I’m a traveler, I always have been, and I always will be. There is so much of this beautiful world that we live in to experience, that if I traveled full time till the day I left this earth, I would never be able to see it all.
This thought fills me with immense joy, as it means a lifetime of new sights, sounds and experiences to look forward to.
Being the person that I am (I’m a Gemini, what more can I say); a life constantly on the move suits me right down to the ground. For most of my young traveling life I went the usual route, working visas, hospitality and customer service work, backpacking and cheap flights.
However, as I sat and planned this latest 6 month tour of Australia for my partner and myself, I started to feel I may be getting a little long in the tooth for backpacking. I’ve heard of 65 year olds doing YHA tours by themselves and was starting to wonder how this 33 year old had gotten so soft suddenly. I found I wasn’t really looking forward to unhomely hotels (or even hostels) and wasn’t quite as enthusiastic about this journey as I had been in my younger travels.
As I was searching online for reasonable accommodation to book, I found myself wondering if there may be a better way.
That’s when my ‘oh my goodness, Eureka!‘ house sitting moment hit me.
Right there in the Sponsored Search was an ad for a site by the name of JoinHouseCarers.com. With the advent of the internet making communication across the globe as simple as typing a few words into a screen, the clever people at HouseCarers had seen a need and filled it with a service that brought wandering home owners together with suitable house sitters.
While we had house sat extensively for friends and family (as one does), I had not even considered the prospect of getting out there and really getting our house sitting hands dirty on a full time basis. When the thought finally made its way into my grey matter a spark ignited, my Gemini pupils dilated and the house sitting idea ran away in many directions like a pot of spilled marbles.
I eagerly joined, excited at the prospect of hundreds of home owners worldwide offering me the chance to experience their way of life.
To my great delight, I was now able to communicate with home and pet owners as far away as Canada who were desperately looking for someone to take care of their lovely homes and precious pets. We were brought together by our common need, they for responsible, reliable, caring house and pet sitting services, us for nice, clean accommodation and of the firm belief that a house is not a home without a pet.
But, much like the catch 22 of someone looking for employment for the first time, we needed references in order to get experience. Not one to be deterred easily, I got the ones that I already had together from friends and family and applied for our police clearances from the Department of Justice. I scanned them ready to email to home owners. Deciding this would have to do, I started searching ads in our local newspaper for anyone who needed a house sitter at short notice.
Happily, we quickly received our first offer right there in our home town. After meeting us, they decided we were good people and would give us a go. We enjoyed 3 weeks in a lovely, warm brick home with 3 cats, 160 channels and all the mod cons. They appreciated daily emails about their healthy, happy cats, having their mail forwarded and the fact they returned home to a spotless home and weed free garden.
Our all important first ‘real’ home owner reference ensued.
After perusing the ads at HouseCarers, I realized that in order to stand out I was going to have to write a pretty strong listing. The headline is the most important part of your ad so write a few and then decide on the one that sums you up the best.
Within our listing I highlighted everything we had to offer, i.e.: We genuinely love all animals. This for us is a big part of the joy of house sitting, meeting wonderful animals we would never have had the chance to spend time with. I have been a volunteer for the Cats Protection League and also Orana Wildlife Park. You may be a super keen gardener or a fantastic decorator. Give the home owner as many reasons as you can possibly muster to make yourself far and away the only choice to look after their wonderful home and precious pets.
To complete your house sitting ensemble, HouseCarers provide an in-depth house sitting contract to protect both you and the home owner that can be altered to suit your needs.
Now you should be starting to get the general idea of what it really means to be a house sitter.
As a professional house sitter you should have your police clearances ready along with scans of your driver’s licenses, contract and references to post out to the homeowner. We use all these tools to be as helpful as we can, to take all stress off the home owner and to provide total peace of mind. When we house sit I’m particularly fanatical about keeping the home to the exacting standards of the owner and to love their precious pets in the way we want our furry kid Eleanor to be treated while we’re away.
Try this: Calculate the rent the home owner could be charging you if they decided to hire their residence out to you as a holiday home. That is about how much per week you owe them in keeping their home just as they would at all times, loving their pets as much as they do and providing them with the valuable peace of mind they require.
As a professional house sitter, everything you do from the outset should be geared towards making sure everything is organised for the home owner. The house sit is your domain. You should make it your full time job to take care of every aspect of the sit. Let the home owner do nothing but take care of their holiday.
It really is very little to ask for the chance to experience another way of life in a different part of this wonderful world that we live in.
We are now embarking on the third month of our house sitting tour of Australia. I write from a beautiful suburb located between the Gold Coast and Brisbane, about a 1/2 hour train ride to both.
It is the middle of winter yet we open the windows EVERY morning to a pure blue sky and brilliant, warm sunshine.
Out the back of the house is native Australian forest filled with colorful birds and other interesting creatures. A short walking distance is a National Park and Koala Center which we spend hours wandering through; our necks craned skywards in search of elusive, sleeping Koalas. We ‘brrr’ and rub our arms, laughing about when engaged in conversation with the friendly locals how the conversation always turns to how chilly it is – on a 23 degree day! We lounge around the complex pool area in the evenings, much to the amusement of the other residents.
So if you have ever entertained the idea of house sitting, I highly recommend this comfortable, inexpensive and interesting way to travel. If you are of the notion that house sitters are always retired or middle aged married couples (as we did), we can now vouch for the fact they are not.
There is only two easy steps standing in between you and a long, happy house sitting holiday and that is for you to make the decision to do it, and then, just do it. All that’s required is to make a few applications then just sit back and wait for the next email notification to roll in from HouseCarers, alerting you of the next step in your adventure.
Lesley Huntley is currently a full time House and Pet Sitter, the editor of HomeSafeSitters and a grateful member of http://www.JoinHouseCarers.com If you are a home owner looking for a house sitter or if you are looking to become a house sitter [http://www.homesafesitters.com], feel free to visit our house sitting [http://www.homesafesitters.com] website for more articles and information.