Why House Sitters Do NOT Live Rent-Free

“And you’re staying in my home for free.”

“No, ma’am, I’m not. I’m providing you with a valuable service that you pay for by allowing me to stay in your home rent-free. We are exchanging one service for another.”

It’s true. House sitters do NOT live rent-free. It’s the exchange, of one service for another by two parties. Bartering or trading are also excellent terms to describe the exchange of services between a homeowner and unpaid sitter.

But I’m not surprised that people “think” it’s free. After all, both homeowners and house sitters are bombarded with statements on house sit platforms or articles like this one on CNBC claiming that house sitting is FREE. It’s easy to understand why people develop the attitude that house sitting is free when you continuously see claims like:

  • “Become a member — the rest is FREE”
  • ” Trustworthy people who are happy to sit for FREE”
  • “Find your ideal sitter from our pet loving community who’ll love your pets and home like their own completely for free”
  • “Travel the world for free”
  • “Live rent free”

Why wouldn’t you believe house sitting is free when you see this claim made over and over by “trusted” house sitting platforms that you see and use?

FREE house sitting is the number myth perpetuated about house sitting because it’s a form of advertisement that speaks to people. Because we all love FREE! And since housing is a massive part of our budgets, who wouldn’t like to have free rent?

The problem is house sitting is not free, and you are still paying rent. You just pay it with another form of payment. Your services.

You Are Valuable

Unfortunately, the myth “house sitters live rent-free” causes many to undervalue the worth of house sitters, including the sitters themselves. Many overlook the number of services and amount of work provided by sitters. But believe me, your time, expertise and training are all precious.

When you work a “regular” job, you’re paid for your time, experience and training. Your boss offers you money in exchange for what you know and do while on the job.

House sitting is no different. You provide homeowners with your time, abilities and training to do set tasks in exchange for living in their home and any other agreed upon perks, such as a car, gas or grocery allowance, or money.

House sitters provide valuable services that people pay money for anywhere in the world. Services such as:

  • Home security
  • In-home pet care, including walking, grooming, feeding, vet checkups, medication dosing, and lots of love
  • Mail retrieval and sorting
  • Houseplant watering and care
  • Lawn and garden maintenance
  • Cleaning services
  • Car health services such as cranking and running your car if you are away for extended amounts of time
  • Disaster security, including but not limited to natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes and floods, appliance failures, sewer backups, and water pipe breakages.
  • Farm and farm animal care
  • Pool maintenance
  • Peace of mind
  • Handling renters and rental units
  • Providing personal updates including photos of pets or the property
  • Keeping your homeowner’s insurance valid (for longer sits)
  • Or any requested and agreed upon services

This exchange of services is mutually beneficial and works in favor of both the homeowner and the sitter. The homeowner gains someone experienced and knowledgeable about home and pet care, and the house sitter gets paid for their services with a home, paid utilities (most cases), and possibly other perks. Both parties are providing value to the relationship.

Your Travel is Not Free

Whether you arrive by plane, train, bus, ferry, tuk-tuk, mule, or even your personal car, your journey to your next house sitting location is not FREE. Unless you are one of the lucky few that the homeowners pay for your travel, it costs something to arrive at your new place.

Some people argue with me on this because they say “I’m paying for travel anyway.” Well, maybe, but your travel is on your terms. When house sitting, you often end up traveling to places you may or may not have traveled to and needed to arrive on set dates. It’s all a calculated cost when choosing the sit, but it’s still a cost, which means you do NOT “travel the world for free” with house sitting.

Extra Expenses

Is a car provided for transportation or do you have to rent one? How close is the store and shops for your basic needs? Did a hurricane happen that required you to prepare the home, evacuate, and offer cleanup afterward? Was the amount of time needed for caring of the house and pets misrepresented? Did a sewer line back up and you had to clean up the mess and supervise the repair company? Is the internet as good as promised? Did the pet need an emergency vet visit or did you need emergency care from a pet bite?

These are all just a few extras that can come up during a house sit. Not only do they cost the sitter more time, often they cost money that is not reimbursed. It’s a risk the sitter takes when sitting a home because just like in their own homes, unexpected shit happens. House sitting is already NOT free, but Exchanges involving more than agreed upon adds up to more expenses put out by the sitter.

It’s time we get used to the idea that house sitters do NOT live rent-free and start seeing the value of these exchanges for both the homeowners and sitters alike.

Wanna read more? Check out our article The #1 Myth About House Sitting: It’s Free on FlyAwayU.

Originally published at www.bagsandbiscuits.com on October 16, 2017.