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House Sitting Compensation
updated: Jul 07, 2014, 10:45 AM

By Edhat Subscriber

We're heading out on a week's vacation and will have a good friend of ours stay at our place to care for the cat & have a little alone time for herself. We haven't mentioned pay, nor has she, but I was wondering if that was something we should do besides bringing her a souvenir from our trip. If so, how much is fair? Thanks

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 533398 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-07 10:56 AM

Check AirBNB for an idea of what they should pay you.
House sitting is not something somebody deserves to be paid for unless that person is doing real work like gardening, painting, cleaning, etc.


 COMMENT 533399 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-07 10:57 AM

We pay our house sitter $50 a day. We paid $75 a day when we expected her to take care of our dog.


 ZENYATTA19 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-07 10:58 AM

Yes you should absolutely compensate her. Its a fine line when its a friend. But She is taking time to stay at your house and care for your cat. We have a friend do this and give her $50 per day. We have several pets and a large home. This is actually less that the going rate. A hired house sitter would charge 75-100 per night depending on the duties. I would pay her and bring the souvenir.


 JAD agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-07 10:59 AM

Fair is whatever you mutually agree to.


 COMMENT 533404 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-07 11:05 AM

Between good friends, I would buy them a nice gift from where you vacationed and let them know you will be happy to return the favor when they go on vacation.


 COMMENT 533405 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-07 11:08 AM

The going rate for a "professional" house sitter is $50-$100/night depending on duties. So much depends on the situation though. If your friend lives in a tiny apartment and your place is more comfortable, they may appreciate just having more space for awhile.

I took care of a good friend's cat for a week and didn't expect any compensation. However when she returned and gave me an enormous zucchini as a thank you I was a bit miffed. A nice souvenir or even a gift card for TJ's would have been appreciated.


 COMMENT 533410P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-07 11:16 AM

You say "a good friend" who will enjoy some alone time, suggesting that she's normally not alone and will thus enjoy a mini-vacation at your place. Sounds like a really thoughtful upscale gift to her taste - more than a souvenir - from wherever you're going is in order, plus maybe a very nice dinner and debrief afterwards. This is a friend doing a favor, not a hired staffer doing it for $.


 COMMENT 533411 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-07 11:17 AM

If she is getting something out of this (time away/alone) then no need to pay except for taking care of the cat. I know someone who will do that for $35/day. It's a cat. They just need food and water. It's not a dog which requires more time/work.


 COMMENT 533412 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-07 11:19 AM

If they are a friend you shouldn't pay them (and they shouldn't expect it). Friends should to do things for each other without expecting money.

A nice gift, or take her out to dinner would be a great sign of appreciation. Otherwise, just make sure to return the favor at some point.

Unless it's their business, friends should never exchange money for services.


 COMMENT 533413P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-07 11:21 AM

Our good friend house sat for us earlier this year for just the sheer delight of being there for us, our cat, and for being able to have some time to herself. That was all the payment she wanted.


 COMMENT 533415 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-07 11:27 AM

when you depart this earth, your treasure doesn't go with you, so now is a perfect opportunity to dispense some of it on a friend you trust enough to live in your dwelling.

write them a check for $350. you'll feel good, and they'll feel good.

much better the cash compensation than a mug from you that says "I Love San Bernadino".


 COMMENT 533419 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-07 11:30 AM

Just ask the friend what they want. If they are doing this as a favor to you, which will be returned, they will probably say nothing, in which case you bring a nice souvenir.

If it is their business, $35-$50/day.


 COMMENT 533420 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-07 11:32 AM

Like 415 says, cash is always welcome. As someone once said, "Trust but verify." Check the jewels and the flatware first - then write the check.


 COMMENT 533423 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-07 11:34 AM

House sitting IS something that deserves compensation. The sitter, friend or professional, is taking responsibility for the care of your home (a guardian if you are away). A good house sitter considers themselves to be a "caretaker", not a
freeloader. The regular household routines continue such as gardeners, mail, package deliveries, etc. The pet's routine and familiar surroundings are not disrupted. And someone is there if something goes wrong. If you find someone you trust to care for your pets and home, pay them
for it....they deserve it.


 COMMENT 533434 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-07 12:07 PM

If I were your friend the only thing I would expect would be a well stocked fridge and pantry. Have a great trip!!


 COMMENT 533436 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-07 12:11 PM

Agree with the last comment. Food and beer/wine. Maybe some cash for emergencies. Ever see, "Risky Business?"


 COMMENT 533446 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-07 12:24 PM

I fell in love with Santa Barbara house sitting for someone and was THRILLED to have somewhere free to vacation for a week. Looking after their house & pet seemed like nothing, especially since they left a well-stocked fridge. If anything, I would owe them if compared to hotel prices. They were very gracious and would bring me a nice souvenir or give me a gift card. Definitely NOT expected. I see it as a favor between friends - you're helping each other out.


 COMMENT 533453 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-07 12:29 PM

Do not take it for granted that your friend does not expect compensation. I made that mistake once when I asked a very good friend who actually did not have a place to live and just did house sitting for friends for one and two week periods, if she would like to stay in our beautiful little Riviera home with our little dog for 3 months. No gardening because we had a gardener. Before we left she asked how much we would pay her, we were surprised because we thought we were doing *her* a favor. We offered $300.00 a month and she said that was too little. We learned a lesson, you may think you are doing someone a favor, but they are thinking the same thing.

Always ask what if anything they expect. If they say nothing then I agree with a nice gift certificate to their favorite store.


 COMMENT 533458 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-07 12:37 PM

I disagree that cats are easier than dogs. When I cared for my friend's cat I had to clean his litter box every day or he wouldn't use it. He also managed to throw the litter material out of the box so I also had to sweep every day. Plus he wasn't very friendly, sat there and glared at me from a distance while I cleaned up for him.


 COMMENT 533461 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-07 12:41 PM

House sitting for a cat is not just a matter of keeping the kibble fresh and refilling the water bowl. Cats are social creatures too and enjoy a bit of company when their family of humans is away. My cat was always happiest to see me return when I had arranged for (2x) daily visits than when I had left it alone to its own devises.

House sitting also means the house is not left empty and vulnerable to a break in. So your friend is doing you a favour on two counts so compensation out of gratitude ought to exceed a simple dinner.... in my book, at least.

A risk, though, is that your "friend" has several parties while you're away and scares the cat into hiding in the back of a closet for the entire time and breaks things. Such "friends" deserve only to be relegated to "casual acquaintance" heap asap.


 FLICKA agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-07 12:43 PM

In my world, we all do (free) favors for our good friends. If your friend will be happy to have time and space to herself, she probably figures you are doing her a favor. Home well stocked with food, I'm sure, will be appreciated. You might ask how she wants to be compensated to make things clear; my guess is she doesn't expect anything.


 COMMENT 533466 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-07 12:45 PM

If a friend asks for compensation, you should re think your friendship.

Obviously, it depends on the effort expected. And you should never take advantage of someone. But, basic services between friends should not be compensated with money.


 COMMENT 533471 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-07 12:58 PM

It's easy! What would you want if it was vice versa.


 COMMENT 533473P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-07 01:05 PM

OP, you now have reams of good advice. Just remember: your good friend is now responsible for your home and cat. This is no small responsibility. Particularly during high fire danger season. (Make sure your friend knows where the cat carrier is.)

In the interest of keeping your friendship on solid ground, I would "surprise" your friend with two nice crisp $100 bills and a $100 gift card to Trader Joe's.

I used to housesit Montecito mansions and Upper EastSide homes. Usually looking after 1-2 dogs and/or several cats. It's a disruption to one's own life, to have to pack clothes, toothbrush, shampoo, laptop, etc. For that time that you're away from your own domicile, you aren't "home," and you need to keep an eye on your own place/life, too.

There's nothing worse than being stingy with your friends. Unless you have a pact with your friend that you are exchanging house-sitting for house-sitting, compensation is in order.

Think how much easier your mind will be, as you're vacationing, thanks to this friend. Think how nice it is that your cat won't be completely lonely or stuck in a kennel.

A few hundred dollars is small potatoes when it comes to peace of mind. You will show your friend that you value his/her steadfastness, willingness to help out and dependability. If you can afford to travel, you can afford to reward your friend for a bit of house sitting.

Cash, not a check. Gift card. Both tucked into an envelope with a nice card. A souvenir? Nothing tacky. Next time, have compensation/no compensation understood-----up front.


 COMMENT 533474 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-07 01:07 PM

In a perfect world, or the Midwest, friends do favors for friends without expecting compensation. Maybe I have the wrong kind
of friends, but our house sitter "friend" was offended when we didn't offer enough.

Communication is a good thing.....ALWAYS ASK "What do you charge"?


 COMMENT 533477 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-07 01:11 PM

Give them free run of the pantry/fridge, a list of neighbors who they can call if things get weird. Also, let them know whether or not you want them to answer the phone.


 COMMENT 533478 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-07 01:12 PM

$150 Gift Certificate to Trader Joe's or her favorite restaurant when you return. Plus a well-stocked fridge and wine rack before you leave. If she hasn't mentioned compensation, she isn't expecting any.


 COMMENT 533480 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-07 01:15 PM

I've had a friend house and pet sit for me before. She was happy to have free accommodations for a week. I made sure my fridge was stocked, left her a nice bottle of wine and a $50 gift card to Banana Republic. She was thrilled!

Between friends, I don't think you need to pay her (in fact, I would advise against it- money between friends never seems to work out). But a couple of nice gifts would delight your friend, no doubt!


 COMMENT 533486 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-07 01:26 PM

it's a very simple answer - pay what it's worth to you. You also get what you pay for...so keep that in mind. The amount should have nothing to do with whether is a friend or a service. Pay cash not gift card (its not a birthday or Christmas, its a job


 COMMENT 533492 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-07 01:38 PM

We did $50 a day. Feed 2 dogs & fishes & light watering of garden. Not a friend pure business.


 COMMENT 533496 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-07 01:47 PM

I pay at least what I would pay to board the animal (s). So, one dog is less than three dogs. The alternative is to board them so that's the least I can do...that's all I can get our friend to accept. $50 a day to start.


 COMMENT 533502 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-07 02:05 PM

Dang! How do people afford that?? I would maybe get a small TJs gift card and have them over for a nice dinner when you get back! And be available to help them out sometime in the future...


 COMMENT 533505 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-07 02:19 PM

411 said it best. IT'S A CAT!!! One single cat. You can get the cat their own private hotel room here in Santa Barbara for only $20 a day, so why would anyone pay $50 a day? Because some people need their head examined.

Here's a thought...ask your friend "what can I give you per day to stay at my house and watch my cat?" When your good friend replies "oh, nothing...I'm happy to do it", then leave it at that. Just remember that you owe your friend a favor.


 COMMENT 533512 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-07 02:50 PM

Wow, I guess I missed that boat. I live in a small apartment. Friends have asked me to house sit many times. I've never received any money.

Reading the posts - I agree, it would've been nice to get paid - especially after finding out they paid the neighbor $140 to walk the dog while they were gone and I was at work!


 ZENYATTA19 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-07 03:24 PM

@480 free accommodations for a week? Was she homeless? If not house sitting for you is not "free". What do you think your $50 gift certificate and nice bottle of wine was? Payment....


 ROGER DODGER agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-07 04:10 PM

Some people love their cats I love my cat I'd pay that money if I had it for someone trust worthy to watch my kitty dog.


 COMMENT 533555 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-07 04:13 PM

Yes, the key words in the OP's question are "good friend".

A "good friend" neither asks for money nor accepts payment for helping to watch a house and/or pet.

A "good friend" would ensure that all expected costs of said house/cat sitting were pre-paid (food, etc).

A "good friend" would not hesitate to return the favor in kind.

"Good friend" can be replaced by "Good neighbor" too. BTW, what ever happened to "good neighbors"?


 COMMENT 533558 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-07 04:15 PM

I always pay neighbors/friends to watch my cat. It makes me feel more comfortable about the situation, and like they will take better care of him/her. I pay $20/day to my neighbors, who only have to walk downstairs 2x/day to feed my little rascal.

But if someone is *housesitting*, that is a great disruption to their life. I would start at $40/day for a single cat. More for dogs-- they require walks and more activity.

And I'm not rich. I make very little by SB standards (under $50K), but I value my babies and would do anything for them. They're safer and happier at home than at a stinkin shelter for few nights.


 COMMENT 533575 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-07 04:37 PM

I'm sure you'd have no problem finding a housesitter on State Street needing temporary shelter and food.


 COMMENT 533607P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-07 05:56 PM

555: "Good Friend" would be okay housesitting for overnight or perhaps even two nights, but after that it's a job. And a heck of a lot of responsibility. I think "You only get what you pay for" applies here.

If you want peace of mind, if you value you your friend and your beloved pet (!) then pony up and don't be stingy about it.


 COMMENT 533674 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-08 07:49 AM

Interesting answers that run the gamut! I side with the people who say a "good friend" wouldn't do it for the going rate of a housesitter. The big difference is this: if you want someone to be held accountable for what happens in your house while your gone, then pay them and make sure you discuss and have the responsibilities written out ahead of time. If you don't pay them, they are not working for you and they are doing you a favor. Either way, be clear with your good friend ahead of time.


 GBOB agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-08 08:30 AM

We pay our house/dog sitter $50 per day


 COMMENT 533710 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-08 09:16 AM

Our dear friend, J pet sits for a living & "needs" the $$. She said she would take care of our beloved dog for $35. per day. She even takes our girl to work with her & emails us with cheery updates. The peace of mind that we have knowing our dog is with a very loving & caring person is worth very much to us. We paid her $50. per day & took her to lunch upon returning.

Thank you to the people who gave good tips. I'll remember about the "well stocked fridge" next time.


 COMMENT 533716 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-08 09:27 AM

$100 per night. Our sitter cares for three dogs, two cats and a pond of koi. He comes from the Bay Area, so we also cover his transportation. He can drink and eat whatever is in the fridge or pantry. We leave our sitter with a list of responsibilities and important telephone numbers. We can travel without any anxiety about our home and pets. We have found it best for us not to expect our friends would house sit for free.


 COMMENT 533751P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-08 10:55 AM

I take care of a friend's cats while she is gone and water her plants and she usually takes me out for lunch when she gets home. HOWEVER, we have 2 small "low-maintenance" dogs and have a (different) friend stay overnight at our house when we are away and can't take them with us...we aren't rich and save long and hard for a vacation...$1,000 would easily be 1/2 of our vacation budget for a week. We pay our friend $35/night for the work and I always buy her a nice Groupon for a $50 meal at a fancy restaurant and she has unlimited use of our washer/dryer (she uses a laundromat) and I stock the fridge with some things that she likes. She always seems ready and willing, so I believe it is a good exchange.


 COMMENT 533793 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-08 12:48 PM

They could board the cat for 18 bucks a night at the cat hotel. If the cat needs meds daily, tack on another few bucks. Water the garden or houseplants? I'd say 20 bucks a day is fair.


 COMMENT 533844P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-08 03:41 PM

Honestly, boarding any pet unless you have absolutely NO other way to have it cared for during your time away from home is almost cruel.

Think about your pet locked inside a small kennel for the entire time you're away. It's another story if it's a dog, the place is really nice, people play for hours per day with Fido & the it's is free to run/roam in a large yard.

Getting a person to check in daily on your pets is far more humane & gives the owner a huge bit of relief.


 COMMENT 533939 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-08 10:12 PM

Way late in the game, but I charge $20/day plus any food that's in the house for house and dog/ misc animal sitting. I only work for friends. Usually that only covers my extra fuel but I also look at the electrical system and depending on my schedule I make some upgrades so I actually lose money taking care of their house, plants and pets.


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