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Canton of Fribourg Switzerland, one of many houses you can arrange house-sitting with in many different countries.Canton of Fribourg Switzerland, one of many houses you can arrange house-sitting with in many different countries.
House-sitting for Travelers: matches houses with sitters

There are countless options when it comes to places to stay when traveling abroad. From the more luxurious hotels, to couchsurfing, hostels and camping outdoors, travelers find all sorts of ways to save money and make their stay one to remember.

Travelers now have another way to crash while on vacation, and this one is free of charge. is an international house-sitting community founded by Mariannig Ferrari, of the French house-sitting website, which she founded seven years ago. It works by offering travelers the chance to stay in other travelers’ houses while they are away, and vice versa.

Welcome to Nomador

helps homeowners get in contact with house-sitters and make arrangements for their homes to be “sat” while they travel. With what is called “a trust-based community platform,” house sitting opportunities have become more available to the general public. 

This is because Nomador is different from other sites of its kind. Ferrari took what was already working with her existing house sitting agency, which she had created with a team of people, and fashioned another resource, different in some key ways. For starters, it is what is called a peer-to-peer site, taking out the middle man and allowing people to communicate directly with potential house sitters and homeowners.

“Only some people could afford paying fees to an agency, and there are a lot of people who would like to benefit from it, and cannot afford it,” Ferrari said. “Peer to peer sites, with the progress of the internet, allow people to do, themselves, things they were not able to do seven years ago.” Webpage

The website,, was launched in February 2014, in Sydney, Australia, starting out on an international basis, to make this kind of travel opportunity available to a wider population.

For House-Sitters

House sitters get the rare opportunity to not only travel to new destinations all around the world, but they get to do so while living in someone’s home, immersing themselves in a different culture, and for free.

House sitting is for travel lovers who either do not wish to stay in traditional hotels or cannot afford to. It is for travel lovers of all ages, though as Ferrari explained, a specific age group is more commonly associated with the program.

For HomeownerspoolBackyard pool at Saint-Pierre home

The typical homeowner letting their house be looked after is between forty and fifty years old. These individuals list their home on the Nomador website, allowing it to be available to interested sitters.

Another upside of, Ferrari said, is something akin to networking, though this idea is still in the works.

Many of Nomador’s current and prospective viewers have teenage children, who are potentially looking for internships abroad, she explained. Nomador could potentially offer opportunities for meeting people from other countries and making these types of connections.

Who will and who does use Nomador?

There is a range, Ferrari says. Though their current, primary audience is forty plus, and retirees with a lot more time to travel on their hands, there is certainly a market in younger adults looking to stay somewhere inexpensively and immerse themselves in a foreign culture.

For travelers in their twenties who may typically couch surf when traveling, this offers yet another interesting alternative to traditional hotel stays. That said, they are typically able to rent more flats in cities than larger properties. 
Typically, people who use peer to peer platforms are on the younger side, but Nomador already has about one thousand members, the average age being from fifty to sixty years old, and is also popular with families, often those who have pets and need someone to look after them while traveling. 
houseHouse in Copenhagen, Denmark

Programs like Nomador are a product of the digital age. It has never been easier to list an available home, and to find an available home, than it is now with a clear, simple website to let you search around for the place that best suits your needs. 

Founded in July 2013, the website kicked off a few months later, branching out internationally, and reaching a larger, international audience pretty quickly.

House sitting, according to, is free, and the expectation is, sitters will care for the house “like it was your own.” It offers travelers peace of mind. They know their home and/or pets are being taken care of.

“Nomador...promotes house-sitting the world over by offering an affordable solutions based on the values of sharing and fostering richer relationships between families across borders and continents,” according to

Why settle for couch when you can have a whole house?

Marrianig FerrariMarrianig Ferrari, founder of Nomador.comNomador offers two different options when it comes to finding sitters and homeowners. There is the free option of listing your home online in an ad, and then there is the “confidence” option, which is less widely used, costing 65 euros per year. The purpose of this is that only subscribers can see your listing, and it is more confidential.

“Nomador...promotes house-sitting the world over by offering an affordable solution, based on the values of sharing and fostering richer relationships between families across borders and continent,” according to their website.

An Entrepreneur of Travel

Ferrari described herself as “curious, optimistic, hyperactive working mum” on the website,, where she discussed her history of entrepreneurship, starting two vastly different house-sitting platforms.

Ilidor was created in 2007, after Ferrari and her family left Paris, to live in an old farmhouse in the countryside with numerous pets. She came up with the idea while planning a family vacation, and not wanting to leave the pets in a kennel.

So began the house-sitting journey.

Ferrari and her family rented out their farmhouse to a retired couple from Belgium, who they found online, and who were pleased to find free lodging. They would spend the month of August in the farmhouse, enjoying the company of Ferrari’s pets, and the comfort of a home.

This experience, she said, is what made her realize other families must have similar needs.

“That’s how the whole adventure started,” she said of her original brainchild, Ilidor. “Since them I have practiced every year, and we have thousands of customers in France.


Steffi Porter
 is a creative writer and journalist who has written for The Daily Hampshire Gazette, Hearst Newspapers and the Houston Chronicle. She is a former writer and editor for her college paper, the Massachusetts Daily Collegian and a graduate of the Institute for Political Journalism and the Fund for American Studies.

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Tags: storySection: Vacation Rentals
author: Steffi Porter
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