House Sitting 101

Notes from the House Sitting 101 file ~ Learning the ropes and getting ready to take off the training wheels.

kalamaview2

Spectacular view from our house-sit high on a bluff above the Colombia River. It changed hourly.

Greetings from high on a bluff over-looking the mighty Columbia River just outside of the (very) tiny town of Kalama Washington.  Hubs and I are on day 9 of a 10 day house sit with Daphne the wonder dog.  She is well loved, well fed and has more toys than most 2 year old kids I know.  Daphne is a cutie and smart as a whip.  She had us trained in no time.

Daphne the wonder dog

Daphne the wonder dog

What the hell are we doing living in a strange house with someone else’s dog in the middle of nowhere?   Good question!  We’re in training.  Last Fall I set a goal to build our resume and our experience by signing on for as many house sits as we could within driving distance of our home.  My vision was to house sit the west coast from Canada to Mexico.  We’ve applied for 6 or 8 and so far we’ve pretty much been the runner-up not the winner.  I honestly had no idea how competitive house sitting is.  For every sitting opportunity there are anywhere from a dozen to 40+ applicants – from single 20-somethings who work remotely and travel the world to retired and semi-retired geezers like hubs and I.   Even a few families.  Apparently the competition wasn’t so tough for Kalama.  Actually, they called us.  We did not apply for this sit.  But after meeting with the nice folks who are Daphne’s humans, we knew it was a good fit and a great place to start.  So here we are.

Nancy and Daphne watching the evening news

Nancy and Daphne watching the evening news

Kalama is not anyone’s idea of a picturesque town.  It’s a run-down port town of about 2500 citizens located 35 miles north of Portland.  If it ever had glory days, they are long since faded.  We are staying out of town way up a windy road in a lovely custom built house with a gorgeous view.  But to tell you the truth, for a city girl like me, it’s more than a little lonely at the top.  And you can only count the trees and the birds and the squirrels for so long before cabin fever sets in and it’s time to come down from the mountain.  Which hubs and I do every day at 11:30 for lunch, a walk and some on-foot exploration.  We’ve covered every inch of Kalama (20 minutes), walked for miles along the river, taken our own walking tour of historic downtown Longview, discovered a couple of decent restaurants (and a whole bunch that were a little scary).   The weather has been in our favor and one day we strolled the 4 mile perimeter of Lake Sacawajea.  It was gorgeous.  We also drove back into Portland to hit up the Farmers Market and Vancouver for a Volkswalk.

Lake Sacajawea in full blossom.  Perfect day for a picnic and a long walk.

Lake Sacajawea in full blossom. Perfect day for a picnic and a long walk.

A few hours in civilization and we’re good to head back up the mountain again.  Daphne is always happy to see us return.  It is amazing how easy it is to settle comfortably into someone else’s space.  We knew this from home exchange, but still our ability to do this was one of the things I wanted to make very sure about before we up-rooted out lives for the road.

My plan is to test the waters, learn as much as we can from each experience and build up our reference bank account.   We haven’t lived with dogs for quite a few years so it was good to know that we’ve still got the touch.  We also learned that even though a rustic house sit in the remote French countryside looks inviting, unless its a week or less, it might not be right for us.  Score two on the things we learned meter.

So, tomorrow we will make sure the house is clean, the bird feeder is full, the plants are watered and the beds are freshly made.  We’ll feed Daphne her dinner and then we will load ourselves into our car and head for home.  Mr. Ricky is waiting.  He had a wonderful house/pet sitter staying with him while we were gone but I know he will be as happy to see us as Daphne will be to see her real people (not the stand-in servants).

While this was definitely not the exotic house sitting adventure we have been dreaming of and planning for, it was a great experience and we’re glad for the opportunity.  Now when we’re driving 70mph up I-5 to Seattle or Port Townsend and we see the signs for Woodland, Kalama, Kelso and Longview, we won’t wonder if we should stop to check them out.  Been there.  Done that.  Keep on driving!

Next up… house sitting in Mexico for 8 (OMG!) cats for a month.  We are definitely open for more west coast house sitting opportunities.  We’ll be available again starting in June.  We’d love to spend a few weeks in Seattle, Vancouver, Victoria area, Phoenix, or San Francisco so if you know anyone invite them to check out our website Global Housesit Pros.

See you on the road.

Nancy

Labor & Delivery ~ hatching a retirement plan

Hatching a retirement plan isn’t always quick or easy. It’s been germinating for weeks, months, heck, probably the better part of two years…

As many of you know, the whole idea for Just a Backpack and a Rollie started (somewhat as a lark) in response to hubs’ daily happy hour comment “Let’s become citizens of the world…it if doesn’t fit in the backpack and rollie, then we probably don’t need it.”  You can check out that very first post here.

Les&Nancyinairplane

I thought he’d gone over the edge.  He was newly retired and I was still firmly tethered to the corporate world and all it’s trappings (read that as security with a capital S).  Truth be told, he had no idea in hell how this new plan might happen.  But he sure liked saying the words.  No amount of logic on my part seemed to deter him.  When they say that opposites attract, they are talking about hubs and I.  He tosses them out there…I feel compelled to catch them and then figure out how to make them come to life.  I’ve spent a lot of time exploring all of the options and opportunities available to free-spirited retirees looking for travel and adventure on the cheap.  The possibilities are endless, but for us (at least for now) it kept coming back to house sitting.  Well, okay then…let’s do it!  Get the ducks lined up and get the hell outta Dodge while we’ve still got enough get-up to go.

And TADA! at 3:45pm Pacific Standard Time on November 1st, a new life was born!

World meet Global HouseSitting Pros – our new website/blog.

Creating the Global HouseSitting Pros site has been a labor of love, a huge learning adventure (now I can add website developer to my CV), and a giant leap forward for hubs and I as we inch closer toward our retirement dream.  I haven’t cut the corporate tie quite yet, (sorry, I’m the logical one) but since I can work from any location with a good wifi connection and cell reception, we’re going to start by setting up several house sits on the west coast – anywhere from British Columbia, Canada to Baja, Mexico.

We will keep you posted – hopefully with postcards from the road.

Cheers!

Nancy

 

Les & Nancy Global House Sit Pros ~ check out our new profile!

Hello, Hola, Bonjour, Ciao and Hej!

We are Les and Nancy aka the kitty whisperer (Les) and the chicken wrangler (Nancy).

Les & Nancy on the camino de santiago

Walking the Camino de Santiago

Les&Nancy2

We clean up pretty well too.

 

For the past 30+ years we have enjoyed rewarding and successful corporate careers, Les as an electrical engineer turned sales ninja and Nancy as an award-winning corporate meeting, event and travel manager. We’re retiring from the corporate life to focus on our new career as full time global house sitters.

Why House Sitting?

As long time homeowners with beloved pets of our own, we were delighted to find trusted house and pet sitters who cared for our furry family members, our house and our plants with such enthusiasm, respect and considerate care that we (finally!) felt free to go off on a vacation without worrying if a pipe might break or the plants turned brown. On top of that, our kitty (currently Mr. Ricky) could enjoy the comfort of his own home and a friendly snuggle or two.

Win. Win. Win.

It’s not always easy allowing strangers into your home, we know that. But, we also know from experience that once you make that right connection, communicate expectations clearly and develop a level of trust – house sitting will change your life. Whether you are the home owner or the house sitter.

We want to pay it forward and that’s why we started house sitting earlier this year.

Why Choose Us?

~ We are committed to being the absolute best house and pet sitters you will ever have.

~ We have an abundance of life, professional and travel experience and we’re very comfortable and adaptable in new surroundings and cultures.

~ We will confidently handle most emergencies with calm, quick-thinking action. If we can’t handle it ourselves, we’ll know who to call. That’s where our management and leadership experiences come in handy!

~ We will be respectful of your home, your possessions and your privacy. We’re homeowners ourselves and will treat yours as if it were our own.

~ We are excellent communicators. We will keep you updated as often as you like so you know everything is in good hands. We love to send photo updates!

~ We love animals of all kinds (sorry not snakes) and have shared our home with dogs, cats, hamsters, white mice, tropical fish. We’ve also learned the fine (and very fun!) art of chicken keeping through several house sits and home exchanges.

~ We’re fun, friendly, detailed oriented retirees with a zest for life, curious minds and and energetic healthy bodies. We welcome the opportunity to get our hands dirty in your garden, take long walks with your pups and keep your house in tip-top condition.

Our Skills and Experience – here’s why we are such a great team ~

Les was Director of New Business Development for a large exposition and trade show company for many years. He worked with clients from around the world to understand their specific needs and deliver their expectations on time, on budget and make it look easy. This required outstanding listening skills, the ability to communicate ideas and manage large, complicated projects. He has also been the president of our home owners association for the past five years leading our town home community through a major construction project. His vision and ability to lead both the board and the multiple contractors was key to the success of this project.

Skills Les brings ~
• handy/Mr. Fix-it
•enjoys puttering in the garden
•chief trash carrier and mail retriever
•good with a vacuum and a mop
•manager of home security
•family chef
•pooper scooper
•kitty cuddler
•extremely organized

Nancy is currently the Manager of Corporate Travel for a multi-national corporation. She leads a team that supports over 1500 corporate travelers, developing travel policy, negotiating hotel and airline agreements while ensuring the security and safety of every employee while on the road. Prior to becoming travel manager, Nancy managed corporate meetings and events. Her creative vision, team building and leadership skills combined with a focused attention to detail were crucial to her award-winning success in this arena. Nancy is also a published author with essays in two books on retirement. She blogs about retirement, travel and living the good life at www.justabackpackandarollie.com

Skills Nancy brings ~
•communication expert
•loves to garden and has a green thumb
•lead dog walker (Les always seems to tag along) and ball tosser
•keeper of schedules, lists and all other very important details
•chief bottle washer and laundry detail
•chicken wrangler, egg gather and coop scooper
•experienced with giving pet meds and care of aging pets

As a Team we ~

•believe that taking good care of your home is our most important responsibility
•are honest and reliable with local and state background checks
•work well together and with others
•appreciate the importance of maintaining a clean, well-maintained home and garden
•share house sitting responsibilities based on our individual skills and interests
•are grateful for the opportunity to travel and the wonderful new experiences that house sitting around the globe provides.

We are non-smokers who enjoy a great glass of wine and all kinds of food, we have excellent references, a strong sense of adventure and a can-do attitude.  We’re working hard to become the house sitters we’d want to hire!

If you are looking for a fantastic house sitting duo to care for your home and furry family members so you can relax and focus on your time away, please contact us.

A few of our furry and feathered friends stopped by to say Hi! and give us their stamp of approval. Pups on parade

This is the beginning of our new profile which will soon appear on our Global House Sit Pros website (in the works), and several house sitting referral sites including Trusted House Sitters. Housesit Match and Nomador.

I’d love your feedback on our “resume” and if you know anyone on the west coast (U.S. or Canada) who is looking for good house sitters, please let them know about us.  We’d love to connect with them.

This is getting really exciting!

Cheers,

Nancy

House Sitting in The Country ~

I am currently enjoying the best house sitting assignment ever – on a vineyard overlooking a beautiful valley right in the heart of Oregon wine (and farm) country.  On a clear day, you truly can see forever.

For ten days of chicken wrangling, bird feeding, garden watering and loving-up a grey-haired-handsome-boy-kitty named Winston, I am living la pura vida in the hills of Dundee.  I am also learning the ins and outs of rural living.  And, in case you were wondering, life is pretty good out here in the country.  And just a little bit different than this city gal is used to. Not a Starbucks in sight, but the wine is top notch!

The only downside so far?  The Green Acres theme song keeps playing in my head.

And now you are humming it too.  You’re welcome!

I don’t know if the country life is the life for me, but I am savoring every moment of my country adventure.  Here are a few snaps I took the other day.

You know you are in the country when…

Fashion takes on a whole new meaning.

Fashion takes on a whole new meaning.

Maybe they make shoes to go with the outfit?

Maybe they make shoes to go with the outfit?

Making hay while the sun shines.  You've gotta be quick in Oregon

Making hay while the sun shines. You’ve gotta be quick in Oregon

 

So, a gnome wanders into a vineyard...

So, a gnome wanders into a vineyard…

Never seen this in the city.

Never seen this in the city.

farmcountry5

Call now before the sign is covered in weeds.

Yes indeed!

Yes indeed!

And my personal favorite ~

Farmer humor

Farmer humor

Stay tuned for more adventures.

Cheers!

Create Your Roving Retirement – Part 2: Cheap Sleeps

Retirement travel doesn’t have to mean package tours, luxury cruises or high dollar hotels.  In fact, it’s my experience that if you live more like a local and less like a tourist, you can save a lot of money and have a much richer experience.  Here are a few great ways to stretch your travel dollar that I’ve mentioned before and are worth exploring.

Live Like a Local – Sleep Here

Somewhere in Spain...Nancy Slept Here

Somewhere in Spain…Nancy Slept Here

Housing will probably be your biggest travel expense.  These unique options will not only save a lot of money, but allow you to really connect with a location:

WWOOFING –   World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms.  Volunteers trade farm duties for room and board. Accommodations are simple and the work can be hard at times, but if the chance to harvest grapes in Italy, learn how to make goat cheese in France, or get your hands dirty on an organic herb garden in New Zealand appeals to you, then WWOOFING is the way to go.   A surprising number of people in their 50’s, 60‘s, and beyond are signing up.  www.wwoofusa.org

Chicken wrangling...how hard can it be?

Chicken wrangling…how hard can it be?

 

Hosteling –  If you were that backpacking twenty-something, you probably remember hostels as cheap, dorm-style rooms with bunk beds and rented sheets, a bath down the hall and a party-hardy crowd.  Not a gray hair in sight.  They weren’t called youth hostels for nothing.   Much has changed.  Today more than 15% of hostelers are over 50 and the number is growing.  Now offering private rooms with baths, online booking, fresh and free linens and more, today’s hostels are catering to the mature traveler on a budget. Two things about hosteling have not changed – they are still inexpensive and a wonderful way to meet other travelers.   www.hihostels.com

Workamping –  For some folks, hitting the road in a motorhome is at the top of their retirement wish list.  But, it’s not as cheap as you might think.  When you budget for gas and campground fees, you could pay more to park you RV than you would for a moderately priced hotel room.   One unique and fun way to make your RV travel more affordable is by becoming a workamper.  Through online sites like Workamper (www.workamper.com) and Camp Host (www.camphost.org), travelers can find and apply for thousands of seasonal and year round jobs.  Many RVers work during the summer season as camp hosts, collecting  fees from campers, directing them to available sites, answering questions and watching for problems.  In return they receive a free campsite and often a small stipend.

House Sitting – Short and long time house sitting opportunities are available worldwide through online sites like House Carers (www.housecarers.com) and Trusted House Sitters (www.trustedhousesitters.com).  Most house sitting jobs involve some form of pet care and modest home maintenance like watering the plants and bringing in the mail.  Homeowners feel secure that their home is occupied and taken care of in their absence.  You get a great place to stay for free and the chance to live like a local.  Win-Win.

Remember, your first gig doesn’t have to be half way around the world.  Dip your toes into the shallow water before you make the plunge by starting closer to home.   If “Green Acres is the place for you”, why not spend a weekend getting dirt under your fingernails and sore muscles on a local farm?  If you think professional house sitting might be the way to travel, then offer your services to friends and family in the U.S.   You’ll gain valuable references and get a chance to see how comfortable you really are sleeping in a strange bed and picking up Fido’s poop.

What’s your favorite way to travel on the cheap?  We’d love to share your ideas and experiences right here on the blog. Leave us a comment.

See you on the road!

Nancy

 

5 Tips for Becoming Successful House Sitters

Perhaps you’ve noticed…

I’ve become more than a wee bit obsessed with the idea of becoming traveling house sitters.  I saw this one yesterday.

4 year dog, Marzipan and 30’s era house need sitting Jan 24 to Feb 3

We are retired couple who like travel but our sweet 26 pound Corgi, Marzi, would rather stay home. She is well trained and very friendly.  Marzi needs walk in the park facing house housesit2 every day. Longer walks are appreciated every few days. Keep the house secure when you are gone. Water a few house plants. Keep the fur off the rugs with a Roomba.

House has high-speed wireless. We are walking distance to DC metro and surrounded by premier shopping, restaurants and services. Our house sits in civil war era neighborhood,very safe,facing community park and 45 mile paved trail for walking and bicycling. Ideal site for outdoor types, you can drive to countryside in 30 minutes to mountain trails and rivers. Ideal for city types, 15 minutes on metro to theaters, free museums like Smithsonian and city festivals, ethnic neighborhoods.

***********

At this point, hubs is quietly humoring me, but experience says he’ll climb enthusiastically on board, once I’ve done the homework and put a plan in place.   I’m working on it.  Here’s the plan so far.

How to Become a Successful House Sitter in 5 Easy (or not) Steps ~

1.  Do Your Research.  –   Hang out on the online sites like Trusted Housesitters, HouseCarers and Caretaker Gazette.  Read the House Sitter blogs.   A fellow-essayist in Mark Chimsky’s book 65 Things To Do When You Retire: Travel, is a house-sitting expert.  Teresa Roberts wrote a very informative book, Finding the Gypsy in Me – Tales of an International House Sitter.  I’ve read it twice and learned a great deal.

2.  Set Your Parameters. –  What are your must haves for a great house sitting destination?   France, England, Portugal, Italy, Ecuador, Argentina, Spain and Uruguay are at the top of my list.  I would be interested in both big cities and rural small towns as long as there is something fun, unique and interesting going on.  When we travel, hubs and I are looking for cultural events and activities, friendly people, good food, history and places to take great log walks.  Conveniently located to public transportation and airport/train station is a plus.  Weather?  Well, if life were perfect, I would always find house sits in warm destinations with brilliant blue skies and temps in the high 70’s, but I’ll flex on that one.

3.  Know Your Limitations. –  Everyone is different in their skills, experience and willingness to get their hands dirty.  Maybe a horse or two would be your dream, but you are allergic to cats.  Are you handy or do you need a written diagram to work the lights?  Hubs and I fall somewhere in the middle.  We’d be comfortable with cats and a dog or two.  Yes, even chickens.  Horses, cows, pigs, goats?  Not so much.  So the postings I’ve seen for “small holdings” probably aren’t for us.  And, trust me, nobody in this duo is going to be climbing on the roof or under the house if things go wrong.  We need homeowners who provide phone numbers and a who to call list.  Water the garden?  No problem!  Trim the trees or mow the back 40?  No way!

3.  Polish Your Profile. –  Once you have signed up with one (or more) of the house sitting sights, the first order of business is creating a killer profile.

Your online profile is your ticket to house sitting success.  There are lots of energetic, experienced 60-something retirees out there who want your perfect house sitting job too. Spend the time to create a profile that jumps off the screen, highlights your skills, experience, trustworthiness, and  Once again, it all comes down to marketing.  Check out the competition.  How are others selling themselves?  Check all the boxes – get the police clearance, provide lots of references, make the video, use your personal experience as a homeowner, successful business person, pet lover, parent and community activist.  They all count.   If you are serious, set up your own house sitting business website and link it to your profile.  That’s what Teresa did.  Check out her website housesit-pro for ideas.

4.  Be persistent.  Be Honest.  Be Flexible. –  Respond quickly.  It is a numbers game and it pays to be at the front of the line.  Sell yourself, your skills and why you are the best choice to walk Charley the Bulldog or Suzy the Smoodle.  People want to know (honestly) that you will love and care for their beloved pet almost as much as they do.  Anybody can bring in the mail.  And finally, be as flexible as possible.  You’ve always wanted to see Paris in the Springtime, but why not consider a two week house sit over Christmas?   The house sitting veterans will tell you that usually finding the first sit is the hardest, but hang in there.

What about you?  Does house sitting sound interesting?  Have you done any house sitting and have experiences to share?  Are you looking for a house sitter?  If so, I’d love to connect and share ideas.

See you on the road!  I just might be the one walking to two Great Danes with the big smile on my face.

Nancy

 

House Sitting ~ 5 reasons why it might just be the perfect retirement option

I know.  Technically speaking, house sitting is a job.  And if you are anything at all like my  husband – JOB is a four letter word.  He’s retired and he’s loving every minute of it.  Thank you very much.

No job.  No money.  No problem.

Yep, that’s his current philosophy.  And it’s been working out for him so far.  Of course, his other half is still bringing home the bacon, as they say.  And right now, his bacon is organic, peppered, and fresh from the farmers market.  But someday very soon all of that is going to change because this old girl is going to retire too, and then the cash flow is going to become a cash trickle.

And that’s why I see some kind of work in my retirement future.  And, truth be told, I’m really okay with that.  I’m not sure what I’d become if I didn’t have something going on to keep me busy most of the time.  Something that challenges both brain and body.  If I can get paid (in cash or in kind) for said work and if it’s interesting and on my terms.  Well, count me in.

That’s why house sitting makes perfect sense as a retirement option for traveling gypsy wannabe’s like hubs and I.

It would give us the ability to pack up our backpacks, grab our rollies, and travel the world – one house sitting job at a time.   And do it on a limited retirement budget.  And maybe we’d have enough money left over for some really good bacon every now and then.

I’ve been pondering this idea for a while now.  I  signed up on the Trusted Housesitter site as both “looking for a house sitter” and “looking for house sitting opportunities” back in August.  We were down to the wire on finding a sitter for our cat, Mr. Ricky.  I received several interesting offers, but found a wonderful sitter close to home.   Now, each morning I get the most enticing email from Andy Peck of Trusted HouseSitters with a list of the latest house sitting opportunities.  And yes, every morning I open this email and thoroughly read each house sitting offer – and I dream…

Here are a couple from this morning’s post ~

smoodle Pet sitter needed for my Schmoodle for three and a half weeks in Underwood, Australia

I am looking for a dog lover to mind Kobe my beautiful boy Schmoodle. I would prefer someone who loves dogs as he is my baby and someone that doesn’t have a problem with him sleeping on the end of the bed. He is a non-shedding dog.

All I ask is that you leave my house as you found it. Must love animals. My main priorty is for you to look after Kobe and throw his ball for him when he wants to play. Would prefer someone that does housesitting as their way of living.  I have a three bedroom house at Underwood close to shops and transport.

HouseSitFrance Pet sitter needed for lovely springer spaniel, fluffy cat and chickens in Fontaine-Chalendray, France

We are a family looking for someone to feed and walk Rollo once a day, and feed minky the cat. Both are really easy going. Rollo cannot be tired out and the walks are lovely here! He is patient though and will wait for his walk if you need a lie in or its raining! The chickens will also need feeding and watering, and of course you can collect and eat their lovely eggs.  wifi. lovely walks and bike rides direct from house, local swimming lake 10 mins. 1 hour to the sea. 40 minutes cognac.1 hr 20 La Rochelle. bikes and kayaks an be borrowed. huge woodland garden.

Sounds lovely doesn’t it?

So, if you are like us, and have been looking for ways to travel more in your retirement, and not break the bank to do it, you might want to look into house sitting.

I found this list on the Trusted HouseSitters website and I couldn’t agree more.

5 Reasons House Sitting Makes the Perfect Retirement

1.  You save money on accommodations.  The most obvious benefit of house sitting is the money you will same on hotel stays or holiday rentals.  For those on a fixed retirement income this can be a huge advantage.  

2.  Travel for longer –  As you no longer have to pay for somewhere to stay, you can spend more time exploring a new location and really get a feel for an area that you might have had to rush through otherwise.

3.  Discover new areas –  By being flexible with where you house sit, you can discover fantastic locations that you wouldn’t have though about visiting otherwise.

4.  Meet new people – Many house sitters say that they have made lifelong friends on their assignments as friends.  Walking the dog in a local park is a great way to meet people and make new friends.

5.  Live like a local –  House sitting allows you to really experience an area in a way that you might not when staying in a hotel.   Shopping in the corner market or the weekly farmer’s markets, using local transportation, meeting your neighbors at local gatherings.  All enrich your live like a local experience.

And, just in case you were wondering – I have chicken sitting experience from a home exchange we did last year.  Dog, cat, chickens, French countryside – I think I can handle that.

Let the house sitting adventures begin!

Nancy

House Sitting ~ Mr. Ricky Needs a Friendly Companion

House sitting.  Last year it popped up on my radar as one more possibility for our living la vida cheapo in retirement while still traveling and having grand adventures retirement plan.  I was intrigued but it wasn’t the right time and so the idea got filed in the way-back part of my brain.  I had pretty much forgotten about it.

Until a couple of weeks ago.

I need a house sitter/kitty companion when we are in Spain.  I have to admit the deadline kind of crept up on me.  It seemed so far in the future…and now, oops, it’s right in my face.  I’ve only got a few weeks to work this out.  I’ve put out distress calls for help but it’s not that easy.  People have busy lives and they don’t involve your cat.  No matter how cute he is. IMG_3901

Mr. Ricky is hubs best buddy, but apparently it is my job to find the perfect companion while we are gone.  It’s been one dead end after another.  Crunch time and I am out of brilliant ideas.

Or not…

Trusted House Sitters popped into my brain and NOW the timing could be just right.  Originally, I was thinking it would be cool to be a house sitter and travel on the cheap, but I hadn’t thought about how I would be helping others by providing a constant, mature, honest, reliable presence in their home while they are away.  I see it from both sides now.  And it looks like a win:win.

Time to jump in and give it a go.

Yesterday I signed us up on Trusted House Sitters as sitters and as homeowners who need a sitter.  It cost me $89 for a year for the dual membership.  I filled out profiles, uploaded photos and still have to do a police check (recommended but not required) and provide references.   Then I spent way too much time cruising the site looking at how others (lots of retired couples) set up their profiles and marketed their skills and experience.  You can even add your own video!  It was very easy to get started.

Then, just to test the site, I sent off an email inquiry looking for a sitter to a couple in British Columbia who have been house sitting for several years.  Reading their profile and references, they looked like folks we could be friends with.  Within a couple of hours I had a message back from Jan and John.  They love Portland and had just finished a “kitty sit” here, BUT unfortunately they are leaving in early September for a 5 week house/kitty sitting gig in Burgundy and then a few weeks sit in Malta.   Not too shabby!

My profile went live this morning and hit the email listing for new sitting opportunities available.  Within minutes I heard from Nicole and Sebastian, a cute couple from Germany and Denmark who are currently traveling the world, working in IT, house/dog sitting in Washington, D.C. and looking for house sits on the west coast.  Cool!  A while later up popped a message from Natalia and Antwan who work for Norwegian Cruises and travel in their off time.  They are on a ship coming into Seattle in September and looking to travel on the west coast.  It’s been less than 24 hours and I’m not sure how all this even works, but I am very excited by the possibilities.

I’m hopeful we will find a match and leave Mr. Ricky in good hands.  Then, when we get back from our adventures in Spain, I’m going to spend a lot more time on Trusted House Sitters looking for opportunities where we can test drive being house sitters ourselves.

I’ll let you know how it works out.

See you on the road!

Nancy

 

 

 

Mon Dieu, nous sommes soignants maison ~

“It is my second week in Escamps, a cluster of medieval farms and impossibly narrow roads in southwest France, a region known as The Lot, in the Midi-Pyrénées. There are no shops in this hamlet, only a church, an ancient cemetery, and a tiny bibliothèque whose librarian, Monsieur Dubillion, I nearly ran over in my tiny rented Renault. Still, word of my housesitting at Sophie Dumont’s farm, Piepalat, has preceded me, and on my daily walks residents often invite me for a cup of espresso or a slice of their goat cheese. In the language I learned from my French mother, I chat with farmers and masons whose ancestors have lived here for centuries.”

So wrote Judith Reitman, an American from North Carolina, in an article I stumbled on several years ago in AARP Magazine.  Judith wasn’t retired but she was looking for adventure on the cheap.  She found it big time, through an ad in HouseCarers.com.  In return for taking care of Sophie’s four cats – Lulu, Bijoux, Chouchou and Mia (which involved fresh cooked fish twice a day), feeding the chickens, and a little garden work, Judith got to stay practically free in a 17the century limestone farmhouse.  From that first experience, Judith was hooked.   I was hooked too.  And I’ve circled back to this idea time and again.  Finally, the time is right to give it a go ourselves and I am very excited.

First, the good news.   Especially where our beloved pets are concerned, there are more people than ever looking for someone to stay in their home while they are away.  This can be from one week to as long as a year or two.   You can find house sits world-wide – from farms to city apartments to luxury vacation homes and even on yachts!  Then, the bad news.  The word is out on house sitting and the competition can be fierce for the prime locations.  Flexibility is key, and you might be staying in your dream location in the off season.  Still…

Here’s an opportunity I found on TrustedHousesitters.com.  Two years in Castello Branco, Portugal.  Two cats, 11 chickens, vegetable garden.  Oh, baby!   

It helps to have house sitting experience and references, SO – if you or anyone you know is looking for someone to take care of the homestead, walk the dog, pet the kitties and water the plants while you’re out of town – let me know.  I am eager to dive in and get our feet wet.

The three most popular sites I’ve seen are HouseCarers.com, TrustedHousesitters.com and Housesittersinternational.com.   To get the ball rolling, I’ve decided to sign up with with a couple of agencies.  Trusted House Sitters and HouseSitMexico.   For less than $60/year to join, I think it’s a great way to test the water before we go half way around the world.  So, I’m working up our perfect profile and giving it a whirl.  We can do this!  In fact, a quick check this week on the HouseCarers.com for house sit openings in Washington State and bingo – I wanted to vacation on Bainbridge Island and here it is.  Click on the link and tell me, who would not be happy to spend two weeks in this gorgeous place and snuggle up with these two beautiful kitties.  One for Les and one for me.  Purrrfect!  (sorry).

If you are as intrigued by this idea as I was, here are a couple more links to check out :

Caretaker Gazette – Yep, a Newsletter for and about house sitting.

This UK couple have taken the house-sitter lifestyle to a new level – They have their own website and provide a lot of good info on avoiding the inevitable pitfalls.