. Don't just ignore it. Remember, this is good for both of you. You aren't doing them a favor. They're saving you money and trusting you with their house. Be respectful.
House and/or petsitting is mutually beneficial, so look into it if you own a house or just want to travel. Yes, it has some strings attached, but in the end it's worth it!