Growing up my grandmother house and pet sat for executives in the greater Detroit area. Of course, this was when there was lots of money in Detroit and life for Detroiters was good. Grandma would go to these grand house and stay there while the owners were away. She would care for the pets and keep the house clean and basically be a presence in the home.
As a teen I didn’t think much of it. Honestly, I probably even poo pooed it, thinking I was better than that. (yes, I was a bratty teen girl–go figure) Unfortunately, I wasn’t smart enough to ask Grandma to train me and eventually buy her business. Grandma stayed busy and was often booked for a year or more. Once again, if I had been smarter, I would have had Grandma double book and send me to the extra home.
Grandma has been gone many years now and here I am all ready to do the exact same thing. Damn that crystal ball for not working way back when.(Sometimes I think its really weird how life goes in circles like that….)
When I think about traveling for a couple months or a year I think about how much lodging will cost. One of the ways that I want to combat that cost is by house sitting or volunteering. I’ve spent a number of hours online researching and researching different places to find house sitting/volunteer opportunities. It’s been a lot to sift through. The good news is that I’m going to save you a whole lotta hours and share my findings here. I can’t vouch for all these websites, but I think I’ve narrowed the list down to some really good choices.
I think one of the most important steps, when applying for house sitting positions, is to have a kickass profile and resume. You’re going to need to stand out from the crowd. House sitting has become very popular. I think as travel cost continue to rise house sitting and volunteer opportunities look better and better. I’m still working on my resume, but I’ll definitely share when I have it finished.
Caretaker.org: This has been a great resource. You pay $30 for the year to have access to the classifieds, but there have been opportunities all over the world. A couple weeks ago I received an email from Caretaker.org asking for someone to housesit in GREECE for the winter. Yeah, that would be a hardship. Besides the emails I also receive a e-newsletter every 2 months that has many opportunities listed. Even though I am not going anywhere anytime soon it has been fun to look and see what is available. You can also pay to list your profile which I may consider doing when I get ready to hit the road.
GrowFood.org: Mostly longer term volunteer positions. If you are interested in gaining farm knowledge during your travels this may be the place to look. Click on Posts on the top of the page to see what is available or you can search by country/state. As far as I can tell GrowFood.org is free to use.
WWOOF.org: Very similar to GrowFood.org WWOOF is an exchange for volunteer help, WWOOF hosts offer food, accommodation and opportunities to learn about organic lifestyles. I think WWOOF has been around the longest and has a history of good volunteer opportunities.
Helpx.net: from their site–HelpX is an online listing of host organic farms, non-organic farms, farmstays, homestays, ranches, lodges, B&Bs, backpackers hostels and even sailing boats who invite volunteer helpers to stay with them short-term in exchange for food and accommodation. There are two membership levels available: Free and Premier. Premier cost $20 euros (approx $28 U.S.) for two years.
WorkAway.info: from their site–Workaway.info is a site set up to promote fair work exchange between budget travellers, language learners or culture seekers and families, individuals or organizations who are looking for help with a range of varied and interesting activities. Workaway cost $18 euros (approx $25 U.S.) for two years
HouseSittersAmerica.com: Fills a need for a house & pet sitting service dedicated solely for USA’s homeowners and house sitters. Cost: $30/yr.
MindMyHouse.com: Global house sitting matching service. We provide all the online tools for home owners and house sitters to find each other from around the globe (or around the corner). And it works! Our house sitters provide their pet and house sitting services for free in exchange for the privilege of accommodation in the owner’s home.
SabbaticalHomes.com: The academic communityâ€™s resource for home exchanges and home rentals worldwide since 2000. There are A LOT of rental ads on this site, but if you do some digging there are house sitting opportunities.
Couchsurfing.com: Ah, couchsurfing. I may have saved the best for last. However, couch surfing is usually good for just a couple nights so if you are looking for long term lodging in an area it probably wouldn’t work. Since their site explains it best I’ll just use their words: CouchSurfing is an international non-profit network that connects travelers with locals in over 230 countries and territories around the world. Since 2004, members have been using our system to come together for cultural exchange, friendship, and learning experiences. I’ve used couch surfing just once, but it was an awesome experience. This is a fantastic way to meet locals and like minded people. I love talking to people about their life and travels. Couch surfing provides the perfect opportunity to meet with people that want to share their experiences. Couch surfing as a family may be a bit harder, but it is still doable. Click here to read an article on their site about couch surfing as a family. It’s completely worth checking into and if you are ever in my part of the world you are more than welcome to “surf” my couch. 🙂
Hope that helps! Have you used any of the above sites? What was your experience like? Do you know of a site that isn’t listed here? Please leave a comment.