House and pet sitting as a lifestyle might sound like a relatively new concept to you and me, but, within these circles, everyone is on the look-out for an appealing sit, and some people have been doing it for over a decade. Since we started this lifestyle two years ago, the demand for house sits (or the supply of house sitters) has grown substantially. Competition is fierce, and securing an attractive sit is not an easy feat. There are days that dealing with potential house sits is my main activity; another reason why we prefer long-term commitments. Not only does that fit our work schedules better, provide immersion into a specific area and give us a welcome respite from being on the road, it also offers me a little break from digging through listings and submitting application letters.
In February, I wrote a post about how we end up with certain sits. I figured it was time for another example of how our future takes shape “behind the scenes”. The basics are always the same. Mark and I are members of a few house sitting sites, where our profile is available. We explain who we are, what we prioritize, our experiences and our strengths. There are a few personal photos attached as well. Home owners sometimes find a perfect match in us by reading this profile, and send us an email to inquire about our availability and thoughts. More often, however, I click on the most promising house sit listings that arrive in my inbox, read the descriptions, check out the photos, and, when they fit our preferences (location, type of animals, duration, timing), I create a personal letter and hit the send button. If the interest is mutual, we communicate over email and set up a time for a Skype interview, ideally with video. When all that goes well, and the home owner chooses us – usually after talking to a few candidates – we confirm the sit, and have a plan. It is not uncommon that home owners, especially in desirable locations, receive between 40-100 applications. Yeah…
When Mark and I were house sitting in Santa Fe, New Mexico, at the end of the summer, we only had one more sit secured, immediately after that one, in Colorado. Both sits were for one month. From mid-October on, we would be homeless, or camper-bound. With less than two months to that date, we became a tiny bit antsy, and were on the look-out for new sits. I scrutinized the listings that arrived and hoped for a long-term sit, preferably somewhere warm, for the winter. After coming up empty-handed for a couple of weeks, I was overwhelmed by three possibilities!
The first one, which I read on a Saturday morning, consisted of four months in a beautiful, historic home in Oriental, North Carolina. There were two big Labradors to take care of, and we knew this to be a cute, walkable town from a stopover on our sailboat Irie years ago. We’d be back on the East Coast, so Mark’s family might be able to come for a visit, maybe over the holidays? Perfect, except for the climate. Yes, it would be better than New England, but the goal this year was to be somewhere warmer than Northern California, where we were still a tad chilly this past winter. Mark and I went away for the weekend, thought it over, and by Sunday evening, I was ready for a winter in Oriental! I went through my application steps, patiently waited for 24 hours, became worried after 48, and… received a rejection email the following day. They had picked someone else and disliked our small camper van being parked in their neighborhood.
Around the same period, I received a personal invitation from a home owner: whether Mark and I would be interested in a two-month sit in an attractive house, along the water, in the Sacramento river delta area, Northern California. It sounded enticing. When I showed positive curiosity in a return email the following day, the home owner had already assigned the sit to someone else.
We only had one option left towards the end of our Santa Fe house sit: four-and-a-half months in Kerrville, Texas. See the listing here. I hesitantly praised our qualities, and the home owner was convinced we were the right couple for her and her pet. She wanted us immediately, but a few things were still up in the air, due to approaching hurricane Irma and how her sailboat in Florida would fare (she would spend the winter on it). Texas is not our first choice when it comes to house sitting long-term, but, the climate is pleasant, the duration was perfect (we could focus on our business and my writing without too many distractions), and the dog was cute. We communicated back and forth, without committing, but believing our winter location was sealed.
That’s when I discovered a three-month house sit, from November through January, in San Diego, Southern California. See the listing here. Now, I don’t know about you, but, on the brief visits Mark and I made to this city, we loved it. And, the year-round climate is said to be among the best in the US. It had amazing possibilities and potential. This sit would disappear quickly. I promptly sent the owner an email to be on her radar, and worked my magic in an official application within half an hour of the posting. 12 hours later, the owner was not contactable anymore; she stopped accepting applications after reaching ten applicants. She selected a few candidates, us included, to have a Skype conversation. A few days later, we received the exciting news that she picked yours truly. We accepted, and politely declined the sit in Texas, which had been reduced to a mere two months by then. So, three months in San Diego it is!
I hope my American friends and readers had a wonderful Thanksgiving!