You know how it goes with the best-laid plans.
They start out just like you imagined they would and then sometimes slowly veer off course. Or in our case, totally scream off in another direction.
3 months in Colombia, that was the plan.
3 days to travel to Ecuador,
3 weeks in Otavalo,
Then we got an opportunity we couldn’t pass up.
6 months house sitting in Panama!
Panama? We hadn’t planned to visit Panama this soon.
We had no firm alternate plans to go anywhere else, though. We also really
needed wanted to get a longer term house sit.
When we had applied for the house sit on House Carers we had no expectations of getting the job. We had applied for other house sits and been passed over because they weren’t a good fit for us or we weren’t right for the job. Not all listings are family friendly or suitable for children, this limits the number of assignments we apply for.
We are members of 2 house sitting websites and get updates on new assignments. We look for longer stay opportunities. One major thing that influences where we apply is how expensive it is to get there. House sitting is a great way to save on accommodation costs but if the cost to get to the assignment blows your trip budget that point becomes mute.
Our search area increased to Central America because there weren’t many house sitting opportunities in South America. It was easy to find cheap flights from places like Colombia to places in Central America as well.
We applied for a house sit in Costa Rica and one in Panama. Expanding our search area, on our second application in Central America, we ended up being the right candidate for the job. Our flexibility helped for sure. We were available and willing to travel on short notice and stay for a longer period of time.
Being flexible with destinations and time frames can help you get a house sitting assignment quicker.
I follow a lot of travel blogs and read a post about 2 women who had managed to house sit for years. Their story and tips gave us ideas to do things differently when we applied for this house sit. Changing a few things on our profile and actively working to overcome an objection by the homeowner got us this job.
Here is what helped us get hired to house sit:
References that weren’t personal– We offered our references from Airbnb. We had never had a house sit before so we didn’t have references on a house sitting site. This makes some homeowners hesitant to pick potential house sitters. Using Airbnb, hosts and guests can comment on their experiences. We have been using Airbnb almost exclusively while traveling and had built up great references as guests.
Having the Airbnb references built confidence because the references aren’t personal. The references relate to being respectful guests which are exactly what someone who want to hire a house sitter wants to know: Can I trust this person to take good care of my home and pets?
If you haven’t done a house sit yet look for opportunities to earn professional references: Airbnb, your landlord if you’re renting.
Speaking up, via Skype, to put the homeowners mind at ease – Our homeowners had concerns about one of their dogs with kids. Their pup is nervous in certain situations and can bite because of his anxiety. They didn’t want to worry about their dog biting a child, understandable.
They initially had decided to count us out because of Makai. We requested a Skype call to talk about it. Makai has been around high-strung and fear aggressive dogs growing up. He knows how to act and speak around dogs that show those behaviors. He is 5 but big for his age, he is almost 4 feet tall. We told them these points to reassure them that we would be a great fit for the job.
Being honest and making our experience clear via Skype helped the homeowners feel comfortable with choosing us. Having a short video of you speaking about why you want to house sit and why you would be a great sitter has a huge impact on getting hired. Homeowners want to get to know you as best they can.
It doesn’t have to be cinema quality video. Short and genuine is all you need. Video and Skype calls are the best way for homeowners to get a feel for who you are. They decided right on our call that we were the best ones to look after their home and dogs.
Moving around as much as we have so far has put a bigger dent in our budget than we had anticipated. This house sitting assignment will be great for getting our budget back on track and still check out a new place.
The house we are looking after is up high in the mountains just outside Panama City. The property is huge and home to so much wildlife. On our first full day in the house, we saw at least 4 different types of hummingbirds, a toucan, monkeys and a white-nosed coati.
We saw all of these from the terrace of the house! I couldn’t believe it. The dogs we are taking care of are so sweet as well. We have all been really missing our dog so looking after these pups should really help with that. The place is really outstanding and I am so happy we got the opportunity to take care of it.
So we are in Panama, in the mountains just behind Panama City for 6 months.
Interested in house sitting? Here are some resources to help you get started:
You can sign up for our 7 day e-course to find great tips to help you build a great profile and find a house sit you want to do. You can also check our 20 questions post: 20 Popular House Sitting Questions Answered
Another blog I follow Hecktic Travels is another great resource for learning about how to find jobs house sitting. Dalene and Pete have even written a book about it that is full of tips and advice to get your first assignment.