So you're finally going to take your dream vacation—and it's a long one. You've booked the tickets, set money aside for spending, and got the time off from work; but what to do about your day-to-day housekeeping duties (i.e. watering plants, feeding the fish, turning off the porch lights, etc.)? Your best bet is to hire someone you trust to look after your place, but now you have to figure out how much to pay him or her. A quick Google search reveals the normal going rates for your location, but still not the exact figure you're looking for.
As a starting point to keep in mind, typical house sitting rates are in the $25-30/day range, more (around $50) for overnight stays. But this is just a ballpark. We suggest taking the time to calculate a number based on your own house sitting expectations and needs. To help, we've compiled a list of factors to consider when determining the right payment for your house sitter. And if you are the house sitter, these factors can also help you determine how much to charge.
The first thing to consider when figuring out what to pay your house sitter is your location. Since the average house sitting rates –and overall costs of living—change from city to city and in suburban areas and small towns, it's important to determine what other people are paying for similar services in your area. You can do some online research, ask in a local online forum or chat up friends and neighbors in your area to get a good estimate of the local going rate.
2. What responsibilities the house sitter is taking on
Once you have a general estimate of the average going rate for house sitting in your area, it's time to determine the kinds of services you expect from your sitter. Will they just be stopping by in the evening to turn on lights and bring in mail, or multiple times a day to feed your cat? Do you want them to dust and vacuum while they're there? Or is just watering a handful of houseplants all you need? Remember that every responsibility requested is grounds for a higher rate; so make sure you know exactly what to ask of your house sitter ahead of time.
3. How much time they'll be spending in your home (and when)
The more responsibilities you assign your sitter, the more time they'll spend in your home, which means your need to be prepared to pay them accordingly. Jobs that require the sitter to stay at your place overnight are best charged by a daily rate, while smaller tasks, like once-daily visits can be billed hourly. Also, emergency, late night visits and/or anything that falls on a holiday should be compensated fairly, too.
4. The size of the residence
Something else to consider when figuring out what to pay your house sitter is the size of the space they'll be responsible for. For example, large homes—with bigger spaces to clean/ look after—require a lot more effort than say, a studio apartment. Therefore, the amount you'll pay for house sitting should vary depending on the size and type of space being cared for.
5. Commuting costs
Along with the time they'll be providing services, it's also necessary to consider the distance (and costs) of your sitters commute to your home. For this, calculate gas and tolls, public transportation fees, and any other factors that might affect their travels, so you can anticipate any additional charges they'll be incurring on your home's behalf. It's up to you to decide if you should factor transportation costs into the rate you're paying, but if you're a house sitter determining what to charge, this could definitely come into play on your profits.
House sitting rates should also include provisions for any day-to-day house-related needs. If you think there's a chance your sitter will need to make a grocery or hardware store run, make sure you're prepared to cover those costs in your pay rate. Or better yet, offer up a decent per diem (for food and other essentials) as part of your payment so you never have to worry about reimbursing.
7. Amenities provided
Lastly, before you tally up your final number, take into account what amenities you'll be providing for your sitter—i.e. a fully-stocked fridge, free Wi-Fi, beer, swimming pool access—to get an idea of what you're already paying for. This doesn't mean you should dock their pay for every single convenience given, rather, it's just a reminder that the more you already have to offer—the less they'll have to spend (or charge you for) later.