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I, for one, cannot wait to wake up on November 1st to a TikTok of Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas is you”; nevertheless, although my countdown app fails to remind me of my midterm exams, it does notify me almost every other day that the holiday season is quickly approaching.

With more long weekends ahead of us and COVID-19 restrictions releasing their chokehold on international travel, our Instagram feeds are bound to show a parade of winter-wonderland-themed escapades, chalet retreats, and Mexican resort-quality margaritas by the pool. Sadly, if you are a broke university student like me, the only fancy destination you’ll hit will probably be the seven-year-old Ikea couch you found on Facebook marketplace. 

But don’t fret! Although nothing could seem to beat biking along the sunset-kissed rice fields in Bali like Julia Roberts in Eat Pray Love, other people vacationing could easily give you the chance to get a sweet housesitting gig, save some cash and maybe have some fa-la-la-la fun.

As a seasoned housesitter, here are some tips for anyone who’s just scored their first gig!

Make sure you and the homeowners are on the same page

Every housesitting gig is different. While some homeowners don’t really expect you to do anything but make sure the house is looked after, others may expect you to perform additional tasks, such as taking care of their pets or light housekeeping.  Ask any questions you may have and  make sure they tell you exactly what they expect of you before they leave.  It’s better to know if they want you to water their plants before they go on their month-long vacay in Hawai’i.

Ask them how the appliances work

This includes their fancy Dyson vacuum cleaner, air conditioner, stove and anything else you might use. You don’t want to break any of their appliances but also you want to avoid freezing to death out of fear that you’re going to bust a pipe the moment you turn the heating on.

Don’t be afraid to ask for what you think you deserve

Ahhh, this mug-worthy catchphrase pretty much applies to anything in life; before stating your rate, try googling the typical hourly rate in your area. You may also want to consider what kinds of perks the homeowners offer. For example, are you allowed to eat the food in the pantry?

Clean after yourself anytime you do anything

I know this goes without saying but trust me, it’s super easy to forget to clean the stove or shower after each use. Treat someone else’s home as you would want yours to be treated. Act as if the homeowners will come home at any minute. If you don’t clean up after yourself each time you enter a room or use an appliance, you will probably be in some deep trouble. Some homeowners expect their homes to be as neat as when they handed you the keys. 

This is what I learned from my housesitting experiences… it can be fun, but it still is a job, which requires you to treat other people’s homes with care and respect. That said, housesitting can be a great way to enjoy some time off from your campus dorm or the overcrowded apartment you share with your family/roomies while making some much-needed extra cash. 

Ally is majoring in Linguistics and minoring in International Studies. She loves to do yoga, pilates and take long walks down the beach. When she’s not studying, she’s probably baking a chocolate cake!
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