Enjoy this Guest Blog Post by Ian White Copyright © 2005, Housecarers.com
Jazz up your retirement
Recent press releases highlighting the travels of retiree house sitters are showing that becoming a senior is not a ticket to boredom, or a sedentary lifestyle. Retirees from around the world are finding HouseCarers.com to be the key that opens the door to unique, authentic and free travel to destinations that they had once only dreamed about.
Unfortunately, many retirees do not have the liberty of spending their retirement egg on pleasure items or excursions, such as traveling. Many individuals and couples who live on a fixed income have found that their funds usually only cover the basics of living. After a lifetime of raising families, running businesses and being everything to everyone, retirees are finding there is a way to travel and experience the world on their terms. HouseCarers.com is allowing them to connect with home owners who are in need of house sitters. In exchange for a valuable service, retirees are able to enter into new worlds, that would otherwise be closed to them.
First hand accounts
Jim and Thelma McSkimming are retirees from New Zealand. This retired couple has only been with HouseCarers for a year. They report that they would not be able to travel to all the places they dreamed of–if it were not for becoming house sitters. The McSkimmings have found that house sitting is the key that enables them to experience different cultures on a new level.
Jim and Thelma McSkimming report they do not desire to travel as “tourists,” and quick visits to some popular areas do not satisfy them. The McSkimmings truly relish immersing themselves into new areas and they enjoy house sitting. House sitting lets them become mock citizens in various countries and gives them an authentic experience.
The McSkimmings had five months to allot for house sitting in the UK, and were thrilled when they were able to find five house sits. “We stayed in a beautiful 200 year-old stone cottage, which was previously a flour mill, in South Wales. We minded pigs, geese, miniature Dexter cattle and two adorable Border Collies,” the McSkimmings report. They have also recently had a stay in a Rectory in County Cork, Ireland, where they made friends with an African parrot they were minding. Many house sits involve the care taking of pets. The McSkimmings report that this is a one of the highlights of their stays and it fulfills their love of animals.
The wonderful experience of house sitting is echoed by Brenda Marie Batty. Ms. Batty is a retiree from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Ms. Batty has been a house sitter since 1999. She has visited seven different countries, and reports that her favorite house sits are in Greece, France and Italy. “House sitting gives me the opportunity to travel further afield for a longer period of time–to places I otherwise could not afford to stay in on my retired budget.”
Like the McSkimmings, Ms. Batty truly enjoys sinking into the culture and lifestyle of the various areas that she visits. She has found that each country has welcomed her with open arms. On a recent house sit in Greece, she truly felt one with her neighbors. “I even got into white washing steps and walls in Greece . . . I joined in with the island folk who were all in preparation for Easter’s arrival. I really felt like a local then! It was lots of fun, too. I enjoy travel on this level, meeting new people and becoming part of their communities.”
A new “Career”?
House sitters are in high demand around the world. Retirees who register as house sitters are among the first sitters looked at by home owners. Home owners know that life experience cannot be replicated. Home owners have confidence in seniors and trust them to watch over and care for their home, possessions and pets.
Many times senior house sitters are asked to come back for return stays. Ms. Batty has had numerous repeat visits. Chances are great that the McSkimmings will also be asked for a repeat stay–as this is their first year and they are just now getting their feet wet and making acquaintances with home owners. Both the McSkimmings and Ms. Batty report that home owners are warm and welcoming. Friendships are easily forged and many home owners keep up with “their” house sitters year round.
Both the McSkimmings and Ms. Batty report that maturity, flexibility and a love for animals are essential to being a good house sitter. However, to make the proper connection with prospective home owners registering with a reputable house sitting site is key. HouseCarers is sitting pretty on top as “the” place to make safe connections. Ms. Batty doesn’t hide her enthusiasm or appreciation of Ian White and HouseCarers.com. “Two thumbs up for HouseCarers!”
How to begin
Becoming a house sitter is a fairly easy process. You can visit HouseCarers.com on the Internet and for a price that is less than an evening meal out, you can register as a house sitter for an entire year. You will be given 30 full lines to describe yourself. You can list multiple locations where you are available to house sit, along with the dates you are available. You can even use the sample ad that is listed on the site to guide you in writing your personal information.
The information you enter is instantly available to prospective home owners who are seeking out a house sitter. At any time you can go in and update your profile, change your destination areas or dates, and all of it is free of charge. When house sits become available in your chosen areas, you will receive notification via email. You will also be notified when you have messages from prospective homeowners in your chosen areas. Your identity and personal information are kept confidential and it is only revealed to a home owner when you are comfortable.
Benefits, benefits, benefits
Becoming a house sitter will save you thousands of dollars on travel and accommodations. By making yourself available to a home owner as a house sitter, you are giving them an invaluable service. Home owners can leave their residence knowing they are leaving it in capable hands. House sitters may be asked to perform routine things such as pet care, gardening, or even scheduling a home repair if the need arises. You may be asked to forward mail, relay phone messages or take a pet to a scheduled vet visit. House sits range in duration. Some may be for a week, while others may be for a month, or more. The requirements are minimal when you compare it to what you receive.
House sitting opens the door up to experiences you could not pay for, even if you had the funds to do so. House sitting is enabling individuals to live in seaside beach homes, English country cottages or castles, ski lodges in the snow capped mountains, and even ranches or farms in the country. Can you think of any other service you could give to someone that would allow you to sample grapes from a working vineyard, pick Dutch tulips, or eat authentic cuisine straight from their native homelands with no monetary investment on your end? This can all be yours, and more, as a house sitter.
Priceless opportunity for both sides
You simply cannot put a price on the services that a house sitter provides. Home owners are not comfortable leaving their homes empty when they have to travel for an extended time. House sitters are the number one crime deterrent. Criminals can bypass most alarm systems with ease. However, criminals and would be thieves will avoid a home if someone is in residence.
Besides providing the much needed security that a home owner desires, house sitters can also save a home owner much worry over their homes “physical” safety. If a pipe bursts, most home owners would not know until they returned to a deluge of water, and tens of thousands of dollars in repair work. If a fire starts, a home owner could possibly return to find their home a smoking pile of rubble and ashes. By having a house sitter onsite, a home owner can leave knowing that if an emergency arises, there is a sitter onsite who can tackle a burst pipe, call the fire department, or handle a weather emergency.
If you are interested in traveling the world like Jim and Thelma McSkimming or Brenda Marie Batty, you should register with HouseCarers.com. These house sitters have found that retirement doesn’t mean an end to an exciting life. If anything, their senior years are bringing them unique and fulfilling experiences. The McSkimmings and Ms. Batty have found a way to take hold of their dreams and do all the things they have longed to do. With the support of their family they are globe trotting without making a dent in their retirement funds, and they are enjoying every minute of it.
Author Ian White is founder of housecarers.com House Sitting Directory.