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Reviewed by Christina Hamlett for Readers' Favorite
Nothing quite says “Come on in and burglarize us” than a house that vacationers have left unprotected during their absence. In Kelly Hayes-Raitt’s How To Become A Housesitter, she taps into the wisdom and popularity of hiring someone to do more than just pick up newspapers off the front porch, perform walk-throughs, and water the plants. Based on her own years of housesitting experience across the country and around the world, she provides an insider look at how to embrace the local vibe, save money on accommodations and dining, and enjoy the gratification of keeping a client’s home and pets safe until their return. Chock-full of useful advice, reputable websites, and personal anecdotes, Kelly Hayes-Raitt also provides tips for homeowners themselves on how to set boundaries, protect valuables, and make a housesitter feel both welcome and valued.
From the very first pages, I found myself smiling in amusement and reflecting on a long-ago friend who decided—sans any experience whatsoever—that being a housesitter would be a nifty way to give up the monthly expense of rent and utilities and happily hunker down in someone else’s space. Had she been able to avail herself of How To Become A Housesitter, she would have been able to get more than one gig—a gig which, suffice it to say—ended with every possible definition of disaster. I felt that one of Kelly Hayes-Raitt's most salient points in deciding what types of housesits to pursue is to choose a homeowner whose lifestyle mirrors your own and provides the type of environment in which you’ll feel most comfortable. Further, if your intuition tells you that something could potentially be The Housesit From Hell, trust your gut reaction and say no.
Her self-quiz at the beginning of the book is pure gold, as are her tips for not only getting started but also ensuring repeat business. It’s critical, she emphasizes, to delineate what, exactly, you’ll be expected to do (i.e., caring for beloved pets, maintaining the house and yard, taking messages, etc.). Things you wouldn’t typically think about at home are vital to know when you’re on someone else’s turf (i.e., the location of fuse boxes and shut-off valves, how to arm the alarm system, and the location of the nearest grocery, pharmacy, and hospital). Kelly Hayes-Raitt’s writing style is breezy and conversational, and her advice is well-grounded in how to distinguish yourself as someone a homeowner will be confident and enthusiastic to hire. I also appreciated her inclusion of the cautionary note that if you’re doing an overseas housesit and requesting compensation, it could impact whether you’re deemed to be in the country as a tourist or on a work visa.