How housesitting can be a successful lifestyle choice

How housesitting can be a successful lifestyle choice

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.

housesitting, dog sitting, lifestyle choice

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.

house sitting, lifestyle choice, housesit chores, gardening

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.

Maybe we chat soon!

Marijke

housesitting, lifestyle change, lifestyle choice, housesit profile
On the search for the perfect lifestyle

On the search for the perfect lifestyle

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.

perfect lifestyle, Zurich, summer jobs,
Lake of Zurich – one of my favourite places. Picture taken by IG friend @123_just_lucy_you_see

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!

Still searching

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.

lifestyle choice, lifestyle matters, lifestyle criteria

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.

  • Do research and be realistic
  • Make choices based on criteria that matter to you
  • Anticipate the impact of your decisions

Last but not least, if you dream of a lifestyle change, I suggest you to do it!

Don’t be the one who says – what if and if only…

If the idea of a lifestyle change appeals to you, but you are unsure how to start, reach out and chat with me.

Maybe we chat soon!

With love

Marijke

perfect lifestyle, moving abroad, research, lifestyle change

Role reversal – could you handle it in a positive way?

Role reversal – could you handle it in a positive way?

Let’s have a look at role reversal. As some of you may know, we have made a recent move to the countryside. To be precise we have taken on the role of caretakers for an estate near the Pyrenees. It came our way and it shows how life can take an unexpected and sudden turn.

Find out how fast things can change here

We usually do a few housesits throughout the year and 2021 was no different. In June we got a request to replace a caretaker’s couple so they could visit their family in the UK. The house was for sale and during that fortnight there was a house viewing. We helped to make it look presentable and met the couple that ended up buying the house.

To make a long story short, they asked us to become the new caretakers after they became the new owners. We accepted and hence the lifestyle changes since early December.

You can read about our recent lifestyle change here

The impact of our role reversal

The biggest change would be for my husband as he really was the one taking on the job. I have a job of over 30 hours per week and was not on the lookout for additional hours. I am aware I may have to chip in during the weekends especially when there are holiday guests. The house is already booked out during July and August. Considering it is not a cheap rental, we can expect demanding customers.

Our daily routine is as follows. We get up and I go to the ‘home office’. My husband puts on his work gear and ventures outside to tackle the property’s maintenance chores. The remarkable thing currently is the role reversal in this new life. I have not worked in an office ever in my life and all my jobs were hands on and quite physical. My husband on the other hand is an office man and never was that keen on manual labour.

The way it used to be

I was the one who took on landscaping, gardening, painting to name a few. Although I have always said NO to lawn mowing. Funnily now, we do what the other usually did and we seem to have taken to it without much effort. I must admit that although I do like my job, I find the ‘office hours’ element a bit of a struggle.

At the moment I am happy to do it, but I knew that I had to say NO to full time. In fact, I managed to negotiate a four-day gig, from Monday to Thursday. As a result I have been working like this since August 2021.

The role reversal has made me think about the things we like to do ‘innately’. I am sure that my calling was hands-on, active, outside and lots of people contact. My husband would be more of an office man happily sitting behind a computer and do his thing.

I have trying to install this sense of ‘doing what you are naturally good at and feel happy doing’ in my kids. Only time will tell if they manage to achieve this.

Writer David Chapman on how to improve your thinking:

“Learn from fields very different from your own. They each have ways of thinking that can be useful at surprising times. Just learning to think like an anthropologist, a psychologist, and a philosopher will beneficially stretch your mind.”

Source: How to Think Real Good

What are your thoughts? I would love to know….

role reversal, recent change, change, lifestyle change
Our recent change to the country seems the ultimate god sent!

Our recent change to the country seems the ultimate god sent!

After our recent change from small town to country side, I am taking assessment of the different lifestyles I have been able to explore. To be honest I was not aware that I experienced such a wonderful variety. I have lived in the Northern and Southern Hemisphere, surrounded by mountains and near the beach. Climates vary from subtropical to moderate and I experienced below sea level and living at a height of 1000 meters. I know about car free mountain villages and life in big cities.

By having all these experiences I have learned what I like and don’t like. I have found out what I appreciate and don’t want to do without. Some of these discoveries have surprised me.

The lead up

As a teenager I had this feeling that I did not want to stay in The Netherlands. If you would ask me ‘why’, I could not tell you. There was this longing for adventure, the unknown and the unpredictable that appealed to me. I found it hard to commit to anything in Holland whether it was a boyfriend or a job. And looking back I never did commit.

Apart from teenage jobs to earn some pocket money, my first jobs were abroad. In fact they were in Switzerland and I ended up working 6 summers in Zürich. After graduating and facing a recession in the Netherlands, I returned to Switzerland for longer term jobs. I stayed long enough to qualify for a residence permit.

Mountains, space and nice weather – a few of my favourite things!

In Switzerland I learned that I love mountains and you may know that Holland is flat as a pancake. I also found out that nice long summers were within reach, something that Holland does not provide in abundance either. Swiss job pay well and I splashed out on some travel to the land down under. Australia taught me that I love nature, hot weather and empty spaces.

So I ended up living Down Under for 25 years. Unfortunately due to job locations not in the surroundings that I would have preferred. My husband had a city based career and as a result we lived in Sydney and in Brisbane. Nevertheless interesting and very different cities at the time.

Time for another change

After 25 years in Oz we decided to move to a small town in France. The location of the town was a practical choice as we wanted a house that had good potential to be a medium term holiday rental. It was a good choice and we also ended up living in it for a few years. Limoux is a vibrant little town with a fabulous square and a crazy carnival lasting from from January to March. At least that is how it was before Covid happened.

limoux, recent change, lifestyle choice
Limoux – its church and central square got my attention

Living in the centre of a small French town reminded me that I love nature, hate noise and what I saw from our windows was roof tops and the opposite house of the neighbours. Despite being a small town, it was surprising how noisy it could be. Then the next change came our way. During the summer of 2021, we did a housesit on a big estate in the Ariège and ended up returning to become its caretakers.

And now, I am surrounded by nature with lots of birds, deer hopping by and even the treat of meeting wild boars. We have no neighbours, the nearest supermarket is a drive away but it seems I have everything I want.

The funny thing is that I did not know I would like to live like this. This recent change came our way totally unexpectedly and I seem to have taken to it like a fish to the water. So never say no before you try, seems to be the lesson.

The forager who explores widely will find lots of useless terrain, but is also more likely to stumble across a bountiful berry patch than the person who stays home.

By James Clear
recent change, change, lifestyle change

Thank you for reading and feel free to comment!

Marijke

Don’t let feelings of doubt affect your new adventure!

Don’t let feelings of doubt affect your new adventure!

Have you ever had that feeling of doubt creeping in when you are in the middle of preparing a change? This is how I felt when my husband asked me if I realised it was just going to be the two of us for a while.

To get you up to date, we are in the process of moving to a big estate to become the new caretakers of a property. It was sold earlier this year when we were there doing a house sit. The property we will call our new home is in the Ariège with only a few small villages close by and a few bigger towns approximately 30 km away.

3-5 years of settling in

My husband’s question made me think! I have always loved starting over again, meeting new people and exploring all the new things around me. From experience and I have a fair bit, I know that it takes me 3-5 years to feel settled somewhere. It takes that long to make friends and feel comfortable. One of the things that always strikes me most is to figure out where you can find random things like a needle, pins or nails.

This new destination in Daumazin, Ariège offers nature, gardens and plenty of land but going to a café for a quick drink will be a thing of the past. To be fair, we don’t even know if the few cafes that we found in surrounding villages will be open. French villages can be fairly sleepy during the winter months.

Naturally I am a very social person. I like to be in touch with people, meet and talk to people. Social media is from that perspective a god sent. My experience is that it has helped me to connect with many likeminded people all over the world.

Social Media helped me to reconnect with old childhood friends, even a teenage boy friend and I made many new virtual friends. With some I click so well that I am sure we would be friends in person.

Moments of doubt

I suppose it is fairly normal to have these moments of doubt when change comes closer. It may help to put things in perspective. My usual approach to change is to be openminded, have no expectations and walk into it with energy and guts.

I can remember that this is how I started a new life in Sydney in 1991 and it paid off. I found a job within a week and made ‘friends’ there quite fast. Australians are in general easy going welcoming people and embrace strangers without hesitation. Many of them were once in the same situation after all – being a land of immigrants.

New opportunities

Our new lifestyle as caretakers will give us heaps of opportunities and I am aware of that.

The biggest thrill for me will be the outdoors. Stepping outside and being surrounded by nature is like a medicine for me. To put it in perspective – where I used to live the only thing I see is the house in opposite and the street is not much more than a car width.

There will be opportunities to garden, possibly start a vegetable pad. I like to eat organic and make foods such as pestos, chutneys and jams. How wonderful would it be to go shopping in your own garden?

So, after this little ‘awareness’ moment and writing it down is as always helpful, I put on my gutsy hat and steam forward to this new life with energy and zest!

When doubt creeps in!

If you are going through a change and see these moments of doubt creeping in. If you feel you need a little retune, why not reach out, tap into my experience and let’s evaluate it together.

I offer a 30 minute Free Call to get you back on track!

doubt, moments of doubt,lifestyle change, moving abroad, experience, living in a different country