Will work for money
September 10, 2008 9:05 AM   Subscribe

How much should I charge for pet-, house-, and baby-sitting?

I'm a grad student trying to make some extra cash in the evenings and weekends while still being able to maintain a flexible schedule. I have lots of experience baby-sitting/nannying, as well as house- and pet-sitting for neighbors and friends. As a nanny I usually ask between $10-15 an hour, depending, but I have no idea what to charge for pet- and house-sitting, as they have often been done in exchange for goods or favors. What is the going rate, if you use my baby-sitting rate as a baseline (which I am amenable to raising, if it is deemed necessary)?

PS. This doesn't need to factor in a lot of traveling, as I live in a small college town, and will not take clients outside of said town (due to fuel costs and lack of time).

P.P.S. If you have any tips on how to best manage advertising myself (outside of flyers, craigslist, and local papers), or any other tips in managing this kind of work, those would be appreciated too!
posted by greta simone to Work & Money (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
When I used to pet/house sit (staying at the house), I charged just below what it would cost to board the pet, which was around $25/day for one pet.

Here's a Durham pet-sitter's rates for just visiting.
posted by Stewriffic at 9:12 AM on September 10, 2008

We decide what to pay our pet sitters based on what it would cost to board the animals. For instance, if the pet sitter stays at our house (which we prefer), they get around $30/day (to care for the dog and the cat, and in some cases includes use of our car, but always use of the house, computer, well stocked food, whatever). These are college aged or grad students. Boarding the two animals would cost around $40/day, so it seems fair to us.

When people just let the dog out during the day and at night and don't stay at the house, we pay about half that - but it's usually to the neighbor kid.
posted by dpx.mfx at 9:13 AM on September 10, 2008

Pet sitting seems to be $25/day.
posted by k8t at 9:15 AM on September 10, 2008

My experience was a few years ago, though. As I was thinking through it just now after posting, I think that if you're staying over at their house, $25/night without pets would be good, and if you're house-sitting somewhere that there are pets (and staying there), then up the rate $10-15 per pet or so.
posted by Stewriffic at 9:17 AM on September 10, 2008

We just paid our friend's teen son $100 for a week of pet-sitting, which involved coming over to feed our cats and change their litter box. We left him sodas and chips (which he didn't eat even though we told him they were for him, because he didn't want to take advantage, what a great kid) and of course he was free to play the PS3, Xbox360 and Wii while we were gone, but I felt it was a bargain and he was happy to make money (saving up for a new guitar). If you were watching dogs, which entails more time with walking them at least once, usually twice a day, I would think $20 a day is reasonable. $25 may make them think, "I'll just board the pets," because there is more insurance that way, more supervision, and it's only a little more.

House sitting is tougher, because unless you are staying there all you really have to do is get the mail, make sure the doors are locked when you come in and out, turn on/off a few lights. I wouldn't think more then $10 a day just to look in on someone's place.
posted by misha at 9:27 AM on September 10, 2008

I was recently clued in to Care.com, a new website which will let you advertise all 3 of those services to people in your area. I was on the opposite end, looking for people who might potentially be pet sitters, and it was really nice to see the photos, read the descriptions and rates, and even check out the sitters' weekly schedules. It might be something worth checking out.
posted by theantikitty at 9:39 AM on September 10, 2008

The going rate in the Washington, DC area (in my experience) has been about $35/night for petsitting, plus you get to eat whatever food you find.
posted by KAS at 10:06 AM on September 10, 2008

My experience (both as someone doing the sitting, and someone paying the sitter) is that the prices vary a lot by location, and from person to person.

So around here pet-sitting (with the person staying in the house) costs about $20/day, and if they are just visiting once a day to feed a cat and empty the litter box it's about $10/day (housesitting is much more variable, depending on how luxurious it is, how much work the sitter is expected to do, and so on). But some pet sitters charge almost double that as part of a more "professional" service (meaning mostly that they do this pretty much full-time, and are pretty much guaranteeing availability), while you can also hire a university student for a lot less because they are happy to get out of the dorms and stay in a house with free laundry machines and a well-stocked fridge.

In other words, you don't have to match the lowest priced competitor; you can charge more as long as you can justify that price. Things like CPR certification (which they even offer for pets now, no kidding), glowing references, and so on are ways to be able to charge more.

I've always found word of mouth to be the critical way to find a sitter (or, when I was doing that kind of work, to get hired). To be honest, I would never hire a random person based on an advertisement — if I am giving someone the keys to my house and trusting them with plants/pets/children/whatever, it will be someone who came strongly recommended by someone I know and trust.

Meaning, your current and former clients are your best sources of new clients. Make sure to give them some business cards that they can give to a friend, and tell them directly "I am looking for more sitting jobs, so if you hear of anything please let me know, ok?"

In grad school, it is possible to spend semesters and even entire years living rent-free as a house/pet sitter for faculty on sabbaticals — again, those usually are handled word of mouth, rather than with advertisements (though some do get advertised on bulletin boards and via email), and having someone to vouch for you is important.
posted by Forktine at 11:05 AM on September 10, 2008

In San Francisco, it's $40-50 per day.
posted by judith at 4:37 PM on September 10, 2008

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