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5 Things to Know About House Sitting in the Covid-19 Pandemic

written by Sam and Veren July 28, 2020
5 Things to Know About House Sitting in the Covid-19 Pandemic

We haven’t written a house sitting article for quite some time due to that little thing happening around the world: COVID-19. 

Often people ask us about house sitting given the current circumstances. We think the better question is: should or should you not be house sitting during the pandemic?

With that in mind, we thought it was high time that we write an article about house sitting during a pandemic. Should you be house sitting or getting a house sitter right now? What should you be considering? 

In this article, we’ll talk about five things to consider when thinking about traveling and house sitting right now.  

Everything we talk about goes for both house sitters and homeowners. If you’re thinking about house sitting right now, you need to be going into things with eyes wide open. 

1. Am I Being Safe?

Per the CDC’s travel guidance page: staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from getting sick.

That means if you’re in a hot spot with surging cases, reconsider traveling. Even if you’re not currently residing in a hotspot, the safest thing to do is avoid non-essential travel – especially if your destination is in a place with rising infections. Remember that this virus is so problematic because people can seem healthy for days before they have symptoms. And then of course there are the asymptomatic carriers who never get symptoms. 

The important thing that we really need to stress is that it is not about you. It’s about the collective. You could unknowingly bring the virus somewhere else. That’s why we need to be safe. That’s why we need to care about this. When you forgo safety because you’ve decided that you don’t care about getting infected, you’re essentially decided that for others without their consent. Covid 19 doesn’t care how healthy you are, or your politics. As long as it’s a transmissible disease, you are putting others in danger of infection by insisting on nonessential travel.

If you’re in a hot spot right now, it’s best to stay home. How does one determine this?

For current updates, we recommend favoriting CovidActNow.org and keeping up to date. Things change by the day! 

So basically….all of the U.S. right now is a hotspot. 

Of course, there’s much more to consider beyond the risk of exposure to yourself and others. 

Don’t forget to look into quarantines on both ends. Will you have to quarantine when you get to the house sit? Will you have to quarantine when you return home? This goes for traveling across states in the U.S. 

Think about how you will be safe in the following stages: 

  • Getting to the House Sit
  • At the House Sit 
  • Getting Home (or to your next house sit) 

We talk more about these topics further in depth in our podcast episode: To Travel or Not to Travel? We also talk about questions to ask when going forward with arranging safe house sits. There is also a transcript if you’d prefer to read rather than listen. 

2. Am I Staying Local? 

The safest way right now to travel is by house sitting locally and only when safe to do so (which may not be right now). 

We have always stressed the importance of starting your house sitting journey locally, and planning in advance, even before the pandemic. Staying close to home and planning for future house sitting is the perfect way to test the house sitting waters with minimal disruption and risk. 

Of course, house sitting locally isn’t as glamorous as landing a house sit in a major metropolitan city or on a tropical island. However, successful house sitting is also strategic house sitting (and that means starting local). 

This means that everyone (sitters and owners) should look towards closer pastures right now. We know everyone’s itching for a getaway at this point, but it’s safest to keep it local.

Read more: What is Slow Travel and How to Do It? 

Also, from our recent conversations with pet owners, and research on new house sits, most pet owners prefer to find someone local – even over experienced sitters with lots of reviews. So right now being a local house sitter gives you an advantage.

Keeping it local is not only for the reasons we already mentioned, but also for healthcare reasons. Dealing with out of country (and even out of state) healthcare is a nightmare in the best of times (trust us, we’ve been there). And we’re kind of in the worst of times right now.

Do you really want to be figuring out if you’re covered for covid-19 testing and care if/when you’ve been exposed?

3. Have we had a conversation about Covid-19? 

When considering house sitting during the covid-19 pandemic, you need to have a conversation about a pandemic. Seems obvious, but the conversation could be potentially uncomfortable, and you may want to shy away from asking uncomfortable questions. 

However, if you’re not willing to ask all the questions you need to get the information you need to successfully perform the house sit before agreeing, then maybe you shouldn’t be house sitting anyway 😉 

Read more: How to Avoid Bad House Sits // How to Avoid Bad House Sitters 

In your conversation with your house sitter/homeowner, here are a few things to ask: 

  • What is the backup plan if either party (house sitters or home owner) gets sick? As a sitter, will you be able to stay longer or will you potentially have to leave while you’re sick? As a homeowner, will you be able to stay longer at your accommodation before returning? Again, everyone should be taking necessary precautions, so it should be low likelihood that anyone will get sick. But it’s best to discuss this before it happens. 
  • How should we handle the handover/handback? It may be better to do this via video call, or at least wear masks and social distance. We usually have stayed over the night before the homeowners leave, but this may not be the safest option right now. Have this discussion to ensure that everyone is on the same page.  
  • What is the covid cleaning protocol before/and after the sit? 
  • Anything else that you want to know. Don’t hold back and get your questions answered! 

4. Am I Prepared for a Cancellation? 

The reality is that the pandemic landscape (especially in the U.S.) is constantly changing. Things are opening up again only to be potentially locked back down.

If you’re choosing to house sit right now, you need to understand that cancellation is a much bigger possibility than in pre-pandemic times. Only agree to a house sit if you are fine with that happening and have a backup plan that includes a financial buffer. 

The constant, much higher possibility and risk of cancellation is why we are not full-time house sitters at the moment. Of course cancellations can always happen, but we are in unprecedented times and cancellations are just that much more likely these days and for the foreseeable future.

Finding last-minute accommodation in the event of cancellation would be super stressful (we already have had to do it twice since the pandemic hit), increase our exposure to covid-19 while moving, and more expensive (short term last-minute accommodation is super pricey and adds up quickly). 

Read more: How to Handle House Sitting Cancellations 

5. Am I Willing to Sit Tight and Just Plan for the Future? 

Depending on where you are, it might not be safe or responsible to travel and house sit right now. Or you simply might not want to or don’t feel comfortable.

Never fear, because now can be the perfect time to get ready for future house sitting/travel adventures! Travel will fully open again, some day – that’s for sure. It’s more a matter of when, and for now, until a real national containment strategy is implemented, travel will continue in this risky, limited, and subdued fashion for many more months, well into 2021, and possibly longer.

However, this time doesn’t have to be “lost time” or dead time that the world is just sucking away, never to come back again.

Take advantage of this time if you’re fortunate enough to not be working on the front lines. This time could be exactly what you need to plan for the future and enjoy years of happy house sitting to come! 

We have always been adamant about planning for the future and have tons of content to help:

We’ll be continuing to put out content on planning for your future house sitting and/or digital nomad life, as well as stories from the past for some virtual/vicarious travel.

Please let us know what you need help with so we can cover it! We’d love to hear from you, so please get in touch with the comments below or through our contact page

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More House Sitting in Covid-19 Resources:

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