Wanted: A Win-Win Winter...
February 27, 2013 6:37 PM   Subscribe

As a competent and responsible couple who will be available for a long-term housesitting or caretaking job (anywhere in the American West, BC or SE Alaska) throughout next winter and beyond, what are the best venues for us to both search for options and advertise our skills and availability?

A quick Google search yields a gaggle of paid subscription options for this sort of thing (e.g. this and this), but what really works? Would like to hear about your own personal experiences with such sites, or your best suggestions as to alternatives.

We are a healthy, educated, responsible and resourceful couple enjoying the adventure of a transition in our lives and have a great deal of flexibility over the next couple of years. At the same time, we'd like to economize and live simply without traditional career commitments so as to nurture some of our pet skills and interests (think photography, art and writing) and potentially enable wholesale career shifts.

If we can find a good match to a need, what we'd really like to find is someone out there who seeks a long-term housesitter, property caretaker or sabbatical coverage for, at a minimum, several months over winter 2013-14 or, for the right situation, up to a year or two. Our preference is anywhere in the American West. We'd have a reliable vehicle and would need high-speed internet access with which to pursue our personal goals.

We have a half dozen strong related references for similar jobs in private homes--and innumerable personal and professional references. We've dealt competently with pet and plant care, yard upkeep, snow removal, roof leaks, cave-ins and floods in the absence of homeowners. So we've done this before. We want to find just the right match that helps a property owner on the one hand, and on the other provides us with a reasonably comfortable long-term living arrangement. We could run an inn, or safeguard an empty house, the possibilities are endless.

We are more than willing to subscribe to a site or two that truly works to match our availability to those with needs. But what are the best tried and tested options?
posted by AnOrigamiLife to Work & Money (5 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
When I was looking for a person to do pretty much exactly this, I placed an ad in the Caretaker's Gazette which was a print thing at the time but online now. Very very worth it. a few notes

- References are critical - sounds like you are set in this department
- People love caretaking couples
- Think about whether you might be able to import your own internet. Most places have it but there may be a rare option that you would be perfect for except for the internet aspect especailly in that part of the country like Montana or something.

It really sounds like you communicate your situation well (many people I got letters from didn't) and know what you want, my only other advice is start early which you seem to be doing. Good luck.
posted by jessamyn at 6:57 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

You could put a listing at SabbaticalHomes.com. My wife and I used it when looking for a Parisian rental last year, but after the experience we had with a tenant in our US home, we'll definitely be looking for a house-sitter the next time, rather than a tenant. You could also search the site for homeowners offering caretaking arrangements in places you'd consider. If you do find something, make a contribution, since the site relies on voluntary contributions.

If you have a dream location, you might contact colleges and universities in the area to advertise your services. Many universities have internal listings for house-sitting services, sabbatical sublets, etc. Junior faculty on leave are likely to need a paying tenant to cover the bills, but more senior faculty are likely to be interested in having a reliable caretaker to ensure that things don't go south during their absence. You could even contact people who have listed a sabbatical rental to ask whether they'd consider a caretaker, though in that case, expect a high rejection rate. (Still, it would be free.)
posted by brianogilvie at 7:27 PM on February 27, 2013

You might consider getting bonded. And contact real estate agencies. I did some house sitting/caretaker for a friend in real estate, and had to be bonded. It was worth it to spend weeks in incredible houses set in awesome locations.

I have a theory that when you return from vacation you see dirt that you didn't notice before you left. So I always did a "super clean", did windows, clean fridge, air freshener, etc., it really enhanced my rep as a a sitter.

Good Luck
posted by misspat at 8:07 PM on February 27, 2013

FWIW, every person I've known that's done this has gone through the Caretaker's Gazette.
posted by Lutoslawski at 4:52 PM on February 28, 2013

Appreciate the response thus far. Here is a list of sites that I've culled... any and all feedback welcome!

The Caretaker Gazette
Mind My House
Aunt Anne's in-home staffing
Cass & Company
Caretaker Jobs.com

Plus three that aren't exactly up our alley, but interesting nonetheless:
Cool Jobs Canada
Job Monkey's Outdoor Jobs
Work for RVers and Campers
posted by AnOrigamiLife at 1:06 PM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

« Older Modern Motel in Mitte?   |   I'm curious about how this works in other families Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.