What does it take to be a great house sitter?

Being honest, responsible, and trustworthy are all necessary qualities in successful house sitters. Sitters must respect that house sitting is an EXCHANGE of services for a free place to stay. Providing those services means staying in the home for the duration of the assignment, providing the companionship needed by pets, plus whatever other tasks sitters have agreed to. It’s a given that the home should be left in the same or better condition than the sitter found it. Be a good communicator. Especially if you’re taking care of pets, homeowners appreciate occasional emails or texts with photos while they’re away.

   What are some tips for writing a good Profile?

Your Profile is your opportunity to introduce YOURSELF and put your best foot forward to be considered for a house sitting assignment. Be sure to mention any experience you may have with animal care (your own pets or someone else’s), and talk about whatever you have in your background which shows you know how to be responsible and trustworthy. Aside from the previous house sitting you might have done, having been a homeowner, a responsible employee or business owner, an AirBnB Host, or a volunteer in your community — are all worth mentioning as they demonstrate something about you. Provide whatever references you can. References can be for your previous house-sitting assignments, or offer one or more personal/character references. These can come from friends, employers, your landlord, or even the vet you’ve taken your own pets to. References should be verifiable. You don’t have to “name names” or give contact information in the Profile itself. Specific contact information can be provided directly to the homeowner you are applying to. If not uploading letters of reference, use the list option in your Profile and say something about each one. You can add the phrase “contact information on request”, however you want to say it. ONLY homeowner/renter members of HouseSitMexico have any access to see your Profile. It is important to offer some verifiable contact who knows you and can speak well of you.
The Internet is full of advice on this topic.
If all such things as references, experience, etc. are equal, homeowners tend to choose the applicants “they like”, as people who are going to be easy to work with and reliable. The single biggest factor one sitter may get the assignment over another often has to do with whether the homeowner feels this kind of a “connection”.  What you write in your Profile (and in your message when you apply) is where they find information about you, your interests, where you’ve lived, what you do…  You never know what people will connect with.  So it helps to be very personable and talk about yourself. In contrast, short, curt messages often seem abrasive. Introduce who you are, both in your Profile and when you apply.

   What are some reasons homeowners would need 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, receiving the attention and affection of a sitter?

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. Contact information for service providers (such as plumbers) and other emergency instructions should be left for the house sitter(s). Be sure to ask for it, if such info isn’t offered.

Security is a serious concern to homeowners, whether they in Mexico or anywhere in the world. Having a home occupied is widely recognized as 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 of particularly long term house sits, expenses such as utilities and the gardener’s or maid’s salary may (or may not) be the responsibility of house sitters. Any such responsibilities should be detailed in a written agreement between sitters and the homeowner/renter. (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. Before the homeowners leave, be sure you understand how they’d like you to keep in touch with them.

   Why is HouseSitMexico a better choice than an international housesitting website?

If you want to house sit in Mexico, there is no better place to register as a house sitter than HouseSitMexico! Not only does HouseSitMexico consistently offer more house sitting opportunities IN MEXICO than all international house sitting platforms combined, but the competition for listings is FAR, FAR less. (It’s a dramatic difference.)  If you know you want to be in Mexico, HouseSitMexico.com is the platform you want to join.  Homeowners who seek a sitter through HouseSitMexico do so knowing that all our sitters are either already in Mexico are are committed to coming. Your membership in HouseSitMexico shows homeowners you are motivated and focused on Mexico as your destination. Seen from the perspective of a homeowner in Mexico, that makes you as a house sitter seem more attractive and more reliable on a number of levels. It makes their job of finding and trusting a sitter to be that much easier.

If Mexico is where you want to be, no other website will provide you with as many opportunities, informational resources, or sense of community as does HouseSitMexico.  Lastly, a cost-comparison:  A.one year membership at HouseSitMexico costs less than 60% of what membership costs at the biggest international site.

   How competitive is it to GET a house sitting assignment?

At HouseSitMexico house sitting assignments typically receive between 3 to 7 applicants, with particularly attractive assignments (like “Cancun in January”) receiving more.  Averaging 5 applicants, it becomes manageable to sense a good connection with an applicant and communicate with them to develop a mutual trust which is the basis for a good house sitting relationship.

Compare that level of competition to the big international sites, where house sitters are in an intense competition with literally thousands of other house sitters for the assignments that come available.  Homeowners have reported receiving as many as a hundred applications at such sites—a fact they’re not happy with as it becomes a burden to sift through them all, much less send responses.

   Do I need to have experience as a house sitter?

In a word, “No”, you don’t necessarily have to have been a sitter before, but you do need to convey that you are honest, responsible and reliable to do what is needed of a sitter. At HouseSitMexico.com members come with different strengths and relevant experience and backgrounds.  Some sitters have extensive international experience as house sitters. However HouseSitMexico is especially welcoming to the many responsible and extremely capable members who are new to house sitting.  Many may have been homeowners and pet owners themselves for decades in their home country, and become sitters to authentically experience what it’s like to live in different parts of Mexico, in anticipation of their own move to Mexico. Most homeowners with HouseSitMexico can relate to what it’s like, trying to get to know the country, planning for retirement. Sometimes that empathy, for having been in that situation, helps homeowners connect well with those who are new to house sitting.

   With so many sitters, do I have a chance?

Absolutely! Realize that different sitters are looking for different types of assignments, of different lengths, and some sitters join interested in house sitting in ONLY a specific area.  Not everyone is interested in the same thing…  which is another reason we believe HouseSitMexico to be among the least competitive of house sitting platforms.  Having such a mix is helpful to fill long term sits (as digital nomads, and those who travel from a distance may be interested in) as well as short term and last minute assignments (which appeal more to the many sitters who already live in Mexico).

   Should homeowners and house sitters have a written agreement?

“Yes”, a written agreement can be very useful to both the homeowner and the house sitter and is highly recommended. 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 the specific house sitting situation you’re embarking on. 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.

   What advice do you have creating my house sitter’s Profile and Ad Heading?

Your Profile and Ad Heading are what homeowner’s will first see about you. The Ad (as seen at housesitmexico.com/find-sitters/) is essentially your advertisement. Your Profile on the other hand is more of a self-introduction and resume as a house sitter. A link to your Profile is included with messages you send through HouseSitMexico’s in-system messaging. Only homeowner/renter MEMBERS of HouseSitMexico.com can see your Profile. It is not available as “public information”.

In the MY PROFILE section of your Dashboard (once you join) you’ll have a step-by-step form to fill out, which guides you, asking where and when you’d like to house sit, for how long, and whether you want to (and have experience) in caring for a variety of animals. How you answer these questions will determine whether your Profile comes up in the filtered search a homeowner conducts. If you wish, take a minute to click on doing a FILTERED SEARCH on the FIND A SITTER page, to see how it works.

Your Profile gives you an opportunity to create a catchy heading (used in your “ad” on the FIND A SITTER pages).  Through your Profile you can introduce yourself.  If you’re new to house sitting, be sure to mention any experience you’ve had in home care, including your own (particularly if you’ve been a home owner). Reliability and sincerity can be communicated in a variety of ways. Above all else, be honest and truthful.

   About references

References are indispensable for creating trust and confidence. After all, to our homeowner/renter members, you are an “unknown entity”, asking for the opportunity to stay in their home, caring for what’s most dear to them. That said, even if you don’t have references for having been a house sitter there are ways to build trust and confidence. References you provide can be character references, from someone who has known you well. References can also be written by your landlord (if you rent), your veterinarian (who can speak of how you’ve cared for your own pets), or anyone who has first hand experience with you as an honest, reliable person. Many sitters have also used the nice things said about them in AirBnB or home exchange reviews. Importantly, you should note on your Profile that all references can be verified, and writers of references (or those who have offered them verbally) should also be willing to have a short phone conversation verifying the reference. If your references’ information is not included on your Profile, be ready to provide contact information upon request.

On the Profile form (which you fill out after you join), members have two ways to enter information in regard to their references.  Letters of reference sitters have received can be uploaded to the Profile.  References can also be written out in a list.  The form allows a text box to start the list, with a place you can click to add each other entry.  As many entries as needed can be added.  In this list format, sitters can describe when and where they house sat.  As stated earlier, direct contact information to the person providing the reference is not required on the Profile form, but must be offered upon request.  We strongly encourage homeowners to check and verify references.

For those who have house sat through HouseSitMexico.com previously:  our system offers verified in-system reviews, written by our own members for whom the sitter has house sat.  Such in-system reviews also appear on the sitters’ Profile.

   What’s in-system messaging and why is it important?

The structure of our HouseSitMexico website allows homeowners and house sitters to communicate through in-system messages. This allows you to correspond without providing your personal contact information. Only when you and a homeowner mutually decide to be in direct contact, do you exchange your phone numbers, email addresses or other contact information. Sharing such information is up to YOU.

Please respect our rule that no direct contact information, like your actual address, phone number or email address, be shared in your Profile (nor may homeowners put such info in their online Listing).

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

   How should I prepare for emergency situations as a house sitter?

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. That’s important for a homeowner’s peace-of-mind. What’s important is that when you take on the responsibility of a house sit, you gather information that will help you handle such events.

Be sure that the homeowners provide you with a list of local emergency contacts, and especially the phone number and email of a trusted friend who remains in town while they are away. Such a contact can provide on the spot advice as to how to handle unforeseen circumstances.

The emergency contacts list should also include 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…

To homeowners, having a sitter means they can know what’s going on back home. Your responsibilities as a sitter may include making a note of phone calls received and relaying messages. They might even request a “video visit” with their pets, and a visual check-in with their home. These things are all possible, only because they arranged to have a house sitter like you staying in their home while they are gone. These are all part of responsibilities that should be noted within your written agreement with the homeowner. HouseSitMexico offers a basic template House Sitting Agreement (which you can find here).
Homeowners usually take on the responsibility of creating the agreement, as they are the ones defining terms. Every situation is different however, and house sitters are often asked to draft the agreement, which the homeowner may then edit or add to.

   The importance of phone and video calls

We’ve found that after emails have been exchanged, and even after phone calls, it is extremely valuable and strongly recommended to have a face-to-face interview using a video call service such as Zoom, WhatsApp, Facebook-Messenger/Video, FaceTime or Skype. Taking this step gives you “live” information about what the pet/s, home and what the homeowner is like personally, and what they may be like to work with. If the conversation flows, it often turns to giving you a walk-through of the home. You can get a glimpse of the pets’ “personality”, plus a sense of their environment and energy level too.

If having such an “internet interview” isn’t an option, then by all means use the telephone, but at some time before securing commitments, we strongly advise you should really make a “live” connection via either phone or video. Doing calls should grow out of your written communications, and be considered a stage process.

Establishing good communication from the outset is important and useful to both homeowners and sitter, because it fosters having a successful house sit.

   How can I include recommendations in my Profile?

Yes, there are two ways you can include recommendations, which can be either personal “character” references or references for you from those you may have house sat for in the past. The Profile form allows you to both create a LIST of your references, and/or UPLOAD documents.

On your Profile, in the “List” area for references, you can describe the what/where/when/for whom information:  What you did, where you did it, when and for whom was it done. You do not have to include the actual contact information for the person recommending you, but you should offer to provide it when it is requested (for verification purposes).  The person giving a recommendation/reference should be willing to be contacted by others who are considering you as a house sitter.  

If you have a document in any format, you can upload it (in the upload area of the Profile).  

Members of HouseSitMexico for whom you house sit can give you an in-system REVIEW.  Be sure to ask for such a review after doing a house sit.  It’s also a good idea for you to send a review of the house sitting assignment for the homeowner too.  They’ll appreciate that!


   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 “better deal” than the other. Regardless, 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.

   What’s fair to ask a house sitter to do?

When homeowners create their Assignment, they are asked to be as thorough as they can be in their list of responsibilities they want their house sitter to assume.  Sitters commonly care for pets, water plants, and forward messages received while homeowners are away. We’ve had a “ranch sit” the staff handled all chores, but sitters were to let the dogs sleep on their bed. And we’ve had sits with no pets at all. In some of those cases, instead of pet care the homeowners have asked such things as letting an AirBnB renter in a unit.

If you don’t want the responsibility of certain tasks, please don’t apply for those house sits. While most house sits include caring for pets, we do have assignments that do not include pets.  Look for those if caring for pets isn’t something you are interested in.

Any issues that are vague or that come up during the interview process need to be clarified. We strongly advise to have the final terms documented in your written agreement with the homeowner.

   Do sitters always stay for free (in exchange for serving as sitters)?

It is not “common” to ask sitters to pay anything while they are in residence.  Exceptions arise in extremely long house sits and house sits that occur in very hot, humid climates.  In very long assignments, homeowners on occasion ask sitters to cover the cost of the maid and/or gardener’s fees.  (As this is Mexico, these fees are typically not high.)  In very hot humid climates, as an example, homeowners may arrange with a sitter for them to be responsible for electric bills as a way to ward off excessive use of the air conditioner.  All terms are to be communicated and should be in your written agreement. Definitely confirm such financial details before confirming your agreement to the house sit, and have it be part of your written agreement with the homeowner.

   About Using Our Private Messaging system

When a house sitter sees a listing they want to apply for, they click the CONTACT LINK located on the listing.  Our in-system messaging software opens up and they can send that homeowner an in-system message.  Homeowners can also initiate contact by clicking to see a given house sitter’s Profile, and clicking to CONTACT them.  Many homeowners prefer to contact sitters directly this way, instead of listing the assignment online.

Each time you receive a message, you’ll get a “MESSAGE ALERT” email which contains a LINK.  (Sometimes these links appear not to work — but that’s a matter of giving the Internet a moment to “load” it.  Once loaded, the link will turn blue. )  Clicking the link takes you directly to see the message.  It will be in the MESSAGE CENTER, a section your Dashboard on the HouseSitMexico website.

All sitters sending or receiving messages are only identified by their user names, with a link to their Member Profile. In this way, HouseSitMexico protects the privacy of all members. After you’ve communicated through our private system, you can decide when and if you are ready to share direct contact information (such as email or telephone number).

   About Cancellations

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