There’s nothing like an extended vacation to take your mind off of your everyday drudgery, and a sabbatical is about as extended as it gets! But before you can jet off to destinations unknown, you still have to put in some logistical work.
While you are basking in the sun, exploring new worlds or otherwise entertaining yourself on your break, the world will still keep turning back home. If you have not prepared properly for this reality, you may find yourself too worried and anxious to actually enjoy that time off. Think about the effort it takes to get ready for just a few days off, or a week’s holiday. There is work to delegate, mail to hold, money to keep moving and — here’s the big one — an entire home that you are leaving behind. This, of course, is our area of expertise.
So, who watches your house when you take a sabbatical? Here are a few options, their pros and cons, and our personal favorite choice (spoiler alert: it’s an estate sitter).
Leaving Your Home Unattended
It’s a common solution for people who are heading out for a few days, but leaving your home unattended is probably not the best choice when it comes to an extended leave of absence.
Think of all the little things you keep up with around the house — watering plants, dusting, making sure that electricity is working properly and that appliances are functioning as they should, for just a few examples. Without someone in the home keeping up with that regular maintenance and upkeep, you can have a disaster on your hands that gets worse and worse while you are nowhere close to nearby.
People will notice that your house is completely unattended and that means negative attention, too. Break-ins, vandalism, and other crimes are a high likelihood.
Even if these nightmare scenarios miraculously do not happen, odds are you will be spending a lot of your sabbatical worrying that they will.
There are not a lot of benefits to leaving your home unattended during a sabbatical. It may seem like a money-saving choice but when you think about the potential catastrophic situations that could pop up unknown, you may be making a very expensive choice.
Even worse, your property insurance could lapse if you are leaving your home unattended. Check with your insurer, but in most cases, a home has to be occupied for coverage. So, if you take the risk of leaving without making house-sitting arrangements, and something bad happens, you have to pay out of pocket. There’s really no cost savings when you look at it that way.
The next choice is leaving the home unattended but having a friend or family member pop in every once in a while. That’s better than completely ditching your home, but there are still a lot of bad things that can happen during the times where nobody is around.
Finding a House-Sitter
Clearly a house-sitter is a better choice than either of the above! But even knowing this, there are good and bad ways to bring a house-sitter on board.
You could try to talk a friend or family member into staying at your home but over the course of an entire sabbatical they may not be interested or able to cover the entire time frame. You could look for an eager stranger, but without any way to vet their safety, responsibility, and trustworthiness, you may as well invest in a sign that says: “STEAL MY STUFF.”
A qualified, vetted, trusted estate sitter is the answer. References are key. A bad house-sitter will have a bad reputation. If a potential estate sitter has no references, they are either inexperienced or they know that any past clients will not have anything good to say. Do not settle for anything less than a glowing recommendation. This is your house we’re talking about! A police reference check is even better.
A sabbatical is generally a longer time frame than your average vacation so start looking for your estate sitter as soon as you know that you will be taking this break. It can be more challenging to get a great estate sitter for a longer amount of time and the more lead time you have, the better. You may need to split the time between various estate sitters, which is fine so long as you are choosing people who know what they are doing.
One of the biggest advantages of working with an estate sitter to keep your house maintained during your sabbatical is the ability to set up your expectations for their work. With a family member or friend you are relying on their generosity and do not want to get too prescriptive, but with hired help you are free to communicate your preferences and requirements, and fully expect them to be met.
With an estate sitter you will have a signed contract covering how the house-sitting will work during your sabbatical, so you can sit back and relax, wherever you are in the world, knowing that everything is in good hands. Only with a qualified house-sitter handling your estate will you be able to truly relax and enjoy your sabbatical to the fullest.
An estate sitter doesn’t just keep your home occupied for insurance purposes. He or she can check your mail, watch your pets, mow the lawn, and otherwise ensure that when you get back from your sabbatical, you can seamlessly move back into life at home, with a house that has been taken care of in all ways.
There are many advantages to hiring an estate sitter during your sabbatical, especially when you choose to work with a qualified, trustworthy sitter who knows what they are doing and are able to meet all of your needs. Do yourself a favor, and include house sitting in your sabbatical plans.