Housesitting was something that came into our lives by pure coincidence! Before we left the land Down Under in 2017, a friend asked us to housesit for them. In fact, she wanted to know if I knew someone who would be willing to house sit their house and dogs. I looked at her and said: ‘We could do it’. And she said: ‘I hoped you would say that’!
That housesit in Brisbane was the spark that ignited a new exciting lifestyle. Since then we have done over a dozen house sits in The Netherlands, Spain and France. We only use one housesit website and nowadays get many direct requests to housesit.
Housesitting as a lifestyle
So, what is so good about housesitting, you may ask? I bet there are people who consider it their worst nightmare as you may have to work for the privilege. Homeowners may ask you to walk their dogs and cuddle their cats. Other chores are mowing the lawns, maintaining the pool, watering the garden and more.
Sometimes there are 3 – 6 dogs and a few cats. Some dogs apparently need up to 4 walks per day and cannot be left for more than 5 hours. Others may require daily medicines and leave dog poo everywhere which you are required to clean up.
If you don’t like the idea of this, you may not be suitable for a pet housesitting life as it ain’t a holiday. You are stepping into someone else’s life and are required to continue the pet routine that the homeowner established. In other words, the chores are the reason why you are there!
Your benefits are that it is free, most of the time as there are some homeowners who charge a small amount for utilities. And you get opportunity to see different parts of the world.
How to make your housesit successful
For us a successful housesit is a win-win situation and nor home owner and sitter should feel that it is not. In the past I have applied for housesits that required us to do change overs for a whole summer and be available 24/7. The owners would give us a small renumeration. But reality was that they wanted someone to run their business while they went on a trip with their teenage boys.
I could be interesting taking on a housesit that is partly a paid job but only for the right reward. As I said it must be a win-win situation – a barter that feels in balance. Not one that fills the pockets of the owner while the house sitter does the work.
Some homeowner consider you living in their home a privilege and ask you to perform more tasks than the home, pet and garden care. If they ask you to take care of their business as well, we feel there should be an additional monetary exchange.
When housesitting becomes a job
I know that some people take on sits like that for no extra pay, but I would not. It is important to discuss such matters before taking on a housesit. I have heard about disastrous mismatches where sitters left after only having been a few hours in the house.
The best example was a young, groomed couple that thought that an off-the-grid remote sit with 6 animals would be charming. They literally left right after having had dinner with the homeowners. They left them stranded with no sitters, 6 animals and a ferry to catch the day after. Not good for your house sit profile!
If the idea of housesitting appeals to you but you are unsure how to start, reach out and chat with me.
Ever thought about what would be your perfect lifestyle? I certainly have. In fact it started in my late teens when I wanted a summer job abroad. One of my high school friend’s worked a summer season in Switzerland and that seemed the ultimate dream to me. So I found a summer job in Zurich and returned for five summers while I studied in The Netherlands.
Working in Zurich created a hunger in me for exotic and foreign. Switzerland seemed to have better summer weather, the scenery was more appealing and it was foreign. A long story short, I had planted the seeds that caused me to change my lifestyle several times.
What is my perfect lifestyle
Without realising it before, I discovered that nature was important to me and so were sunny days. Growing up in The Netherlands, grey skies, drizzle and wind is part of life. I was no fan.
Jumping ahead several decades, I have moved abroad a handful of times. I have lived in Switzerland, UK, Australia and had some shorter stints in Greece and Norway. Nowadays I live in southwest France. The reasons for moving vary but work, opportunity, relationship and lifestyle choice have been some of them.
I grew up in the Netherlands and went for summer jobs to Switzerland. I joined a man in London and with him I created a new life in Australia. 25 years later we moved to France for lifestyle purposes. And believe me, I don’t think we are not done yet!
I feel we are still on the search for the perfect lifestyle – one that would suit us. I say ‘us’ as not everyone will have the same idea about ‘perfect’. Admittedly we are still searching but are finding more answers with every adventure we have.
Some of our recent adventures have been housesits in different countries. We have added working online, managing a holiday rental and a guardian role for a large French property . While doing such things we discovered what we like and don’t like. Above all we learned new things about ourselves.
We love France and have been here since 2017. Being Dutch, I can live in France while my British husband qualifies for residency because of being married to me. Understandably Brexit caused a little stir for the Brits that live abroad in Europe.
Although we love France we are still looking at other options. Unfortunately, if we stay in France we cannot receive a retirement pension from Australia. Yet, we can if we move to Spain or Portugal. For some reason France and Australia have decided to cut strings when it comes to pensions.
There are a few disgruntled Aussies in France who may not have been aware of that. We knew but as it was so many years ahead we still bought a house in France and settled there. After living here for 5 years we realised that the sun is not always shining in this part of France. The winters can be quite nasty and do really not differ that much from those in Northern Europe.
Climate change seems to be for real. Many places in the South of Spain have become unbearable during the summer months. Even in France where we are, the temperatures rise to high thirties for days on end.
What we have discovered….
While doing housesits and jobs in different locations we slowly find what our perfect lifestyle should and should not have. We have discovered the aspects that are important to us. Consequently we are now researching locations in Spain and Portugal on increasingly more factors. Examples are weather, unpleasant winds, sun aspects, proximity to medical services, public transport, work and costs.
There is obviously no perfect fit for everyone and people differ in needs, likes and dislikes. However after seeing ourselves and others make mistakes, we learned a few lessons. So start with considering the following.