Why is HouseSitMexico a better choice than listing with an internationally oriented website?

Posting internationally on a big housesitting website that has no geographical focus can often result in more applicants than you care to weed through. Some of those applicants may be a world away, applying to every open listing before they’ve even thought about their transportation costs. On the other hand, ALL the applicants from HouseSitMexico are already focused on either coming to Mexico, or they’re already in Mexico. That makes your job of choosing a house sitter easier — and the likelihood greater that your sitter will be prepared to handle a house sit in Mexico.

   Why should homeowners want a sitter?

The three most common reasons homeowners cite as to why they want house sitters are: pet care, home maintenance and security.

Having a house sitter provide pet care not only saves the homeowner the cost of kennel fees, but it’s a healthier, safer and a much happier alternative for the pet. What pet wouldn’t be happier staying in their home environment?

Beyond basic daily maintenance (watering plants and “keeping the place up”) having house sitters can also be valuable in emergency situations. Whether the problem is a leaky pipe or something more serious, as a house sitter it’s your job to respond. Be sure to have clear instructions from the homeowner as well as clear on-going communication regarding any unforeseen situation — and know whom to call. Once again, contact information and emergency instructions are best handled in the written agreement between you and the homeowner.

Security is a serious concern to homeowners, whether they in Mexico or anywhere in the world. Having a home occupied is an important deterrent to burglaries.

A less mentioned motivating factor as to why homeowners may want a house sitter may be cost savings. In some cases, regular household expenses such as utilities and the gardener’s or maid’s salary may be the responsibility of house sitters. Such expectations should be detailed in a written agreement between the homeowner and house sitter. (You can download a basic template for such an agreement here.)

Lastly, having a house sitter means homeowners can know what’s going on back home. Bills can be paid, messages relayed and mail taken care of.

   Can’t I just “browse” available house sitters to find one?

Of course you can browse the available house sitters, and as a member of HouseSitMexico, you can contact those that meet your personal criteria. You’ll find however that this way of finding the right sitter takes more time and is a little more hit-and-miss. Though you’ve read their profiles, when you are the one initiating contact, you don’t know whether they are available to travel to your location, or whether your situation is the one that’s right for them. You’ll find that posting a listing on HouseSitMexico is more effective and way-more efficient.

   What are the steps for selecting a sitter?

  • Think through the details of when you need a sitter and what you want them to do.
  • Post your house sitting Assignment online.
  • Review applicants who respond through our private messaging system, and respond to those you have interest in.
  • Interview candidates. Video calls via Skype or FaceTime are recommended.
  • Whenever you’ve narrowed down the candidates for the job, ask for their references.
  • Check references. Do your ‘due diligence’. Besides simply verifying the reference, conversations with homeowners who’ve worked with the house sitter can often yield good information, and even advice that helps assure a successful experience.
  • When you’ve selected a house sitter, memorialize the terms you’ve agreed to in a written agreement.
  • From your Dashboard, indicate that the Assignment has been filled by de-activating it. (Until you do so, your Assignment will continue to appear as an available housesit, attracting additional applicants.)
  • A short note to other sitters who applied for the Assignment is a common courtesy. (Our messaging system makes such “batch replies” easy to do.)

   Why do people choose to housesit?

The reasons why people choose to house sit are many and varied. One thing that sets apart the house sitters who register at HouseSitMexico however, is the fact that they specifically want to house sit in Mexico.

Most house sitters who have registered with HouseSitMexico since its founding, have either been retirees — or people who were considering retirement in Mexico for their future. Many have found house sitting the perfect way to “test drive” living in Mexico, before renting or purchasing a home. It’s the perfect way to experience “what living there is like” in different parts of this diverse country. But retirees are not the only people interested in house sitting in Mexico…

Younger house sitters, like their older counterparts, have enjoyed “living like a local”, which house sitting allows them to do. Staying a longer, slower paced period of time living in a home provides a different and richer experience than the faster pace of travel using hotel stopovers.

Writers, artists and “mobile workers” who can work from any location with an Internet connection have found housesitting to be an exciting and practical way to have a change in scenery and enjoy new experiences.

What may be most attractive to all house sitters however, may be the fact that by house sitting is an effective strategy for stretching your travel dollars. Hotel bills and rents are avoided. Therefore house sitters can enjoy this slower pace and more authentic experience as well as SAVE MONEY.

   Why would a homeowner ever want to house sit?

Another category of house sitter, are folks who are already homeowners in Mexico themselves. While some may seek a house sit while their homes undergo a renovation, most housesit to enjoy seeing another part of Mexico from the one where they live. Even if living in the paradise of a beach town, sometimes it’s nice to explore the colonial towns of the highlands or get a dose of life in a big city. (Mexico has those too!)

   Should homeowners and house sitters have a written agreement?

In a word: “Yes”. A written agreement can be very useful to both the homeowner and the house sitter. Usually, responsibility for creating a written agreement falls to the homeowners since they can detail the responsibilities or the services they’re looking for. In our experience however, some homeowners have asked the house sitters to provide the agreement.

For your reference, HouseSitMexico offers a basic template House Sitting Agreement (which you can find here). It is not a “one size fits all” legal contract, nor is it intended to be. You should not consider it to be complete. It’s intended to just help you ‘get going’ on creating a written document that describes YOUR house sitting situation. No template can reflect the particulars of your specific situation, until you adapt it, add to it, edit it down and mold it until it becomes yours. Of course, you are encouraged to obtain whatever professional advice on this matter as you see fit.

   Why post an Assignment online?

Although you can browse and search through the available house sitters online at HouseSitMexico.com and contact ones who interest you individually, we believe you’ll find it much more efficient to post an Assignment for your housesit online.

Our house sitters receive new Assignment listings on either a daily basis or as a weekly digest. They’re eager to apply to those Assignments that fall into the time period when they’re available for a house sit. In these updates house sitters will see all the details of the Assignment you’ve posted, including pet sitting and/or other requirements you may have, your location and time period. Then sit back. House sitters who want to do the job will apply. As they apply, you will receive an email from HouseSitMexico. From our Message Center you can retrieve messages, and at your convenience, reply to them individually or “batch reply” through our messaging system.

As a member of HouseSitMexico, you can create as many Assignments as you need! It’s unlimited! Use your HouseSitMexico to the max and find the freedom to get away when you want to.

HouseSitMexico offers homeowners a money back guarantee if you try to find a sitter and are unsuccessful. Posting an Assignment an important part of your effort.

   What advice do you have about describing my housesitting Assignment?

An Assignment is a description of the house sitting opportunity you’re offering. It’s essentially an advertisement that can connect you with the house sitter you want to find. You’ll have a step-by-step form to fill out, which guides you in creating your online Assignment. It asks you a variety of details covering time, place and responsibilities, especially whatever pet care or property maintenance is required.

Please detail your terms, such as whether you expect the house sitters to bear the cost of any household workers (e.g. maid, gardener or pool service), or whether you will leave the funds for that service, or take care of it otherwise.

When describing your home, we suggest you include a mention of the accommodations you’re providing for the house sitter, whether a car is necessary or public transportation is available, and whether Wi-Fi, Internet service and/or some form of television is provided. Be sure to provide photographs, including a photo of each pet.

   What’s Private Messaging and why is it important?

The structure of our HouseSitMexico website allows both homeowners and house sitters to communicate through private messaging which allows you to send and receive emails – without sharing your direct contact information. All messages go through the HouseSitMexico website. Only when both parties decide they want to be in direct contact, do they exchange phone numbers, Skype IDs, email address or other contact information. To do so is up to them. Please respect our rule that no direct contact information, like your actual address, phone number or email address, may be shared in the posted Assignment (nor may sitters put such info in their online Profile, nor in our Forum, nor in the Member Blog, nor anywhere else on HouseSitMexico.com).

Such information remains confidential and under your control. It’s up to you whether you want to share it with a prospective house sitter, after you have communicated with them through our messaging system.

   How do you spread the word about my assignment?

To further your reach to available house sitters, your listing is blasted out in HouseSitMexico’s email update, as quickly as members’ preferences allow, and then posted to the HouseSitMexico website as well as our Facebook page and social media outlets. As soon as you post it, your listing becomes part of our interactive map of available house sits, and is featured in HouseSitMexico’s browsing and search results.

   Can I post more than one Assignment for a house sit?

As a member of HouseSitMexico, you can list as many Assignments as you need! It’s unlimited! Use your HouseSitMexico membership to the max and find the freedom to get away when you want to! Because some of our house sitters are just a drive or a bus ride away, you can find sitters for even short-term assignments.

   Is It Fair to Ask The Sitter to Pay for Utilities, Gardener or Maid?

As a practical note, while you are away regular overhead expenses such as house cleaning, gardening and pool maintenance are commonly, but not always, made the responsibility of the house sitter.

While it can be said that every situation is different, every successful house sitting relationship finds a balance between what’s expected of the sitter and what the homeowner provides. Most are on a “no cash exchanged” basis.

Consider what you think is fair and be sure your agreement with your house sitter includes this information. (You can download a basic template for such an agreement here.)

   Why is having a sitter better for your pets?

If pets are involved, the advantages of having a live-in sitter become obvious when you consider the alternatives:

  • Boarding your pets in a commercial kennel?
  • Having them stay in an empty home?
  • Will you have to ask your friends to take them in?
  • Will you pay someone to come feed them, hoping they’ll stay around to give your pets some human companionship?

With a house sitter, your pets are safe and comfortable in their home environment. By staying home, pets avoid contracting any of the common illnesses (such as kennel cough) or fleas that are associated with a kennel stay. From getting appropriate exercise to maintaining a consistent diet and receiving medication as required, having a sitter in your absence presents lots of advantages to your pet.

Be sure to write down your expectations as to your pet’s care and incorporate them into your written agreement with your house sitter.

It’s a good idea to notify your veterinarian that your house sitter will be caring for your pet in your absence – and inform your house sitter how to contact the vet when necessary.

   Why does having a sitter help provide “Peace of Mind”?

Have you ever heard it said, “An empty house is an invitation to thieves”? It’s true around the world: Occupied houses are less prone to burglary than unoccupied houses. Even in the short term, a home can appear obviously unoccupied after a relatively short time. One couple we personally know did not have a house sitter in their absence. This couple came back from a trip to find every single thing stolen from their house: Even the switch plates were unscrewed from the walls!

And then there are the unforeseen events that can house sitters respond to… such as broken water pipes, electricity outage, and earthquake or storm damage.

So even if pet care isn’t needed, homeowners may find having a house sitter to be a worthwhile option, and one that provides peace of mind.

   How do I prepare my sitter for emergency situations?

From a suddenly broken water pipe to something as unforeseeable as earthquake damage, having a house sitter in residence means that emergency repairs, as well as regular maintenance, can be handled promptly, potentially limiting damage.

It’s a good idea to provide your house sitters with a list of local emergency contacts, and especially the phone number and email of a trusted friend who remains in town while you are away. Such a contact can provide on the spot advice as to how to handle unforeseen circumstances.

The emergency contacts list you leave for your house sitters should also include contact information for a local doctor and ambulance service, and of course veterinary contacts for any pets. (To customize your own Emergency Contact List, click here.)

   Mail, Phone and Messages…

Having a house sitter means homeowners can know what’s going on back home. Bills can be paid, messages relayed and mail taken care of. You can even have a “Skype visit” with your pets, and a visual check-in with your home… if you have a house sitter.

Think about what duties or errands are important to you, and be sure to incorporate them into a written agreement with your house sitter. HouseSitMexico offers a basic template House Sitting Agreement (which you can find here).

   Should I pay for house sitting?

The premise HouseSitMexico conveys to both house sitters and homeowners is that their relationship is best what it’s balanced as a win-win situation. When the demands of the house sit are greater (due to factors such as a greater number of pets to care for or extensive property maintenance, for example), it may be appropriate for the homeowner to pay for services, beyond and above the value of giving the house sitter a free place to stay. That’s for YOU to decide, and to specify in your listed Assignment.

Just as the selection of a house sitter is entirely up to you, so is the question of whether you should offer financial compensation.

   Should we create a written agreement with our house sitter?

Having a written agreement can be very useful to both the homeowner and the house sitter as an objective record of what your requirements are, and what responsibilities the house sitter is assuming. An attorney can help you arrange this.

As a step to help you draft such a document, HouseSitMexico offers a basic template House Sitting Agreement (which you can find here). It is not intended to be a “one size fits all” legal contract, and you should not consider it to be complete. Rather, you’re invited to review, amend, adapt and use as you see fit. You can use it as a starting point from which you can create a document that reflects YOUR specific circumstances, your needs and the terms you and your house sitter have agreed to.

   What is HouseSitMexico’s Money-Back Guarantee?

If a HouseSitMexico member is not successful in finding a sitter, despite posting an Assignment and making an effort in good faith to find one, HouseSitMexico will refund the full amount the member paid for membership upon request. (Such a request must be made while the membership is still in effect.)

HouseSitMexico cannot guarantee the success of house sitters applying for house sitting assignments.

   Why do House Sitters Want to House Sit?

For all house sitters, saving money is a major benefit of providing house and pet sitting services. This again reflects the basic spirit behind housesitting as a worldwide phenomenon: each side benefits. It’s a win-win relationship, and a big part of the “win” for house sitters is being able to stay in your home for free. Beyond this, the reasons why people choose to house sit are many and varied.

Most house sitters who have registered with HouseSitMexico since its founding in 2008 have either been retirees, soon-to-be-retirees, or people of any age with a curiosity about what it would be like to live in Mexico or travel there. Many used the connections made through HouseSitMexico to explore various towns and regions of Mexico as they considered their options for retirement, whether that is a current question in their minds or a possibility way off in the future.

Some house sitters on HouseSitMexico.com wear two hats: They are themselves already homeowners or renters in Mexico. HouseSitMexico gives them the option to register both as a homeowner AND a house sitter. Some owners take a house sitting position while their own home is being renovated, or they may find house sitting is a low cost way to explore a region of Mexico that is new to them. Living in San Miguel de Allende doesn’t preclude you from enjoying a house sit in Puerto Vallarta!

Younger house sitters, like their older counterparts, have enjoyed “living like a local”, which house sitting allows them to do. For people of any age, house sitting provides a different, and some would say a richer experience than the faster pace of travel using hotel stopovers.

Writers, artists and “mobile workers” who can work from any location with an Internet connection have found housesitting to be an exciting and practical way to have a change in scenery and enjoy new experiences.

All of these benefits are part of the mutually advantageous relationship which prompts house sitters to do this work, and homeowners to seek them out.

   What if I’m a long-term renter of my home? (Not a “homeowner”.)

On this website, the term homeowner is used to represent the party whose home is to be cared for (whether they be the owners or renters of that dwelling).

Presuming that the terms of your rental contract do not exclude your right to have a house sitter in your absence, there should be no difference between being a homeowner or a home renter in this context.

   Can I contact my sitter’s references?

Y-E-S!!! Typically Profiles include a list of letters of reference the house sitter can supply. Before you choose your house sitter, HouseSitMexico strongly recommends you ask for these written references, which should each be verifiable as legitimate.

In the interest of protecting the privacy of the people who have written those references, we ask house sitters to provide their written references to you directly (rather than having them as part of their profile online). House sitters can send their references to you via our private messaging system or direct email with you.

Contacting references will not only validate information house sitters have given you. In practice, we’ve found conversations with homeowners who have previously employed the house sitters yield excellent advice that will help your housesitting assignment be more successful.

   What about interviewing applicants?

We’ve found that after emails have been exchanged and you’ve found house sitters who may serve your needs well, it is extremely valuable (and strongly recommended) to have a face-to-face interview via a service such as Skype or Apple’s FaceTime.

If having such an “internet interview” doesn’t suit you, then by all means use the telephone. At some time you should really make a “live” connection, beside your written communications (such as via private messages or email. Establishing good communication from the outset is important.

HouseSitMexico serves as a platform through which house sitters and homeowners seeking such services can contact each other. Like a “dating service”, it’s up to the individuals involved to communicate with each other and build a relationship if they choose to. As we’ve said before, the relationship of a house sitter and homeowner is based on trust. That trust should be built on both “personal chemistry” (including the information you’ve shared with each other through emails, an interview and other discussion) and verified third party information (references which you’ve checked).

   A better option than renting your home…

The law in Mexico is clear: If you rent your property in Mexico, you owe the Mexican government tax on the income you earn. For more on this, you may consult this document: “La ley del impuesto sobre la renta”: http://www.diputados.gob.mx/LeyesBiblio/pdf/LISR_181115.pdf, as well as your own attorney or tax advisor.

Beyond the issue of filing with Hacienda (Mexico’s IRS), many homeowners find that the option of renting their home during their absence is simply not worth the hassle for other reasons. Renting your property means clearing out personal space (far, far more than you need to for a house sitter), plus finding and securing the renter and accommodating the demands of a “paying guest”.

There’s pet care to think of as well. If you are considering renting, who will care for your pets?

   About references

When choosing a house sitter it’s important to take your time, take a breath, and do some “due diligence”. At HouseSitMexico, it has been our conscious decision to not post letters of reference to the website. We just think some past homeowners would rather that the letter of reference they wrote, with its private contact information, not end up on the Internet. Therefore, we prefer to err on the side of privacy. We encourage you to ask house sitters for their references, AND that you check however many of them you think is right.

Though we stress the value of checking references, don’t forget to follow your intuition too. Again based on personal experience and word of mouth, we know people on both sides of this equation, homeowners and house sitters, who report “just clicking” and that when the “chemistry is good”, they knew it was “right”.

But please, check those references anyway (via either email, Skype or phone). When you call a house sitter’s reference, you’ll be talking with someone who has “been there”, where you are now. You’ll get the benefit of their past experience with the house sitter you’re considering, and hopefully some good advice. Checking a reference can be a valuable conversation on many levels. (It’s like having a free consultant on all the how-to’s!)

   The Importance of a “WIN-WIN” approach

Our sense about house sitting is that the best house sitting experiences (for both homeowners and house sitters) happen when their arrangement has a sense of balance – not that it has to be an equally great “win” for each side. In real-life house sitting arrangements, it is common for one side to feel like they got a superior deal than the other. What’s important is that each side sees it as a “win” — whether a BIG, SUPER, or just a “win” – but always a win on each side.

Often it is the house sitters who can’t believe he, she or they have found such a terrific home to house sit – for free! Homeowners who come home to a happy, healthy pet (without having kennel bills to pay or friends to “pay back”) also appreciate their benefit. People who seek out pet sitting jobs are a caring lot! I’ve heard owners jokingly say that upon returning, they thought their pets weren’t even mad at them for having gone away! (Their care had been that good.) Isn’t that a “win” for you and your pet?

   What is it fair to ask a house sitter to do?

Is it fair to ask house sitters to pay utilities? Is it fair to ask that the house sitter water the garden daily? Can I include cleaning my horse’s stall in the job description? The short answer is “Yes”.

When you post your housesit Assignment, be as thorough as you can be in your list of the tasks, expenses and responsibilities you want your house sitter to assume. If cleaning a horse stall is part of the job, that’s fine. Just be up front about it.

It’s also advisable to consider whether you’re asking a lot of the house sitter. If your situation is more demanding than most (such as managing a rental property, for example, or caring for a large number of pets), perhaps some sort of financial compensation should also be offered.

In any case however, you as the homeowner or renter are free to define the terms of the Assignment. During the interview process and in discussion with your preferred sitter(s), you can always make changes from the terms originally listed. Document the final terms agreed upon in your written agreement.

   Why use a Private Messaging system?

When a homeowner posts an Assignment, they’ll receive inquiries through our HouseSitMexico messaging system. House sitters will only be identified by their first names, as will homeowners. In this way, HouseSitMexico protects the privacy of all members. Each member can decide when they’re ready to share their direct contact information (such as email, telephone or Skype address).

   About Cancellations

Any HouseSitMexico member (either homeowner or house sitter) known to have broken a firm house sitting agreement without good cause will lose the remaining portion of their membership in HouseSitMexico without a refund. Should the cancellation be unavoidable (such as a cancellation due to death or illness) contact should be made as quickly as possible. We advise house sitters not to buy tickets for their transportation until a firm agreement has been reached.