Having completed our first year of pet and housesitting in Spain, and now in a more full-time year around our home country, we are often asked about why we do this, or how do you get into it?
Before we started on this journey, I signed up for numerous housesitting sites, networking and Facebook groups to get a feel for the experiences of others. I’m an inquirer, always looking into things to try and discover more and this research was a really good way of hearing the stories of others, both good and bad and get an idea of some of the things we might face on our adventure. It gave me a great insight into how to add value to housesits and ways of dealing with pets and people.
Here are some of the sites we signed onto: (if you click on the name, a new window will open up with that site)
- Housesitting Cafe
- Housesitting Magazine
- Housesit Spain & Portugal
- Housesit Mexico
- Housesit Australia
- Housesit NZ
- House and Petsitting NZ
- Mapahub great for connecting with fellow housesitters based on location and dates, we’ve really enjoyed meeting up with “friends we’ve never met” in various places around the world as they pop up in our general location
- Housesitting Magazine. This is available (free) online with many experienced contributers giving tips about almost everything to do with housesitting, locations, travel and so much more.
Actual housesit opportunities:
(I recommend the first 4 where I had most success securing sits)
- Trusted Housesitters (this link gives you discounted sign-up)
- Kiwi House Sitters (contact me for a discount code)
- MindMy House
We follow a number of house and pet sitters, nomads and wanderers on their Instagram feeds and have enjoyed actually meeting up with a few of these Instagram and Facebook friends, seeing them getting closer in location to where we were, and so, arranging to meet up. Search hashtags #housesitting #petsitting #trustedhousesitters to start and see who pops up that looks interesting to
Again, as I blog, I see other like-minded bloggers writing about their experiences and follow their journeys. Some of these we have been fortunate to meet in person, but others inspire us in our travels and experiences too. See who I follow on the side bar of my home page (pictured) and follow them too if their pages look interesting. These are WordPress blogs, there are many more out there if you look – some of those I follow on Instagram or Facebook have web pages with their adventures around the world. Picking up on the ideas and experiences of others has been wonderful, and we visited a number of places in Europe because we saw photos on Instagram or read blogs about the adventures of others.
We are only babes in experience compared to many who have been living this life for many more years than us, but here are some of the things we have learned over the past year during our housesits.
- Ask lots of questions of the homeowner about how to remedy potential issues. From power outages where we haven’t been able to get the blown fuses turned back on, to water getting into the house during heavy rain, to pets dying suddenly – these are some of the experiences that we’ve had to deal with, which we never anticipated beforehand, but now we make sure to check what to do with our homeowners before they leave so that we know how to deal with them should something bad or disastrous happen. Ask the “awful question” – what if your pet gets seriously ill or dies? (When this happened to us it was not fun, very stressful and we were totally unprepared!)
- Work out how to “add value” to your sit. Weeding a garden may not take long (or it might take forever!) but it can make such a noticeable difference when the
homeowner returns. Mowing lawns, watering pot plants etc may be something the homeowner asks you to do but think outside the box and work out how to go the extra mile if you have the time to do so. We’ve heard of others planting vegetables in the garden, I’ve had my linen cupboard tidied with everything folded and arranged neatly which was a lovely surprise. Myself, I work on cleaning out cutlery and kitchen utensil drawers if they are crumby and grubby or just jumbled up. It makes you feel better while staying in the house and leaves a nice gift for the homeowners return that doesn’t really take much effort. Always, make an extra effort to clean and tidy everything before the homeowner returns, a sparkling home is a welcome sight.
- When checking out potential housesits either through an online site, or by referral, or by Facebook groups, look and ask for photos of the house (bedroom, bathroom and kitchen particularly) and pets, take time to talk to the home owners to find out about their pet’s needs, behaviours, age and training. (We got caught with one sit that provided minimal information and no photos, our mistake! and although the dogs were generally lovely, they were very untrained and daily walks were a nightmare). Check out the reviews from previous housesitters, we find this invaluable as it gives us an indication of the home and homeowners, as well as potential challenges and bonuses.
- Check with the homeowner about taking and using photos of their pets on social media. I’ve never had a no, but would respect their wishes for privacy if they requested it. It’s polite to ask rather than just assuming its ok.
- Check and double check the dates – especially when the homeowner is leaving and when they want you to arrive. We like to arrive and stay the night before the homeowner leaves, but if this isn’t always practical (or wanted) we try to either meet up a few days before the sit or the day they leave to go over everything. Also, return times – it’s nice to be there to welcome them home but not always possible, especially if you have back to back sits.
There are many many more tips and you can find so much information by checking out the websites and groups I’ve mentioned above.
Last year, when we had our “year in Spain” we saw housesitting as a way to connect with locals (except they were all ex-pat British and Germans!) and to provide us with a base to live and experience local life in the company of pets. It gave us free accommodation between our travels, (a kitchen and laundry were particularly appreciated) and the pets were a wonderful distraction. We enjoyed it so much, we decided to continue this lifestyle in our own country of New Zealand this year and are already considering extending our boundaries further to Australia for 2020. We are enjoying the pets and meeting up with new people, making more connections and continuing to be a part of the wider housesitting community.