As housing costs soared this spring, my landlords referred to as me to say they’d determined to promote their home, and I’d have to transfer out. (It’s price noting that in most flats in Oakland, the place I stay, the sale of a home wouldn’t be a authorized cause to kick out a tenant, however my yard cottage fell into a loophole, so I had to scramble to discover some other place to stay.) My tiny home was so tiny that it was comparatively low-cost for the Bay Space, and with few choices in the marketplace, I made a decision to flip to a momentary various: pet sitting in trade for a free place to stay.
For the final 73 days, I’ve been caring for a cat as a substitute of paying lease. And whereas it isn’t a resolution for the housing scarcity—and I’m solely counting on it as I think about other potentialities, together with transferring to a a lot cheaper state—the mannequin is turning into extra frequent for individuals touring on a price range.
On TrustedHousesitters, a platform based in 2010 that now has tens of hundreds of members, listings can embody flats in central Tokyo, and Berlin, and Brooklyn, a sixteenth century farm subsequent to a fort in France, a horse farm in Maine, and a log home within the mountains in Colorado. Most owners utilizing the service have pets (often a cat or a canine, with the occasional alpaca or herd of sheep), and when touring, they need to go away the animals at residence and not in a kennel. Others simply need somebody to water vegetation and preserve the home occupied. Each householders and home sitters pay a yearly membership charge to use the platform, however every house-sit is a straight trade—householders don’t pay the home sitter, and the home sitter doesn’t pay the home-owner. I spent six weeks caring for a fluffy cat named Woolfy and paid nothing; renting a smaller residence on Airbnb for a similar time interval, in the identical metropolis, would have price me greater than $3,600.
The home-sitting platform “relies on the sharing economic system mannequin, the place no cash exchanges palms between sitters and house owners,” says Angela Legal guidelines, group supervisor on the U.Ok.-based TrustedHousesitters. “It’s primarily based purely on an expertise and a like-minded group of animal lovers.” The expertise is comparable to what Airbnb touts—you are feeling such as you’re residing in a neighborhood whereas touring, reasonably than in a generic lodge. But it surely avoids one of many pitfalls of Airbnb: You don’t have to surprise for those who’re staying in an condominium or residence that in any other case may have helped ease the native housing scarcity. Other house-sitting platforms, like Nomador, provide a comparable service of matching householders and home sitters.
Because the service makes use of evaluations as the first method for householders to vet potential sitters, it will possibly be difficult to get employed for the primary gig. For me, it was principally luck: Once I utilized for my first job and didn’t but have evaluations, a home-owner was prepared to take a likelihood. Their overview helped me land the following gig. Legal guidelines recommends asking for references from mates whose pets you’ve taken care of up to now, and then making use of for short-term house-sitting jobs domestically earlier than making an attempt to snag a keep hundreds of miles away in, say, New Zealand or France.
But it surely’s doable to home sit full-time: Prior to the pandemic, Legal guidelines lived a form of nomadic existence for 5 years, touring the world caring for pets. Because the pandemic eases, demand is probably going to develop, each as a result of many extra individuals are actually in a position to work remotely and there was a surge in new animal adoptions throughout lockdown. “Once you’ve adopted a pet from a kennel, the very last thing you need to do is put them again into that surroundings,” she says.