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I am looking for some extremely detailed orientated, mature, reliable, clean, honest and communicative.
Essentially, I'm looking for someone who is a surrogate for me. I like to keep a keen eye out for things - from cleaning to touch-up painting - and proactively address them so that everything stays nice and maintenance issues don't build up over time.
Ideal candidates have some "home improvement" or "construction" experience so that they can address any small maintenance issues that may come up during the house sitting. There is almost always painting that needs to be done and lots of little things that are reflected in a "checklist" which I have organized into daily, weekly and monthly tasks. Some examples include checking on light fixtures in the gardens, applying lubricant to things, touch-up painting, cleaning things, etc.
Speaking and writing both Spanish and English is also a plus.
I want the house sitters to be at the property most nights. In other words, it's OK to take short trips for a day or perhaps two down to the beach areas but not to travel for longer periods of time during the house sit. One of my primary goals in having a house sitter is being sure there is someone at the house most of the time.
You should be comfortable using modern technology to send photos and reports about the property to me. Additionally, there is a home automation system that requires some technical know-how to operate.
The high humidity, copious amounts of rain and abundance of life in the tropics can be hard on things. Everything needs constant monitoring and regular cleaning/maintenance.
Below are the primary responsibilities. I've tried to be very detailed!
1) Keep the property clean and maintained including sweeping, moping, dusting, etc.
2) Monitor and address any insect issues by cleaning up and using appropriate chemicals when any insect activity is detected.
3) Regularly inspect the inside and outside of the property for changes or damages.
4) Send weekly status reports including detailed photos of the property to the owner.
5) Work with the owner to perform routine maintenance including painting, cleaning and small repairs as needed. Coordinate with owner and other contractors for more significant repairs when necessary.
6) Manage the gardener (Alveo) who comes twice a week (Mondays and Thursdays). This includes paying him once/month for his services in cash and setting his priorities for each working day. Alveo generally manages the gardens himself and is very experienced doing so. However, there should be a conversation with Alveo each day he works to answer any questions he has, provide any guidance and projects and be sure that he has the supplies he needs to do his job. For example, I regularly ask him to clean the exterior windows (once/month), touch-up paint and other tasks when necessary. Occasionally, you'll need to purchase gasoline, 2-cycle engine oil, garden chemicals or other supplies for him which will be reimbursed.
7) Pay utility bills when they cannot be paid online by myself. This is normally just propane gas deliveries or cases when the water, electric or cable internet bill can't be paid online. I will cover the utility costs during house sits up to their normal averages. In other words, I will cover the costs of utilities unless they exceed their normal amounts. The house sitter would be responsible for any overages.
8) Maintain the propane tanks. There are two 100lb propane tanks connected to valve that automatically switches from one tank to the other when a tank is emptied. There is an indicator on the valve that changes color when this happens. When one tank is emptied, you will be responsible for calling the supplier (Tropigas) and ordering a replacement tank. This should be monitored at least once per week. The idea is to never run out of gas as it supplies the stove/oven, water heaters and dryer (laundry). Sometimes there are week-long holidays in Panama so you don't want to end up without gas during these holidays!
9) You must have a debit card that can be used to withdraw cash from the local ATMs in order to pay the utility bills, gardener, etc. Panama's currency is technically called the Balboa but is effectively US currency (dollars). So, if you visit the ATM you'll receive US $20 bills.
10) Feeding and caring for a mostly outdoor cat. This includes feeding the cat twice a day (once at 9am and another at 5pm) and making sure he has some company.
This is a truly one-of-a-kind property in a beautiful valley surround by tropical rainforests, rivers, waterfalls and tremendous biodiversity.
The property itself is well designed and comfortable with spacious rooms, a gourmet kitchen and many other great features. It's located centrally in El Valle de Anton which is a special place in Panama and hosts lots of great restaurants, a modern grocery store and a daily open-air farmer's market.
More photos available here:
In addition, El Valle features nearly perfect weather. Daily high temperatures are normally in the high 70's or low 80's and nighttime lows are generally in the mid 60's making it very comfortable year round - even with the high, tropical humidity. In the rainy season (generally May through December) the mornings are normally sunny with a tropical downpour sometime in the mid afternoon. The dry season (January through April) is very windy (trade winds) with almost no rain. It's generally breezy during the day and downright windy during the nights.
There are plenty of stores, restaurants and other amenities within easy walking distance and you will have access to a bike which is the perfect way to get around El Valle.
Please review the detailed list of responsibilities. In addition, with the security system, home automation system and other tech gadgets, this house requires some comfortability with technology.
We loved Zach’s home -- Sombra de la Luna – and gardens, fell in love the cat Mr. ‘Leo’ Leon Beans, and we loved working with Zach and Jessica while being their surrogates three plus months during both the dry and wet seasons. We highly recommend this sit for the right people. You need to be prepared to stay put. If you want a vacation or to explore Panama that needs to be done before or after this home, garden and cat care sit. There is a lot to stay on top of: commit to being present for the cat and the security of the property; maintaining the veggie garden; and, addressing various maintenance and repair issues that arise during your stay is important. You need to be prepared to pay for certain bills as they come up, such as propane, but Zach is excellent and timely at refunding those expenses. Consistent communicate with Zach and Jessica, sharing pictures how ‘Leo’ is doing and sharing photos for maintenance questions, and referring to and updating spreadsheets is also important. Speaking a little Spanish to communicate with Alveo the garden is very helpful. El Valle has some very tasty Italian restaurants, and the Public Market and groceries stores are in walking distance. And there are lovely walks in many direction in town. We can tell you our time and effort was worth it and we hope to do it again!
We had the opportunity and pleasure to house sit for Zach from October 2018 through February 2019. We enjoyed our stay and would recommend this house-sitting assignment to anyone interested. Zach is a great communicator. Prior to our house-sitting Zach provided in-depth information regarding his expectations for the house sitters while in his home that was easy and clear to understand. He also provided information where to stay in Panama City, what options were available to travel from Panama City to El Valle. Upon arrival he spent time showing us around El Valle, his house and garden also introduced us to the neighbors. During our four months stay every time we had any concern or question we would email Zach, he would respond within 24 hours with positive information. The house is very clean and organized, it has everything you need including on demand hot water, battery back-up power, WiFi, Streaming, wall projection-screen, books, natural light, large kitchen with a gas stove, microwave, dishwasher and toaster oven. An open floor plan, tiled throughout, great air circulation, Washer & Dryer, back-up propane gas tanks, security lighting and alarm system which all provide first class living in El Valle. The garden is a tropical paradise and the arrangement of planting, color, shape and sound from the water fall in the pond is exquisite. Zach has designed landscape lighting which enhances his garden and house during nighttime hours. During our stay we would pay for the gardener’s fee, any utility bill and other household items which we would itemize and submit to Zach at the end of each month and Zach would reimburse us within 24 hours.
We cared for Zach's beautiful custom home in El Valle Panama for 2.5 months, from late May through the beginning of August 2018. Zach is an excellent home owner to work for, with realistic expectations clearly stated. Unlike most of the assignments featured here, Zach's home does not require pet care. So, the housesitter has the flexibility to set their own schedule. Zach is very clear about what duties are expected of the housesitter and will provide a detailed home manual as well as an online spreadsheet to keep track of what has been done. The housesitter's job consists of being physically present (with no more than 2 nights away at a time) and cleaning, some pest control and checking the house and grounds for signs of problems (including the automatic lighting and pond pump). A very good gardener is provided by Zach to maintain the exquisite grounds, and you will meet with him during his twice weekly visits to make sure everything is going well, assign special tasks, and to pay him. For this reason, and to handle other odd jobs that come up, it is helpful to speak some Spanish. It would also be helpful to know how to send Zach photos, troubleshoot, and have some cleaning and maintenance skills. The home is very well located in the lovely Valle De Anton, walking distance from a nice grocery store, restaurants, hiking and attractions. Zach's car may also be available for licensed driver's that pay a deposit, and we used the 2 bikes he provided. Zach's home has 50MB internet, window screens, washer and dryer, dishwasher and a projector, making it one of the most well-equipped homes in Latin America. If you hate rain (in the rainy season), or wind (in the dry season), need big city amenities or nightlife, or are afraid of Geckos, then this probably isn't the house sit for you. However, if you are clean, organized and reliable and would love to spend a couple of months in a temperate tropical paradise where you can hike, bike, or bird watch, then I encourage you to apply!