Advice about Housesitting

Parent Q&A

Where and When to Look for a housesitting situation Jul 18, 2018 (3 responses below)
Recommendations for house sitter Aug 3, 2017 (1 responses below)
Housesitter - What to pay? Oct 2, 2016 (3 responses below)
House sitter - how to find one? Sep 2, 2016 (2 responses below)
  •  Next spring, we'll have to leave our home in North Berkeley while it's being remodeled. We will have to be out of the house for 7 months or even longer. Since we can't afford to rent for that long, we hope to housesit for someone who will be away for a long time and likes the idea of having someone minding their home. We have experience with cats so we could also care for that person's pet. We're both academics in our 60s and we have strong references. Should we be putting the word out now or later? And aside from BPN and NextDoor, where else could we publicize our request? Please advise us!

    Yes, put out the word now on your neighborhood listserve (if there is one) or NextDoor, and BPN too.  You might also be able to have a friend at a local school post on their listserve for you.  We did that before our house remodel in Rockridge a couple years ago and were able to cobble together 2+ months of house sitting.  That was about 5 different house-sits, so keep in mind that it may be chaotic if you have to move frequently (we mainly got summer vacation house-sits of 1-3 weeks).  I'd be surprised if you could get 7 full months but who knows, it's worth putting out the word now.  We traveled during a gap between house-sits, so you might be able to work your vacation into the 7 months too.  Good luck!

    With today’s rental market, it seems unlikely that you would find someone who just wants you to “stay” in their home, rather than rent it out. Most likely, if a family is in need of pet care while they’re gone from their home, it would be in terms of reduced rent (e.g. something less than $3500/mo for a 2-3 bedroom?) rather than no rent. Craigslist is another place to look for rentals, and Cal Rental if you are affiliated with U.C.  Best of luck to you. 

    If you are willing to pet sit, I would suggest Trusted House Sitters or House Sitters America. Both are sites where people house sit, typically in exchange for pet care. You probably wouldn't be able to find a full 7 month stint but you could likely piece something together! We use it for dog sitting and have been very happy so far!

  • Recommendations for house sitter

    (1 reply)

    I would appreciate recommendations and/or advice on how to find a good housesitter. A cat needs twice a day feeding, which is easy, but I also want someone who can stay at my house every evening and night for 6 nights while I am away later this month. Thank you!

    We have had good success with -- it is free to use the service for the people looking for housesitters, and the housesitting is also free! (ie these are people who are looking to care for your house in exchange for a place to stay). I think we have used 4 different people we found through this site and they were all either fine or great.

    I have also heard about an app called Rover but haven't tried it. That is paid.

  • Housesitter - What to pay?

    (3 replies)

    Wondering how much to pay a house sitter? Primary duty will be to take care of our cat, keeping him company, feeding him and changing the litter in his box every couple of days. This will be for a twelve day period. The sitter will have access to the whole house, Netflix, DVD collection etc. What is a fair amount to pay?

    RE: Housesitter - What to pay? ()

    My adult daughter does this occasionally and receives $25 - $50 per day.  Price depends if there are more feedings or medicine needed during the regular work day, or if it is just morning & night that the animal needs to be fed.  

    RE: Housesitter - What to pay? ()

    I'm pretty sure you can find people to house-sit for free these days. 

    RE: Housesitter - What to pay? ()

    I paid a catsitter $25 per visit to do those things. I think that may have been slightly on the low side. Another one quoted me $35. Good luck!

  • House sitter - how to find one?

    (2 replies)

    What is the best way to go about finding a house sitter? I have never hired one before, so would not only like to find one but also learn what the parameters are. Is there a way to do a background check etc.? Do they get paid in addition to staying in my house? If so, how is the rate determined. My primary reason for needing one is that I have a cat that would need some company, versus someone just stopping by to feed him.

    Any advice/info appreciated.

    Sounds like you are actually looking for a cat sitter. And for that I recommend  I have two dogs and a cat and am always way more worried about them than about my actual house when I go away.  It seems there are many people who pet sit for a living, or sometimes just to subsidize another job or they are in college and by now it looks like they have all discovered Rover so there are a lot of people to choose from there.  I am super picky about who takes care of my animals, so I ended up interviewing 10 people before I found a few I loved, but have finally found 3 people I trust completely. I have to be out of town fairly frequently and the website has saved me from constantly stressing about my animals. Some people charge very little, like $30/night, and others (the ones most in demand) charge as much as $150/night. is a site I have used a couple times with good results. sitters are free here

    I have also gotten young adult friends of my kids to do it for free--they are living at home so happy to have a house to themselves and a break from their parents :)

    I have also paid people...

Archived Q&A and Reviews

How much to pay a house sitter?

May 2008

I have a question about the going rate for house-sitting. What should one be paid for a month-long house-sitting gig that includes such duties as: fish care, monitoring work being done on stairs by workmen, revving up electric cars so that batteries don't die, and a few other things. What do you think is a fair amount to ask to be paid? Thanks. Kate

We just secured a grad student to housesit for us for 2 weeks. I posted it at a university and received about 8 responses. I think we lucked out because we were looking for someone who would really appreciate a place to stay for 2 weeks (she lives with 5 others usually) and we had minimal tasks for her - mainly related to cat care. We are paying her $200 for the 2 weeks, but another student couldn't get off the phone fast enough when I suggested that amount, so it really depends on whether the housesitter is looking at it as a ''job''. Anon

Maybe I'm behind the times, but I thought the ''compensation'' for house-sitting was getting to stay in the house, rather than any further payment.

last time I paid a housesitter I figured the going rate for her time ($10/hr, it was a 17yr teen). I estimated how much time the various chores would take and offered an amount to cover her time including walking from her home to mine. paid fairly, I think

Having been a housesitter several times, I have to say that the one person's response stating that staying in the house is plenty of pay couldn't be further from the truth. That sounds like a great way to take advantage of someone (it happened to me, and I was stuck somewhere for 4 months because of a commitment to someone's pets who moved overseas for awhile).

Granted, for someone homeless or in a terrible living situation, it may be a breath of fresh air, but for the rest of us?

You have to pack up all the stuff you need, and the more particular you are about things (such as organic food, soap ingredients, particular kitchenware for those things you want to make, etc), the more you have to lug around. You're taken out of your comfort zone and thrown in where inevitably (assumuing, again, that you have an established existence elsewhere) you miss things.

I think the best way to ever determine correct pay is to look at what someone has to do and also give up (including transport time to your place, and to their work, and gas, as well as the time/effort to complete the duties), and pay what you would want if you had to do all that for someone else. Believe me, you could have a $3mil house and I would rather be at my own comfy, humble home, if housesitting is ''for free''.

March 2006

Hello, Since we are from NY we travel back there often. My loving, gentle, sweet, social cat, Sadie, gets very lonely when we are away.

I was thinking of asking one of my babysitters to come stay at our house while we are away. She is currently a part-time live- in Nanny and lives only a few blocks away. We will be away for 5 days and then a big trip to Europe for almost 3 weeks this summer.

My next door neighbor is willing to feed my cat but Sadie LOVES to be around people. So, aside from feeding and cleaning the kitty litter, I would want the Nanny to hang out as much as possible. Since I know the family she works for, she could even bring the little girl she takes care of to play with my son's toys. In the summer when we are away again, I would also ask her to water plants and bring in mail every day.

I thought it would be nice for her to 'live' here so she could have a mini retreat from living all the time with her working family.

How should I compensate her? Many thanks, Bobbie

We pay our pet sitter $25.00 per day plus I give her an extra $50.oo or so. She lives at our house and takes care of our dogs, cats and pet rats. She also cleans(which is not required) and leaves our house cleaner than we left it for her(which is clean and tidy). Personally I dont' think she charges enough which is why I give her extra. I'll be curious to see what others say. anon

My best advice to you is to get a ''real'' house-sitter who will also take care of your cat -- not someone who will drop over on occassion and ''hang out.''

From lengthy experience I can tell you that if you don't get a live-in housesitter, the person won't ''hang out'': they'll just come over and feed your cat and be gone. People like to ''live'' where their clothes are, their make-up bag, etc. They want to settle in for a period -- whether that's 5 days or a couple of weeks. Otherwise, it's just boring to drop in and watch TV for a while with your cat. In other words, you'll pay for a service you wont actually get.

On the other hand, if you get a ''real'' house-sitter, the person officially moves in -- clothes, toothbrush, computer peripherals, etc.; they live in your house while you are away and it feels comfortable to them because all their stuff is there and they've nested. Moreover, as a paid ''house-sitter'' (*not* someone asked to drop by and pick up mail &/or water the plants) they are obligated to actually be there, to be present any time they are not out grocery shopping or taking classes.

We've been using house-sitters for our dog for almost 5 years now, and we've had great success. Advertise or ask around at UC Berkeley: most students love the opportunity to have a whole house for themselves rather than the apartment/dorm-share situation most of them are dealing with.

I would pay around $15/night for a cat. anon

June 2005

I wonder if anyone has paid a house sitter before! Our babysitter lives 30 minutes away and works for us and another person in Berkeley. We will be away alot this summer and she will stay in our house, feed cats and bring in mail. How much do I pay her? It makes life more convenient for her in several ways: closer to work, big house- no roommates but she is really helping us out as well. We pay her about $260 week for some part time childcare now. Thanks for your suggestions, drl

As a college student/part time nanny I often housesit for short time periods (4 days, a week) and usually charge $15 a day with no pets and $20 a day with pets. With just cats (as opposed to dogs, who take more time,) and for a longer period of time I would probably say $15 a day. -Hope this helps

I am also thinking about this. There is a retired gentleman who will be coming to our home to dogsit and will spend the night. I asked him his fee, and he implied that different families pay him different amounts depending on their financial resources, which is very generous of him. He seemed to size us up and asked for $25/day. I want to hear other responses, so I can know if this is a fair fee for him. anon

April 2004

I plan on asking a college age daughter of a close friend and neighbor to sit our 2 cats this Summer for 2 different trips. For one we'll be gone only a few days, but the other is a 2- week trip. By ''sit'' I really mean to make sure their food bowls are full and they get a little attention every day or so. The 2 week trip would also require cleaning out the cat boxes at least once. She would be welcome to sleep over if she wants to, but doesn't have to. I was wondering what people think a fair price to pay for these services would be? Thanks!

In the past, I have paid a ''professional'' (i.e. adult) catsitter $10 per day for food, water, attention. A neighborhood child has received $5 per day and often the parent will drop by just to make sure the child is fulfilling their responsibilities. When I have loaned my home while I am away, the house sitter took care of the pets for free as part of the deal.

I pay $20/visit for a pet sitting service to come to my house and feed my two cats, clean the litter box, get my mail, and water my plants. They come every other day when I'm on vacation. Josephine

I pay high school kids who don't have to go more than a couple of houses away $5 per day, with an extra $5 per each litter box change (about every 3-4 days). I would probably double that for someone older, who had to travel farther, or who was spending more time with the animals. I inquired of a professional service, and was told $40 a day. Probably a Cheapskate!

''Professional'' pet-sitters usually charge about $15 a day to feed/water/clean the litter box. They'll also water your plants if you have them (though no discount for not having them). anon

Oct 2003

We are going to be out of town for a week and would like to ask the 2 boys around the corner (8 &13) to feed our cat and collect our newspapers. What would be a fare rate to offer them? Thanks! anon

I usually pay anywhere from $2.50-$5.00 a day, depending on how much I'm having the kids (of similar age) do. If it's spring and there are lots of vegetables to be watered, if I have a cat whose lonely and I want them to spend extra time with her, then I pay closer to $5 for those times. But just mail and a quick feed (of 4 cats), maybe less. Good luck! Eden

We pay neighbor kids $5 a day to feed our guinea pig and bring in the mail and newspaper. The job only takes about 10 minutes, but it is a real bargain considering that it cost $10 a day just to board the guinea pig. $35 for a week seems like a lot of money to kids that age. (If we are going away to somewhere exciting, I also bring back small souvenirs for the sitters.)********** Marcia

For 8 and 13 year olds, I'd ask their parents what they think is fair. A number of years ago we hired the 9 year old across the street to feed our cat, and his mom thought we way overpaid him. She wasn't upset with us, but she was kind of shocked by what we thought was a pretty normal rate. (I think it was something like $5 per day? I really don't remember, unfortunately). But the point is, I think the parent would like to have some input. If you think it is really too low, and the kids do a great job, you could always add a little ''tip'' at the end. Fran

We pay the 15-year old boy across the street $10/day (AM and PM visit) or $5/visit to come over, bring in mail and newpapers, walk dog for at least half an hour, and feed dog. I thought that was decent to generous rate - considering that it's the same as I pay my adult baby-sitter and more than I pay some teen- aged baby-sitters - but I wanted to make it worth his while so that he really does spend time with the dog. Interested to hear what others are paying.

I paid a 9-year-old neighbor kid $10 a visit. His eyes kinda popped out of his head, so I think it was a bit high. Maybe $7 a visit? Jennie

Nov 2002

My family is going away for Thanksgiving. I have hired my daughter's boyfriend, a grad student, to housesit and care for our two dogs while we are away. Does anyone have any idea what I should pay him? Thanks for your advice. Janet

Re: Paying housesitter - my wife and I have never actually paid our housesitters, but we have indeed regaled them with gifts from places we've traveled, special home cooked feasts, big batches of their favorite cookies, etc. The various friends and friends of friends who have watered the plants and fed the cats have always been willing volunteers who usually jump at the chance to have a house and kitchen all to themselves, away from their room mates. I've also on occasion offered the use of our old but reliable VW Golf during their stay just to sweeten the deal. Dino and Nat, El Cerrito

When we go out of town we pay our nanny to come by twice a day to feed our five animals (1 dog, 2 cats, 2 birds). She also brings in the mail, opens the cat door in the morning, closes it at night, walks the dog. She drives to Berkeley from Oakland so I am basically paying her for the trouble and the expense of driving to our house twice a day. I pay her $5 per car trip, which works out to $10/day. When I have paid a neighborhood teenager to do the same thing, I pay $5/day (but make sure the teen's parents know about the gig - teens are forgetful!) Sally