Home is where …

We reached a couple of home-themed milestones last week–both positive, but each with quite different emotional impact.

First, our condo—the only property we still own—is now on the market. Though a significant checkpoint, it is  a bit anticlimactic since the housing market here is very sluggish, and signing the listing papers might be the most action our pens see for many weeks or months. We have a bit of time to be patient, since we’re still about 5 1/2 months from D-day (departure day), but it won’t be long, I’m sure, before we experience the anxiety of a shrinking timeline. And having your living space on the market comes with other challenges like keeping it primped at all times (no dashing out with laundry hanging over the living room chairs waiting for folding/TV time, grandson’s toys and stuffies tucked away between visits), and being unable to sell off or give away furnishings to ensure the suite continues to look lived in and loved. We’re just a wee bit envious of the Vancouver market right now—sure, for the values that would plump up our Phase Next coffers, but mostly for the few-day sales cycle that would release us from this “on the market” limbo.

Second, we completed our first formal housesit, which is the beginning of building up our profiles on a couple of housesitting sites we have joined. We’re not yet sure how much of our travels will involve housesitting, but we are setting ourselves up so it is one of our options. We think it will be ideal for slow travel and for embedding ourselves in the communities that we visit. We signed up early last November so we could see what opportunities would be out there in the areas we plan to travel, and so we could start applying for local housesits now. We had the pleasure of sitting for a lovely woman and her cat, Peanut, in the south of the city for four days.

Learnings

On short-stay housesits

  • Four days is long enough to require a houseclean before you leave (bathrooms, vacuuming, kitchen), but so short that you don’t really have that much time to get into a rhythm or feel really comfortable in your temporary home.
  • Even though we were just about 20km from where we live in the inner city, we felt like we were on vacation, exploring on foot the pathways and shopping areas of the neighbourhood, and driving farther afield to points of interest south of the city where we hadn’t been before.
  • It’s best not to get extremely sick on the last day of a housesit when your husband has to leave on a morning flight and you are planning to do the final clean up and an airport run to pick up your host. This one probably applies to all housesits, not just short stays! Thanks to a very understanding and resourceful husband, who delayed his trip twice and postponed meetings to cover for me, we made it through and didn’t let anybody down.

On house-sitting sites

  • Trusted Housesitters is the most active (I receive daily e-mails with dozens of new housesit postings) and the most expensive housesitting site to join. Sits throughout Australia and the UK abound, but there are also sits from around the world. Trusted Housesitters has announced a number of upcoming improvements, including host reviews.
  • Housecarers costs less to join and isn’t as busy, but there is a nice mix of global sits offered, including plenty from Canada and the US. I receive daily e-mails from Housecarers as well, and each has a few to a dozen new posts listed. References, which are considered key in the housesitting world, are less formally structured than on Trusted Housesitters. I was able to upload a PDF of a written landlord reference, but on Trusted Housesitters the request had to be issued through their site.  After our first housesit, I thought that the site might automatically request a reference from our host, but a check of their FAQs told me I needed to request a write-up and then upload it myself. Since I wanted the reference for both sites, I requested one through Trusted Housesitters, and then uploaded a screen capture of the reference to Housecarers.
  • Nomador is huge in France and has a smattering of postings elsewhere. It is a good back-up option because they have a free membership that allows you to see how it works and even apply for up to 3 postings before you are required to pay. The free membership has other limits as well, but is just fine for checking them out.
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