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A Room With A Dog

Close-up of a golden retriever sleeping with a kitten

A Room With A Dog

View from a window of a valley of homes covered in snow.
We have stayed in some beautiful homes with
even more beautiful views.

We found out about Trusted Housesitters from my brother-in-law and signed up when we began our digital nomad adventure in January 2023. We were thinking we would use this in Europe, but that was not meant to be, as it requires more flexibility than we had then. 
When we got back to Reno over the summer, we paid more attention to it and we are now big fans. 

It’s kind of a combination of Airbnb and dating apps, where you can explore the city you want to visit to find people who live there and need pet/house-sitters. You apply, and if you’re a match, you stay in their house and take care of their pets. The best part? You don’t pay them to stay there, and they don’t pay you. 

There is one annual fee (less than $200) for your membership, which includes a background check (on both sides). There are also places for reviews, so you don’t accidentally end up taking care of Cujo. 

Since we started paying a mortgage in October for a flat we don’t get to live in yet, we were motivated to get creative in finding cheap lodging, and this has worked out perfectly. In addition to the friends we have sat for, we are now on our third Trusted Housesitter match, and we have one more before we head back to Portugal in February. 

Getting to Know Each Other

The basics are usually covered in their Trusted Housesitter profiles, like when garbage day is and contact information for their vets, as well as what medications their dogs take and how often they get fed. 

We’re not sharing pictures of the actual animals we sit for, to protect their privacy. But we have loved all of them!

Just like with Airbnb and dating profiles, there is always more to know. While in Reno, we have a lot of other commitments, so we would not be a good fit for an apartment dog that needs to be let out every time they need to pee. We are committed to walking every day though, so we appreciate regular dog walks. We also look at where in the city the house is located so we can plan around our other commitments. 

When my niece, who works at an emergency vet, found out what we were doing, she recommended asking for a note from the owners giving us permission to take their dogs to the vet, just in case that becomes necessary. Pipes can freeze in Reno in the winter, so we always ask where the water shut-off is as well. 

On our list of things to ask is if it’s okay if we use their appliances. So far everyone has said yes, but you never know. Sometimes we like to have our kids over when we’re in Reno, so we ask if that’s okay. Perhaps most importantly, we ask if their dogs are allowed on the furniture. This one is really important since the dogs themselves are not always honest about it. 

If you decide to do this, you’ll have your own questions, and don’t be afraid to ask them. As we’ve discovered through Airbnb and dating apps, the questions and answers you receive are the key to success. 

Horses grazing on a lawn in a suburban neighborhood.
We’ve had some interesting “neigh”bors at some of our house-sits.

More Tips for an Ideal House-Sit

Hosts will usually let you know if they have left behind perishable food that needs to be eaten. If we use anything else of theirs, we replace it before we go. We also wash our sheets and towels and remake the bed on our last day. Our goal is for them to come home and not see any sign that we were ever there, except for a happy pet or two. This means if you break something, let them know and offer to pay for it or replace it. Remember that they’re leaving you a review as well.

If you’re exploring a city that is new to you, your hosts can also give recommendations on shopping, transportation and other necessities, just like you would get from your Airbnb hosts. 

Now that we have some experience with this, as well as a few reviews, we’re ready to try it out when we get back to Europe. We’ll have more flexibility then, so we can look at the cities we’re interested in and plan our visits around available house-sits in those areas. 

If you’re interested in exploring this for yourself, click here and use the code “WANDERFUL25” to get a 25% discount. We’ll also receive a small commission when you use our link. 

Let us know what questions you have so you can determine if this is right for you!

Jackie Shelton, APR, is a strategic communications veteran who, after 30 years still has a hard time focusing on one particular aspect, so she has stopped trying.

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