Join Early Retirement Today
Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
house watcher when extensive traveling
Old 01-01-2015, 01:47 PM   #1
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
2017ish's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 1,843
house watcher when extensive traveling

This is something that a lot of people on this site have to deal with: who watches the house when you are out of the area for month (or more) at a time?

I've seen housecarers.com mentioned a few times, especially for those with pets. Does it also work decently well for just a house?

We live near a flyover metro area that is a fairly popular travel/relocation destination. Our house has no real neighbors (acreage), no relatives for hundreds of miles, and our small handful of reasonably close friends in the area live 1/2 hour or so away in various directions. Although we have become pet-free in anticipation of retirement traveling, we wonder/worry about: 1) the very occasional bill in the mail (probably get mail diverted to a bookkeeper, or to a son?); 2) broken windows, fallen trees on roof, dead deer on driveway, etc.; and 3) burglar/fire alarm calls.

We could get the guy who hunts our property to do it in the appropriate seasons, I suppose, but that leaves a lot of the year.

Any thoughts or experiences would be appreciated--although as you can see by my signature line, there is no particular hurry.
__________________

__________________
OMY * 3 2ish Done 7.28.17
2017ish is offline   Reply With Quote
Join the #1 Early Retirement and Financial Independence Forum Today - It's Totally Free!

Are you planning to be financially independent as early as possible so you can live life on your own terms? Discuss successful investing strategies, asset allocation models, tax strategies and other related topics in our online forum community. Our members range from young folks just starting their journey to financial independence, military retirees and even multimillionaires. No matter where you fit in you'll find that Early-Retirement.org is a great community to join. Best of all it's totally FREE!

You are currently viewing our boards as a guest so you have limited access to our community. Please take the time to register and you will gain a lot of great new features including; the ability to participate in discussions, network with our members, see fewer ads, upload photographs, create a retirement blog, send private messages and so much, much more!

Old 01-01-2015, 02:51 PM   #2
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
Senator's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Eagan, MN
Posts: 3,045
I was thinking of getting a roommate. Charge not too much, and they get a place. It generates some additional income too.
__________________

__________________
FIRE no later than 7/5/2016 at 56 (done), securing '16 401K match (done), getting '15 401K match (done), LTI Bonus (done), Perf bonus (done), maxing out 401K (done), picking up 1,000 hours to get another year of pension (done), July 1st benefits (vacation day, healthcare) (done), July 4th holiday. 0 days left. (done) OFFICIALLY RETIRED 7/5/2016!!
Senator is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 01-01-2015, 03:01 PM   #3
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 1,103
Our situation was motivated more by pet care. With two dogs and a cat, it can get pricey at the kennel and I've always felt guilty sending them to jail. Our trips are general around 3 weeks. We've found two house/pet sitting ladies that were highly recommended by a former coworker (he has 5 dogs!).

We've done this three times now and it works great for us. It was hard getting around the idea of strangers living in the house, but as they were highly recommended it's worked very well and no problems. It's really nice to come home to the pets already here, no stress on them. Then there's the problem at kennels that they're closed on holidays/Sundays and pickup drop off is complicated or necessitates extra days. Our ladies charge $40 a day, I throw in extra and it's still way less and more better than the kennel at ~$70 a day. Yeah, I'm a sucker for the extra "play time" when they're in jail.
__________________
H2ODude is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 01-01-2015, 03:33 PM   #4
Moderator
Sarah in SC's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Charleston, SC
Posts: 13,456
We travel a good bit and have used housecarers, friends stopping by, and now a roommate. All have different pros and cons. I'd say that the roommate is the easiest by far.

Depending on how long you go, you can find some great housesitters who would enjoy your rural location and the chance to explore your hometown. We generally look for folks with specific pet experience and interest because of the multi pet household, but you will have an easier time with only the house to look after.

One thing I suggest is to write an honest but positive description of who and what you are looking for, while extolling the virtues of your particular area. With that, you should get a good response and can weed through the replies to find your perfect match.

One thing I will say is that it can be awkward if you have friends move in, we've had one awful experience, one so-so experience, and one good one. It takes a lot of diplomacy to share your living space if it has been a while since you had shared quarters.


Sent from my iPhone using Early Retirement Forum
__________________
“One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it's worth watching.”
Gerard Arthur Way

Sarah in SC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-01-2015, 03:41 PM   #5
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
zinger1457's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 1,452
It won't address all of your issues but having IP cameras that are set up inside and/or outside of your house might be helpful. You will have to keep the wifi network in your house up and running while you're away. It will give you the ability to monitor the cameras from anywhere using your cell phone or laptop. I only use it on the inside of my house but find it does give me some peace of mind to be able to check in on the house when I'm away from home for extended periods.

As for mail I always place my mail on hold at the post office. Their limit is 30 days but I have had no problems leaving it there for longer periods. I'm not worried about bills, I either have auto pay set up or I'm able to do it online.
__________________
zinger1457 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-01-2015, 05:39 PM   #6
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 3,697
Quote:
Originally Posted by zinger1457 View Post
It won't address all of your issues but having IP cameras that are set up inside and/or outside of your house might be helpful. You will have to keep the wifi network in your house up and running while you're away. It will give you the ability to monitor the cameras from anywhere using your cell phone or laptop. ]
We do that. We keep one camera trained on an inside thermometer in case the furnace were to fail. Our furnace guy has a key.

We also have a neighbor drop in every other day.
__________________
Living well is the best revenge!
Retired @ 52 in 2005
marko is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-01-2015, 05:45 PM   #7
Full time employment: Posting here.
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 570
We have house sat and have had house sitters at our house. In fact, we have a house sitting job set up for March. We have registered on a national site but the one time we agreed on an assignment, the home owner had a change of plans. We are not registered now since we would not be available for a while.

Our experience started when we were about to move to a position outside of the USA and sold our house before it all came together. We have probably house sat 6+ times. Some were friends, some total strangers. We have had house sitters on 4 occasions. One was technically a roommate.

As far as I know, the folks we stayed with were happy with our service. And, we appreciated how the home owners treated us before and after the 'job'. We were very pleased in 3 of 4 of our house-sitters. We were not as happy with one of them. But, he was OK. Two of our house-sitters were down on their luck. One was a family the other a single guy. Not poor, just some recent economic setbacks. We knew people who knew them. In addition to our roommate, who simply lived there and expanded some of her responsibilities, there was a young man looking to move to town. He was dating the daughter of a friend (they are now married). House-sitting gave him the opportunity to live near her, get a job, etc. I think in all cases, except our roommate who continue to pay her share, we asked them to pay utilities and cable. We have paid utilities on some jobs and nothing on others. It depended on the length of job and responsibilities. Our March job will be dog sitting and we will not have any out-of-pocket costs.

As far as our house sitting, some of the people had pets/chores like shoveling/lawn care so they needed someone there. Another home owner, just did not want to leave their home empty. The one time we felt the most needed, beyond the pets, was when a pipe burst. That was taken care of as soon as we heard the water dripping, causing no damage just a plumbing bill.

I do not have any suggestions about how to hire a house sitter beyond the usual recommendations and interview process. I do think the homeowner must be trusting, once the hiring decision is made and not be married to their stuff. Something might break/marked/stained as a result of an accident or coincidental timing, while the house-sitter is there. If you do not think you can live with that, a house-sitter may not be for you.
__________________
davef is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-01-2015, 05:46 PM   #8
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
Amethyst's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 5,874
What do you do for the neighbor, that they are willing to do that for you? I can't imagine our neighbors bothering. It would mean they might have to walk a few steps!


Amethyst

Quote:
Originally Posted by marko View Post
We do that. We keep one camera trained on an inside thermometer in case the furnace were to fail. Our furnace guy has a key.

We also have a neighbor drop in every other day.
__________________
If you understood everything I say, you'd be me ~ Miles Davis
'There is only one success – to be able to spend your life in your own way.’ Christopher Morley.
Amethyst is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-01-2015, 06:09 PM   #9
Moderator
Ronstar's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: A little ways southwest of Chicago
Posts: 9,341
Quote:
Originally Posted by zinger1457 View Post
It won't address all of your issues but having IP cameras that are set up inside and/or outside of your house might be helpful. You will have to keep the wifi network in your house up and running while you're away. It will give you the ability to monitor the cameras from anywhere using your cell phone or laptop. I only use it on the inside of my house but find it does give me some peace of mind to be able to check in on the house when I'm away from home for extended periods.

As for mail I always place my mail on hold at the post office. Their limit is 30 days but I have had no problems leaving it there for longer periods. I'm not worried about bills, I either have auto pay set up or I'm able to do it online.
We have the same - IP cameras and hold mail. I'm going to try something in addition next trip - run Evocam off my iMac camera aimed at a thermometer on my desk. I'll monitor this online to and call the heating guy if the temp takes a dive
__________________
Ronstar is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-01-2015, 06:32 PM   #10
Full time employment: Posting here.
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: northern Michigan
Posts: 732
We do several things when we are gone for a couple months. We have a neighbor down the street stop by the house every few days to generally check on things. I do pay him a small amount to do this. He has the phone number for the furnace guy, if the furnace ever goes out. I also have a temp. monitoring device that has two sensors.......I put one upstairs, and one in the basement. As long as the router is left plugged in while we are gone, I can check on the temp. in both locations anytime (with my laptop or smartphone) by going to the website for the monitoring device and logging in. You can also set it up so that it will send you an email or text alert if the temp. goes outside of your defined temp. range. Seems to work well so far. As someone else said, I have the post office hold my mail for two months, and I pay all bills online while we're gone (except the ones I pay in advance before we depart). If you are worried about possibly getting an important piece of mail while you are gone, you could designate someone (friend, neighbor) to go to the post office and pick up your mail once every couple weeks or so, and go through it for important first class mail. If anything important does show up, they could simply forward it to you.

I don't think I would want anyone living in my house while we are gone, but I suppose that's an option - if you could find a very trustworthy person who would be willing to do that.
__________________
RAE is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-01-2015, 06:49 PM   #11
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 8,616
My neighbors have friends of their son living in their home while they are away. The young men are nice, but some folks in the neighborhood think they party too much, smoke too much marijuana, play the drums too much, etc. At least the neighborhood folks now have somebody besides us to complain about.
__________________
LOL! is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-01-2015, 07:02 PM   #12
Moderator
Sarah in SC's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Charleston, SC
Posts: 13,456
Oh hey there, neighbor!
Just the drummer lives here, I swear!

Our last house sitters had to deal with the death of our ancient Pleco fish. He was 13 years old and huge. I did warn them that he wasn't doing well and is understand if something happened while we were away. They were a bit clingy, via email, reporting on all sorts of things, but I didn't really mind too much.

Anything major (like HVAC, plumbing, etc) I gave them my dad's number so he could come deal with it. I'd be less comfortable expecting housesitters to deal with that stuff, honestly. Rather have someone else they can call who knows local tradesmen.


Sent from my iPhone using Early Retirement Forum
__________________
“One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it's worth watching.”
Gerard Arthur Way

Sarah in SC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-01-2015, 07:26 PM   #13
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 5,326
We have always paid a neighborhood teenager or young adult still living at home to take in the mail and keep an eye on the house. They can ask their parents for help if anything major goes wrong. We've been taking the dog with us since we got him or traveling when one of the kids is around to watch him.

Our long term plan when the kids are launched is to move to a more lock and go condo or townhouse.
__________________
daylatedollarshort is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-01-2015, 07:32 PM   #14
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
NW-Bound's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 19,396
My sister and my children do not live far from my urban home, and they look out for us.

My other home is in the high country, where many homes belong to weekenders as 2nd homes. Break-ins occur, but they are rare. I befriend neighbors who are full-timers (one must be hermit-type to live full-time in a place like this ), and they watch out for me.
__________________
"Old age is the most unexpected of all things that can happen to a man" -- Leon Trotsky
NW-Bound is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 01-01-2015, 07:33 PM   #15
Moderator Emeritus
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 11,032
For us it's a little different as we live in a condo, so we don't have to worry about fallen trees and dead deers. When we travel, we have a pet sitter come once a day for our 2 cats. We have rigged the place with indoor cameras and sensors (DIY job) so we can keep an eye on things using our cell phones from anywhere in the world. Any maintenance issue can be referred to the concierge or building's maintenance crew with a simple email (they have they keys, we just need to fill an online form to authorize access).

We are traveling right now, but I can see that the cats are sound asleep on the couch (I check the camera feeds once or twice a day). The temperature in the living room is 66F. I'll turn on the heater using my phone if it gets below 65F. The pet sitter should be in any minute now and I'll get an alert when she opens the front door. Technology makes home monitoring so much easier.
__________________
FIREd is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 01-01-2015, 08:32 PM   #16
Dryer sheet wannabe
Patagonia's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by daylatedollarshort View Post
We have always paid a neighborhood teenager or young adult still living at home to take in the mail and keep an eye on the house. They can ask their parents for help if anything major goes wrong.

Our long term plan when the kids are launched is to move to a more lock and go condo or townhouse.

We have a dog, and pay a local teenager $10/day to come 2x daily and let the dog out and take her for a walk. The parents kind of keep an eye on things, make sure it gets done, etc. We live in a townhouse, so everything outside is taken care of. Put the mail on hold at the post office. (The teenagers are from families we know in the neighborhood)

Every once in a while we are gone for longer periods (4 months at a time), so we hire a graduate student to dog sit (the dog lives with her at her house), and pay her $75 a month. She loves the dog and still comes to visit periodically. We advertise on Craig's list and interview prospective dog sitters.
__________________
Patagonia is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-01-2015, 08:36 PM   #17
Dryer sheet wannabe
Patagonia's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by FIREd View Post
For us it's a little different as we live in a condo, so we don't have to worry about fallen trees and dead deers. When we travel, we have a pet sitter come once a day for our 2 cats. We have rigged the place with indoor cameras and sensors (DIY job) so we can keep an eye on things using our cell phones from anywhere in the world. Any maintenance issue can be referred to the concierge or building's maintenance crew with a simple email (they have they keys, we just need to fill an online form to authorize access).

We are traveling right now, but I can see that the cats are sound asleep on the couch (I check the camera feeds once or twice a day). The temperature in the living room is 66F. I'll turn on the heater using my phone if it gets below 65F. The pet sitter should be in any minute now and I'll get an alert when she opens the front door. Technology makes home monitoring so much easier.
FIREd...great ideas. Do you have a nest thermostat? How do you know the indoor temp? Also any suggestions for a DIY camera set up that can be manged via phone?
__________________
Patagonia is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-01-2015, 09:14 PM   #18
Moderator Emeritus
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 11,032
Quote:
Originally Posted by Patagonia View Post
FIREd...great ideas. Do you have a nest thermostat? How do you know the indoor temp? Also any suggestions for a DIY camera set up that can be manged via phone?
My system is not the most cost-effective because I am not a tech wizard. I wanted a system that could be set up quickly without messing with router and firewall settings.

My cameras are Dropcams. You can get them up and running under 5 minutes and the picture quality is very nice. They also offer 2-way audio capability. The live feed can be monitored for free from their iPhone app. But you can also subscribe monthly if you want the feed to be recorded offsite for future review (I don't).

I use a SmartThings hub to control my various door and temperature sensors (SmartSense multi sensors). I have smart switches to control lights and small appliances (SmartThings SmartPower outlets). This whole system was set up in less than 30 minutes using their monitoring iPhone app.

We don't have a whole house heating system since it rarely gets really cold where we live. So we have no central thermostat. I have an oil-filled radiator plugged into one of the SmartPower outlets. We may have to run it for a few hours in the rare instances when the indoor temperature drops below 65F (it has not happened yet this winter). But I would definitely get a nest thermostat if I had any use for it.
__________________
FIREd is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 01-01-2015, 10:08 PM   #19
Recycles dryer sheets
shortstop14's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 219
Interesting about the SmartThings hub - I'm going to check that out.

We've got a suburban home. We monitor all of our entrances with a DropCam, which has worked fine for multiple month trips. It sends an alert if any movement is detected, and it's easy to watch the feed on a smartphone.

Usually the dog stays with one of a couple of friends that are willing to dog-sit for a reasonable price. Post office holds the mail, and bills are all set up to paid automatically, I just need to pay the charge card bill online. And a neighbor keeps an eye on things.
__________________
shortstop14 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-01-2015, 11:05 PM   #20
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
Ed_The_Gypsy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: the City of Subdued Excitement
Posts: 5,292
We have been on a job outside the country for four years. DS dropped out of college (without telling us ), but has been in residence and we have been paying him to take care of things. We are very conflicted about this. We want him to get launched but it has been very convenient for us.
__________________

__________________
my bumpersticker:
"I am not in a hurry.
I am retired.
And I don't care how big your truck is."
Ed_The_Gypsy is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Retired at 50 - now traveling the USA brooksr Hi, I am... 3 04-09-2007 09:53 AM
Plan for Affordable Extensive International Travel Slarty Life after FIRE 9 02-24-2007 06:28 PM
How do people secure their homes while traveling (especially in winter)? magellan_nh Life after FIRE 40 02-11-2007 04:57 PM
Picking The Right Souvenirs When Traveling Danny Other topics 10 08-30-2006 07:51 AM

 

 
All times are GMT -6. The time now is 10:38 AM.
 
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.