I know it’s been a long while since I’ve written. I mistakenly thought I had nothing of interest to share, but a talk with a good friend convinced me otherwise, thus this post today. I’m hopeful I’ll develop other interesting content in the future. Please forgive the extensive break I’ve taken from writing.

My last posting found me in attendance and completing a Social Media Marketing and Branding retreat with Spanish language lessons in Cancun, Mexico put on Tim Anderson and Cristina Barrios of Marginal Boundaries. Just prior to completing this retreat I was researching my next move after leaving Mexico prior to my visa expiring. I came across an interesting ad on Housecarers.com for a house sit in SE Florida near Vero Beach. This ad interested me because it was longer term (5 months), located near a beach, minimal pet care (one cat), and was within driving distance from my daughter’s home making grand kid visits possible. Typically, a house sitting website allows lookers but to contact potential sit opportunities there is likely a fee involved. Since this particular house sit seemed right for me, I went ahead and paid the annual fee and began to develop an initial contact of the homeowners for the house sit.

As a first step, I had to create an attention getting profile on the website. This is an important step when trying to get a house sitting gig. It’s almost like applying for a job, where you want to put your best foot forward. Some of the elements you may want to profile is any experience in maintaining a home, any special skills that may apply toward home maintenance or pet sitting, any life experiences which may be applicable to house sitting, some key information about yourself that may make the homeowner comfortable with turning over the keys to their home. Of course, you are going to add appropriate references and some homeowners will want a background check which you should be ready to supply. Further, it’s important to be honest and straight forward while profiling positive attributes and experiences. Just don’t over embellish as it will be found out.

Once I was satisfied with a completed profile, it was time to make my initial contact with the homeowners of the house sit I had found near Vero Beach. This initial contact is critical and deserves some thought. I began by reviewing the homeowners ad on housecarers.com. I especially looked for concerns or problems they may seem to have. It is key to address these in your initial contact. In my case, the owners needed a cat looked after and were concerned about leaving the property during hurricane season. In my initial contact, I provided some information about my experiences having cats as pets, with home ownership and maintenance, and surviving a SW Florida hurricane. I also uploaded a photo of myself with a former cat who looked remarkably like the cat they needed sitting. A little luck on my part. But it makes sense to use profile pictures of you with pets from your past or past home sitting experiences to show you can identify with the type of pet they are asking to be taken care of.

After an initial contact, a dialogue began. This is the time to ask important questions such as;

• Has the number of pets changed since your house sit advertisement? Pet ownership tends to expand and contract suddenly. You don’t want any surprises.
• How firm are your leave and return dates? An important question especially if you are paying for and scheduling travel to and from the house sit location.
• Is there a house-sitter agreement involved? Some homeowner’s feel more comfortable having written agreements with their house-sitters.
• Are there expenses I’m expected to pay and how much are they? Not all homeowners expect any payment. Some require payment for utilities for longer term stays.

During the dialogue is the time to develop a relationship to lead to the next step of a personal “meeting”. In my case, it was convenient for me to personally drive to their location after returning to the states to see each other eyeball to eyeball. Many homeowners prefer this, but if you are not able to do this, suggest a technological alternative such as Skype or Google Hangouts meeting. Bottom line is that to avoid nasty surprises ensure you ask lots of questions.

The good news is that this formula seemed to work for me because I was selected for the Vero Beach house sit. I found the owners to be delightful to work with and very accommodating making my stay very comfortable. While there, I had a chance to join a Crossfit gym having never experienced this type of gym. Believe me I got my eyes opened about what fitness is and my own personal fitness. I also had a chance to run in a local 5k event though my time wasn’t anything to brag about. The location of this house sit made for some very enjoyable treks to the local beach, river front, docks, and restaurants.

I can honestly say it was a great experience so when the homeowners invited me back this year for additional house sitting gigs I decided to put some international travel on hold and take them up on their offer. Also, I kind of missed my ol buddy “Spot” who was easy to take care of.

My Ol' Buddy "Spot"

My Ol’ Buddy “Spot”

Once this house sit gig was completed, it presented an opportunity for some additional travel or catching up with family and friends. But my experiences of between house sits will be saved for another post. So until next time. Be Calm – Just Travel!

PS: Listed below are some great resources for house sitting for those interested in adding to your travels.

housecarers.com (The one I used)
trustedhousesitters.com
housesittersamerica.com
mindmyhouse.com

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