So, you’ve booked your holiday and the time has come to start packing for your destination, but have you thought about how you’re going to care for your home while you’re away? It’s easy to get swept up in holiday fever and forget about the things we’re leaving behind.
Leaving your house for a significant amount of time whilst on holiday can leave your home vulnerable. Typically, the majority of burglaries happen during the day, and criminals will take the easiest route so will always look for a house that appears empty if their targeted home is occupied. We all remember Macaulay Culkin in the Home Alone films outsmarting burglars whilst his family were away! The light on a timer trick is no longer sufficient enough and is something any savvy burglar will spot a mile off. As a result, the number of people investing in a house sitter is growing, from family members or friends, to investing in a professional house sitter; it is both practical and convenient. The last thing you want to do during your holiday is to spend it worrying about your home, and having a house sitter minimises any potential risks so you can enjoy your break knowing your home is safe.
These are our top tips to taking care of your home whilst on holiday…
House sitting: What is it?
Having a neighbour or member of the family to check your home once a day, collect your post, feed your pets and generally make your home appear lived in isn’t always enough of a deterrent as it still leaves it vulnerable for the rest of the day. Your best deterrent is to have actual people living in your home, that way they can protect against burglaries, and problems such as fires or floods, as well as keeping the house clean and tidy ready for your return. House sitting is an all-in-one solution for safeguarding your home and is beneficial to both you and the sitter. Whilst you have peace of mind knowing that your home is being taken care of, the sitter enjoys the lack of rent and a change of scenery.
The first option is to call in a favour from a friend or family member and ask them to live in your place while you’re away. However, there may not be somebody that you trust able to house sit during this time, or you might feel like you’re burdening them.
Some people decide to house swap and allow other travellers to house sit their home while they are away. If this is something you are interested in you can learn how to get a housesit. Alternatively you might feel more comfortable with a professional house-sitter.
A sitter is commonly a retiree or someone who has years of experience looking after a home, and their reasons for house-sitting will vary. From fancying a change of scenery, to pet lovers wanting to care for your animals, a hired house-sitter will be more than willing to look after your home as you wish. As well as minimising preparation time and expenses, such as stopping your mail, arranging for automatic lights to go on, and even sending pets away to a new environment, they can notify you of any problems whilst you’re away and give you peace of mind.
Things to consider:
Asking friends for recommendations is a great idea; they can share their experience with you and answer any questions you may have. Though, whoever you find to look after your home always ensure all references are called, at the end of the day you’re putting your trust in someone elses hands. The best practice is to invite your prospective house-sitter to your home beforehand so you can run through how you like things done. This is particularly important if you’ve got pets so they can familiarise with them and understand their schedule in terms of food and day-to-day routine. Having a house-sitter will also ensure your pet has constant love and care and won’t have to endure the trauma of kennels/catteries, as well as the expense.
During their initial visit to your home it’s wise to explain any house characteristics and technological features your place has too. They’ll need to be fully equipped if the power on anything goes out, and will need to know how to set your alarm and password should they accidently set it off. A great idea is to create a small pack containing as much information as possible that will help your sitter with any risks. This should include emergency contact numbers, day-to-day tasks, your pets requirements, and any information about the area you live in too. Be safe and make sure a family member/friend is made aware of whom you’ve asked to house-sit and likewise let your sitter know contact details for them. Provide them with a key and ask them to drop by the house to check things are in order, but always let your sitter know so they know who to expect.
In terms of payment, this can vary depending on who you ask to sit. Many are perfectly happy house-sitting for free and will look after your home, keeping your garden maintained, collecting mail and making sure all bills are up-to date, in return for staying in your home rent free. Of course you can pay your sitter, particularly if you want them to take on additional tasks.
If you’re struggling to find any recommended candidates, there are plenty of services available online and in the yellow pages that can match people to your preferred requirements such as experience and location to you, who are willing to look after your home.
Can’t get a house sitter?
If you’re only away for a short period of time, or can’t find a house sitter then there are plenty of thing to you can do to protect your home before you set off:
- Ensure all windows and doors are locked and your alarm is working as it should. It may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people fail to properly secure their home. Make a final check before you leave, taking into account garages and sheds. Also ensure any keys, and valuables are placed away from prying eyes
- Avoid a build-up of post by cancelling any mail or asking a neighbour to collect yours for you whilst you’re away.An empty house can be spotted easily simply by an overflowing mailbox.
- Let a family member or neighbour know the dates you’ll be way and provide them with a spare key for them to check your home is safe.
- If possible park a car in the driveway, if not a vehicle of your own then ask a neighbour to make use of your drive in your absence.
- If you have pets, take the appropriate steps to ensure they are looked after adequately, whether it’s putting them inkennels or catteries or finding a pet sitters or friend who is happy to check in on them/take them for walks should it be required.
- Cancel deliveries of milk, newspapers or vegetable boxes – make sure you do this discreetly or over the phone
- For potential burglars, a good deterrent is to make your home look like people are home. You can easily do this by having a light on a timer which will switch on automatically, and can coincide with your usual schedule. This can be done in multiple rooms to so from all angles your house its gives the impression people are inside.
- If any bills are due to be paid during your holiday it’s a good idea to pay them before you go or set up a direct debit.
- Unplugging any items that will not be used while you are gone is recommended too. Not only will this will reduce the risk of any accidents that might occur, but it will also reduce the cost of your bill
- And finally… don’t tell more people than you need to of your holiday plans. Refrain from giving too much away on social media websites or you may live to regret it!