As I move closer to retirement time, I’ve been thinking about what I’m going to do. I love to travel – I know, that’s a worn out cliché, “retire and travel”. And these days most people are finding that they didn’t really save enough to do much travelling in retirement. The cost of everything is rising faster than anticipated and the current pandemic situation is certainly going to have an economic impact on the world in general.
Having said that, I still plan to travel. We can’t let “fear of death” hold us back from enjoying life. We don’t get out of life alive; the end state is the same for everyone. So we might as well enjoy the time we’ve got, in my opinion. It’s kind of like saving the “good china” or the “good silverware” for special occasions…LIFE should be a special occasion! Make the most out of every single day, because you never know when it’s going to be your last. Covid-19 has shown us that. Who would have thought at the start of 2020 that the whole world would get locked down because of a contagious virus? That’s the stuff of science fiction movies, isn’t it?
I digress. My plan is to travel extensively and the way I’m hoping to do that is through house sitting. Many people ask me about house sitting. The most common question I get is “Is that a real thing?” followed closely by “Do people actually do it?” I can assure you that it is most definitely a real thing! It’s something I stumbled onto by accident, but it turns out that it’s a BIG industry…in terms of the number of people doing it and the number of opportunities available for finding sits.
The easiest definition or explanation for house sitting is that it is a service provided to homeowners when they have to be absent from their home for a period of time. There’s no real limit on what that period is – it can be a few hours, a day or two, a couple of weeks, or many months. The service provided involves taking care of the owner’s property and possessions – looking after the home the way the owner would (as a minimum) and usually taking care of at least one pet, allowing the pets to stay in their usual environment with minimal disruption to their routine. An added benefit for the home owner is a cost savings from not having to board their pets.
Most people are surprised to hear that there is a large market for house sitters, but you can view any of the multitude of house sitting platforms and see the variety of sits available. This snapshot from the Housesitting Magazine website shows just a few of them:
As you will see by checking out a few of the sites listed, in addition to country-specific platforms, sites like nomador.com, housecarers.com and trustedhousesitters.com have international opportunities, allowing owners and sitters alike to select from a much wider market. There is a wide variety of sits available as well, not only in duration, as I mentioned above, but also in the responsibilities involved. Because a house sitter is expected to look after the property and belongings of the home owner, in addition to looking after the pets, due diligence is required when applying for a house sit. As you can imagine, the effort and responsibility involved in looking after an apartment with one cat, for example, is substantially different than that required to manage a hobby farm! And some owners are looking for individuals to run their business while the owner is away – again, this takes a certain level of commitment.
You will see on the platforms that you can apply for any type of sit…and there are types for all interests: city, suburb, rural, and single pets all the way to farms full of animals! Winning a sit is a bit of a Catch-22, however. To be selected for a sit, you generally need a variety of reviews and experience; to get those reviews and experience, you need sits. Sometimes you can get lucky and get a referral from another sitter who’s got those coveted assets and has worked for the owner in the past. But the best way to get the prized sits is to work your way up the scale by doing some local sits and getting some references and reviews under your belt. Offering to take a sit that’s not as attractive is also a good way to get into the market…you’ve got a better chance to get selected when there aren’t as many people applying!
As long as you’re authentically you and you take the position seriously and do a good job, you’ll succeed in house sitting. The important part is how to present yourself to home owners. You have to put yourself out there and shine if you want to get selectd. I’m going to talk more about this in future articles. I think it’s a truly amazing opportunity to meet new people and see the world!