After three years of expat life, Catherine's family returned to France with two new South African friends: Jana the Labrador and Plume the cat. But then came the holiday headache: which solution could they find so that their pets would not be uprooted again? Catherine had heard about house-sitting and decided to take the plunge. But strangers in her home? That was a brand new experience! So of course, we were very curious to hear about her feedback… and share it with you. Because as you know (or will soon discover), Nomador is all about discovery, connection, experience, pets and places; but at its heart, it’s all about people—people like you!
Now let’s meet Catherine and her family…
"Java and Plume became part of our family on the same day, and they grew up together."
Catherine, can you introduce Java and Plume to us? Java and Plume became part of our family on the same day, 31st of December 2011. We were new expats in South Africa, and we were feeling a little bit isolated at the other end of the world. My husband wanted to have a cat, while I was more a dog person … so we made the choice to have both at the same time—so that they’d grow up together. Java is very lively, she’s a very energetic dog who loves playing. Plume is a bit shyer, she prefers cuddling or staying around the house (but she’ll come as soon as you call her name). Java always greets us the exuberant way no matter whether we’ve been away for an hour or for three weeks, while Plume rubs around our legs. We certainly miss our walks with Java and cuddles with Plume when we are away. But, importantly, we never come home to a sulky dog or kitty—they always show their love for us when we return!
"I wanted to try it out first and see whether I would receive applications, or not, and whether those applicants would seem trustworthy enough."
Had you ever had house-sitters at home? No, it was the very first time that we considered having house and pet-sitters. I registered through the Discovery Option. This free option was one of the reasons why I opted for Nomador rather than for other sites where subscribing was mandatory. Because I had no idea whether it would work out or not and I didn’t want to pay before testing. I wanted to try it out first and see if I would receive applications, or not, and if those applicants would seem trustworthy enough to leave our home and pets with them before committing further. It was such a new experience for us! So, I listed our home on the Nomador website; and if I remember well, received more than a dozen applications.
Did you find it easy to build trust with your candidates? What were the points that helped you? The site’s Trust Profiles helped a lot, because we could see the candidates’ photographs, as well as the list of IDs (email address, passports, home address, etc.) that had been checked by Nomador. Also the fact that we could start chatting through an internal system, before we felt confident enough to give people our phone number and real identities.
Among our initial favourite candidates were a couple of retirees who we met with on Skype. We had a really great first contact with them, but after thinking about it I started to have some doubts. Java is so energetic, I was afraid she might be too strong for them, and make them fall down. So I decided it may be wiser to look for younger candidates. That’s how we ended up finding our house-sitters.
When we first met them, we felt quite confident. We had also had a Skype chat, we felt we could trust them. Before we left they came and had dinner with us and stayed for a night. The relationship was built in a natural way. I was a bit more stressed because I had a feeling that I had not taken the time to give enough instructions. But my fears were not founded, and everything went fine! Since we had spent some time together before our departure, Java and Plume had time to get used to them which made it a gentle transition. That they started to play with Java immediately upon their arrival also meant they had it in the bag!
So we left feeling secure (mostly), but the news and photos they rapidly sent us were enough to reassure us even more and confirm that we’d made the right choice.
"We’ve met new friends and still write to each other; we could never have imagined that it would go that far!"
What has been the best part of having house-sitters look after your pets at home? Several things! First, I would say knowing that the pets were comfortable at home, with their daily routine; Java was boarded once in a kennel and was traumatised for a long time after that. Second, the peace of mind we had during our vacation, knowing that our home was protected even if we were far away. Finally, receiving updates from the house-sitters was great, and to come back and find a home in almost better shape than when we left!
We can say that we left our home and pets in the hands of people who were strangers, but they totally deserved the trust that we placed in them. We’ve met new friends and still write to each other; we could never have imagined that it would go that far! So yes of course, we will list our home again for our next holiday. We’ve found out it is the best possible solution for our pets!
Thoughts from Nomador
At Nomador we are always interested in hearing feedback from members and we are always delighted if they can help the community by sharing their experience. Here at Nomador, we are committed to sharing in every way and thus also love to share our own professional experience.
Entrusting your home to people you don’t know is certainly no easy matter! Trust is a fundamental element and you must understand how to build it. Catherine’s testimony is interesting because although she was new to house-sitting, she took her time to select the best house-sitters (the best approach for them). And she respected all important steps (except maybe one)!
- She used the internal email system to create a good dialogue with her candidates before deciding to go further by phone, or Skype in her case. Skype is an excellent choice: it allows you to see each other and feels more like « meeting » in person.
- She was able to identify the right questions, in order to find people who would be able to (and be happy to!) cope with Java’s energetic temperament. This also means taking your time … If you’re stuck for what to ask, here’s an article which will give you a list of questions in order to prepare a chat with a candidate.
- After they reached an agreement, she came back on Nomador to validate the house-sit with her candidates. Very important: it allowed them to assess each other at the end of the experience. So next time Catherine lists her home, prospective house-sitters will be able to see that she’s received a positive review. And if they chat through the internal chat space, they will even read the endorsement from her previous house-sitters. This is how we are building—little by little—a trusted community on Nomador.
- What she could have done (but as someone new, understandably didn’t know) : Catherine explains that she was a bit stressed because she was afraid she’d forgotten to give some instructions. This is where she could have used our ‘Home-Book’ on the website! It’s a very helpful document that collects all the important information (addresses, phone numbers, service providers, places to see…) and instructions (home, devices, pets…) for the house-sitters. By filling in the home-book in advance, you’ll be sure ALL important details are covered for when your house-sitters arrive. Make use of the ‘Home-Book’—it really helps!
Nomador is an international home-sitting platform. The nomador community puts people in touch with home-sitters and home-owners they can trust. It is dedicated to people who need to find a solution to leave with peace of mind by entrusting their house (for family holidays, trips abroad or business travels), and people who travel through the world in exchange for lodging (watching over a home).