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The 9 types of housesits you may want to avoid!

The world of housesitting is amazingly diverse – which makes it interesting and extremely rewarding. This also means that some advertised housesits are more desirable than others.

We have been housesitting and monitoring housesit advertising sites since April 2012 and although every one of our sits has been a wonderful experience, we have noticed that not all sits are equally desirable.

Sadly not every housesit involves amazing people and pets creating wonderful memories. Some turn out be less than idyllic. We often see ads for sits we would not touch with a 10-foot pole and hear horror stories from other sitters.

To ensure housesits are dreams and not nightmares house-sitters need to do their homework – there are some people out there you would be much better off not meeting or housesitting for.

We decided to put together a somewhat tongue in cheek list of the sits you may want to avoid.


The Shanty Sit:

Some homes could be from the cover of Better Homes and Gardens where others would be a better fit for the cover of Better Shacks and Shelters. – Some Shack owners expect sitters to live in substandard accommodations without privacy, proper cooking facilities, running water or proper sanitation. To avoid these; get pictures, ask for a tour of the property on Skype! Ask lots of questions, even ask for references from previous sitters –  and NEVER assume.

The Zoo Sit (aka Circus Sits):

These are the types of sits where the sitter has to look after 17 dogs, 23 cats, 2 horses, 5 goats and a herd of milking cows. Unless you are a total animal freak and don’t mind getting up at 4:30 AM to milk the cows or spending 3 hours a day picking ticks off the dogs you may want to give this one a miss – or better yet be compensated for your efforts.

The Prison Sit:

We classify two different scenarios as a prison sit. The first is where you are expected to look after dogs with severe separation anxiety. Some pet owners stipulate you have to stay with Chomper 24 hours a day – they may “allow” you to go for groceries but the neurotic dog has to go as well. Even if you adore dogs this could be a little trying.

The second prison sit scenario involves owners who want their housesitters to provide 24/7 security for the property. Insisting that one person is present at all times. If round the clock security is required, either the owners are paranoid or the home is located in an area you may not want to live in anyway.

The Slave Labor Sit:  

Some people look at housesitters as desperate people who are a source of cheap labor. These folks think performing labor in return for a roof over their heads is a fair deal. As a housesitter you provide a very valuable service – choose clients who value what you provide as a home and pet sitter. Unless you are desperate just say next!

The Lets Shack-up Sit:

This is the type of housesit where you are expected to co-habitate with the owners of the property. They may want you to pay rent, contribute to utilities and/or provide slave labor as well. We have heard stories of owners who never leave the property despite their claims to be away for extended periods or those who really need hired help as they cannot manage the property by themselves.

The Baby Sitter Sit:

This is the type of sit that crosses the line from housesitting to caregiving. Some homeowners think it is OK for sitters to look after elderly parents, bratty teenagers, or invalid spouses. Stories of owners leaving their bed-ridden spouses behind, with the sitter now having to provide meals and act as nurse as well have crossed our ears.

If you like providing this type of service–it is a calling for many people–then share your gift and hopefully get some compensation. Otherwise, this may not be an enjoyable “housesitting” experience.

The General Contractor Sit:

There are homeowners who think it would be great idea to leave on holiday while they have the kitchen remodeled, and even a better idea to get a housesitter to “keep an eye” on the contractors!

There are several problems with this from the perspective of the sitter – one if you have ever lived in a house during a major renovation you know it can be very dusty, noisy and not to mention inconvenient. Secondly being responsible for contractors can be a major pain in the ass – not to mention a potential liability – we avoid this one.

Mail Order Bride Sit:

Some homeowners use housesitting wanted ads as a means of finding a love interest. Honest! If you are looking for love this may work for you.

The George Orwell Sit:

This is where the homeowner has security cameras in the house and will be watching you. Do you really want to be monitored? If so you may want to make sure your activities on the sofa are suitable for a family audience! We have also seen housesit wanted ads where the pet owner wants to board their pet in the sitters home and set up a security camera so they can keep an eye on the pets – Creepy!

Housesitting is about finding a perfect match and although we avoid these types of sits, they may be perfect for you. As a housesitter it is your responsibility to know exactly what you want and exactly what you do not. When choosing house-sits make sure you do your homework to ensure there are no nasty surprises.

Our clients have all been awesome people, the pets always a reflection of their owners and we have enjoyed every minute. This is perhaps because we look very closely at ads and do not apply for or accept scenarios that do not fit our criteria.

Hope you got a chuckle from our list of untouchables.

Our last word of advice –

Be choosy – there is a world of perfect housesitting opportunities out there!



About the author: Apparently born under a wandering star, Michael spent hours as a kid poring over maps, atlases and plotting where he wanted to travel when he grew up. Sadly Engineering school got in the way….. “it takes 5 years to complete and a lot longer to get over”. He still considers himself a “recovering” Professional Engineer. He escaped the rat race at 44 and now pursues his passions for travel, photography, Tai chi, scuba diving, cooking and sampling the world’s wines. Michael is also… Fiercely independent, a bit of a rebel, is on a self-imposed media diet & married to an incredible lady.

12 comments… add one
  • Sheri

    Well said, very helpful. I am just beginning the process of learning about Housesitting and this article was very beneficial.

    • Anonymous

      Yvonne Bauche, well done…with many chuckles!

  • Hahaha this was hilarious! Love it. And so so true. While there are tons of great homeowners out there, there are some that just don’t get the exchange! I don’t get people that insist their pet must never be left alone (have definitely seen some of these listings!). Does that mean they truly never leave their side?? Yikes!

    • Michael Bauche

      Hello Sam – you are absolutely correct when you say thee are tons of great homeowners out there. That is why we are very,very picky when it comes to committing to house sitting assignments. We treat house sitting like a customer service business – we think successful customer service is easier when you select clients who are your “wavelength” so to speak.

  • Great Post! We just finished our “prison sit” and on top of that, he was a puppy!

    I have to admit, we knew we would not be leaving this home much as the puppy was NOT to be left for over two hours. But, it was a week long sit that fit our schedule and it was a five bedroom, five bathrooms. And, a private pool.

    They gave us a “tip” of 100 Euros so we cant’ complain too much, But, we will be avoiding these sits in the future.


    • Michael Bauche

      Thanks for your feedback Clyde. I think when it comes down to it house sitting is all about matching the needs of the owner (or the owner’s puppy in your most recent case) to those of the sitter. Sometimes the benefits ( like a beautiful view, a pool or an amazing owner) that out weight the annoyances – other times not so much. The wonderful thing about the house sitting game is there is a world of opportunity out there!

  • Trish Sansom

    I would add to the slave labour section. Those who state, we have some hires or B&B rooms and there may be people staying. Why do they expect a free house sit?Maybe housesitting sites should refuse to list those sort of sits?

    • Michael Bauche

      We have looked after many properties where guests are staying – we always negotiate compensation for the effort. I never understood somebody who is willing to jeopardize their hospitality business by being cheep and trying to get someone to run it for free (especially in this day and age of Trip Adviser etc – a few bad reviews can tank your business).

      As far as the house sitting platforms vetting the opportunities they post – I don’t think that will happen for several reasons. A – they are in the business of selling memberships and B. It would be costly for them to review each posting.

      I think it is great that there is a plethora of opportunities posted – it gives everyone a chance to find exactly what they are looking for.

      I believe the trick is the ask the right questions, know what your requirements are ( and your show stoppers) and to trust your instincts.

      Cheers Michael

  • Carol

    Have to admit I never thought of arriving to find an elderly parent/or other invalid needing 24/7 care. Your account is a humorous eye-opener! Thanks for the heads up on things to look for. Loved the idea of doing a Skype look-around of the property too. All practical info and prep for being in a position to offer great service in a practical way.

  • bev

    Oh Michael!

    I got a really good belly laugh from this post because we have encountered some of the situations you describe ie many cameras around the house, as well as others ie extra pets & people are suddenly part of the agreement.

    When we started out we took what we could, to get the recommendations that we needed to better get what we wanted (kinda chicken and egg situation). However, we what also happened is that we got a better understanding of what we wanted ie types and number of pets, expectation of care, length of stay, tidiness of the house, city, suburb or country location, car requirements etc.

    Knowing what we want mades it easier to identify assignments that worked for us so we can provide the best possible experience for the owners and their pets.

    So when starting out just know ahead of time that you will probably have a few less than great assignments. We learned from them what questions and follow up we needed to make sure future sits were better.

    Thanks Michael.

  • Great article! Funny, but true. Sometimes in the beginning you don’t get the “perfect” sits due to needing references or not knowing what to look for – your article helps relieve the latter. Recently I met another Housesitters who said, “We interview the owner as thoroughly as they interview us!”

    • Michael Bauche

      Lynn – like any endeavour, with experience you get better and better. We approach house sitting as a win – win proposition. Both parties have to be happy with the outcome, house sitting in my opinion is not a zero sum game.

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