For most of Australia, travel is finally on the agenda. The borders are open, at least to the vaccinated, which means we can plan trips once more. But in all the excitement, it’s important not to forget what you’re leaving behind. There are few things worse than coming home from holiday to find that your garden has died of thirst, your home has been broken into or your pets neglected.
A good house sitter can make your holiday much more pleasant. They’ll look after your home while you’re gone, offering you peace of mind to switch off and relax. Here’s how to make the relationship easier so you can holiday in comfort.
Be clear about the arrangement
Whether you’re hiring a paid sitter or asking a neighbour to drop past and pick up the mail, communication is key. Many problems between house sitter and homeowner have arisen from simple misunderstandings.
Leave instructions, even if it’s as simple as ‘please water the plants and empty the mailbox every two days’. If you’re leaving animals in someone else’s care, make sure they know the regular routine, how much food to offer and the number of your local vet. Don’t assume that your sitter will know how to care for your pets, even if they have their own.
If you are asking someone to live in your home and care for your pets, you might want to consider a professional arrangement. Many websites exist that match house sitters to home owners, allowing you to choose the person you think will be suitable. Try Aussie Housesitters or Mind A Home.
Leave things clean and tidy
Your house sitter doesn’t want to live in clutter and dirt any more than you do. Finding time for a house clean when you’re heading off on holiday can be hard. However, it’s a very important gesture towards your house sitter. You’ll make them feel welcome, and demonstrate how much you care for your home; both things that will encourage them to take great care of it as well.
You don’t have to go all out with professional carpet and window cleaning, as you would if you were preparing the home for sale. Aim for clean and tidy, with at least one bed made up with fresh linens and clean towels for your guest.
Remember their comfort
A few nods towards your house sitter’s comfort can make the experience much more pleasant for both of you.
It’s a nice gesture to lay in a few supplies, such as coffee, tea, fresh milk and a loaf of bread, but most house sitters won’t expect more than that. If it’s winter, and you have a log fire, make sure you’ve left enough firewood that they’re not shivering when you return. And no matter what the weather, make sure you’ve left them the wifi password!
Make them some space
Clean your fridge and clear a shelf for your house sitter to use. Make sure there’s some space in the bedroom for them to hang or at least store clothes if they wish. If possible, organise an undercover parking space so they’re not stuck on the street. The longer they’ll be with you, the more important it is that they have adequate living space to feel comfortable while they’re there.
Let others know
Let your neighbours know that you’re going away and a sitter is coming, so that they don’t wonder if someone’s broken in. Likewise, any cleaners, gardeners or dog walkers need a heads’ up. Either you’ll want to change their schedules in your absence, or you’ll need to tell them to expect a different person when they knock on the door.
With a little forethought, you can make your house sitter feel welcome and comfortable. In return, they’ll be more willing to go that extra mile to keep your plants lush, your pets pampered and your home in pristine condition.