Housesitting! It’s a thing I do professionally.
What IS a professional housesitter, exactly?
Well, it’s someone who does not own or rent a home of their own, but instead lives in the homes of other people, usually while they’re away from the home. I say usually because as a long-term professional housesitter, I’ve been in the situation of having my own quarters in someone else’s home. In that case, occasionally the homeowners will be around for stretches of time, but I still live there in my own separate (sometimes shared) space.
I’ve been housesitting for over 10 years, officially beginning in college in Western Massachusetts, where I stayed until 2010. My favorite story from that time is when a local college professor and her family were away for a week in the middle of winter, and I watched their house and two large labs (one yellow, one chocolate, both very sweet). During that week, their heat went out in the middle of a three-day snow storm (pilot light blew), I got a nasty cold, and my new doctor-prescribed allergy meds caused a very mild psychotic episode. All while working full-time and taking care of the two dogs. Clearly I survived to tell the tale, but it did teach me one valuable lesson – never be afraid to call the client and explain what went wrong. I waited for two days before calling them about the heat not working, and when I finally got ahold of them, it turned out all I had to do was run down to their ancient furnace in the basement with a lighter and light that sucker back up.
That’s the key to good housesitting: knowing that something is likely to go wrong so you prepare for that eventuality by getting all the information you can from the homeowners before they leave and then calling upon your resources to handle whatever it is that just went wrong when the time comes.
In Boston, Massachusetts, I was a long-term housesitter (and indentured servant, but that’s another story) living in an attic like Sara Crewe (see Frances Hodgson Burnett’s Little Princess for reference) for 15 months. In Oregon, I’ve been a long-term housesitter living in a near-mansion in Sherwood Forest for 2 years. In Portland, I was a yurt sitter, taking care of chickens, cats, and fish. And in moving to New Zealand, I’m landing in a two-week apartment-sitting gig, a real dream come true.
If you’re going to be gone for a length of time and are looking for someone to take care of your home, your yard, your houseplants, your animals (no reptiles, please!), etc. drop me a line.
Oh, and despite the WildlyLived title of this site, please rest assured that I’m a very responsible, imminently experienced, highly qualified, NOT wild, housesitter.
If you’re interested in more information on my housesitting experiences, read my housesitting tips & tricks: