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.
I have always been a fan of homemade. Not only homemade foods but also clothes, home decor and much more. I even had a stint at making Christmas cards. I can remember watching a tennis final with Roger Federer while making dozens of Christmas cards for family and friends. It was enjoyable and exciting, probably because of the tennis yet I never did it again. Maybe it is because there are no more Federer finals to watch!
Homemade food have been a passion for a long time now. Whether it is for health reasons, being frugal, using the best ingredients and enjoy doing it, it has been a huge part of my life.
The collection of such foods is growing. As I love sharing good things, I have started to blog about it. Not all recipes are mine and my husband Keith is doing his fair share. He loves fermented foods and started making apple cider vinegar and sour dough bread years ago.
In fact my daughter started a sourdough culture while we were still living in Australia and we loved making fruit and nut breads. Making your own sourdough bread is easy and fun albeit there are a few rules. Keith has perfected his starter culture and we always have the luxury of crispy fresh sourdough. He trials different flours and sometimes adds ingredients such roasted garlic, rosemary and olives.
Homemade foods on offer
We have now added fire cider, red and white sour kraut, pickles, chutneys, jams and olives to our list of homemade foods. We were so lucky to spend almost a year on a large property in the Ariège. There were plenty of fruit trees including apple, plums, mirabelle, blackberries, mulberries, figs and crab apples. Consequently the production of chutneys, pickles and jams resembled a professional kitchen.
I hope to inspire you to have a go at ‘homemade’. My perfect ‘cook up’ is singing along to my favourite tunes on a weekend day while having the kitchen to myself. Then miracles happen………..
My interest in moving abroad may have been part of my genes. After all what other child would decide to learn German with eight years of age??
I grew up in the Netherlands with more German tv stations than Dutch. Germany synchronises all content on tv and this means that you get to see everything in German. To give you an idea, I grew up thinking John Wayne was a native German speaker as I always saw him speaking German.
In The Netherlands on the other hand, we had subtitles and everything we see on TV is in the original language. As a result many Dutch people pick up some English. Some generations learned to speak English purely because of the subtitles. Often, they have an American accent as we had more programs from the USA.
So as a result of hearing a lot of German on tv and living only 20 km from the German border I developed this interest in learning German when I was eight. On top of that my father took me on shopping trips to Germany to stock up on photography supplies. They were substantially cheaper in Germany.
My father was a keen amateur photographer and he had a dark room in our attic. He taught me to print my own black and white pictures so I could create little albums. How nice would it be to still have these albums!
An early interest in anything abroad
To sum it up, I learned to speak German as a kid and I had summer jobs in Switzerland for 5 years while I was studying. One of my best friends lived in Milan so guess where I hang out regularly? My first real job after graduation was for an American company in Switzerland.
It seems that from a young age I was standing with one foot abroad. So, it is not surprising to see that I ended up living in five different countries.
Another interesting thing is that I never showed much interest in Dutch boyfriends. I had a teenage fling for about 3 years but after that I tended to have boy friends abroad. The result was that I never really had ‘real’ relationships as I hardly ever saw these guys. But it stopped me creating any ties to the Netherlands.
My sister once said to me that I seemed only interested in finding a reason for going abroad. Looking back at my life, I realise she had a point. When I met my future husband in Australia, I certainly did not hold back then. In fact I thought he was an Australian, and secretly I hoped for an easy entry in the land down under.
Moving abroad multiple times
Since my twenties I have lived in Switzerland, UK, Australia, and France with short stints in Greece and Norway.
My first move was when I was single and the second and third while I was in a relationship. I moved with a four-year-old child, then with a seven-year-old plus a baby and in 2017 as an empty nester. I have experienced moving within the whole range of age categories and have surely accrued some wisdom over the decades
My last move abroad was after the kids left home and this move was my favourite. It was purely a lifestyle choice, and it feels like I am now perfecting the circumstances of the last chapter of my life.
Let me ask you something!
If a move abroad or relocation has been on your mind, but you think it is only a silly dream. Or if you reckon you would love to have such an adventure but you have no idea where to start…….
In that case, I like to invite you to tap in to my experience. I would love to help you unlock your dream and explore if a move abroad could be within your reach.