House-Sitting Safety: Essential Tips for International Assignments

House-sitting internationally can offer a unique and enriching way to experience new cultures, locales, and lifestyles. However, as with any travel outside your home country, it comes with its own set of challenges and safety considerations. Whether you’re a seasoned house-sitter or considering your first international assignment, it’s crucial to prioritize your safety while fulfilling your responsibilities. Here are some essential safety tips tailored for international housesitters:

Research Thoroughly Before Accepting an Assignment

Your safety starts with choosing the right assignment. Research the location extensively, focusing on the safety of the neighborhood, local laws, and customs. Platforms that facilitate house-sitting opportunities often provide reviews and ratings from previous sitters; these can be invaluable in making an informed decision.

Understand the Homeowner’s Expectations

Clear communication with the homeowner before your arrival is critical. Discuss their expectations, the specifics of caring for their pets (if applicable), and any maintenance tasks. Ensure you have detailed instructions and emergency contact numbers, including a local contact you can reach out to if the homeowner is unavailable.

Have a Comprehensive Briefing on Home Safety

Upon arrival, ask for a comprehensive tour of the home focusing on safety features and procedures. This should include operating security systems, understanding the locking mechanisms of doors and windows, locating the main water shut-off valve, and any specifics about the property that could impact your safety.

Keep Emergency Contacts Handy

Always have a list of local emergency contacts, including the nearest embassy or consulate, healthcare facilities, and police stations. Familiarize yourself with the local emergency numbers and have them saved in your phone and kept in a visible place in the home.

Secure Personal Belongings

Even in the safest neighborhoods, it’s wise to take precautions with your valuables. If available, use a safe for your passport, travel documents, and other valuables. Otherwise, ensure they’re securely stored and hidden away.

Maintain Privacy on Social Media

Sharing your experiences on social media is tempting, but broadcasting your location and that you’re house-sitting can make you a target. It’s best to limit what you share publicly or wait to post about your experiences until after you’ve completed your assignment.

Follow Local Guidelines and Restrictions

Being in a foreign country means navigating different rules and regulations, especially in today’s context with health and possible travel restrictions. Stay updated on local guidelines, curfews, and any travel advisories issued by your home country about the region you’re in.

Trust Your Instincts

Your intuition is one of your best safety tools. If something feels off about an assignment upon arrival or if situations change making you uncomfortable, communicate your concerns with the homeowner or the facilitating platform. Prioritize your safety always.

Have a Backup Plan

Despite the best-laid plans, things can go wrong. Have a contingency plan for accommodations if you need to leave the assignment early. Know where you can go, how you’ll get there, and how you’ll manage any financial implications.

Network with Other Housesitters

Connecting with a network of fellow house-sitters can provide not only camaraderie but also practical support. They can offer local advice, help in emergencies, or even provide recommendations for future assignments.

Closing Thoughts

International house-sitting can be an incredible adventure, offering you the chance to live like a local in different parts of the world. While it comes with great perks, it’s essential to approach each assignment with safety as your priority. By following these tips, you’ll be well-equipped to ensure your house-sitting experience is not only enjoyable but safe.

Safe travels and happy house-sitting!