In the past I have featured a series of entries about house swapping on this blog. When you house swap, you exchange your home, unit, holiday home or apartment with another house swapper for an agreed period of time. That is, you move into someone else's home - say for three weeks - while they move into your home for the same period of time. You could even swap something unique like a houseboat or motor-home.
Today though, I thought I'd turn my attention to house sitting. House sitting involves you looking after someone's home while they are away for business, on vacation, or working far from home.
With house sitting, the homeowner engages the house sitter to move into their home for an agreed period ranging from a few days to in some cases 12-18 months - or more. In exchange for living in the owners home rent free, the sitter agrees to water plants, care for pets, and do any other tasks the owner asks of them for the duration of the agreement.
Personally, I am really excited by the possibilities that house sitting presents. In fact, early in 2010 I will be house sitting in Melbourne, Victoria, for a period of six weeks.
Since I have never spent more than a couple of days at a time in Melbourne, I can't wait to immerse myself in the life of Australia's second major city. The last time I visited Melbourne would have been back in the early 1990s. Much has changed in the Victoria capital since then, and I am looking forward to discovering just how much the city has grown and evolved for myself.
There are even international house sitting opportunities available to the right candidates. Yes, folks, you could be house sitting a Manhattan condo, a house on the French Riviera, or an apartment in Paris if you have the right credentials. As long as you can show that you are honest, reliable, trustworthy, and have no criminal record, prospective home owners may select you to look after their most precious possessions.
So how do you go about becoming a house sitter (or finding someone to look after your home)? You go online, of course.
All of these sites charge money for prospective house sitters to register their interest. This helps eliminate time wasters and people who have no real intention of following through with house sitting opportunites.
Here are just a few sites to get you started (all fees are in US dollars):
Aussie House Sitters ($60): http://www.aussiehousesitters.com.au/
House Carers ($45): http://www.housecarers.com/
Luxury House Sitting ($25): http://www.luxuryhousesitting.com/
House Sitters America ($30): http://housesittersamerica.com/
House Sit World ($40): http://www.housesitworld.com/
That will do to get you started. There are literally hundreds of opportunities to house sit available right now. If you are planning to travel next year, now might be the right time to register with one (or more) of the above sites, and familiarise yourself with the process. You may also like to try house sitting close to home first, so that you can accumulate some good references from home owners, which can in turn be used to help you get house sitting placements in other countries.