In addition to protecting our own property, there
is not a huge demand to board pets. Ticos let them
fend for themselves when they go on holiday. So before we leave,
it's important we take steps to insure the condition of our home
and pooches are the same state as when we left. To accomplish
this, we use the services of a house sitter.
The role of a house sitter is fairly simple...
they live in your house and maintain it just as you would if you
were living there. As in our case, the house sitter is
also responsible for keeping an eye on Úpe and Ashka and treating
them with love, affection and nourishment until we return.
House sitters come in two flavors... Fee Based
and Freebie. Depending on where you live can make all the
difference between whether or not you PAY or not. In our
case, offering our house with it's pool and 5 minute walk to the
beach makes it highly unlikely that we have to pay for a house
Last year, Fran and I met a couple who were house
sitting in San Ramon for our old neighbors while they vacationed in Europe.
Star and husband Richard, to gringos who lived in the Heartland
of the U.S., did a fantastic job watching over their place and
taking care of their pets. They even washed and
waxed our neighbor's car before their return. How cool is
that? We were so impressed with their service they were
the first one's we called when we were thinking about traveling
to the US.
I initially sent them an email saying we were
"thinking" of going to the US in late October for 3 weeks.
Would they be interested in coming to Costa Rica and house/dog
sitting while we did our thing. Within minutes we got a
YEAH! Just tell us the dates and we'll get our tickets!"
Now that's what we wanted to hear. Star and
Richard have been in country now for a few weeks doing some
preliminary vacation stuff and they will be here on the 19th of
October. That gives us a chance to acquaint them with the
house, our neighbors etc. They will even drive us to the
Had this couple not worked out, we had several
requests from other friends who were looking to volunteer for
the job of watching our home and doggies for three weeks at the beach.
The first time we used a house sitter was when we
lived in San Ramon. We hired a gringo couple, friends of
ours, who have a small business dedicate to this niche. We
were gone for four days, were charged $13 day and returned to a
clean house and a happy dog. What more can you ask?
It can be a daunting task, hiring someone to
house sit for you. You are putting all your trust into the
hands of (potentially) a total stranger. Whenever
possible, know the person who will be house sitting for you.
But if you can't, here are some criteria that Fran and I use
when making a selection.
Use couples (preferably)
50 years of age or more
Non-drinkers or light drinkers
Non-smokers or very discreet smokers (outside
Have rock solid, verifiable, local references
Although we trust our gut instinct and sometimes
you can tell if someone IS or IS NOT right for the job, it is mandatory that you have the opportunity to
chat with any prospective house sitter on the phone or in person
before you engage their services.
We allow a house sitter free run of our home.
If you trust someone, you generally don't need to place things
under lock and key. A good house sitter will be respectful
of your privacy and generally provide for their own consumptive
needs. Identify daily tasks you need performed. In
The pool pump needs to run for about
4 hours each day. It should be turned off by
10:30 am before the electric rates jump up.
They are free to use Air Conditioning
but since we have split units (one in each room)
only use the AC in one room at a time. Also,
we request that temperature is set no colder than
Sitter is free to use our car for
trips to the market and other related errands
House alarm is to be set if they are
leaving for more than 1 hour
Pets are to be cared for in the same
manner in which we treat them. This generally
means a daily trip to the beach.
The House Sitter
Create a list of names and phone
numbers of key contacts they may call in the event
of an emergency.
Introduce your house sitter to key
Provide code for house alarm and
instructions on how to activate/deactivate it
Leave instructions on how to use TV
and internet (if necessary)
Establish an agreed upon hiding place
to leave your key in the event you house sitter
leaves before you return
Place keys and flashlights in an easy
to find location
Prepare any instructions regarding
pet care needs including vet contact data.
Make sure you have adequate amount of
food and medicine for your pet during your absence
It's a good idea to have house sitter
arrive at least 24 hours before your departure,
thereby allowing a smooth transition to their role.
Create a list of nearby restaurants
if sitter is unfamiliar with the area