There's no doubt about it — House Sitting is a fabulous way to see the world and to travel rent free. If you are interested in learning more about House Sitting, the way of watching peoples houses while they are away in exchange for free accommoadation, this is the book for you. Unlike home exchange you dont have to swap your own apartment or house - House Sitting is a whole new way of travel to see more of the world for less. Be inspired by the stories of travelers and house sitters throughout this book and get ready to find your first House Sitting job. This book is packed with information on - where and how to find housesits all over the world, in the most stunning locations? - How can you create a killer profile that gets you House Sitting jobs for sure? - What can you except from House Sitting, what are actually your responsiblities? - what questions should you ask the home owners and what are the hundreds of things you need to think about before they leave you with the place? - How can you prepare for emergencies and make sure everything is insured? - How can you leave a house sit in the rare case you dont like it? - How can you prepare a contract? - How can you make the best of your stay and live truly like a local? ... an overview of all the House Sitting platforms worldwide combined with an answer to all the main aspects on travel being a housesitter as well as checklists for the handover will have you perfectly prepared for a truly wonderful adventure waiting for you!
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Chapter One: Housesitting and the Modern Bohemian
Chapter Two: Traveling with a Difference
Chapter Three: Digital Nomads and how They “Broke Free”
Chapter Four: Where to Find Gigs – Overview of all Housesitting Platforms
Chapter Five: How to Create an Amazing Profile that Sells
Chapter Six: Getting Out There and Catching Your First Assignment
Chapter Seven: Got Your First Assignment? Don’t Mess it Up!
Chapter Eight: The Fine Print
Chapter Nine: Golden Rules for Housesitters
Chapter Ten: Questions, Questions, Questions … and Answers
Chapter Eleven: During your Housesit
Chapter Twelve: For Homeowners
A Final Word
About the Author
The New Art of Travel and Living like a Local
When I was a child, we used to go on our yearly beach vacation. It was considered a bit luxurious by many standards back then, but for me, it felt like the full year we had to wait between trips, might as well be eternity. My family planned the whole thing from top to bottom before heading off, usually spending a fair chunk of money saved over the course of the year for accommodation. My parents gave themselves a free day once we got back to unpack everything, relax, iron the work shirts and get back into the nine-to-five mindset. Since both my parents worked typical day jobs, these precious two week slivers had to be planned meticulously in advance and savored while they lasted. Other than the occasional public holiday, these two weeks were all they had. Even as a kid I thought this was a pretty miserable set up.
While we were on vacation, my mother’s distant aunt would usually come over and “housesit”. It seemed like a good deal. She got to hang out around our house for free and enjoy something a bit different (plus, she was closer to her favorite library!). And we had the certainty of knowing everything would be OK when we got back.
For a long time, this is what I thought of when I heard the term “housesitting”. And for a while, I had the same conception of work/vacation life that most people do. Taking a break was something you did on your own time, at extra expense, and you rushed home after a while, hopefully just before your email inbox exploded or one of your dogs got himself kicked out of the local kennels.
Very recently I’ve come across an entirely new vacation paradigm, though. One that seems stupidly obvious when I look back at our family seaside breaks and our housesitting aunt. What I mean is, why were my parents paying for accommodation in another town when someone in that town, presumably, was also going on a trip at that time and would need someone to look after their house, just as my aunt looked after ours?
Welcome to the new world of housesitting. The idea is simple: Housesitters live in the house while the owners are away and make sure the house (and the pets!) are cared for properly. They water plants. They collect the mail. They call the right people if there are any security problems or if the water heater bursts. They take the dogs for walks, perhaps, and feed and groom them. They may even clean up a little. And in exchange, the housesitter gets to stay there for free.
For me, the staying there for free part of the story was very interesting. I discovered very soon in life that I am a what you would call a travelholic (maybe you can relate). It just turned out, that I cant stay in a place (or job) for a longer time without getting itchy feet again. I am a graphic designer, doing freelance work mostly now, so it is a bit easier for me to just head off. But I was always looking for ways to make travel more affordable.
I discovered that housesitting can be so much more than simply sitting a house. Looking after someone elses house turns into a real adventure when it’s in an entirely different country. Even better still if that country is a place you would ordinarily go on holiday yourself! My poor aunt, come to think of it, could have done better than simply moving closer to the local library.
The trouble with paying for a hotel when you’re traveling is that often your experience is … well, touristy. You are in the busiest and least authentic part of the city, surrounded by other tourists and restaurants that don’t serve the real local food. Being a housesitter I found, that I got to have a much more authentic, genuine experience of my chosen country. Instead of wasting time at a boring chain hotel, I could almost live the life of a local. Instead of buying overpriced meals designed to appeal to tourists, I got to go to the same little cafe on the corner that the owners of the house normally do. With the help and awesome advise of all the neighbors you get to experience the city from the inside out. Whether you’re smack bang in the centre of New York and exploring the subway system, or hunting down the best nooks and alleyways in rural Italy on your bicycle, waving to the shopkeepers as you go, housesitting is about getting your feet wet – in a fun way!
You unpack your bags and settle down in the new house – not as a visitor, but as a temporary owner of that house. It’s amazing how real your experience will be when you get to actually stay in a house owned by locals – not to mention getting to know the locals themselves! Living in a country will always be different from merely visiting it, and housesitting is a way to get the best of both.
The internet and the availability of international flights have made it possible for housesitters to turn what was once an occasional favor you did for a friend into a fun new escapade … or even a lifestyle. People all over the world are nowadays finding ways to make housesitting work for them:
• Perhaps you’re a student or recent graduate who wants to see the world without forking out for hotels in foreign countries or staying in seedy hostels. Through housesitting, you stay in someone else’s home instead, for free.
• Maybe you like the idea of living in another country for a few months instead of skimming over the surface superficially. Housesitting lets you live in a local’s shoes and experience the area in a truly authentic way.
• On the more extreme end, you might be a freelancer or remote worker who needs nothing more than an internet connection to earn your salary. For you, work and play happen simultaneously. You get to enjoy a completely new country for a fraction of the cost it would otherwise take, all the while managing a less traditional career.
• You just want a cheap vacation and a bit of fun instead of splashing out on expensive accommodation.
I call these people modern Bohemians. Through careful planning and a little bit of courage, they’ve connected with people from all over the world to have fascinating adventures in new countries – and without spending huge amounts of money.
Back to my parents. I’m sorry to say that after years and years of traditional employment, they both managed to retire with enough savings to go on a cruise. While I’m pleased for both of them, I can’t help thinking that your late 50s is a little late to start really enjoying life.
When you only need to take care of the actual travel plans, suddenly your big schemes of “one day” seeing East Asia or the South of France become so much more real – because now you can afford it. When you come to think of it, you are only limited by whatever visa restrictions apply to the particular country. And what’s more, you have the option of really getting to know the people’s houses you look after and everything that comes with it. Picture yourself in a coastal Italian village, nothing fancy, but such a rich experience with this lovely old lady living next door and teaching you how to cook Italian cuisine.
The concept of housesitting is so much more personal than booking an anonymous room online or through a travel agent. You have as much flexibility as you are able to negotiate for. You liaise directly with the home owners, and decide upfront how much money, if any, they pay. You can choose what kind of extra services you’ll offer, for example pet care. And while you are making sure someone else’s house is safe and well-cared for, you get to live your life and explore a new and exotic location.
Sounds good, doesn’t it?
You probably will be full of questions – how on earth do you meet someone in another country to housesit for? Isn’t it risky? How could you possibly negotiate all the details with people you’ve never met before?
These are all valid questions and we will answer them throughout this book. It does take a little patience, a lot of planning and a willingness to think outside the box. But the rewards are immense: the thrill of breaking free from a monotonous format of regular vacations and the possibility of meeting interesting new friends from all over the world. If the idea of housesitting seems daunting, rest assured that people all over the world have found new and fascinating ways of seeing the world – without having to wait till retirement like my parents.
This book is all about giving you the confidence to embark on your first housesitting adventure. Covered here will be advice and real world, practical tips on where exactly to look to find clients, how to initiate a dialogue with them, and how to win them over. We’ll look at ways to market yourself as a reliable and trustworthy prospect who can put home owners’ minds at ease.
We’ll look at ways to negotiate just precisely the house sitting set up that suits you best – and how to deliver something of real value to home owners. And because accidents do happen, we’ll also consider the ways you can be most prepared in case of any hiccups, and how to resolve them effectively. At the end of this book, i hope, you’ll feel confident enough that the prospect of hopping off to another country for a few months seems like a piece of cake!
A quick note before we get started though:
What’s the difference between house sitting and couch surfing?
You may have heard of couch surfing before, and there are some similarities. However, couch surfers stay in other people’s homes, usually while they are still living there, for a brief time as a way to have a bit of adventure while staying abroad rent free. The couch surfer doesn’t offer anything to the home owners, and the risk for misunderstandings or a poor experience is somewhat higher. While couch surfing is about hospitality and fun, house sitting offers a more practical exchange of services in lieu of rent. If you want to try it out, register with https://www.couchsurfing.org, the biggest couchsurfing community out there.
What about house exchange?
Home exchange is closer to house sitting with one crucial difference: you have to have a home yourself to exchange for the pleasure of staying in someone else’s. While this is often a great opportunity, it does require you to have your own property and it can be tricky to coordinate the right set of circumstances between two sets of homeowners. The number 1 website for Home Exchanges is https://www.homeexchange.com.
Right! So now that we’ve had a look at what house sitting is (and isn’t), read on for some case studies of interesting people who have also successfully housesitted, to be inspired and for an idea of how YOU can get started yourself on your next big adventure …
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