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How to Prepare for a House Sitter: Checklist and Guide

*This post may have affiliate links, which means I may receive commissions if you choose to purchase through links I provide (at no extra cost to you).

So you’re going on a big vacation or an urgent trip and need to know how to prepare for a house sitter. You’re in the right place! I’ll give you a checklist and guide for making sure everything goes smoothly?

Who am I to talk about house sitting? I’m an experienced house and pet sitter who’s been doing this since 2014! My longest sit was for two months in Connecticut with FIVE cats. I’m currently on a house sit in Florida caring for four cats. Trust me, I know my stuff!

Homeowners FAQ About House Sitters

Do you leave food for house sitters?

You can, but it’s not expected. Most of the time, homeowners will tell me, “You’re welcome to anything in the fridge or pantry!” and just let me eat whatever food they’ve left in the house.

When I developed a closer relationship with homeowners who invited me back multiple times to sit for them, on the third visit, they asked me to send them a list of all the foods and beverages I wanted. They then stocked the fridge with these items before my arrival. It was SO sweet of them and much appreciated!

How much should I pay a house sitter per day?

This varies WIDELY. I personally have never charged for house sitting because I go through TrustedHousesitters and it’s not allowed. Plus, I view house sitting as a fair exchange: You’re getting free pet care, housekeeping, and boarding services, and I’m getting a free place to stay.

From what I’ve researched, $75 per day seems to be the average for in-home house and pet sitters.

What do you stock a house sitter with?

It is absolutely crucial that you stock your house with all the items your pet and home need during your absence. That means things like pet food, treats, kitty litter, and cleaning supplies. You don’t want to leave on a month-long trip and leave your sitter in a tricky situation because they ran out of food for your dog.

During one house sit, the owner had a subscription with Chewy, so the dog food got delivered automatically every 4 weeks. It was so nice to not have to worry about finding the right brand! It just came to the doorstep.

Where does a house sitter sleep?

In a bed, hopefully! Depending on the size of the house, homeowners either ask me to sleep in their guest room or in their master bedroom.

What do you give a house sitter?

If your house sitter charges money for their services, obviously, pay them their rate! But beyond that, you don’t have to give sitters anything. Sometimes, homeowners bring me back a small souvenir from their trip—but that is not expected nor necessary!

Simply showing your appreciation via your words is often enough. 🙂

What information should I leave for house sitting?

You should leave all the information about your house, property, and pets that the sitter will need to succeed. Below, I’ll give you a house sitter checklist (including a free template printable!) to help you out.

House Sitter Checklist for Homeowners to Leave for Their Sitter (FREE Printable Included!)

✅ Create a Welcome Guide for your sitter (FREE printable)

  1. Your full name and contact information
  2. A LOCAL emergency contact
  3. An emergency contact for if the sitter can’t get ahold of you
  4. The 24/7 emergency vet you’d like your sitter to take your pet to in the event of an emergency
  5. Pet feeding/medication schedule
  6. Pet playing/walking schedule
  7. How often you’d like to receive updates while you’re away and through what mode of communication (texts, emails, photos, videos, etc.)
  8. Important information about the house
  9. Garbage/recycling/compost schedule
  10. Mail collection and storage
  11. Other sitter duties
    • Start your car every other week
    • Water the rose bush
    • Etc.
  12. Your arrival and departure dates and times and when you expect your sitter to arrive and depart

Download my free house sitter checklist here

✅ Meet your sitter in person before you leave OR do a walkthrough of your house on video chat

If your sitter is arriving from out of state or out of country, it’s VERY typical to do a video interview and confirm them before you actually meet them in person.

Then, they typically arrive the day before you leave to meet you, tour the house, and meet the pets. They may stay with you that night or they may find a hotel or Airbnb (it’s nice for you to offer them a place to stay, but it’s not always necessary).

If your house sitter is local, meet them in person before you confirm them. This ensures the most success.

Sometimes, you never meet your sitter. You might select a sitter from out of the country, video chat with them, and then you might have them arrive and depart when you’ve already left on your trip. If you choose to do this, BE SURE to do a video house tour to familiarize them with everything.

✅ Figure out how you will handle key handoff and return

I’ve had sits where the homeowner had keypad entry, and they created a special code for me. I’ve also had sits where I had a physical copy of the key and simply left it inside the house, locked the door from the inside, and then shut the door when I was ready to check out.

✅ Clean your house as though a guest is coming

This item is CRUCIAL. There’s nothing worse than arriving for a sit at a house that hasn’t been cleaned. Treat your sitter as a guest.

  • Put clean sheets on the bed.
  • Clean the toilet and shower/bath.
  • Vacuum and mop.
  • Etc.

✅ Stock your house with all the necessary pet and housekeeping supplies needed for the duration of your absence

Calculate how much food your pet will need while you’re gone and stock your house with enough supplies. Also make sure your sitter has enough things such as toilet paper, trash bags, and the like.

✅ Notify your sitter of any changes in pet behavior/health

Sometimes, you confirm a sitter months in advance, but as you get closer to your trip, your pet may have changes to their health. Be sure to tell your sitter about this!

✅ Disclose any cameras or recording devices on the property

Recording devices such as pet cams and Ring doorbell cameras are becoming more and more common on my house sits. You need to let your sitter know about any recording devices on the property and ensure they are okay with it. For instance, one couple asked me if they could keep the pet camera on in the kitchen while I stayed there for two months. I did NOT feel comfortable with this.

Almost all of my homeowners have outdoor cameras pointing to their front yard, and I am totally fine with this.

✅ If you rent, notify your landlord that a sitter will be at the premises and for how long

✅ Notify your neighbors that a sitter will be on the property (IF you’re close to your neighbors)

✅ Check your homeowner’s insurance

Typically, damage done to your property by the sitter or any liability if someone gets hurt on your property during your sitter’s stay would be covered by homeowner’s insurance. But please be sure to check with your insurance company.

✅ Ensure you bring a spare key with you and/or leave one with a neighbor or friend

If your sitter gets locked out or loses your key, how will you manage? Be sure to have extra copies and keep one for yourself and leave one with your neighbor if possible.

✅ Ensure you’ve set up auto payment of bills while you’re away

This is especially important for long sits. You don’t want the electricity shut off because you forgot to pay the electric bill while you were away!

✅ Save your sitter’s name and number to your phone

Seems simple, but you’d be surprised how many people forget to do this. Also, if you tend to keep your phone in Do Not Disturb Mode, be sure to add your sitter to your Favorites so, if they call, it’ll break through and ring to you. This is important for emergencies.

✅ Make sure your sitter saves your name and number to their phone

✅ Update your pet’s vaccinations, medication, do a wellness checkup before you leave

Make sure your pet is healthy before you leave. Or if your pet has known ailments, make sure it’s under control and that you leave enough instructions for your sitters to take good care of them (such as medication instructions).

✅ Bathe your dog before you leave

As a dog sitter, I always appreciate this!

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