An idea is born
We did our first house-sit while we were still renting a place on Crete. A friend needed someone to look after his pets while he visited his family in the UK and we volunteered. The open balconies in our fourth floor apartment were not exactly dog or cat friendly so we moved to his place and looked after the animals there.
We realised that it might be possible to do this on a regular basis and save on rent. We started to mention the idea to people we knew. Word got around. We were asked to house-sit by someone else. And so on. We gave up our rented flat and started to house-sit full-time.
Whats wrong with the web?
Nothing. The web-sites which match sitters and sittees are great and we have been successful in finding house-sits through our chosen site HouseCarers.com. However, there are many people out there people out there who:
- don’t use the internet
- don’t know about house-sitting
- don’t know about the house-sitting sites
- would prefer to meet you before having you sit
Being on the spot means we can meet home and pets owners (and the pets) before the house-sit. People are delighted to be able to talk to us face to face and find out about this mutually beneficial solution to their pet/house/garden care problems.
Get some free or cheap business cards made or make them yourself. Ask if you can leave bundles in places where potential clients might see them – vets, shops, cafes, bars, animal shelters. If there’s a notice board, put up a poster.
Put an ad on the local ex-pat newspaper or magazine.
Word of mouth. Talk to people – especially people with pets. Tell everyone what you do. Stop to pat a dog in the street and give your card to the owner. We get more referrals by word of mouth than any other way. Give your sittees and friends permission to pass your e-mail to potential clients. Give out your card.
Network with other house-sitters. Since we started house-sitting we have met a few others doing the same thing. If you can’t do a sit, maybe you know someone who can – and vice versa!
What do you do between sits?
There are times when we have gaps between our house-sitting assignments. We fill these is a number of different ways depending on the length of the gap. We have:
- gone home to visit family
- stayed with friends
- gone on mini-breaks to other parts of Crete
- rented a room off-season for far less than the tourist rate
- got back on the road – combining backpacking with a few house-sits in Asia.
So far this combination of travelling and house-sitting has worked well and the money we save when we’re sitting pays for our trips. As my ex-boss would say ‘it’s a win win situation’.