Since we travel full-time, we’re always looking for creative lodging options. Staying in far-flung destinations around the world—particularly for a week or more—can get expensive. A few years ago we discovered house sitting, a solution that enabled us to visit exotic (or just plain expensive) destinations affordably.
What is house sitting?
House sitting jobs typically entail watching someone’s home while they’re away, in exchange for free lodging. In our experience, most assignments involve some degree of in home pet sitting; we’ve also taken care of plants for a homeowner. We’ve found house sitting to be a valuable way to visit a new locale, while also living like a local. There’s nothing like walking Fido around the block to feel like you’re part of the neighborhood!
But other than hearing about such an opportunity via word-of-mouth through friends, how do you find available house sitting jobs, or find someone to watch your home and pets while you travel?
We’ve discovered a site called Nomador that connects folks like us who are interested in house sitting jobs with those seeking someone to watch their home while they’re away. One of the aspects we like about Nomador is its sense of community; rather than simply being a generic site that offers a list of houses, the company adheres to a set of standards that includes trusting others, a sense of commitment, generosity of spirit, sharing, curiosity of other cultures, open-mindedness and global awareness.
Nomador’s values mirror our own; embracing new experiences is the primary driver for our travels. The company itself started in 2014 in Sydney; house sitting in Australia is a popular lodging option. The Nomador community has expanded rapidly since then to include more than 85,000 members worldwide today.
Nomador is protective of its community, and charges a small fee to allow access to its full complement of registered house sitters and house sitting job opportunities. However, they also offer a free “Discovery Option,” which allows you to apply for up to 3 house sitting offers. This is a great way to dabble on the site to see if house sitting might be for you.
The site is also helpful for homeowners who seek the freedom to travel with the confidence that their home, pet, or garden is properly looked after. They can list their home using the free option, or by using the paid option they they can contact potential house-sitters directly. Nomador also allows potential house sitters to have their profile listed in a directory for homeowners to browse when they seek a house sitter.
House sitters wanted: finding short- or long-term house sitting jobs
The Nomador site is a breeze to use; it’s well laid out and explains the benefits of house sitting while offering clear tips to start the process. While anyone can browse the house sitting jobs on offer, you must set up an account to make enquiries. For security, the site requires an approved form of ID to protect everyone in the system, ensuring that they are who they say they are. Michael found it was very easy to set up. He uploaded a copy of his driver’s license, and in less than an hour his ID was approved and he had created his profile and was exploring house sitting opportunities.
Since many of the opportunities involve in home pet sitting, the house sitter profile includes a listing of the types of animals you are willing to watch: dogs, cats, horses, birds, rodents, fish, reptiles, farm animals, and exotic pets. We chose dogs, cats, fish, and farm animals. (Yes, we’ve watched chickens, goats and even a motherless calf in the past! Well, that’s really more Larissa’s gig.) You can also select which region of the world you are interested in, dates you are available, and whether or not you’d take care of a garden.
In home pet sitting (well, technically it’s outside the house!)
As long-time travel buffs, we were like kids in a candy store when we reviewed the available listings. Want to spend two weeks in the Bordeaux region of France? Yep, you can find house sitting opportunities aplenty. How about house sitting in Melbourne, Australia? You’ll be saying “g’day mate!” in no time. Interested in the Pacific Northwest region of the US? Nomador’s got it covered. In fact, the opportunities looked like a wish list of where we wanted to visit next.
The listings we liked best included a detailed description from the homeowner of their residence; opportunities range from simple apartments to luxury house sitting. Homeowners also list the responsibilities expected of the house sitter, along with nearby amenities. The website offers a detailed search function if you know the specifics of what you’re seeking. We like selecting a geographic area, and then scanning what’s available.
Nomador provides handy icons with each listing (like little cartoon kitties or plants), so you can perform a quick scan to see what might be a good fit. Some listings are only available to subscribers, so after your initial review you may be ready to make that commitment. (Nomador offers two paid subscription options: $35 for 3 months, or $89 for one year.)
The responsibilities usually involved caring for pets, so the homeowner provides details about their critters. They usually describe the pets’ personality, which is always helpful, along with photos and a list of daily tasks that are required. This is a good time to figure out what type time of commitment you want to make. Some pets are basically house pets and don’t go out much, while one listing required taking the dogs for a two-hour romp in the park every afternoon. Whatever the requirement, make sure you are up for it. We look at the dog walking as a good time for us to get some exercise ourselves.
Once you’ve found a listing (or two or three) that’s of interest, the next step is to contact the homeowner through the Nomador website. After you make an offer that’s accepted, you then sort out the details of travel, and any specifics regarding the house sit directly with the homeowner.
People often ask us how we choose destinations when we travel. Sometimes it’s as simple as finding a house sitting job that works with our schedule in an area that intrigues us. That’s how we ended up tending that calf (plus some chickens) in Australia, and watering a prize-winning gardenia in Savannah, Georgia. We don’t house sit everywhere we go, but with the wide array of destinations where house sitters are wanted available on the Nomador website, it’s always an option we consider.
Thanks to Nomador for underwriting this post. As always, our opinions are our own.
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Larissa and Michael are your typical middle-aged couple from Philadelphia who’ve been traveling the world full-time since 2011, seeking off-beat, historic and tasty sights. To receive our free quarterly newsletter with updates and valuable travel tips subscribe here.