Last October, I wrote a post on why we decided to caretake.  Since then, I have received many an inquiry as to how we became caretakers.  Most of the time it is via e-mail, so I just e-mail the person back, all the while thinking to myself that I really must blog about this as it is obviously a topic of interest.  So, here goes.

When I house and pet sat full-time in my twenties, it was all by word of mouth.   I am trying to remember how the first sit came about.  Someone must have said to someone else who was looking for a sitter, “I bet Valynne will do it, she is single and broke, and pretty responsible for a person her age”.  So, I took a long-term sit, which saved me tons of money on rent.  Then, I took another.  And another. 

My only means of marketing myself was with a very pretty business card.  I love pretty business cards, by the way.  Business cards say a lot about a person/company, so try not to be too cheap here, people.  And yes, I do believe that with all of our technology, a business card is still very important.  I hand mine out all the time.  People tell me how pretty they are.  And then, they contact me.  As simple and effective now as they were then.

Flash forward a decade (OK, fifteen years) and we now have the means to search for sits and sitters all over the planet via the world-wide web.  Pretty amazing, really.  This would be how Paul and I found our current sit.  We were in the process of selling the house and pondering where our next dwelling would be.  I did not want another house.  The words thirty year mortgage are practically synonymous with prison term to me.  So, I got online and Googled away. 

There are now a variety of websites that you can subscribe to in order to find any kind of caretaking positions you can imagine.  By the way, people use the term caretaking  and sitting interchangeably.  The main difference is that “caretaking” typically means a long-term arrangement that tends to include more responsibilities, while “sitting” is typically short-term (think two weeks spent with your neighbor’s dog, taking in the mail and watering the plants). 

So, I chose two online sites for us to subscribe to.  Both of these can be found to the right of this post under CARETAKING/HOUSE & PET SITTING.  The Caretaker Gazette costs $30 a year, and Housecarers costs $45.  Not bad, considering we are saving thousands and thousands of dollars a month!  Plus, it is way more entertaining than cable, and a great way to learn your world geography : ) 

Once I subscribed to these sites, I searched for possible sits and marveled at the possibilities, reading the really interesting ones out loud to Paul.  After the house officially sold, I began to inquire.  I had compiled a list of references and written an introductory paragraph or two for our online profile (which evolved into our website).  Less than two weeks later, we were headed east, for a long-term caretaking job.   Pretty simple, really. 

You may be saying to yourself, yeah, but…to that I say, trust me, there are all kinds of opportunities for all kinds of people in all kinds of situations.  Example:  You have two dogs.  While it is more difficult to find sits when you have animals of your own, there are sits that allow you to bring your animals with. 

You don’t have to subscribe to the sites above to get a feel for what is available.  They will have sample sits as well as current sits, just without the contact details.  If you are on Fb, you can also fan Caretaker Gazette.   Check out the sites, and then decide whether you want to make the investment. 

My bloggy friend Kim is starting a caretaking site, as well.  You can access it by clicking on Caretaker International (also to the right of this post).  This is brand new, so if you go on and don’t see much, stay tuned.  She is featuring a free classifieds section, so you have nothing to lose by posting your own ad.

We have met other caretakers (mostly online) by commenting on their blogs, meeting them on forums, and the like.   It is a pretty cool community; most of us share a love of animals, travel, living simply, etc.  

I came upon my recent side sit in Cambridge via networking with other caretakers.  Cool, eh?  This is common for caretakers.  For example, since deciding upon a long-term sit, we have had many requests to sit for others.  If we are unavailable, we like to be able to refer someone who is.  Someone we know and trust. 

Looking back, I can see this post is a bit long and a bit rambling.  I am a bit sidetracked today (more on that later) but I didn’t want any more time to go by before bringing up this topic as I have had two e-mail inquiries these past 24 hours.  I am hoping this post leads to more questions, ideas, and rapport.  Please share your thoughts by clicking on the comment button below.

We look forward to hearing your own caretaking success stories in the near future : )

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