Housesitting is an awesome way of travelling cheaply. There are a myriad of different housesit options to cater for all and some great websites where you can apply to become a sitter. Most reputable sites require a joining fee for sitters and sometimes for home owners too. It’s how they make their money and it also gives the house owners little bit of security knowing that you are serious and sensible enough about taking care of their house to fork out a little bit of money beforehand.
If you have a some time on your hands search for free before you take the plunge and pay the joining fee. Look at where you want to go, the trends of where homes are available and what home owners want. It’s also worth looking at some other sitters profiles to make sure that you include everything you need to to attract homeowners. The top sites in my opinion are www.mindmyhouse.com and www.trustedhousesitters.com. We only signed up for mind my house, which seemed to have longer term house sits, which is what we are looking for. Oh and it’s cheaper, which was definitely a bonus.
Once you’ve signed up and added your profile you just need to apply for house sits by emailing the home owner and then cross your fingers. A few emails here and there, possibly a Skype chat and you should hopefully land yourself a lovely housesit!
Our first housesit in Portugal we arranged a few days cross over period whilst the owner was still at the house. Our ‘worst-case scenario’ was that the owner had enticed us there to brainwash us and join his cult. OK, this was a bit extreme but you never know…well, of course it was totally far-fetched and he was a normal guy who actually wanted us to house-sit his amazing house whilst he avoided the Portuguese winter (which, by the way, it rains…a lot).
We really hoped that the changeover wasn’t a painful experience, or would put the owner off us…two small children who were very keen at exploring, making mess, being very loud at 5.30am…you get the picture. Luckily he was a nice guy and it all went well, but we did breathe a big sigh of relief when he was finally off on his way. The changeover period was a necessary evil for us in this house though as there are a lot of ‘technical’ aspects; solar panels, water filters, under-floor heating and electronically controlled irrigation system. The dogs and cats were straightforward enough and great with the kids.
The changeover period was also a chance to get to know the owner a little, which made it easier to communicate with him by email when there were a few technical hiccups and when talking money (we pay bills and for the internet, he pays for the cat and dog food/costs).
The main thing is to go with your instincts, after a few emails with the owner, who should also send you loads of pictures of the house, you will know if the sit is for you.