April 10, 2018
Have you ever seen a t-shirt with this emblazoned on the front?
John threatens to buy one every time we see one in a souvenir shop. I can’t help it. I’m an Internet nerdy girl. Sometimes it serves me well when Jeopardy is on, but as I get older, I tend not to remember EVERYTHING like I used to.
But I never forget how to crank up my computer and scour the worldwide web for answers. John says that not only can I locate, identify and classify each strand of hay in the stack, but I can find that allusive needle, as well. So when people find out that we travel the world as house sitters and ask, “How on earth do you find housesits?” John looks to me with a grin and replies, “Ask Google Girl. I just happen to be married to her.”
So, if you are seriously considering a life as a house sitter, Google Girl is here to rescue you from hours of frustrating searching and combing the Internet looking for the next sit. Here goes.
With house sitting becoming more and more popular, it seems like new online platforms are springing up every day. Here are a few things that make up a great housesitting website.
Okay, we’ll be your huckleberries on this one. When we first decided that we would become housesitters, we had stars in our eyes and were, uh…gullible when it came to looking for housesits. We have wasted money and time on sites that lured us in with basic lists that had no details. A great site will always allow you to shop full listings (homes for house sitters, and profiles for homeowners) before you join. Don’t sign up for a site that doesn’t allow you to try before you buy!
Who has time to scroll through housesit listings that have already been filled or are no longer available? Sheesh! We found that some sites try to “pad” their menu of sits with ones from years past or ones that have already been filled, to inflate their website stats. Beware!
If there are more sitters than listings, homeowners will be overwhelmed with inquiries. Likewise, it’s hard for new sitters to compete with the people who have been doing it for a while.
We’ve gotten burned when after starting discussions with homeowners, we find that they expect us to pay to stay. Likewise, for homeowners, when sitters expect to be paid for pet and house sitting services, it can be a big surprise and a waste of time.
We like to see how other people interact with a housesitting platform more than just what’s available on their website. Social media provides a great way to create trust in a platform and how they interact with their members. We like to see how responsive a platform is, as well as, how much they encourage members to interact and share.
When we were in the website development business, we always preached that it doesn’t matter how “pretty” or how many bells and whistles a website has, if a visitor can’t find what he’s looking for in three clicks, it’s not an effective website.
We search housesitting listings first by times we’re available and then by location. Then we get into the nitty gritty and search for things like, how many (if any) pets are involved, how long the sitter is needed (we’re not going to travel to the middle of Africa for a 2 night housesit!), whether a car is available and whether WiFi is available (real important!!). A good house sitting website search platform should provide this type of information, prior to contacting an owner.
I’ll be honest with you. If a house sit listing does not provide photos, we normally just skim over it. Some websites allow for many photos with a listing, others only one or a few. Yes, we like to see photos of pets, but we also want to know what the housing accommodations look like, especially if we are going to be there for more than a month. So we love platforms that allow for many photo uploads…more is better!
We’ve never done a housesit for an owner that didn’t speak English, but we did miss out on a sit because our conversational Spanish wasn’t strong enough. With Google translate it’s easy to read any listing no matter what the original language is, but communication with the owner is important.
So now that you know the things we think are important in a great housesitting website, are you ready to see what’s out there? In our list we’ve included information like social media links, cost, average number of listings, photos allowed and a brief description of each site. We’ve thrown in a few caretaker and couple work sites, as well. We’ll update the list as more information is available and will add new sites as we find out about them. So take a deep breath, keep calm and hopefully our list will help you find that perfect housesit.
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