Andy Peck was looking for a place to write. He thought somewhere aesthetically pleasing and free of charge sounded nice. When he found a multi-million pound Spanish mountain retreat and neither him nor the owners could believe their luck, he thought he might be able to make a business out of this.
Here is a bit of his story.
It almost seems too good to be true — that there are these beautiful homes to stay for free. Is there one primary reason homeowners want housesitters?
Pets are the biggest constant. Most people do not want their dogs in restricted areas with other dogs [while they are away]. There is also a cost issue with that. There is more and more veterinary research coming out indicating that pets prefer to stay in their own environment. Also, people do not want their places to become overgrown or be vulnerable to burglary.
It seems like house sitting is something that could go really, really right or go really, really wrong. Have you had any problems with housesitters or with the houses being watched?
We have not had any issues at all. It just works extremely well.
How do homeowners find housesitters?
Homeowners can look through loads and loads of housesitters on www.trustedhousesitters.com. There is a lot of information on the site. I would argue trustedhousesitters.com provides more information to make decisions than [information provided] in most decisions people make about picking a dog walker or a babysitter. Homeowners can review housesitters references and video profiles. They can see if a housesitter has previous experience and they can also do their own due diligence and check references. With Skype they can interview them as if they were sitting across the table from them.
How does someone without house sitting experience go about making a profile that would seem appealing to a homeowner?
Many housesitters are not necessarily professional housesitters. They are just good people. It is the same as if you wanted someone to babysit. It is not that you are looking for someone that has had 5000 babysits. You just want someone that has had experience looking after a baby and is a caring person.
Have you had a pet? Have you owned your own home or do you currently own your own home? If so, then you have had experience doing what home owners are looking for. At the end of the day what is important is the caring qualities that a potential housesitter can get across. It is not rocket science to take care of someone’s house and to look after their dogs. It is a big responsibility, but it is not necessarily a difficult thing. It is just about being a caring person.
What kind of references can someone use if they have never done house sitting?
You can use other things as references such as a character reference, a landlord reference or a job reference. That is why people can make video profiles. I had someone who joined trustedhousesitters.com who had never done house sitting and this entire year she has done nothing but house sitting. Now she has a load of references. She is just a nice person who has looked after dogs before.
There are house sitting agencies out there that charge a lot of money for these services.
There is a famous house sitting agency in the UK that charges home owners £3000 a month. But just because you are paying that much money does not mean you are getting a more caring person.
Where are the majority of the house sitting opportunities?
They are all over the world. We have had house sits in over 40 countries. Right now we are getting a lot in France. Yesterday we had someone who needs a housesitter for a penthouse in Manhattan over Christmas. We have one in Hawaii for 2 months. We have one in Koh Samui for 3 months, a chateau in France. These are all in the last week. The locations vary.
How do people learn about the house sitting opportunities available?
To learn about the house sitting opportunities, you register as a member and you pay a small fee. Then you will get emails about the latest house sitting assignments. When I found the place in Spain, I applied for it quickly and I think that is why I got it.
What are the membership fees?
To join as a housesitter it is $30 for 3 months, $45 for 6 months or $60 for 12 months.
What is the average length of a house sitting assignment?
That is hard to answer exactly. We have house sits from a weekend to over a year. Most are probably for the length people go on holiday – so for a week or two. But we get a lot of long term ones as well. Right now there are a lot of people trying to escape the northern hemisphere. There are also a lot of people looking for Christmas. What works is when accommodations are at a premium is when people need housesitters because this is when they go on holiday.
How many house sitting opportunities are currently available?
What is the proportion house sitting opportunities to housesitters?
I would say we have 3 housesitters for every house sitting opportunity which is great because not everyone can house sit everywhere all the time. If you are reasonably flexible I am confident you can find some pretty good house sits.
Do you have a permanent home or do you primarily do house sitting?
I was a homeowner and then I sold my home. When I went to buy another home, everyone kept asking me to house sit.
When I imagine this I have an image of the chalet in the Alps or the beach home on the Mediterranean. How many of the homes fit this image?
A lot. There are a lot that are very, very scenic. Not everyone puts up photos, but you can read between the lines that they are stunning homes.
Is there anything I didn’t ask you or you would like to add?
House sitting is for a certain kind of person. You have to have qualities that would make an ideal house sitter. You have to like looking after pets. You can’t necessarily tear around the country, as you do have a certain obligation. But with that said, what is brilliant is it gives so much opportunity to have a different kind of holiday. This is not about resorts or hotels but being a part of the community, getting to know the neighbors and the locals. I think in this day and age we don’t sit still enough and we need to find places we enjoy and relax. If you house sit for a place that is really decadent and lush, it it is not going to be long before the home owners go on holiday again, and who is the first person they are going to call? It is going to be you.
Are you a home owner or potential housesitter that wants to join www.trustedhousesitters.com? Use the discount code “MARRIED” to receive 25% off the membership fee.