Should I pay my housesitter?

I need a marriage ref. We have an acquaintance staying at our house while we’re out of town. She’s visiting from California, so she needed a place to stay (we live in Hawaii). So she’s got a free place to stay for her vacation. However, she is watering a ton of our plants and taking care of our 2 cats.

My husband thinks we shouldn’t pay her because she gets a free place to stay while we’re gone, but I disagree. Thoughts?

Did you invite her because you are out of town and needed someone to watch the house, so she decided to make a vacation out of it? Or was she planning the vacation already, and watching your house works out best for both of you?

If the former, then yes, you should pay her some small amount. If this was already a planned vacation, then having free lodging is more than payment enough. Watering plants and feeding cats are small tasks compared to a free place to stay.

ETA: I reported this to be moved to IMHO - no big deal OP, but you’ll get better responses in that forum.

My first thought is that this really belongs in IMHO rather than General Questions so I would recommend a Moderator move this.

As far as the question goes, when I have had similar situations occur where I wasn’t sure (as what you describe), I usually get a gift card to help with groceries appropriate for the length of time they are there (say $100 a week), which is a nice compromise to paying them.

When I have had someone housesit and take care of our pets, I paid them $30 a day for their trouble.

Moderator Action

Welcome to the SDMB, crazydiamondd.

General Questions is for questions with factual answers. Questions that seek advice and opinions go in the In My Humble Opinion (IMHO) forum. You don’t have to do anything. I will move the thread for you.

Moving thread from General Questions to In My Humble Opinion.

All I can say is that if you invited me to stay at your house in Hawaii - the LEAST I could do would be water some plants and feed the cats!

Paying me for it is both silly and it would be rude of me to take the money.

My thoughts: You and your husband should discuss and agree upon an amount. You should then offer it to her. If she accepts, keep a neutral expression and say “Thank You.”

If she refuses, politely offer it again and then let the matter drop if she again demurs.

She is getting a free place to stay while on vacation, so I’d imagine she’s saving a ton of money she would have had to spend on a hotel room . I’d say she’s getting a pretty sweet deal already… feeding the cats and watering plants surely doesn’t take that much of her time up does it?

Is she also free to generally eat from your fridge and use whatever else in your home?

I think it’s a fair exchange already anyway.

Yes you pay her. Since you have two animals that need care, she won’t be free to come and go as she pleases. Therefore, she should be compensated. Of course she could decline but I would certainly offer at least 25 dollars a day plus the lodging to take care of your pets.

These type of things are best worked out before you leave town and have the housesitter show up. Compensation isn’t always cash…it can be in the form of room and board, or chickens, or sex, or a myriad of other things.

Who spoke to your friend about coming and watching your house while you were gone? You or your husband? If money was never brought up, then you could offer them a cash tip when you return.

I think this is something you should’ve discussed with her when making the arrangements. It’s not just what you and your hubby think - she may have expectations, too. Hawaii or not, I’ve pet and house sat before and was paid for my time. If you both approached is as a swap, that’s one thing. If you said, “Do you want to be my housesitter while we’re gone?”, that would have connotations of employment.


Free place to stay in Hawaii? No payment is needed unless you are having her repave your driveway. Taking care of plants and cats is par for the course.

Depends on the arrangement. If she asked to stay at your place, and you just happened to be out of town at the time, then I wouldn’t expect any payment for taking care of the cats and watering the plants. Because you’ve given her a place to stay for free, she’s kind of interfering with your ability to arrange (and pay) someone else to do these things.

If, on the other hand, she was prepared to book an ocean front room at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, and you asked her instead to stay at your house, so that you’d have someone there to watch your pets, then I would expect payment. Personally, when I go to Hawaii, I want to stay at a great resort with a swimming pool and poolside service. Staying at your home is free, which is great and all, but not exactly the tropical vacation I’d be looking for.

I’ve had 2 different friends housesit for us at times while we’re on vacation. Now, these are really good friends, the kind you could call up at 2 AM if you’re in a jam. Both are single, and live in apartments. In both cases they thought it was a fair exchange to have a whole entire house to themselves, complete with laundry facilities. YMMV.

I housesat for a close friend of the family for a couple weeks. Payment was not talked about but they left some cash for emergencies, such as a whiskey shortage in the house. I did dip into it a bit but most was waiting for them when they came back.

I don’t think payment needs to be offered - this is a great example of both parties benefiting from a mutual agreement. That said, I’d give her something nice for housesitting for you when you get back - a gift card or a nice souvenir or something.

I agree with PunditLisa, it really depends on the initial conversation and how much this person is actually benefitting from staying at your house. If they had to arrange their dates around you, or the house isn’t convenient to where they want to visit, or they had some other housing option that they were perfectly happy with then they are doing you a favor and it would be appropriate to pay. If they were going to be in Hawaii anyhow, no particular plans and happen to like saving money … well AIUI hotels in Hawaii are expensive, it sounds like a great deal to me.

I personally would love an exchange like this (assuming we already had plans to be in Hawaii) and most likely I’d be happy to take you up on it. If there were some special circumstance (maybe we wanted to go on a few overnight trips too, or stay in a particular hotel) then I would have just said “Thanks, but I think we’ll just get a hotel” and no hard feelings.

$100 cash, and a T shirt, or other goofy souvenir, from wherever you are visiting. If she refuses the money, just give her the trinket, with your sincere thanks.

Let your husband stay out of it, if he’s not feeling it. Then, do what you feel is right.

Whether she accepts the money or not, everyone should be satisfied, I think. Doesn’t seem all that hard really.

As the housesitting party, I would be pondering if I should be getting a nice little thank you gift for you. A vacation in Hawaii without having to stay in a hotel, being able to easily do a load of laundry and fix my own meals sounds perfect.

I opened this thread with the intention of saying “Of course you pay your house sitter what kind of chiseler are you?” Then I read the OP and found that you live in Hawaii, and she is going there on vacation…

Unless her duties are so onerous that she won’t be able to get out and see the sights and chill on the beaches, it sounds like a perfect example of a win, win for all involved.

…And we can’t forget that Big Island is aptly named. (I assume the OPer lives on BI because many people also call it “Hawaii.”) Some areas of BI are several hours to the nearest sunny beach. Depending on where the OPer lives, and what the house guest likes to do, it can be an incredibly convenient or extremely inconvenient home base.