There comes a point while planning your vacation that you suddenly remember–there are things to take care of at home while you’re away. Plants need watered, mail needs checked and pets need cared for. And, in this age of social media where everyone advertises when they will be on vacation, there are concerns about burglaries. All good reasons to hire a house sitter while you are away.

What house sitters do:
House sitters can do as much or as little as you need. They can come by and check on things during the day, or stay the night. Overnight sitters, will plan on basically living in your home while you are away and tend to home tasks and responsibilities just as you would. They can also keep an eye out for problems like water leaks and suspicious activity more closely. Daily visit sitters are less comprehensive but will make scheduled visits to your home to take care of specific tasks.

The price depends on how much or little you need your house sitter to do for you. Typical day rates for stopping by a home start at $15 and go up from there. Consider each task you ask them to do (dog walking, checking mail etc) as add-ons. A house sitter who stays in your home for the duration of the vacation will cost more. That being said, house sitting services are negotiable

How to find a house sitter:
Personal recommendations from friends or family are the best ways to find a house sitter who you can trust. There are quite a few companies out there who specialize in matching house sitters to clients, so you can look for one in your city. You can also check local universities for students who are looking to make a few extra bucks. You DO want to check references before you make any commitments. You can also ask for a security deposit from the house sitter just in case there are damages upon your return home.

What else should I know?
Be sure to include in your written contract agreements with your house sitter about food, tasks that need done each day, pay, and any specific instructions regarding their stay in your home. Most sitters expect to provide their own food, however, some will ask for a weekly amount of money to cover that.

Determine how much money you will need to leave for pet food and other household needs while you are gone and make sure there is enough to cover all needs.

Contact your insurance company to find out if the house sitter’s property is covered under your policy and be sure to let your sitter know if their belongings are NOT covered.

If you rent, get permission from your landlord to hire a house sitter. He/she may request the details of your arrangement in writing.

Make checklists for your house sitter to specify what needs done and how often. Also, write an emergency contact list – make sure names and numbers are current and leave your travel itinerary.

It is important to note that while situations can arise, most house sitting arrangements work out beautifully. If you plan to be gone for several weeks or months, it is better to invest in house sitter than to leave your house vacant. Just be diligent and thorough in your search process and do not leave this to-do item until the last minute.