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NYC House Sitting 101 for Pet Owners and House Sitters

written by Samantha Anthony March 8, 2024
NYC House Sitting 101 for Pet Owners and House Sitters

NYC house sitting is its own house sitting microcosm.

Whether you’re a pet owner or a house sitter, tackling house sitting in New York City requires some extra fortitude and previous experience if you have any hopes of house sitting success.

While it’s safe to say pet owners will have their pick of the litter (who doesn’t want to stay in New York City with free accommodations?), that doesn’t mean it’s a cake walk through Central Park. It’s entirely possible to have a very bad sitter experience here, as everyone will lead you to believe that they’re the best qualified for the job because they’ve just been dreaming of visiting New York all their life.

Then there’s us house sitters. There’s tons of competition. But it’s not impossible.

But why should you listen to us?

We’re full-time house sitters from New York City. Since 2016, we still come back to visit friends and family. Having a house sit is ideal, especially when no one has an extra room, or even a couch for us to crash on (most New Yorkers we know are rent poor). If you want to land in the house sit hotspots, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, you’ll need an extra leg up and we got plenty to spare. With twenty-five plus five-star reviews, landing a house sit in NYC is still a challenge even for us. Yet it’s our old stomping ground and we know how things work here.

Here we are focused on using exchange-based house sitting to save money in the Big Apple, whether it’s pet care or on accommodations.

In short, it works like this. Sitters offer pet care in exchange for staying in the pet owner’s home while they travel. No cash payments. This sort of house sitter is usually an avid traveler looking to save money on accomodations. This sort of pet owner wants higher quality pet care, with a live-in sitter, and save money on the exorbitant costs of everything that is New York City.

The vast majority of house sitters occasionally house sit, for their yearly vacation, or for an extended weekend here or there. Others use house sitting as a way to travel more and often, while maintaining a home base somewhere. This could be graduate students or writers who want some place quiet to work for a stretch, or retirees who are looking to stretch their pension (if those still even exist).

Then there’s the much less vast minority who are part-time or full-time (us) who use house sitting to travel indefinitely, spending much or most of their time in other homes, detached from a home base. Sometimes they’re remote workers, also known as “digital nomads”, the cringiest of identifiers. We work online and can do so anywhere there is an internet connection. We line up house sits indefinite, racking up a houseboat load of experience house sitting.

The only cash involved is if you opt to use a premium online house sitting platform. There are many to choose from, but the most popular and international is Trusted House Sitters. It’s comprehensive enough that it’s the only one we use. Pay a yearly membership (save 10% using our reader discount link) and you can use it to your heart’s content.

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

Trustedhousesitters will be frequently mentioned from here on out. Full disclosure, we pay for and use this service. They do not pay us to use or recommend it. We do have

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.

Save 10% by signing up using our reader discount link!

Hopefully we’re up to speed here, as frequently readers land on many parts of our site’s myriad resources.

So on to NYC house sitting. We’ll dive into what it takes to do exchange-based pet sitting in NYC from both the point of view of house sitters and pet owners. The table of contents will help transport you to your desired section with just a click.

House Sitting in NYC for Pet Owners

Chances are if you’re reading this that you cannot afford kennels and/or paid local pet care for the duration of your upcoming travel. NYC can be so damn expensive that once you’re in, it’s hard to afford to get out. Most do not have unlimited time off. If one wants to entertain travel beyond a night or two in a borough over, effective budgeting will be required. Add all the incessant onslaught of global city stimuli and many New Yorkers will be hard-pressed for a suitable solution.

In case you haven’t considered local paid pet care, check out Rover here.

You can find great paid pet care locallybut it can start to add up quick if you’re looking for more than a few days worth.

Sounds too expensive?

Here comes exchange-based house sitting

What Does It Cost You?

The website we use and recommend, TrustedHousesitters, starts at $149 for a year.  

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

One hundred and forty-nine dollars! You might exclaim. But consider this: do you expect to pay less than $100 for a weekend worth of pet care while you’re away? Often local sitters charge by activity and duration, like how many walks, for how long, etc. This is great if you can afford it.

If not, then keep reading.

Why use a house sitter?

Through websites like TrustedHousesitters, you can travel worry free while a sitter stays and lives with your pets, without paying anything beyond the membership. Your pet can stay home. We know how disorienting it can be to transport them to the vet. Imagine someone else’s home with all those strange smells, or to a kennel.

Also there’s reliabilty. This isn’t about bothering coworkers or asking a relative son to poke in on your pet and home while you’re away. We all know how getting around NYC can be quite a hassle. A trusted house sitter will already be there, likely most of the day.

If something should go wrong, like a gas leak, it’s more likely to go unnoticed by once-a-day visitor. A live-in pet sitter will more than likely catch these unfortunate events. After living in NYC in so many different apartments, we’d wager that your home is not brand new (those shoddy renovations are just a shiny veneer on crumbling infrastructure). Whether its a leak, or another doorknob twisting off, it just doesn’t seem to end. We have yet to house sit somewhere in NYC where everything was working like it should, and we’ve done luxury apartments!

Imagine coming home to wet spongy bed because the apartment above had a small leak that only dripped down on your space. While this may be not a big deal for a short trip, longer trips almost always could use someone checking in on your home. Again, this is another huge plus of using house sitters.

Read more in: Thinking of Using House Sitters

Tips for a Successful House Sitting Experience

If you opt for a premium house sitting platform like Trusted House sitters, clear and effective communication is your best friend. We emphasize this ad nauseum in all our guides for a reason.

It’s extremely important.

We’re confident there is a perfect sitter for every pet owner. Everyone has different needs. House sitting websites are a lot like online dating. Everyone wants to connect with someone who makes sense, understands their needs, and knows how to fulfill them. This is why you should be thorough and robust with your house sitting profile. Err on the side of too much information rather than too little. It will broadcast your signal loud and clear to the right house sitting candidates. This will help minimize the back-and-forth of answering all the questions you’ll very likely receive.

Examples of Details to Include in Your Profile:

  • Pet Routine: number of walks per day, feeding times, sleep schedule, maximum time they can be left alone
  • Plant care
  • Apartment: number of rooms, walk-up or elevator
  • Neighborhood: nearest subway stop(s), where to get groceries, sightseeing, restaurants

Including these specific details will save everyone time. If your pet can’t be without human presence for more than two hours, it will weed out the sitters who’s likely plan is to be a sightseeing tourist all day every day. Instead you’ll attract more remote workers who tend to stay home, or persons who just prefer less activity and more home lounging. For persons with mobility challenges, knowing if you have a walk-up or not is imperative (many sitters are retirees).

As a pet owner, get ready to receive a ton of applications. It should come as no surprise that NYC is quite popular, to put it mildly. Make sure to post your listing well in advance, and set aside time to review the applicants very soon after. Expect an abundance of qualified sitters within the first twenty-four to forty-eight hours.

One can opt to review applications on a rolling basis, or wait for a big load for a batch review. You can also shut off the application valve, prohibiting future applications once you feel you have enough. Especially if you’re feeling overwhelmed with the quantity. It’s typical to receive upwards of fifty applicants for house sits in NYC.

We strongly advise against waiting more than two days to review applications after putting up a house sit listing.

Top tier sitters apply to many sits, and will quickly fill their schedules with punctual and organized house sits. We’re just high in demand. Nothing says “your pet is safe and secure with us” than a profile that exudes experience, confidence, and dozens of glowing reviews. While you’re reviewing dozens of applications, they’re applying to dozens of sits. House sitters have learned to hedge their bets as quite often we never receive responses (especially true in popular destinations). There is no foul play with this strategy; both owners and sitters are being practical. Usually we book within a few days of applying.

Read more: How to Avoid Bad House Sitters 

Once you narrow down the applicants, make arrangements to for a short video call. Even if you feel super confident in your choices, you won’t truly know until you have a live conversation, ideally face-to-face. Also, your potential sitter will likely have questions too, especially if your listing is sparse in details.

After a few rounds of conversations, take a moment to reflect and decide on who you want to offer the sit. Once you communicate your final decision, make sure to confirm through the website platform and feel the immediate relief.

But don’t stop there. Make sure you’re set up for success.

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

House Sitting in New York for House Sitters

If you’re reading this article, it’s safe for us to assume you’re interested in visiting NYC but cannot afford the usual paid accommodations. We get it. Most of the residents can barely afford their rent! You’ll be lucky to find anything under fifty bucks that isn’t sketchy or misleading (like a shared space that’s centrally located but way filthier and noisier than you would think). By house sitting in NYC, you can likely stay much longer, and make the trip worth it while you provide pet care. The exchange can be incredibly rewarding.

However, house sitting in NYC is incredibly competitive. I’ve seen all sorts of articles, and reddit pages trending that give you a clash of realities. Glowing reviews looking to make some affiliate cash make it sound easy where more honest reviews tell you just how difficult it is to land a house sit.

That being said, we will give you all the tips we can, and be as honest as we can about the experience house sitting in NYC has to offer you i this article. It will be really tough to land the house sit of your dreams. If you want a deeper dive into the nitty-gritty of successful house sitting, check out our book, the House Sitting Handbook: How to Live Your Dream Life Through House sitting. We share all our tried-and-true strategies that we developed over our five plus years of house sitting full-time. Our approach works whether you want to house sit on occasion, part-time, or full-time like us, especially if you want to land house sits in extremely competitive places like New York City.

Check out the House Sitting Handbook here.

What Does It Cost You?

A yearly membership to Trustedhousesitters, the website we use and trust, costs $149. Now we understand this price will give pause to many prospective house sitters. Many we speak to are afraid to pay this and not find a house. Others complain it’s too expensive, and that other websites are cheaper or free.

Sure, there are cheaper options, but you get what you pay for. We find that availability and quality of listings nose dives correspondingly. While there are location-oriented sites, like Housesitters America or Housesitters UK, international travelers like us want a platform that gives us worldwide access to build our reviews on. That way we have something to share to any prospective house sit that also makes us look legit.

Also, consider the cost of paying for a place in NYC. Like we mentioned earlier, you’ll be lucky to find something livable under fifty. How does that compare to a one bedroom or studio apartment you have all to yourself (albeit with an animal roommate which is much easier than a human one)? One must also weigh the cost of the platform against the cost of accommodation. So if you land more than three to four nights of house sitting a year, this price is negligible. Unless you want to stay in a hotel on the edge of the Bronx, hours away from your likely sightseeing destinations.

If you want to read more about TrustedHousesitters, check out our TrustedHousesitters Review where we discuss pros and cons, how to optimize your experience and maximize your costs.

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

Things to Expect House Sitting in NYC

If you’ve had at least a house sit or two under your belt, you know more or less what to expect with house sitting. However, if you’re still a fresh no-house-sit-yet newbie, we recommend starting with a couple of articles.

Common Misconceptions About House Sitting (read first!)

How to Start House Sitting and Save Money Traveling

The biggest mistake newbies make is trying to skip the familiarization and strategizing process. There’s no free lunch and house sitting is the same. Once you’re on the same page with us, continue on with the rest of this article.

We’ve been house sitting in NYC for many, many years and we’ve observed a few key trends.

New York House Sitting is EXTREMELY Competitive

We must be honest, even at the risk of sounding like a broken record.

Landing a house sit in NYC is very difficult.

New York is expensive for a reason. Everyone wants to visit and possibly live there. We wrote this article on how to land a house sit in New York City precisely because we receive so many questions on it. Allow us to adjust your expectations and offer some real guidance.

We are from New York City and it’s been a royal pain in the ass to land house sits here. It wasn’t easy. We want to come back and visit often.

If you’re gonna take a house sitting swing at NYC, it is imperative that you have previous house sitting experience. If you’re using a membership based platform like Trustedhousesitters, have at least several reviews on your profile. It’s incredibly unlikel that you’ll break into house sitting in NYC.

Imagine this scenario. You’re a pet owner, you list a house sit in NYC. You receive upwards of fifty applicants. Who are the first ones to knock off your list (after you’ve screened all the half-assed messages of “zomg I love nyc its my dream plz pick me” nonsense)? Those with no reviews or those with twenty-five plus reviews? Who would you pick?

Ample reviews indicate real house sitting experience. This, and a killer profile, mean everything in the online world of house sitting.

Read more: How to Create the Best House Sitting Profile

Few Pet Owners Respond to Applications

The more competitive the sit, the more unrealistic it becomes to respond to every application message. As frustrating as this is, we understand. Most Americans, let alone New Yorkers, are overworked and living jampacked schedules. When time becomes a precious resource, expect to receive very little of it from pet owners in NYC.

Another unfortunate trend we’ve noticed with New York city pet owners wanting to book right away based on just the first message. We’re flattered that our profile and first message instill so much confidence that pet owners have accepted us for the sit rather immediately. However, we strongly advise against accepting house sits like this.

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

Convenience at your fingertips characterizes most New Yorker’s experience these days. You can get anything delivered right to your door with a few clicks in an app. It comes as no surprise that many NYC pet owners navigate house sitting in a similar manner.

We’d love to remind pet owners that house sitting is an exchange, not DoorDash or Uber Eats. As a house sitter, have some questions prepared, and ask for a live conversation, such as a video call.

If pet owners wave away or play down your need to ask questions, this is a bad sign. We heard about this one instance where a house sitter with over thirty glowing five-star reviews was finalizing things with a pet owner. As a last step, they sent the pet owner a quick list of questions. The pet owner didn’t respond. When the house sitter followed up, the pet owner replied that they had chosen someone else because this pet owner seemed like they would need too much.

Among seasoned house sitters, having a list of questions is quite common. To not respond to every single of your fifty applicants for your NYC house sit is one thing. Not responding after you have both made an agreement is incredibly inconsiderate and rude.

The way we see it, that house sitter nearly took on a bad house. It was their willingness to communicate their needs that exposed a potentially rotten situation.

Read more: How to Avoid Bad House Sits 

The key to successful house sitting? Clear communication between both parties.

If you’re insistent on house sitting in NYC, just know that the competition is fierce and consequently you will need to apply to many before you land one.

House sitting newbies: we strongly advise against taking on NYC. Unless you can confidently offer an edge over house sitters with ten or more five star reviews, don’t waste your time. Take that time and put it in places where you have more a fighting chance.

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

Learn from our experience. Set reasonable expectations to avoid unnecessary disappointment and discouragement.

We are house sitters from New York City, with plenty of local experience, with almost thirty five-star reviews. When we apply to house sits in NYC, we often offer to meet in person, because we’re already there.

Even with these credentials and the ability to meet in person, we still only hear from a mere fraction of the pet owners, even if we apply immediately.

This is just par for the course with house sitting in New York.

Last Minute and Weekend Sits

Don’t expect to land a longer house sit either. House sits in NYC are usually last minute and short-term. The majority of New Yorkers list their sit within a month of it’s date. We suggest having two months or more. Why wait? The more time, the better to vet your prospects. As full-time sitters, we line up sits back to back, booking out months ahead, so it’s almost never too soon to post a house sit.

But remember that fingertips convenience mindset we mentioned earlier. New Yorkers expect things right when the want them. Including house sitters. Marketers are so aware of this mindset that subways are plastered with ad campaigns geared towards this coupling of immediacy and entitlement.

We’re not trying to hate on New Yorkers. We want to guide your expectations for house sitting in New York City, especially for foreigners. If you’re coming from overseas, don’t bank on a house sit in NYC. If you’re already enroute, have a backup plan.

One alternative: the New York City Metro area. That mean’s booking a house sit in the less competitive, neighboring counties, like Westchester in the Hudson Valley, or Long Island, to the east, or New Jersey to the west. These are all connected via commuter rails like MetroNorth, New Jersey Transit, the Path, and LIRR. Expect to pay more the farther out you need to travel.

A house sit outside of NYC with commuter rail costs will still be cheaper than accommodations in the city. And there’s some really beautiful towns in the Hudson Valley.

If You Do Land a Sit

Let’s pretend you do land a sit (or you’re here because you actually have). Let us suggest some key questions to ask in your video call:

  • What is your pet’s daily routine?
  • What the nearest subway station?
  • Where is the nearest grocery store?
  • Do you want me to come the night before the sit, and if so, can you accommodate a guest?

Dogs and cats have their needs met differently in NYC. If it’s a dog, expect walks. Ask if there are dog parks nearby, especially if the pup needs to spin it’s wheels for a bit.

Pet owners will bank on your excitement of being in NYC to pull you in. However, a Manhattan house sit versus a Brooklyn house sit, is the difference between five minutes of walking and fifteen to twenty. Manhattan is the nexus of the subway train system. If you’re in Brooklyn, you’ll realize quickly just how far flung you can get (trains that take over an hour to reach Manhattan).

Often Pet owners will let you crash at their place, especially if they request you to be there the night before. They’re well aware of the exorbitant accommodations cost. If they expect you to come but not put you up, that may be a warning sign. Either way, they should communicate that to you at the outset, not right before the house sit.

Again, clear communication is the big winner here. No one wants to show up to a pet sit to realize they need to walk a dog five times a day with the nearest green space twenty minutes away.

New York City house sitting has the potential to be a great experience for both pet owners and house sitters. Both come to this sharing conclusion because they likely cannot afford otherwise. Recognizing that we’re both in this to help each other out, and to be super considerate, makes it smoother and all the more rewarding.

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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