We have been members of housecarers.com since 2006. (You can visit their website by clicking the link in the sidebar.) My sister sent an article on house sitting from AARP. It sounded like fun, and as we were without house, we decided to give it a try before settling down. Even though we have now settled down, we are still house sitting. It is a good way to see the world without the expense of hotels.
When we joined housecarers, we were a bit hesitant to apply for sits. Silly us. There are those looming questions. What if we don't like the place when we arrive? What if it's not as represented? What if their pets don't like us? What if? What if? We finally decided to just chuck the What ifs? and go for it. After all, we were just house sitting, not buying the place!
So far, we have not been disappointed. Sometimes, it's different than our expectations, such as the Ireland sit where the homeowner never left. But the houses and the pets have all been good! Don't know why we worried about the animals not liking us, it has never happened.
To apply for a house sit, we send a reply to an ad, telling how we would fit their needs. We have always had animals to care for, so they are the focus of our reply. Most people wouldn't worry about leaving their houses, but their pets are an entirely different matter!
When we hear back from an interested homeowner, the negotiations start. We send references, they send pictures. Sometimes, we communicate over the telephone, but most of the time, it's by email. Is this overly trusting? Maybe, but Bill and I always go with our gut instincts, which have not failed us yet!
For our first housecarers sit, we paid a security deposit into a joint savings account, as well as paying the utilities. We got back the deposit, with interest. Since then, we haven't paid a deposit, and probably won't again. We have only paid utilities one other time and it was a long term sit, which we felt was fair, plus we had the use of a car. It balances out.
So if you want to spend quality time in one place, stay long enough to get to know the area, shop like a local, and see things not in the guide books, give house sitting a try!