A QUESTION we’ve been asked frequently since when embarked on our housesitting journey is simply: “How did you get started?”
The answer is simple, too: Humbly.
Cliches become cliches because they stand the test of time, and they stand the test of time because they’re true. In this case, think: From little things, big things grow.
We had heard about housesitting via word of mouth. Some friends had tried it and, about May, 2018, when they had a sit at a property on the Mornington Peninsula, about an hour’s drive out of our home town of Melbourne, Australia, they invited us to visit for lunch.
We were so impressed that, not long after, we decided to try to make housesitting our life for the next few years and we started at the best possible place — the beginning.
We signed up for the same website our friends use — trustedhousesitters.com — wrote a profile and posted some pictures with our two beloved cats, Alvin and Henry.
At that point, Kirsty had all but quit work but I was still a few months away from my scheduled retirement date. It would have been difficult for me to get away for any more than a few days anyway, so the first sits for which we applied were literally within a commuter tram or train ride of our apartment in central Melbourne, which was within walking distance of the newspaper office where I worked.
The first two sits were only weekends, in areas of Melbourne that felt familiar and comfortable. And it was easy enough to drop in at our apartment and make sure Alvin and Henry were fed and had clean litter (OK, and were given a cuddle or three), and for me to fit in a work shift, while devoting most of our time and attention to our housesit hosts’ home and pets. And of course we stayed overnight at the hosts’ homes.
To use cricket parlance (which I’m fond of doing!), we were starting to build an innings.
We worked hard to ensure that our hosts’ homes were left in better condition than we found them — and in one case, to be blunt, that was no small task — and lavished plenty of love and attention on their pets.
And then we impressed on our hosts how important we considered reviews as part of our plan to become full-time housesitters. We did not try to put words into anyone’s mouth, we simply asked that they post prompt and honest reviews. Fortunately, they were positive. We had some runs on the board (there I go again!).
We also learned some lessons and set some boundaries on what we are prepared to take on, and we set ourselves high standards that we’ve done our best to maintain.
Since then, we’ve always asked for video hookups before accepting sits, and discovered not one of our hosts has had a problem giving us a quick “tour” of their house and introducing us to their pets.
And, in return for their trust, we’ve endeavoured to treat their most valuable assets and treasured friends as if they were our own.
Footnote: We were fortunate to find a wonderful new home in Melbourne for Alvin and Henry. We check in on them regularly.