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NYC House Sitting 101 for Pet Owners and House Sitters

written by Samantha Anthony December 19, 2018
NYC House Sitting 101 for Pet Owners and House Sitters

Thinking of NYC house sitting either as a pet owner or as a house sitter?

Using house sitters or being a house sitter yourself can be a great way to save money in the Big Apple.

We are now full time traveling house sitters, yet since most of our family and friends live in New York, we return for a few months every year and stay via house sitting. We’ve done house sits in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens. Needless to say, at this point we are well versed in house sitting in New York

In this article, we’ll be talking mainly about exchange-based house sitting.

Exchange-based house sitters offer their services in exchange for staying in someone’s house or apartment. No money changes hands between either party. This type of house sitter is usually traveling and does house sitting as a way to save money while doing so.

A minority house sit full time (like us), while others house sit as a way to explore different places while still maintaining a home somewhere.  House sitters may be graduate students working on a dissertation or final project, looking for a quiet place to write. They also might (and many are) retired and realize that house sitting is a cheaper and more exciting way to spend their retirement. Some, like us, work online either as freelancers or with remote jobs, and can work from wherever there is an internet connection.

The only money involved in this kind of house sitting is the annual membership fee to a house sitting website. There are several websites out there, but the biggest and most popular one worldwide is Trusted Housesitters. This is the only house sitting website we use as full time, experienced house siters, and we’ve met so many happy pet owners via the website. You pay a yearly membership fee (save 10% using our reader discount link) and you can use it as much as you like.

No money exchanges hands between pet sitters and pet owners. This means you could travel several times per month and get house sitters each time. Equally, as a house sitter, you could house sit as often as you like – including full time, as we do!

Read more: TrustedHousesitters Review (And Tips for Using It!)

We’ll be mentioning TrustedHousesitters throughout the article, but we want you to know up front: we pay for and use this service ourselves, which is why we recommend it. This is not a sponsored aka paid for post. We just truly love the service.

Don’t forget to save 10% by signing up using our reader discount link!

Ok! Now that we’re on the same page, lets talk about NYC house sitting! In this post, we’ll break down exchange-based pet sitting in NYC from the perspective of house sitters and pet owners. Simply click on the table of contents to bring you to whichever perspective suits your needs.

House Sitting in NYC for Pet Owners

Living in the Big Apple but still love to travel? You’ve probably got limited vacation time and want to maximize your budget. That isn’t easy when you’ve got an expensive apartment to pay for along with pet care. Add this on top of your vacation budget, and it can be hard for New Yorkers to take a much-needed and well-deserved trip.

As mentioned above, there are two types of house sitting: paid, and exchange-based.

Paid pet sitters live locally and charge a daily fee for their services. You can check dog sitting rates in NYC on websites and apps like Rover and Wag. 

Sign up to find pet sitters on Rover here.

This is a great option if you want to be able to meet someone in person beforehand and book the same person again and again for your pet.

However, that daily fee can add up really fast if you’re gone for an extended period or if you travel a lot.

Enter: exchange-based house sitting!

What Does It Cost You?

The website we use and recommend, TrustedHousesitters, starts at around $129 for a year.  

Save 10% when you sign up using our reader discount link!

Consider the cost of paying a pet sitter. In NYC, prices are high, and you’d likely spend more than $100 on pet care just for a weekend trip. A lot of times, pet sitters charge per “activity”, like how many walks a dog gets, or how long they spend playing with their cat. It’s their job, after all. Exchange-based house sitters often spend much more time with your pets because so many of them are retired or work online.

pet sitting in nyc
Seen on the streets: $20/visit for a cat sitter in NYC.

Why use a house sitter?

By getting a house sitter via websites like TrustedHousesitters, you can travel while knowing your pets are cared for in their own home. AND while not paying a daily fee for a pet sitter. There’s no bundling up Spot and taking him across town to the boarders, or trying to beg your coworker to stop in on their way home to feed Princess. A dog sitter in NYC can add up real quick, and as you can see above, a cat sitter in New York doesn’t come cheap either.

Also, should something go wrong with your apartment, there’s someone right there to take care of it. We’ve lived in many NYC apartments, and it seems like there’s always something breaking. From leaky pipes to broken windows, the list is never-ending. This might not be an issue if you’re gone a weekend, but if you’re gone two weeks, do you really want to come home to a giant puddle in the middle of your bed because the apartment above you leaked and no one was home to know about it?

Read more in: Thinking of Using House Sitters

Tips for a Successful House Sitting Experience

If you do decide to use a website like TrustedHousesitters, the best thing you can do to ensure a smooth house sitting experience is clear communication. We reiterate this again and again in all of our house sitting guides for a reason.

It’s that important.

Every pet owner and every house sitter has different needs, and we firmly believe that there’s a house sitter for every pet owner. In this way, house sitting websites are a bit like online dating websites. Each party is trying to connect with someone else who fits them and gets their needs.

This means that you should fill out your profile as much as possible. This way, you’ll only get people replying to your listing that are aware of your needs and are interested. You won’t have as much back-and-forth answering their questions.

Include details like:

  • pet routine: how many walks, how long he/she can be left alone for, feeding schedule, sleeping routine
  • plant care (if any)
  • apartment details (how many bedrooms, walk-up, maintenance required)
  • neighborhood details: nearest subway stops, grocery stores, points of interest

Putting in these kinds of details saves both parties time. If your dog can’t be left alone for more than 2 hours, anyone who doesn’t want to commit to that will not apply. For someone with slight mobility issues, they won’t apply for your 5-story walk-up.

Include as much detail as possible in your listing! 

Since you’re looking for a house sitter in NYC, be prepared to receive a lot of applications. NYC is a popular place! We recommend putting the listing up on a day when you can review applications soon after. You’ll likely get many qualified candidates within the first 24-48 hours.

Different pet owners approach the selection process differently. You can look at each applicant as they come in, or you can wait til you get a bulk of them and go through them then. You can also turn off applications (so no one else can apply) if you’ve already got some candidates and are feeling overwhelmed with the number of applications.

What we do not recommend is putting up a listing and then not checking it for a week.

Read more: How to Avoid Bad House Sitters 

Highly rated house sitters are in high demand. Just as you’re likely looking at several applicants, they may have applied to multiple sits at the same time. House sitters have learned to hedge their bets as many times they will not receive a response. There’s nothing wrong with this on either side, but if someone applies to your house sit on Monday and you don’t respond to them until next Sunday, they very well may be booked. We generally book house sits within a few days of applying.

Contact the candidate (or candidates) you like and arrange to have a quick video chat. This is super important as it makes sure both parties are on the same page and puts both sides at ease. Remember, just because you’re happy with a candidate’s profile, doesn’t mean they won’t have questions for you. This goes doubly if you don’t put much detail in your listing.

Once you and your sitter decide it’s a go, confirm them through the website and get excited that you’ve got that out of the way!

Read more: How to Prepare for House Sitters as a Home Owner

West Village NYC
Get house sitters while you go away for the holidays!

House Sitting in New York for House Sitters

Chances are that if you’re reading this article, you’d love to visit the famed NYC but can’t afford to stay very long. New York is an incredibly expensive city, especially if you want to stay more than a couple days. By house sitting in NYC, you can stay a week or two in New York while taking care of someone’s pets. Knowing that you’re helping someone is an incredibly rewarding part of house sitting as well!

Keep in mind though, that house sitting in NYC through an exchange-based membership platform is quite competitive. We recommend that you get some experience (and online reviews) before trying to tackle the Big Apple.

Become a super sitter with our new book, The House Sitting Handbook: How to Live Your Dream Life Through House Sitting. In it, we share all our tips and strategies that we’ve developed over our years of house sitting, ones that have helped us house sit in NYC again and again! Click here to learn more about The House Sitting Handbook.

What Does It Cost You?

As we mentioned earlier, a yearly membership to TrustedHousesitters costs around $129/year. Many prospective house sitters that we speak to are afraid to pay this price and not have it work out. Many complain that the price is too high, and that there are other websites with cheaper annual fees. While this is true that there are cheaper sites, we’ve found that the availability and quality of listings go way down with most other worldwide sites. There are location-specific sites, like Housesitters America or Housesitters UK, but for worldwide travelers like us, we wanted a platform on which we could build our reviews on and look for house sits around the world.

Consider the cost of paying for a place to stay in NYC. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a place to stay for under $100 a night unless you want to stay in a Motel 6 on the edge of the Bronx (and we’re not even sure that’ll be under 100).

To read more about the pros and cons of TrustedHousesitters and the strategy we’ve used with the website, read our TrustedHousesitters Review.

Click to sign up with our reader discount of 10% off! 

Greenpoint, Brooklyn in Winter
Enjoy the holidays pet sitting in New York!

Things to Expect House Sitting in NYC

If you have house sat before, you know what to expect more or less with the house sitting process.

If you are new to the concept of exchange-based house sitting, we recommend starting with a couple of articles:

Common Misconceptions About House Sitting (read first!)

How to Start House Sitting and Save Money Traveling

Now that you’ve learned a bit about house sitting, let’s get into the nitty gritty of NYC house sitting. We’ve been house sitting in NYC for many years and we’ve observed a few trends.

New York House Sitting is Competitive

Landing a house sit in New York isn’t easy.

It’s one of the most competitive places to house sit because it is so expensive yet desirable to visit for so many. We’re writing this article precisely because we get so many questions on how to land a house sit in New York. We feel that we must temper expectations and guide prospective house sitters.

We’ve landed several house sits in New York, but it wasn’t easy – and we are from New York and visit often.

If you’re going to try house sitting in NYC, make sure you have house sitting experience and if you’re using Trusted Housesitters, at least a few reviews on your profile. The truth is that you’re not going to break into house sitting in NYC. Think of it this way: if a pet owner receives 20 applications, would they choose someone with no reviews or someone with 20 five-star reviews? As a pet owner, who would you choose?

Reviews, experience, and a killer profile are everything in the house sitting world.

Read more: How to Create the Best House Sitting Profile

Cat Cafe in Queens
Cat Sitting in NYC means kitties without going to a cat cafe!

Few Pet Owners Respond to Applications

New Yorkers are a busy bunch. Americans, and New Yorkers in particular, usually work a lot, which means time is money.

We’ve noticed in corresponding with New York pet/home owners that there is a high percentage of people not ever responding to applications or wanting to book right away without ever having a conversation.

Read more: How to Make Your First House Sitting Message Win

New Yorkers are used to convenience at their fingertips. You can get anything you want delivered to your door in New York via an app.

Likewise, people book pet sitters through apps after looking at someone’s profile and reviews. They assume it should work the same way for exchange-based house sitting, when the setup is quite different. House sitters have their own needs and should have their own questions answered before agreeing to sit. Remember that this is an exchange, not paid employment.

Recently, we were speaking to some pet owners about their last house sitters, with whom they were super happy.  This couple traveled the world via house sitting and had racked up over 30 glowing five-star reviews. They were finalizing a house sit with a pet owner in NYC and as a last step, sent over a short list of questions to verify some things with the pet sit. She simply stopped responding after that, and when they followed up a few days later, she responded that she had “gone with someone else because they seemed like they’d need too much hand-holding.”

Sending a list of questions is quite common among experienced house sitters, especially full-timers. The way this woman treated them, not even bothering to respond to people with whom she had an agreement, is nothing short of rude. 

Frankly, those house sitters dodged a bullet – that could easily have been a bad house sit. 

Read more: How to Avoid Bad House Sits 

Clear communication on both sides is key to a successful house sitting situation for both parties.

So if you are applying for house sits in NYC, be aware that the competition is high, and you’ll have to apply to many house sits before landing one. If you’re new to house sitting, we strongly advise that you don’t apply to sits in NYC with no reviews. Invest your time in places where you can get a start.

Don’t get discouraged or take what we’re saying personally.

We want you to learn from our experience and set reasonable expectations so you don’t set yourself up for disappointment.

We are from New York, lived in the city for years, have previous experience pet sitting in NYC, and have dozens of five-star reviews. We usually apply for house sits when we are already in NYC, meaning we can meet people in person.

Even with these credentials, we STILL only hear back from a fraction of house sits we apply for, even when we apply immediately.

This is just how it goes with house sitting in New York. A successful house sitter will persevere and keep applying until they land a sit.

Pioneer Works
Not a place we house sat in NYC!

Many Last Minute and Weekend Sits

If you’re hoping to land a two-week or month house sit in midtown Manhattan, think again.

Most house sits in NYC are fairly last minute (posted within 6 weeks of the start date) and short-term. That’s just honestly how it is. While there are definitely listings that pop up further out, the majority of New Yorkers put up their listings within a month of needing a house sitter.

Remember that immediate gratification thing we talked about earlier? New Yorkers expect things when they want them, including house sitters.

This isn’t to hate on New Yorkers. We share these lessons to guide expectations for people house sitting in New York, especially those who aren’t familiar with the city and its ways.

If you’re traveling from overseas, this can make planning a trip to NYC if you want to house sit there difficult.

To this, we have to say: you can’t guarantee a house sit in NYC.

Be prepared for the worst – to not find one. House sitters need to have a backup plan and funds in case things don’t go according to plan.

Another option is to look for house sits in the New York metro area. Places like New Jersey or Westchester, New York are connected via train to the city, so you can get into Manhattan pretty easily – just be prepared to pay for it. These trains (MetroNorth, New Jersey Transit, the Path), are pretty pricey and go up the further away you get from the city. A round-trip ticket could easily cost $20-30. Still, this is way cheaper than paying for accommodation in the city, and the Hudson Valley in particular has its own beauty and charms.

Ardsley-on-Hudson Train Station
Beautiful, historic train station just an hour north of NYC. You might recognize this one from a recent film!

If You Do Land a Sit

Okay, so let’s imagine that you’ve heard back from a homeowner. In your phone or video conversation, here are some key questions to ask:

  • What is the pet routine like? A dog sitter in NYC has different priorities than a cat sitter. If caring for a dog, how many walks does he or she need daily? Are there any parks or dog parks nearby to walk them?
  • Where is the nearest subway stop? In Manhattan, you’ll rarely be a few blocks from a subway. But further in Brooklyn or Queens, places might easily be 15-20 minutes from the nearest station.
  • Where is the nearest grocery store?
  • Would you want me to come the night before and if so is there a guest room for me to stay?

We’ll say it again – clear communication is a must. You don’t want to arrive and realize that the dog needs to be walked five times a day, starting at 5 am (unless you’re into that sort of thing as some dog sitters in New York are, in which case, full steam ahead).

Subway at Queens Plaza

NYC house sitting can be a great exchange for both pet owners and house sitters. Both parties are saving a great deal of money and helping each other out in the process. We have had wonderful house sits in Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and the NYC metro area.

With these tips in hand, we wish you all happy house sitting!

Don’t forget to use this link to get 10% off your TrustedHousesitters membership!  

The House Sitting Handbook clickable banner

Make sure to also check out our other house sitting articles for more tips:

For House Sitters

How To Start House Sitting and Save Money Traveling 

Common Misconceptions About House Sitting

5 Tips For Avoiding Bad House Sits

How to Make the Best Profile

How to Make Your First Message Win

For Home/Pet Owners

Thinking of Using House Sitters? 5 Things To Consider

How to Prepare for House Sitters As a Homeowner 

5 Steps to Using House Sitters For the First Time

5 Tips for Avoiding Bad House Sitters

Want to house sit in NYC? House sitting in New York is very competitive, but with these tips in hand you'll be ready to put your best foot forward! For pet owners living in New York, we've also got you covered - click to learn more about exchange-based pet sitting and how to get a house sitter for free while you travel! 
#Housesitting #nyc #budgettravel #housesittingnyc #petsitting #catsitting #dogsitting
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