Holidays are the Best Time to Start House Sitting

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Lots of folks are interested in house sitting, but many don’t know how to get started. One of the barriers to getting selected by home owners is lack experience and references. If you dont have either, how do you get past that? Here is a strategy to help. During the holidays, there are often more people looking for help, than there are sitters available. This reduces the competition and leads home owners to consider those who may not have experience but have a flexible schedule. Additionally, sitting near where you live can be a great way to start. You can be more available for nearby sits, allowing you to accept offers with limited advance warning. In addition to local sitting opportunities, consider those that are within driving distance. Flying during the holidays can be a nightmare, but driving allows you to make your own schedule, even on the spur of the moment.

We started our house sitting career during the Thanksgiving holidays. A lovely family with a large, new home in the suburbs of Atlanta needed the their three sweet kitties taken care of for a week while they went to visit family six hundres miles away. They were also interested in their house being occupied during the holiday, as this is a notorious time for home burglary. They even graciously allowed our college-age son to stay with us, so that we could share some family time. We had such a pleasant stay and being animal lovers, caring for their cats only enhanced our time together.

So, if you love the idea of exotic house sitting in far flung places, give this strategy a try first. It is a lower risk option for you to get started and learn more about the process. And a chance to earn an excellent reference to launch you into more adventurous opportunites.

Please visit our Facebook page: Housesit Boatsit. Also feel free to contact us with any questions or comments. Cheers!

Cruisers Have Something Special to Offer

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In the world of house sitting there are some unique opportunities, to say the least. Some are remote and off-grid. Kind of like living on a cruising boat. So, if you have knowledge and experience with solar, propane, battery banks, and rainwater catchment, you are unique as well. Owners of these properties often need care for their homes or small resorts in the off-season. But they can’t offer this to just anyone. We were chosen to house sit on a private island in the South Pacific because we had these skills. And, if you think about it, cruisers have other valuable qualities. Trouble shooting and perhaps repairing anything that may break in an owners absence is very helpful. Also, cruisers are experienced in living with other cultures. Something far different from what a typical tourist experiences.
If you are self-reliant and interested in remote, off-grid possibilities, let me know. You can comment here, or even better, comment on my Facebook page “Housesit Boatsit”. I often hear of these sits and look for qualified folks. (Photo credit: Peter Bellingham, drone picture of Treasure Island Resort, Vava’u, Tonga)

Little Things Mean A Lot

Small gestures and acts of kindness can go a long way toward a successful experience for house sitters and home ownerns. We have found various ways that seem minor to us but have a big impact:

1. Driving home owners to the airport or train station – the savings in taxi fares or parking fees can be significant. It is also one less think for them to think about.

2. Contacting the owner two days before they return and offering to buy a few grocery items so they can get through breakfast the next day.

3. Choosing a couple of minor repair or cleaning jobs to tackle. We try to contribute to the home in some way.

4. Texting or emailing a photo of pets to let them know they are well.

These are just a few ideas and many more present themselves in each unique situation. The goal, of course, is to have home owners and house sitters benefit somewhat equally. We always endeavor to leave a property in as good or better condition than we found it. In our ten house sits to date, we have always received appreciation for this.

We have be so happy to do all this and more, as the home owners we have worked with have been incredibly kind and generous to us. Many have told us to help ourselves to anything in their refrigerator, freezer, liquor cabinet and pantry. We have also been treated to home cooked dinners before their departure. One lovely couple even held a dinner party in our honor the night before they left. They wanted us to meet their friends and neighbors to enrich our visit. We not only became friends with the home owners, but truly felt a part of their small community thanks to their efforts. We still keep in touch with them and their friends and neighbors.

The good will that flows on both sides of this equation is the beauty of house sitting. When both parties are working hard to make the experience positive for the other, only good things can come of it. It also goes a long way toward building trust in short order. This is valuable when challenging situations arise.

Let’s Compare House Sitting Platforms

These are the platforms we have joined:

housecarers.com
luxuryhousesitting.com
mindmyhouse.com
housesittersamerica.com

Before we get into details about these choices, please consider the part of the process that may take the most time.  You need references to get started, so ask for these early on to give folks time to write them for you.  If you have experience, certainly ask for those references.  However, if you have no experience, no worries.  Everybody has to start somewhere.  Character references are fine at the start.  Anyone who can speak to your level of maturity and responsibility can do this for you.  This includes mentioning your work history, homeownership and pet ownership.  I also requested references from the animal shelter where I had volunteered.

housecarers.com

The yearly fee is $50 and we have obtained two housesits from them.  I believe the general public can see all listings without joining.  So again, you can just watch the listings for a while if you are just thinking about getting started.  The only downside to this is that when you find an opportunity you want to apply for, you then must create your profile, upload pictures and upload references. Based in Australia, this is the longest running platform, starting in 2000.

luxuryhousesitting.com

This is a world-wide platform that charges $25 per year.  We secured our amazing Tonga island sitting adventure here.  We applied for another South Pacific opportunity here as well as a house sit in Botswana, Africa!  The timing on the latter two turned out to not work for us, so we had to politely decline pursuing them further. There are exotic opportunities on all of the platforms, but this is where we have found the best ones for us.

mindmyhouse.com

This world-wide platform charges $20 per year to join. While we personally have not secured any opportunities through this site, I check it daily and see plenty of great activity.

housesittersamerica.com

The cost to register is $30 per year. We have not secured any house sits through this site, but interestingly we have been contacted by a number of homeowners directly. They approached us before posting on the website. I beleive all the platforms allow this option. It is nice when a homeowner asks you, instead of you competing with other housesitters. This is the only major platform I am aware of that is focused solely in the US.

The Basics of Housesitting

Greg and I started house sitting in November 2015.  There are several websites that bring together homeowners and sitters.  Most have a membership fee for potential sitters, but are free for homeowners to join.  We do not charge for our services, but exchange them for lodging. House sitting is more popular outside the US than inside, but there is plenty to choose from.  Whatever location you choose, you are responsible for travel expenses.   Initially we registered with TrustedHousesitters.com.   It is the most expensive site to join, but also has the most activity (let me know if you would like to join, I have a discount code for you).  Most house sits involve taking care of pets while the homeowners are away.   With all of the websites, you create a profile including pictures and lots of details about yourself:  why you want to house sit, experience, work history, what makes you trustworthy, etc. You can also include references.   I monitored additional websites, but only paid to join them if I saw a listing I wanted to apply to.  The other sites are much cheaper to join.

We decided to try this while waiting a year for our new boat to be built.  Our house sold Summer 2015 and we just closed on our previous boat.  I have two suggestions for getting started.  First, begin with a less popular location.  Perhaps something you can drive to for a long weekend.  This increases your chances of being chosen for the position, thereby earning positive reviews that you can add to your profile.  Second, check the websites at least once a day and respond immediately.  Time is of the essence in securing these positions.  Here’s where we have gone so far:

Loganville, GA – near Atlanta, very large new home in a subdivision, three indoor cats for one    week (our son was with us for this one)

McMinnville, TN – near Chattanooga, modest old farmhouse with lots of charm, one indoor cat, one indoor dog, two outdoor cats and one outdoor dog for ten days

Pass Christian, MS – near New Orleans, elegant Acadian cottage two blocks from the beach, one indoor cat for seven weeks (our son and his girlfriend came to visit for a few days during this one)

Eueiki Island, Tonga –  caretakers at small eco-resort while closed for the off season, care for two outdoor dogs, transport five workers by boat once a week, for two months

Merrimac, MA – beautiful, three bedroom home near the ocean, one indoor dog, one indoor cat for ten days (our son will be with us for this one)

These are the additional sites that we have joined (much less expensive, ex:  $30/year)

mindmyhouse.com

housecarers.com

luxuryhousesitting.com

housesittersamerica.com

Additionally we are house sitting for friends and acquaintances in our former home town for the summer.  All of those opportunities were secured through word of mouth, Facebook, etc.  Our son will be joining us for all of those.

Tonga – The Adventure of a Lifetime

housesitTongaProfilepicVGHogHeavenExotic locations, such as the one pictured in the banner at the top of the page, are often available to house sitters. In March and April 2016, we traveled to the Kingdom of Tonga in the South Pacific, as we had agreed to house sit for a small eco-resort in Vava’u on a private island. This was way beyond what we imagined when we decided to travel and house sit for a year. It was the perfect match for our skill set, having lived aboard our sailboat for three years. You see, remote locations and liveaboard sailboats have much in common. They are both likely off-the-grid situations that require knowledge of solor panels, generators, batteries, water catchment and conservation. This particular opportunity also requried boat handling skills, which made it an even better fit for us. While we certainly enjoyed our time on the spectacular beach and snorkeling off the reef out front, it was the authentic experience with this unique and uncolonized culture that was our favorite part.

Housesitting Our Way Across the US and Abroad

 

Arrival Dinner for The Salty Dawg Rally - Hampton, VA to BVI
Arrival Dinner for The Salty Dawg Rally – Hampton, VA to BVI

See that amazing photo in the banner?  We actually lived there for two months for free!  The owners of this tiny eco-resort wanted to visit family in the US and needed help watching over it while they were closed for the off-season.  It was the experience of a lifetime!

We can’t wait to tell you about this and our other adventures in housesitting.  People are always asking us how we got involved in the first place.  Happy to share that knowledge too.  It is all coming soon!

This all started for us in November 2015, when we sold our home of twenty years and our sailboat of eight years.  We bought a new boat but it would not be ready for a year.  We thought about renting a place, but we wanted to travel!  And we had a new boat to pay for.  House sitting seemed like a perfect solution – an even exchange of lodging in return for home and pet care.  So far we have completed six house sits and we have five more scheduled.