A Guide to Finding House Sitting Jobs During Covid-19

How to safely apply for and get house sitting jobs during a pandemic.

by Layla
Published: Updated:

Within this COVID-19 world, many things are changing and adapting to our ‘new normal’ is very challenging for all of us. The world of house sitting is changing too and if you’re a house sitter, the prospect of getting any house sitting jobs right now might seem incredibly difficult.

However people are still travelling, house sitting is still happening and house sitters are still needed. 

 I’ve still been doing a little house sitting during the pandemic, I’ve just had to adapt to changing times and make a few changes. So I’m sharing these useful tips, which are perfect for both homeowners and house sitters.

In this post learn how to prepare for a house sit safely and how to get house sitting jobs—even during a pandemic.

Dog walking with masks jobs house sitting house sitting job house sitter job COVID-19

 

The Impact of COVID-19 on House Sitting Jobs

I was house sitting full time and have been long-term for over 7 years now, it is part of my chosen lifestyle. So my and my partner’s entire world was turned upside down when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

All of our house sitting jobs we had booked in advance cancelled on us and we were suddenly left with nowhere to live in Sydney – one of the most expensive cities in the world.

So many other people have also had their worlds messed up, it’s such a tough time for everyone and it all feels really unfair sometimes. A lack of uncertainty makes things worse, with some of us not knowing if our planned trips will even go ahead.

And that leaves a question mark over the future of house sitting, if home owners are increasingly likely to cancel their travel plans.

We’ve still done many house sitting jobs in Australia during the pandemic, but we have also had a lot fall through as people are forced to change their travel plans.

However now, some parts of the world are gradually starting to ease their travel restrictions and open up again. So people are now taking short trips or travelling locally to visit their family or friends.

The house sitting world is opening up again and homeowners can plan their travel and house sitters can take on house sitting opportunities, where we can—safely and sensibly.

 

Is it Safe to Consider House Sitting Opportunities Right Now? 

In these uncertain times, house sitting during a pandemic may bring up questions such as whether is it safe to take on any house sitting opportunities right now.

Or home owners may be wondering if it’s safe to be having a house sitter stay in their home.

In general, as long as local government guidelines on social distancing and sanitisation are followed, yes, both parties can still take part in house sitting safely.

But there are a few things we all need to do differently now and these extra tips are what I’m covering in this post.

If you are going to house sit during the pandemic, always make sure you follow your local government guidance on social distancing and sanitisation.

 

Consider Your Travel Impact When House Sitting – Check Local COVID-19 Restrictions 

As much as it is generally safe to do house sitting jobs, consider if it is safe or sensible for you to be moving around or travelling, in your location right now. 

These are some things you can do to limit your travel impact during a pandemic: 

  • Check your local government restrictions on movement and essential travel, these regulations will vary depending on which country you’re in and on the number of active COVID-19 cases there are. You can see an entire list of COVID-19 travel recommendations by country here.
  • Think about if there’s somewhere closer you could house sit. If you’re house sitting full time for accommodation—as part of your lifestyle—then you could easily settle for a local house sit close to your location, rather than travelling further for a house sit in a desirable location.
  • If you have a house sitter job already booked that does require you to travel, then see if there’s a different way you could travel there that doesn’t risk spreading the virus. Consider travelling by car or taxi and try to avoid using public transport wherever you can.
  • We like to use ride apps like Uber, Ola or Didi in many countries to move around between our house sitting jobs and this is now a great way to minimise contact with people, handle our luggage and use contactless payments. Use our referral code for Uber to get your first ride for free, or use Ola and Didi to get discounted rides.

Can Pets Catch or Spread the COVID-19 Virus?

No, pets cannot catch or spread the COVID-19 virus.

Although there have been a few isolated cases of animals getting infected, there is no proven evidence that pets can transmit or pass on the COVID-19 virus to humans.

In this article from the CDC about animals and COVID-19, they advise that “based on the limited information available and the rapidly evolving global situation, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low”.

The World Organisation for Animal Health has also confirmed: “There continues to be no evidence that companion animals have spread the COVID-19 disease”.

It is still recommended to practice good hand hygiene and sanitisation, such as washing your hands regularly with soap and water, after you’ve been handling, petting or feeding a pet.

There are a few things you can also do to minimise any risk or your pet’s interaction with people outside of your household such as:

  • Walk dogs on a leash at least 6 feet/2 meters away from others outside your household.
  • Although difficult, try to avoid taking dogs to overly busy public places like parks or where people might gather in groups.
  • Do not put a mask on your own or any pets you’re looking after. To pets, masks are harmful, and not helpful.
  • Don’t wipe or bathe any pets in any chemical disinfectant cleaners as these are only suitable for surface cleaning. Use only appropriate bathing or cleaning products for pets.
  • Try to keep cats indoors as much as possible, ( I know this can be challenging with cats) so that they don’t roam freely in places where you can’t watch their interactions.
  • If you are sick with COVID-19 (suspected or confirmed), don’t share food or utensils with your pet or encourage pets to lick your face and let the homeowner know, so they can arrange for a friend to take over the house sit until you’re healthy again.
  • If your pet or the pet you’re looking after becomes sick, don’t take them to the veterinary clinic yourself. Call your vet and let them know. Some vets are offering Telemedicine consultations for sick pets.

Wear a mask when gathering in public places like dog parks.

 

Looking for House Sitting Jobs After COVID-19 Lockdown

When the COVID-19 pandemic kicked off in March earlier this year, we were house sitting full-time in Sydney. We watched in horror as the situation escalated and as each country closed its borders and restricted travel.

I got sent home indefinitely from my temp admin job as the university was shutting down and one-by-one all of our booked house sitter jobs were cancelled.

To make matters worse, we suddenly had to leave the house sit we were in because the homeowners had to return early, due to border closures on their trip. We lost 4 months of booked house sitter jobs (which was our accommodation) and my admin job in the space of around 4 days.

We didn’t do any house sitting jobs at all for a few months and had to stick to Sydney’s local lockdown restrictions – although these were mild in comparison to other countries.

 

How to Apply for a House Sitter Job and Communicate Safely with Each Other

When we did start looking for house sitter jobs again, in the wake of the new COVID-19 world we found ourselves in, we found it helpful to go about it slightly differently.

We started by clarifying some things with the homeowner before going any further so that both homeowners and house sitter could have some assurances.

If you’re the house sitter

  • Ask the homeowner if their trip is finalised or yet to be confirmed. 
  • Are they travelling internationally or domestically?
  • Is it a work trip or for leisure travel?
  • Do they have a domestic destination they can go to if their international travel is not allowed?
  • What is the likelihood of the trip being cancelled?

 

If you’re the home owner

  • Can the house sitter commit to the entire house sitting job dates?
  • Ask the house sitter if they are already in the country, state or area. If not, how will they travel to your house sit location?
  • Will they need to get travel exemptions or border crossing permits?
  • How long do they estimate the journey may take?
  • What is the likelihood of their journey being denied approval?
  • How much notice will they be able to give if the house sitter cannot make it?

Getting some clarity on these questions gives both homeowner and house sitter an idea of the chances of plans being cancelled because of travel restrictions and the risk that is involved. 

Our last House sitting job in Sydney, where we were when the pandemic hit.

Some of the last dog walking in Sydney we did for a while.

 

Handling House Sitting Job Interviews and Meetings during COVID-19 

Next is the interview or meeting stage. If both homeowner and house sitter have chatted and want to take the next step, which is usually meeting each other, the best thing to do is to arrange a virtual meeting or interview.

As most countries have strict social distancing guidelines, it’s not recommended to meet new people right now, especially if they are high-risk. 

This can be easily done by video call using Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, or Facebook or WhatsApp video-calling platforms. Benefits of this for both parties include:

  • You can ‘meet’ and see each other
  • You can chat more about the house sit and ask any questions
  • You can take a virtual tour around the house
  • You can meet the pets

Once you have agreed and secured the house sitter job, be sure to confirm on the relevant house sitting website and send any documents that are needed e.g. house sitting agreement or house sit checklist.

Please remember to be kind, patient and understanding with each other, as this pandemic is causing many people to feel anxious and distressed over all the uncertainty and both parties need to work together compassionately.

 

Staying Safe During a House Sit Handover

  • As well as the virtual meeting, you can also arrange to do the handover virtually via a video calling platform ensuring all person-to-person contact is removed. Over the video call, the home owner can show the house sitter around the house once more and update them on anything new concerning the pets or garden.
  • The homeowner can leave the keys to the property in a safe place for a contact-free pick-up by the house sitter.
  • House sitters should aim to arrive a little while after the homeowner departs for their trip and leave the property before the homeowner is due to return.
  • These steps along with an up-to-date Welcome Guide should be enough to help the house sitter settle in and stay safe.

 

Cleaning Guide: Preparing for and Completing a House Sit 

Homeowners are usually asked always to make sure their house is left clean, safe and comfortable for the house sitter to live in and perform their house sitting duties. However, since the pandemic hit, taking extra cleanliness precautions is now more important than ever. 

So the accommodation will need to be fully sanitised and disinfected for when the house sitter arrives and the same again for when the homeowner returns.

Both homeowners and house sitters can follow these easy steps to ensure the home is safe and clean for each other:

If you’re the home owner

  • Try to ventilate the house before cleaning by leaving windows open for an hour – if possible
  • Clean your house thoroughly as you usually would, then additionally clean all high-touch surfaces with an antibacterial cleaning solution that is 70% alcohol or higher. These can include door handles, light switches, powerpoints, taps, appliances, and remote controls.
  • When you clean items and surfaces, use hot water and detergent to remove dirt, dust and grease. Then afterwards, wipe down with a 70% alcohol anti-bacterial sanitiser or disinfectant. Leave to air-dry.
  • Shut doors to rooms you’ve already disinfected to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Wear personal protective gear such as disposable gloves when cleaning and remember to replace them in between rooms.
  • Throw away disposable cleaning items and wash any rags or cloths on the highest hot wash setting.
  • Wash all towels and bed linen that the house sitter will use on the highest hot wash setting too.
  • Home owners should leave a moderate supply of face masks, hand sanitiser, gloves and anti-bacterial cleaning products for the house sitter to use.
  • Leave a decent stock of doggy poop bags and any pet hygiene products.

If you’re the house sitter

  • House sitters should also bring some of their supplies of hand sanitiser and face masks, in case you need more or there are local shortages.
  • Try to ventilate the house before cleaning by leaving windows open for an hour – if possible
  • Do a thorough clean right before you leave, paying attention to high-touch surfaces such as door handles, light switches, powerpoints, taps, appliances, and remote controls. Use an antibacterial cleaner with at least 70% alcohol.
  • When you clean items and surfaces, use hot water and detergent to remove dirt, dust and grease. Then afterwards, wipe down with a 70% alcohol anti-bacterial sanitiser or disinfectant. Leave to air-dry.
  • Shut doors to rooms you’ve already disinfected to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Wear personal protective gear such as disposable gloves when cleaning and remember to replace them in between rooms.
  • Throw away any disposable cleaning items and wash any cleaning rags or cloths on the highest hot wash setting.
  • When entering the property for the first time, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and then wipe down with sanitiser any door handles or switches you used to enter the property.
  • Try to avoid socialising with other people outside your household near the end dates of the house sit. This will avoid bringing new germs into the house around the time the homeowner returns.

 

What Items Should the House Sitter Take to the House Sitting Job?

House sitters may want to consider taking some of their supplies with them to the house sitting job, so they can have some extra reassurance they are staying safe in their new environment.

The following items might be useful: 

  • Face Masks
  • Gloves
  • Hand Sanitiser
  • Antibacterial wipes
  • Own toiletries including handwash
  • Containers or Ziploc bags for storing your food
  • Own towels & bed linen
  • Own eating utensils

Of course, this is a personal preference, if you don’t mind using the handwash, dishwashing liquid or towels that are already in the house sit, don’t needlessly drag extra stuff with you.

Girl walking dogs wearing mask jobs house sitting house sitting jobs during COVID-19

 

Keeping up Communication About the House Sit

It’s always standard when doing a house sitting job or pet sitting job to keep up communication with the homeowner whilst they’re away. This involves letting them know of any household maintenance issues, updating them with pet news or antics and generally reassuring them everything is running smoothly.

 

If you’re the house sitter

  • In these uncertain times, a little more kindness goes a long way so house sitters could touch base with the homeowner frequently, just to let them know everyone at home is healthy and all government guidelines are being followed.

 

If you’re the home owner

  • The house sitter may be anxious that the home owners trip will be cut short, so keeping the sitter updated that your travel itinerary is going to plan and letting them know of any issues with border entry crossings, is helpful and will be much appreciated.
  • Home owners should let the house sitter know if they get sick whilst they’re away and keep them in the loop as this gives the sitter a heads-up, in the case that the homeowner has to return home early.

 

Make Sure You Both Have a Backup Plan

In this world of ever-changing travel restrictions and the evolving pandemic, if the worst-case scenario does happen and someone gets ill or the house sit has to end suddenly, it’s smart and sensible to have a realistic backup plan in place.

If you’re the house sitter

This might mean:

  • Having backup accommodation booked you can go to, one that has flexible check-in dates.
  • Having a friend or family member you can go and stay with, who has room and space for you to self-isolate if needed.
  • Another backup plan is simply to ensure you have enough funds to book an Airbnb last minute and a method of transport to get there.
  • Having travel insurance that covers COVID-19 if your travel plan changes, is massively helpful. A few travel insurance providers now do cover COVID-19 such as Safety Wing Nomad Travel Insurance.

In March 2020 we had to leave our house sitter job in Sydney abruptly because the homeowners were denied entry from Bali into Singapore due to border closures. And because they also had mild COVID-19 symptoms, they couldn’t go back to Bali, which meant they had to return home immediately to quarantine.

Bali is only a 4-hour flight from Australia so we only found out they were returning the night before and their flight was due in early the following morning!

Luckily they were very kind and considerate towards our situation, gave us lots of time to organise ourselves and after a brief catch-up conversation on separate sides of the street, we left and went to a last-minute Airbnb.

That was to be our last house sit for many months.

 

If you’re the home owner

  • If you’re the homeowner who has fallen ill whilst on your trip and has to return home, some flexibility and understanding towards the house sitter’s situation are required. They’ll need as much notice as possible to make alternative accommodation arrangements.
  • You should also make sure you have travel insurance that covers COVID-19.
  • If your house sitter has fallen ill and has to leave suddenly, have a backup local sitter you can call on or maybe a friend who can take over the house sit.

jobs house sitting house sitting job house sitter job COVID-19

So that completes my guide to getting house sitting jobs during COVID-19.

By following the tips in this guide you can still take part in house sitting safely and sensibly. Always also remember to follow your local government guidelines.

And let’s all remember to be kind, understanding and patient with each other whilst we’re navigating this new world.

Have you taken part in house sitting during the COVID-19 pandemic?

What was the process like and did you learn anything helpful? Share it in the comments.

 

Happy and Safe Travels 🙂

Alial

 

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