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Media articles about house sitting, pet sitting and a whole lot more: snowbirders, grey nomads, globalfreeloaders, sunbirders, couchsurfers – they’re all here.

Summer for the seriously skint

The Guardian’s Gemma Bowes has come up with 10 ways for you to have a travel adventure on a tiny budget. While the lead-in to this article suggests that you can travel with no money at all, we think this kind of travel may be just a little too precarious for our members! We do think that the phenomenon of house sitting worldwide is so fabulous that it deserves more than 48 words out of a total of 1993 but we are grateful to the journalist that we were the only website mentioned under this subject. Yay for us!

Read on for lots of links to more information on free camping in Scotland, staying in ‘bothies’ (mountain huts) in the UK, ride-sharing, couchsurfing (of course), hostelling, home exchanging (we love this idea!), volunteering abroad, working on cruise ships, staying at retreats and Wwoofing etc. With so many opportunities for adventure, it’s a wonder you are still seated at your computer reading this!

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So you want to be a house sitter? Here’s how, and you won’t be paid a cent for your efforts!

This is part one of our attempt to impart some wisdom about the exciting new industry that is house sitting worldwide. You may have read this article before as it is widely published. We hoped this article would bring more visitors to our site. As you are reading this in our Community Area, our strategy seems to have worked (or not)!

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Need a house and pet sitter but think you can’t afford it? Think again – you can find a house sitter who works for free!

This is our humble attempt to create a second article that would give an objective overview of our exciting new Internet-based industry. As you can tell, it is written for home owners only. This article was first published in 2005 but is aging well I think! You may have encountered it before as it is widely published.

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Older people please apply

As a result of some choice exposure on Canadian day time news TV, Brian, a Canadian blogger and self-professed ‘old fart’ found MindMyHouse. Judging by this enthusiastic review of our service he liked what he saw! Brian is on a mission to decipher what could be a bewildering range of new technologies for his audience of so-called ‘baby boomers’. By boomer we mean those born in the West between 1946 and 1964. We think that Brian’s readers (older folk who are keen to get the most out of new technologies such as the internet) are right up our street!

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Sitting in style

Look mum I’m in the paper! While this piece written for the Financial Times (London) is just a general introductory piece on the weird and wonderful world of house sitting worldwide I thought I’d publish it here for your delectation. Note that three of the four people who are quoted in the story are MindMyHousies. And there’s the stuff from…erm… me as well!

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Firm links housesitters, upscale homes. Looking for a sitter?

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Renter, residential manager or upscale house sitter? House sitters, Janet and Neil Graner, are happy to cart 10-rooms worth of expensive furniture around on two tractor trailers between house sits. It seems that an upmarket property is more valuable when it is ‘dressed’ well and has that warm lived-in look. A rash of companies have sprung up in the USA which install ‘residential managers’ into vacant upscale properties for sale. So what’s in it for the Graners and others like them? In exchange for providing their own furniture and doing all the usual tasks required of a house sitter, they get to live in expensive houses for one quarter of the market rental price. I can’t help but wonder who pockets the rental income?

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Canadian snowbirds

Canadians flock to the southern states and Mexico by the motorhome-load every northern winter. Thing is, they’re doing it tough with a weak dollar and spiralling health insurance costs. Not fair! At least they can find a house sitter who will not only work for free but who will pay their share of utility bills (phew).

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Talking empty homes; upkeep can be key to a sale

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While this piece was written over 20 years ago, it still holds true to the facts. Dusty, bare, ‘abandoned looking’, empty homes do not sell as well as those that appear to be loved and lived in! What’s the answer for home owners desperate to sell their empty properties? Author Andree Brooks, then writing for the New York Times, has a few solutions for home owners. I like the one about getting house sitters in to pose as the happy family-in-residence. (For free of course!) Contains valuable information about the 30-day vacancy clause in most home and contents insurance policies.

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For the 90s, a new breed of housesitter

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Nick Ravo’s 1992 article in the New York Times predicted the end of the ‘housesitter of days’ past’ in favour of the growth of an industry that employs live-in residential property managers. Over fourteen years later and…surprise! While many new companies are doing well placing residential managers into empty properties there are simply too many home owners who need live-in security and care for their pets for the traditional house sitter’s role to die out. The good news for home owners is that the choice of services on offer is ever expanding: pay a lot of money to a company to employ a residential property manager or get your own house sitter in who works for free!

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Don’t leave under-30s home alone

UK-based NPower financial services summarise a survey they conducted into the ‘neighbourliness’ of the British by demographic variables such as location and age. According to this article from the Evening Standard (London), the bad news for the under-30s is – gulp – you were honest enough as a survey group to admit that if house sitting you would both do less work and get up to more mischief!

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GOING STRONG Allure and economy age well in Mexico

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It seems that Mexico is an extremely popular destination among North American and Canadian seniors during the northern winter. Expert on senior travel in the US, Willam A. Davis, has lots of good advice on where, when and how to make that break to sunny Mexico. Enjoy yourself by all means, but don’t forget to leave your home in the best of care!

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Take this job and love it

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What happens when an idea seems so good that it smacks you in the face and demands to be taken notice of? That’s what happened to veteran RVers, Ron and Pat Childers, when they first realised that their three month leave of absence from their jobs didn’t need to end. The message bearer was Workamper News, a little specialist bi-monthly magazine that lists caretaking and work camping opportunities across the USA. This new fangled 21st century-word says it all: work while camping. What a great combination of ideas!

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PRACTICAL TRAVELER Keeping home safe and sound

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An informative piece on home security by journalist Martha Stevenson Olson which quotes FBI statistics on the prevalence of burglary in the US. The Washington-based National Crime Protection Council tell us that ‘the key deterrent to burglars is to create the illusion that your house is occupied’. Even better – get a house sitter instead!

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Manor from heaven

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Dutchman, Joost van Gestel, is making an absolute fortune with an innovative business in property guardianship in Holland and more recently in the UK. The method behind his riches is to install single working people into disused properties to act as ‘passive security’ for the properties’ owners. Not only does Van Gestel charge the property owners a large fee for the service but his ‘house sitters’ must also pay him up to £50 per week each for their own room in what is always communal short term accommodation.

I cannot help but think it would be madness to find yourself sharing a communal ‘tea room’ and toilets with eight strangers in an unheated disused factory for what is close to average rent. But whatever floats your boat right? At least Van Gestel is a rich and happy man (and the Guardian’s Mark Espiner seems to think it’s a good thing as well).

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Don’t pay a high price for your low-cost living

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Student lifestyles are no less chaotic and enjoyable in London than in the rest of the UK but the cost of student accommodation in the capital is frightening. The Evening Standard’s Anthea Masey has some helpful advice to students in need of housing in London. (And there’s always making yourself available for house sitting as a possible solution – ed.)

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How well do you know the neighbours?

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It seems that Londoners need each other more than ever to keep themselves and their homes safe. But can the overcrowded inhabitants of one of Europe’s largest mega-cities get over their extreme irritation at each other’s quirks to put any good will into practice? This group of Londoners say ‘yes’…and ‘no’. Pete Clark of the Evening Standard knows all about it, having been burgled four times (ouch).

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New York leads in snowbirds moving temporarily to Florida

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Snowbirders – who are they exactly and what is their impact on the places they travel to? Nice piece of research from the University of Florida featuring lots of informative statistics on the habits of our snowbirding friends. Interesting thing is, a larger number of Floridians actually leave home for almost three months every year than snowbirders visit the sunshine state. These folk, known as sunbirders, also need house sitters to weather summer’s extremes in their properties. Of course, we are interested in minding snowbirders’ homes in the winter AND sunbirders’ homes in the summer while they’re away. It’s a shame the authors don’t touch on that aspect of the phenomenon of flight…

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Click here to create community spirit

‘Social-networking sites are good for building up your contacts base, even, sometimes, for meeting people – but they cannot remake real communities.’ So begins Brendan O’Neill’s theory that internet sites that aim to bring us all together aren’t quite up to the job. Thousands of couchsurfers, netmums and bookcrossers would say otherwise!

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No getting away from the cost of your pet’s vacation

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A nifty piece of journalism by the Guardian’s Miles Brignall reveals how expensive it is to have your pet cared for while you’re away. That is, of course, if you haven’t discovered how to find a free live-in pet sitter through MindMyHouse yet. (But you knew I was going to say that.)

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The great escape

Australian seniors can’t seem to help themselves: They’re taking to the roads around Aussie in their own transport in droves. If you fancy joining the Grey Nomads, Annette Sampson of the Sydney Morning Herald explains how.

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Safety net for crucial numbers

A new website offers a ‘digital safe’, to help holidaymakers whose bags are snatched.

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House-sitting robot stands guard

Sanyo have built a guard-dragon robot to replace human house sitters. At only US$16,000 each I think we’re safe.

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Housesitters

Ben Flanagan of the Guardian newspaper group provides a snapshot of the professional house sitting scene in the UK. With more on the effect of the National Minimum Wage Act 1998 on the industry.

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Fair day’s housesitting for a fair day’s minimum wage

Incredibly some people are paid actual money for their house and pet sitting services. The Guardian’s Richard Colbey looks at the impact the National Minimum Wage Act 1998 has had on the world of house sitting agencies and their employees.

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