- Created on Friday, 07 September 2012 15:23
- Written by John Hollister, Leage of Power
- Hits: 438
What's the first thing that pops in your mind when you think about becoming a caretaker?
If you're into horror movies, as I am, it might be the classic film The Shining with Jack Nicholson, in which he and his family are cooped up in an enormous, deserted and haunted ski lodge for an entire winter. Under such circumstances, it's no surprise that one of them eventually snaps.
But that is not the type of house-sitting job I want to talk about. In fact, the jobs I want to tell you about are about as far from that spooky ski lodge as possible.
If it's ever been your dream to live for a few months in a cottage in the south of France, to take up temporary residence in an Italian villa on the Riviera or to lounge poolside in the Virgin Islands at a beachfront mansion, house-sitting might just be your dream job.
In my neck of the woods, the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, I know plenty of folks who pay no rent -- because they're house-sitting for wealthy Americans who have vacation homes here. The owners come once a year for a couple of weeks -- that's it.
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Imagine waking up in someone's beautifully furnished cottage in idyllic French cow country, where your only responsibilities are to water a few potted plants.
Doesn't sound like much of a job, right? Well, as a house sitter, it really is your real job to simply live in the house. You see, there are literally millions of people with enough money to buy two or more homes -- one is their permanent residence, and the other is their vacation home.
And during those months when the vacation home is utterly vacant, collecting cobwebs and becoming a target for fiendish thieves, it gives the homeowners a tremendous amount of peace knowing that someone is living in that house, sometimes overseeing its maintenance, landscaping and such.
That is a very valuable service many homeowners desire.
House-Sitting as a Job
Now let's talk money. As a house sitter, you'll find as you browse the various house-sitting jobs that compensation is usually not included. In other words, you're not getting a paycheck.
Your compensation comes in the form of traveling to new and interesting -- even exotic -- locations and submerging yourself in the local culture as no tourist is able. Because you live there!
After all, you won't be staying in a hotel; you'll be living in a nicely furnished residential home... with all of the amenities that entails. Hot tub? Swimming pool? Goose-down comforters? I'm not saying these are guaranteed, but they're definitely possibilities.
I've seen listings from homeowners looking for a live-in house sitter for a month to two years. And these listings can found be all over the world.
Are you an avid surfer who would love nothing more than to spend a few months surfing the epic swells of Hawaii but never thought you could cover all the expenses? Check out the house-sitting listings... and you may very well find a property right on Waikiki Beach, rent-free.
Another bonus from house-sitting is that the owners -- who, let's face it, have enough money to own two homes, one of which is lived in sporadically -- employ gardeners, maids, pool guys, pet walkers and groomers. So in many cases, you're not on the hook to do any of that.
Sure, you may have to get out of bed at noon so the maid can change the goose-down comforter in the master bedroom... or open the door for the electrician... but those are small prices to pay for living in luxury for absolutely free.
Here are a few listings I came across on www.luxuryhousesitting.com that might pique your interest:
Location: Allier, France
Description: Beautiful, cozy detached cottage with own garden -- adjacent to owner's farmhouse. Both set in peaceful countryside. Cottage has all mod cons, three bedrooms, open-plan kitchen/sitting room. Privacy and calm.
Location: Belize, Central America
Description: You can explore the jungle, fish, snorkel in the coral reef or take some canoe trips. I need a house sitter for the month of June. Have your own bedroom, living room and bath on third floor overlooking the Caribbean.
Description: House guest wanted to occupy a mountain cottage. Full time. Located in the foothills, one hour from Sacramento. Bottom of canyon. Four miles from freeway. You can fish off the porch. Keep all gold found in the river. Must love outdoors, remoteness.
Location: U.S. Virgin Islands
Description: Positions available on St. John in a hillside community. Free housing and a 40% meal discount are available. Anyone aged 18-80 is eligible to apply. We have short- and long-term time frames available.
As you can see, the possibilities span the globe. Ever wanted to spend an idyllic season in Fuji? How about rugged Alaska? Every possible geographic location contains folks looking for good, reliable house sitters to look after their homes.
I've even seen a beautiful country estate in West London that is in desperate need of a house sitter. The only catch? Looking after an elderly cat.
The Duties of a House Sitter
Essentially, your main occupation of being a house sitter is to enjoy yourself -- and make sure the place doesn't burn down. Do you play a music instrument? Bring it along. Always wanted to finish the screenplay that's been bouncing around your desk for ages? Bring it along and finish it.
And consider this... this might be the perfect time to start that online business you've had on the back burner for so long.
The truth is, as a house sitter, you will have free time. To some people -- specifically, those who hate vacations and would prefer to spend every waking minute in their office cubicle -- this might seem terrifying. But for people looking to slow down the insane pace of modern life and take a few months out of the system of constant emails, phone calls, deadlines, text messages and worries of career advancement, house-sitting could very well revive a tired, burned-out soul.
How Do You Qualify?
You may be wondering how you could possibly be hired to house-sit a luxurious vacation property. Aren't homeowners flooded with applicants? Actually, no.
Just by being one of the few to apply, you're half way there. But there are a few things you can do to boost your chances:
- Send character references and a police background check to homeowners
- Create an ad on the house-sitting directories listed below
- Scan listings on the sites below regularly -- new gigs are being added regularly
- Whenever you complete a gig, ask for a referral or letter of recommendation.
OK, you're ready. Now go out there and find your dream home for the next few months.
I wish you the best of luck!
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