At home with sitters?

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Do 'secret' smokers make good housesitters?

Dear Jaclyn and Heidi,

My wife and I are soon off on a six-month trip around Australia. We have three dogs, two cats and an aquarium. We decided to advertise for qualified housesitters/pet sitters to look after our property. However, our good friends said their young niece and her husband, who were waiting for their house to be built, would jump at the op­portunity. We thought it was the perfect solution and immediately said: ‘yes’. However, we have since met the couple and were far from impressed. They seemed pretty rough and, although they said they were non-smokers, they reeked of tobacco. I don’t want to let this couple down or risk upsetting my friends … but I would be worried sick if I left them in charge of my home.

What a pickle. I’m not sure how soon it is before you set off but I would use the time to nail down as many details of the arrangement as possible. Invite this couple over regularly to show them around your home and stress show much you love the house and the pets who live there. I find it hard to believe that your friends would recom­mend people to live in your house unless they had total confidence in them. It is never easy handing over the keys of your ‘home’ to anybody, even people you know well. This is probably just pre-trip nerves, Spencer. Nonetheless, it pays to take all possible precautions and to stress repeatedly that yours is a non-smoking home. Have you got family members who can pop in occasionally just to reassure you?

Spencer, Spencer, Spencer! An Australian is definitely king or queen in his or her own castle. Your house, your rules. If you don’t like the look of this couple then, for heaven’s sake, don’t give them the run of your place. Being rough around the edges isn’t a crime but don’t leave peo­ple you aren’t comfortable with in charge of your menagerie. It is natural that, in the early part of your trip, you will have a few niggling concerns before life on the road fully takes over … but the welfare of your furry (and scaly) family shouldn’t be one of them. Make some excuse to the couple, explain your feel­ings to your friends, and make other arrangements for your house while you are gone. The Big Lap’s too short to waste any of it on avoidable worries.


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