Tuesday, August 14, 2012

House Sitting and Caretaking - What's the Difference?



House in one of the "white villages" of the Costa del Sol Spain
People are often confused when we tell them that we are house sitters.  Frequently, they mistakenly think that we are talking about house trades whereby someone exchanges their home with another person.  Why they usually jump to this conclusion we're not sure - maybe because house exchanges are more main stream and house sitting is relatively not?

Another misconception people have revolves around the difference between house sitting and caretaking.  In general, house sitting involves taking care of someone’s home with the same care that you would your own.  The routine daily chores such as cleaning, taking out the trash, mowing the lawn, doing some weeding, watering plants, bringing in the mail and responding to an unforeseen maintenance issue in an appropriate and timely manner can all be part of the house sitting responsibilities that the homeowner entrusts to you.  Special requests may be made as each homeowner has their unique needs but, in general, your obligation is to be a presence in the home and maintain it to the standard in which it was presented to you.  Many homeowners have pets and house sitting often involves their care - feeding, walking, bathing and, in some cases, giving medications.  You may receive compensation for your service or you may not.  The majority of house sitting positions are unpaid.

While the term “caretaking” is often used synonymously with “house sitting”, in reality it generally requires a greater level of work on your part. Caretaking positions include such tasks as:


· grounds maintenance, light construction, handyman services
· housekeeping, cooking, shopping, serving meals, chauffeuring and other types of domestic assistance
· helping on a ranch or farm, maintaining an orchard, taking care of large animals, repair or installing fencing
· managing and maintenance of campgrounds, resorts, bed and breakfasts, hostels
· providing personal assistance, managing staff or events
· helping with environmental or other volunteer projects

The Caretaker’s Gazette, a print and on-line newspaper, advertises caretaking positions that range from the standard house sitting duties mentioned above to full time estate management that pays in excess of $100K a year. Many times caretakers are given a place to live either seasonally or for a longer term in exchange for a specified number of hours of labor they must provide during their stay. Some caretaking positions offer nominal pay in addition to accommodations.  We've seen a few ads that even offer benefits!  

Does this 'splain it Lucy?  I think so Ricky...