Adventures While House Sitting



Nov. 7th, 2012

Hi, I just found you on the web tonight and I wonder if you could give me an opinion, since you both have lived in the area of Lake Atitlan. In fact, it’s possible you know of the property/property owner. I am considering a 5-6 week house sit in Jabilito for Jan-Feb. The deal is, well it’s not sounding like such a great deal at all at this point. But I want to know what you think, please. The owner wants her dog looked after and catered to over that period; I must be home every night, plus water the garden, handle the hired help. For that, I get a place to stay, with the dog limitation, but I pay for any wood I use plus gas and electric, water, etc. You all are experienced house sitters. Does that sound pretty slated in favor of the property owner to you? Salle



Hi Salle,

Sounds like you could be up for an adventure! Every housesitting experience is so different. What we have learned about housesitting for expats is that they often feel as though they are providing you with a 'life experience' at a fraction of the cost of what someone on vacation would pay. So it is wise to do your homework before accepting a position in a touristy/Eco area.

Jabilito is in a nice sunny location and even though it will be January/February you will get a lot of sun. It should be pleasantly warm during the day. You may need a fire in the evening but the mornings will warm up as soon as the sun hits the house. You probably won’t need much firewood, but I would ask the homeowner to have what he/she thinks you’ll need in place. Getting supplies to the property can be a big hassle and an additional expense.

As far as paying household expenses goes, here are a few thoughts; if the water is for the garden and pumped up from the lake then no, I wouldn't pay for the gas to run the pump especially at that time of year…dry season.  The propane (cooking gas), electric and drinking water are inexpensive so paying for those won’t cost you much. I would ask the owner to have a two month supply of propane and a month’s supply of water already on the property for you so at least you don't have the hassle of transporting it or ask if he/she will arrange to have the hired help purchase and transport supplies for you upon your request.

If you really want to experience the region then the expenses of fuels, utilities and the water you’ll use are well worth the cost. I'd just pay it. Living on the lake will be worth every penny.

As for having to be back every night, all Central/South American countries have a high crime rate particularly in touristy areas, so security is probably the owner’s top priority. You might want to clarify exactly what type of commitment they are asking of you.

If the dog has a yard and does not need special meds or treatments then there shouldn't be too much to do. However, I wouldn't agree to take the dog to the villages with you.  The villages are full of stray dogs and many like to fight, not to mention they are riddled with skin diseases and parasites. Also, I’d be sure all the food and dog supplies needed are there for you when you arrive or that the ‘help’ will be taking care of that for you.

Will you be covering the cost of phone, internet, and cable? And will you need to go into town to pay the homeowners monthly contracts? If so maybe he/she will agree to let you use the services for free or split the costs since you will have to pay for transport and take the time to run errands for them. Killing two birds with one stone i.e. tying your errand schedule together with their errands doesn’t always work.

As for the hired help, I would ask the home owner how long they have been employed and are they able to work independently for the most part or do you have to work side by side with them. If you have to work more than 2 hours a day with them then the homeowner probably should cover ALL the household expenses and you would cover your own food, cell and transportation costs. If you buy a separate TIGO for internet, then that should come out of your pocket as well.

Is the homeowner paying for your long distance travel to and from the lake? I wouldn’t expect that, but if they are then if I were you I would certainly agree to cover the utilities/home expenses.

Hopes this helps with your decision making process, I'd love to hear how it goes. Keep us posted and no, we don't know anyone in Jabilito. Sincerely, Cassy


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