House Sitting as a Part of our Lifestyle

When we started to seriously consider adopting a nomadic lifestyle we realized that house sitting could be a integral part of our plans. Accomodation in particular in many places is beyond our reach financially for extended stays. Much of Western Europe, England and the Caribbean can be pricey and we knew that if we wanted to spend some time in these areas we would have to be adaptable.

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Using this approach we were able to afford two weeks in London by house sitting for three weeks in the nearby town of Swindon.

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“Old Town” Swindon

There are several reputable house sitting websites to chose from. We are currently registered with TrustedHousesitters and HouseCarers. There is an annual fee for membership on both sites, $100 USD and $50 USD respectively. TrustedHousesitters offers more opportunities, however there are many more potential sitters so there is a trade off. Both sites have opportunities on a world wide basis.

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Typical suburb in the area we house sat in.

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Great pathways for walking or biking

The principles of the agreement are pretty straightforward, and some more formal than others. People looking for sitters to look after their homes and pets while they are on vacation are in the majority, but there are as many variances on this as you can imagine. Some people are looking for help with large estates, others looking for help with Bed & Breakfast operations and many others are looking for the security of having people in their homes while they are overseas for extended periods of time or trying to sell their properties.

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There is generally no money changing hands in these arrangements, although on occasion stipends or small wages are offered and as well the house sitters will sometimes pay the utilities while they are on an assignment.

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A friendly neighbour

We began corresponding with our first house sitting host about a year ahead of time. Again this varies and often can be last minute. It really comes down to establishing trust and mutual understanding. For people to leave their most valuable possessions, their home and pets, with what can be a total stranger requires trust. In our case we communicated by email for several months in order to build a relationship that everyone felt comfortable with.

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Who wouldn’t want to live here? In the nearby village of Ashton Keynes

The way that we are approaching house sitting is to apply our total time and energy to the pets and home we are responsible for. We are in a unique situation that we can do our personal explorations in times leading up to and after the house sit. The learning and personal rewards come from interacting with the pets and community on a much more intimate level. In fact one of the great benefits of house sitting is to be able to actually live in a neighbourhood and experience day to day life there.

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This scene looks pretty familiar anywhere

We have experienced that first hand in our recent house sit. The town of Swindon does not immediately come to mind when you ask someone where in England they would like to visit. But after having lived in a suburb of the town we can honestly say that it has been a very rewarding and enriching experience. Thanks to the generosity of the people we were sitting for we had access to a car and were able to do some short visits to nearby areas which were extremely beautiful and filled with medieval charm.

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Holy Cross Church in Ashton Keynes

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Ashton Keynes

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We found the neighbours and everyone we met to be very welcoming, helpful and friendly. This was a great change after two weeks in London. By walking the dogs twice every day we became familiar with some of the wonderful parks in the area and met countless other people out walking their dogs who always had a smile and a greeting or story to share.

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It is a big responsibility and one that we do not take lightly. You must be prepared to take it seriously and work closely with the homeowners. We don’t see ourselves as full time house sitters but we do expect to continue at least a couple times a year. There is a great deal of satisfaction and reward in knowing that you have genuinely provided a good service to someone. The friendships you make along the way and the animals you get to know on a personal level are all added benefits.

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A note to anyone thinking of this for the first time, it can be disappointing in the beginning as the competition is great with a lot of experienced sitters available. We have applied for about 10 assignments so far in places as varied as St. Lucia, Botswana, Italy, Thailand and Malaysia. Our research indicated sitters get an assignment about one in every 20 they apply for, so we were really pleased to get our first one. We are determined to build up our experiences and references for future opportunities.

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We were very pleased when last month out of the blue we received a request from a home owner in an entirely new area of Costa Rica for us to house sit for them, based on what they had read on our profile and our blog. As we have said before we are not looking to this as a full time occupation but as a way to experience local life in areas we wouldn’t normally think of spending time in and to meet and help out like-minded people.

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As we slow down and reflect now that we are in Portugal, we are thankful for the opportunity we had and it has helped prepare us for future assignments.

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About timannehall

We sold almost all of our belongings and left our home in Nova Scotia in April 2016 to experience as much of the world as we could. We spent over a year slow traveling in Latin America and Europe. For the next stage of our journey we are going to be based in Portugal and traveling from there.
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12 Responses to House Sitting as a Part of our Lifestyle

  1. What a gorgeous shepherd! We’ve done several house sits in Central America, Curacao and the US and it’s a great way to interact and learn something about different cultures, meet some terrific people, enjoy a fully equipped home and get an animal “fix” all at the same time. We belong to the same groups you’re in and I love checking out the ads (daydreaming) especially for some of the quaint towns in England. One of these days we’ll have to update our profile and start applying again… Hope you’re enjoying Lisbon and we look forward to meeting you when you get to Lagos! Anita

    Liked by 1 person

    • timannehall says:

      They were both very nice dogs and we really enjoyed walking them in the nearby parks every day. It was a great way to meet people as they always stopped to chat about their dogs as well. Having car in the area was an added bonus as we were able to do little local sightseeing. There were such great paths even in the suburban area. We are loving Lisbon and will see you soon. Cheers, Tim & Anne

      Liked by 1 person

  2. We’ve done many housesits over the years and it’s been almost always smooth sailing. Mostly it’s for friends, or friends of friends, when we’re back in Vancouver, but also for friends in Australia. We joined the same sites and find both to be worthwhile. Have you settled in Lisbon for a while? We’re probably heading to Portugal next summer.
    Alison

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Joe says:

    House sitting seems like a good option for the long-term traveler who is flexible, responsible, budget-minded, and a lover of animals. Thanks for the informative introduction to this interesting travel idea.

    Liked by 1 person

    • timannehall says:

      Glad that you found the piece helpful Joe. This was our first one and we will be doing another next Spring. It makes for a good way to reduce our overall expenses and splurge a little more than we normally would. There is a lot more competition out there than we initially thought, but we aren’t looking for a whole lot. You also really do need to make sure the assignment is right for you. Cheers, Tim & Anne

      Liked by 1 person

  4. kemkem says:

    Nice that you have house sitting in the mix. If you make it to Spain in the future..let us know. Our beagles would love you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Slow Travel in Retirement: First Year Reflections and Looking Ahead | A New Latitude

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