Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Hunt for the House Sitter

I explained in an earlier post, Logistics of Extended Travel, that we decided to find a House Sitter to take care of the house, cats and yard while we're off on our RV adventures.  So we did some research online and ended up posting an ad for our house-sitting opportunity on three different web sites:,, and None of these sites charge the person seeking a house sitter anything to post a listing. They make their money by charging people who want to house sit a nominal fee to be added to the database of potential house sitters and to have access to listings for house sitting opportunities.
Excuse me while I pause here to write about the concept of House Sitting - I think it is a very cool idea! People who want to live in different places for short or longer periods of time can sign up for house sitting gigs. There are plenty of people doing just this. In fact, some have been house sitting for years. House sitters may be retired, but a many are working as writers, or in  telecommuting jobs, or are running Internet-based businesses - so it doesn't matter where you are, you can keep working and generating an income. Interestingly, quite a few house sitters own their own homes and make arrangement for others to house sit for them while they are house sitting for someone else. If anyone is interested to learn more about this, there is a great deal of information about house sitting on the Internet.
We placed our listing on a Sunday afternoon and within hours received more than 35 responses from interested parties. Wow! By far, most of the responses came from house sitters listed with

Meanwhile, I had put together a draft House Sitting Agreement, a References form, a form to gather information and document permission to run a background check, and a Release from Liability form. My sister, who is a legal secretary and extremely smart, reviewed the forms and we made some adjustments. I am proud to say, she was quite impressed with what I had put together. Apparently my anality can be a good thing on occasion!

Our task now was to contact each interested person and learn more about him/her. We also needed to reduce the list to a manageable handful of people - I did not have the time or energy to negotiate an Agreement and check references for 30+ people!

As it turned out, about 12 people dropped out when I told them their share of monthly utilities would be around $300. This was a little surprising as our house listings clearly stated that the house sitter would share utility costs, but it helped to reduce the potential sitters down to a more manageable number so that was fine with me.

A couple of people also dropped out when they realized we really would run a background check. One lady, who otherwise would have been a very strong candidate, said she just does not, no matter what, give out personal information. Well, no way would I, no matter what, turn my house over to someone I knew nothing about! But some folks apparently would because this person had a lot of house sitting experience.

So at this point we disabled the house listings and concentrated on the remaining 14 or so applicants. We reduced the list to 4 based on past experience, age, prior work history (if known), and just that "warm and fuzzy" element that is near-impossible to explain.

After checking references and going back and forth negotiating the House Sitting Agreement, we are now down to two applicants. Not sure yet what the outcome with be - they are both very suitable and have much to offer and I would definitely trust the house to either of them. The final choice will be very difficult. Hmm.... I wonder if they would like to do it together?

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