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Passionate experience junkie. Lover of the arts and architecture. Want to see and share the world, one village at a time.

The Language of House Sitting – What does “Variable Dates” mean?

So you’re interested in house sitting and you spend some time looking through the posts for house sits — like the one above. Most of them have dates that tell you when the assignment starts and ends, May 15th to July 20th, for instance. But then you see some that don’t have a start and end date for the assignment – only the term “variable dates” — just like the one above.

What does “variable dates” mean?

“Variable dates” means that the homeowners travel frequently. They may give information in their post that helps you know when and for how long. Their wording may be something like this: “We’ll be traveling in January and April for 4 weeks each time.” Or: “We go away for long weekends throughout the year.”

Don’t simply fly by the listings that say “variable dates.” Their circumstances may just mesh nicely with yours. Some assignments are too perfect to pass by. The location is right, the home looks comfortable, and the assignment resonates with you. I say contact them! Don’t be discouraged by “variable dates.” Here are some possible scenarios in which the “variable dates” situation can work for you:

  1. This situation is nice if you want a get-away relatively close to home or near relatives. House sit once or several times a year.
  2. Keep their information on record for your future travel.
  3. Use the homeowner’s travel flexibility by fitting their schedule to yours – and not the other way around which house sitting so often is. Most of the time, we house sitters wrangle our travel dates to fit homeowners’ itineraries.

House sitting travel

How to contact homeowners for a “variable dates” assignment

Your professional introduction letter will be very similar to any you’d write for a house sitting assignment, but with this addition: after you introduce yourself, add a paragraph or two about your situation and your wishes.

Here is an excerpt from one of my introduction letters to a homeowner:

“Most importantly is the fact that we are not looking to house sit right now. We are committed in our present house sitting assignment until March of 2013. What I am hoping is that we can start a conversation — a relationship — so that in the future when you need a house sitter that we may be on your list of people to contact.”

The homeowner to whom I sent the above letter replied:


Hi Josie and Conrad,

Thank you for your interest and yes please do get in touch when you

are available again.

Warm wishes,



(And by the way, this is a tactic that can be used on ANY house sitting assignment – even ones that have specific dates stated. Maybe you want to house sit a year from the dates they have listed. Many people go away the same time every year and so you can just be a year early in applying for the assignment. Or you simply want to be on each other’s radar for the future.)

How I use the “variable dates” scenario:
  1. I love spread sheets! I keep a spread sheet of all those homeowners whom I’ve contacted and want to keep in touch. I list name, location and any other notes on them. That way I have all my possibilities in one click.
  2. The best part of this is that I feel more in control. When we are ready to travel, I already have a list of homeowners to contact. Some homeowners plan their vacations around when I am available.
  3. Conrad and I are fortunate enough to be contacted by homeowners directly to see if we are available to house sit for them. Those folks go on the spread sheet, too.

Whatever your method is for winning the best house sitting assignments, I hope you’ll take a closer look at the “variable dates” listings and use them to your traveling advantage.

Want to read more tips on house sitting? Click here.

I wish you happy and safe travels always and all ways.


House Sitting Travel

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10 Responses to “The Language of House Sitting – What does “Variable Dates” mean?”

  1. Hi Josie, I liked your article. I’m a newbie housesitter and have wondered how to approach the ‘variable dates’ assignments. Thanks for the helpful hints!

    January 20, 2013 at 7:57 pm Reply
    • Hi Angela — and welcome! You’ve just made my day. So happy to be of help to you. Wishing you happy and safe travels,

      January 21, 2013 at 6:58 am Reply
  2. I wish housesitting were in the cards for us, but my husband likes his day job, so I think I would be hard-pressed to sell the idea to him. However, my #2 Boomlet is a Miami based rolling stone, so I will share your blog with him.
    Just One Boomer (Suzanne) recently posted..Key West, Florida – The Literal End of the Road (Or Maybe the Beginning)My Profile

    January 23, 2013 at 10:47 pm Reply
    • Hi Suzanne,
      Thank you for stopping by, commenting, and passing along my blog to your son. I appreciate you! As for you and your husband, I know there’s no lack of travel adventures behind and ahead of you, so I’ll cut you some slack in terms of house sitting. 🙂
      Wishing you happy and safe travels!

      January 24, 2013 at 7:35 am Reply
  3. What a useful article, I was a bit hesistant of the ‘variable dates’ listings at first but often it meant they were happy to work around when we were free. Also even if we were not able to do all of their dates they were happy to use us for when we were available. On occasion some people just forget to update their listings with the dates. Our best housesits have been those that had variable dates listed so we certainly do not go past them now!
    Louise Holder recently posted..Hello there!My Profile

    January 24, 2013 at 9:35 am Reply
    • Hi Louise,
      Welcome and thank you for stopping in! I’m so glad to know others are using the “variable dates” situation to their advantage. You sound like you’re managing well with in this house sitting system. I wish you happy and safe travels,

      January 24, 2013 at 6:47 pm Reply
  4. Variable dates are on my radar. Personally I have not had many replies from Variable Daters, but as you point out there is definitely the possibility of it working in the house-sitter’s favour.
    budget jan recently posted..Fantastic Friday – Dry Gulch Provincial Park Campfire HeavenMy Profile

    April 21, 2013 at 9:37 pm Reply
    • Hi Jan,
      Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate your comments!

      April 22, 2013 at 7:39 am Reply
  5. Really great tip Josie! I too have been known to ‘skim’ the variable dates, but won’t do it in future!
    Jodie recently posted..OH NO… I broke something!My Profile

    June 30, 2014 at 12:13 pm Reply
    • Hey Jodie,
      I’m honored to be able to give YOU a tip!
      Wishing you safe and happy travels,

      July 1, 2014 at 7:49 am Reply

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