On February the 15th we’ll be starting our 7th house sit – a month-long stay in the romantic city of Paris. It’s difficult to believe, but in the four months that we’ve been in France we’ve only spent 90 euros on accommodation.
It wasn’t the obvious financial benefits that initially attracted us to house sitting. While we were in Korea we spent a few weeks looking for apartments in various French cities. However, the biggest challenge was finding short term contracts for furnished apartments with internet (for our work) already installed. We couldn’t find a single place that fit the bill.
Around the same time, Rachel discovered house sitting through reading some travel blogs. We were thrilled by the idea of it. Not only would it fit every requirement we had, we would also get the chance to stay in different places rather than be chained to a 6 month tenancy agreement, and it would be significantly cheaper.
Our favourite house sit (they’ve all been amazing, mind you)
The process of finding house sitting opportunities initially was not a straight forward one, especially with no references or experience. Fortunately, we are at a point now where house sitters sometimes contact us rather than us approaching them. We recently received an email asking about our availability in 2 months to house sit in the Caribbean.
A lake that was part of a property we looked after
To help you in your quest as future house sitters, I’ve put together a few pointers that have proven vital to us:
1. Find a good house sitting website. We’ve had fantastic success with Trusted House Sitters. You can find them here – House Sitting.
2. Take care in creating your profile on the house sitting website. Give it personality. Include a photo and a positive bio with relevant experiences.
3. Include links to personal blogs wherever possible. Since homeowners will be leaving everything they hold dear in your possession, it could certainly help them feel more comfortable if they can read about you and get a feel for your personality.
4. Get work references and criminal record checks – we have been asked for both.
5. Get a car or some other form of motorised transport. For half of the house sits we’ve had this was a requirement and for three other house sits it was a massive help. You will often be rural. Right now we are in a town with a decent population, yet the nearest supermarket is 20km away. The local bus only comes to town once a week. We simply couldn’t function without our car.
6. Pay special attention to the advert of the house sit that you are applying to. What do the home owners value most? What important skills or experiences are they demanding of house sitters? Whatever it may be, be quick and enthusiastic to show them how you posses the necessary skills and also share the same values. Home owners get a lot of applications, so get to the point as quickly and positively as possible.
7. In your email talk about your occupation and how you’ll be spending the time in their home if they choose you.
8. Sign up to Skype, if you haven’t already, and offer to speak to them whenever they are free. We skyped with all but one of the people we’ve house sat for so far.
9. Make sure you know the visa requirements for the country you are planning to house sit in and are fully prepared when the time comes.
10. Be flexible! At the moment we visit the mother of the home owners in a care home in Auxerre. It’s not a normal thing to do on a house sit, but it’s all part of the experience and the duties we agreed to undertake – not to mention it’s nice for the mother to see friendly faces now and then.
11. This is the most important point - check every day for new opportunities and apply to as many as possible. Out of the 60 that we applied to before coming to France, we were offered 4. Once we got a couple of good references under our belts, our success rate improved significantly.
Our first house sit
I hope that this has helped, or at least inspired you to pursue your own house sitting adventure. It’s a truly remarkable situation to be in and the advantages are there to see. Thanks to awesome websites like TrustedHouseSitters.com, it’s a pretty straightforward process and if you’ve got any questions, please just let us know and we’ll do our best to answer them.