Tag Archives: housesitting

Meet Jemma and James, the housesitting couple

How did you find out about housesitting? Do you remember when and where you first heard about it?

Credit goes to Erin and Simon from Never Ending Voyage for that one. Although there are plenty of blogs that discuss house sitting, theirs was the first that sent us down the rabbit hole that eventually led to us becoming house sitters.

Why do you housesit? What is the main motivation?

For us it’s to save money on accommodation. We discovered a lot of the other benefits – such as living like a local, slow travel etc – once we were actually house sitting, but initially the main motivation was to save money.

How many housesits have you had and where?

I think we’ve had eleven or twelve housesits now and they’ve been spread out between the UK, France and Portugal. Last year we had four French house sits in a row lasting nine months in total. That was a really great opportunity to experience France and to find out just how terrible we both were at speaking French.

james poolWas it hard for you to secure your first housesitting gig? How many applications did you have to send before you got accept for your first assignment?

Our first application was a complete fluke; we managed to get that one straight away. After that though it was a frustrating twenty or so applications before we really got anything worthwhile back. Also – and I think this is worth mentioning to anyone thinking about house sitting – we didn’t realize that a lot of house sitting websites don’t update the assignments to ‘sitter found’ when a sitter has been found. We were unknowingly applying for assignments that had been filled a year before.

TrustedHousesitters.com was (and still is) the exception to this rule; their assignments are very up-to-date. Now if we use any other house sitting websites we only tend to apply for them when they come up (following new assignments via email or RSS). It just saves a lot of time that way.

What was your favorite housesitting experience to date and why?

We took on a five month housesit in the French countryside. During that time an invitation came through the door from the Association de Chasse. Jemma describes the chasse on her blog as a “bunch of local men who grab their shotguns two to three days a week and wander into the woods to shoot at things”. Most of the time they tend to shoot each other, but once or twice a year they work on their aim and put together a meal for the village. We RSVP’d yes of course.

The dinner was six courses in total: gabure (soup), an assiette de charcuterie (cured meats), venison stew, a shot of whisky as a palette cleanser, wild boar, cheese and salad and finally a desert of custards and biscuit. There was a lot of wine from Madiran, the nearby wine region, as well.

Being the only ‘foreigners’ there felt incredibly special. I think getting to be a part of a community like that is something that’s really unique to house sitting as opposed to other ways of travelling – hostelling, hotels etc.

James-and-Ralph-on-groundDid you ever have any unusual pets to take care of or responsibilities that were out of the norm?

Last October we looked after 18 alpacas. It was a weird setup as even though they were farm animals and bred for their wool, they still had names and even came to their own names. We also had to be able to tell them all apart.

alpaca sittingWe learnt how to herd them, weigh them and work alongside a vet to help out with the medical work. My least favourite part was when one of the male alpacas had a cut on his man bits. I had to rub cream on him every day. I thought we shared a few intimate moments but I’ve heard nothing from him since.

We also had to separate the males from the females and Prince Charming, the studmale from all of the alpacas. I’m not sure how he ended up with that name actually. He spent most of the time spitting at the other males and being father to half of the farm, he had played the field in more ways than one.  Thankfully we managed to keep them all in their separate groups and the owners didn’t come home to any new alpaca offspring.

Have you had any funny housesitting experiences?

As mentioned, we often had to do medical work on the alpacas. One day Jemma was standing in front of one of the females cleaning out some gunge that had gotten trapped in her eye. The alpaca was sitting down and being uncharacteristically well-behaved. Then it got bored, slipped its neck between Jemma’s legs, stood up and took off running down the field.  Jemma was too surprised to do anything so all she could do was grab the alpaca’s fur and hold on. All I could do was laugh.

What was your worst housesitting experience? Has something ever gone wrong?

We crashed our own car on our first housesit in France. Nobody was injured – well apart from my pride – but it was quite difficult house sitting and dealing with insurance companies at the same time. During that two week house sit we also had to find a new car, arrange to go back to the UK to buy it (after the house sit) and work out a plan to drive across France in time for our next house sit. We never neglected our duties during that house sit, but we felt bad. We wanted the homeowners to come back and everything to be perfect but instead we had to explain our own saga and ask them if we could leave our stuff there while we sorted everything out. They were very understanding – everyone in France crashes their car at least twice it seems – but at the time we felt like we could have been better house sitters. Obviously it was a complete accident but it took us a while, me particularly, to stop beating ourselves up for it.

james_angelaDo you have any tips for people who are interested in beginning with housesitting? What would your advice be for people to get accepted for a housesit / be successful housesitters?

Take on a few house sits locally first. We’ve found that no matter your experience level if people can meet you first, they’re much more willing to give you a shot.  

Are you signed up to any housesitting websites? If so, which ones, and which ones have you had the most success with?

TrustedHousesitters.com as mentioned is the most functional of the websites and I think we’ve gotten all but one of our house sits through them. They’re also the only site to have its own devoted page that lists all of the long-term assignments. That’s incredible useful: long-term house sits really give you a chance to experience life as a local and without having to travel in between house sits you save even more money.

We did build our own website as well, but being honest even though we’ve been offered a few house sits through that, none of them have been in areas where we’re currently able to house sit. 

Additional info:

pet sittingJames & Jemma are ‘the house sitting couple’. You can find out more about them on their website thehousesittingcouple.com.

Break Free in 2017: How to afford the trip of your lifetime through housesitting

Are you still not convinced that housesitting is the key to breaking free in 2017, allowing you to travel longer for less, or allowing you to travel at all, because you don’t have to worry about your pets and house?

Watch the book trailer for Break Free – The Ultimate Guide To Housesitting and get inspired to become a part of this unique travel trend!

You can download our 120+ page book on housesitting, packed with pictures and three bonus print-outs that will ensure you a successful housesitting experience, plus a 20% discount to one of the world’s top housesitting websites for $8.99 right here.

You can pick up the Kindle version for $9.99 on Amazon (same great 20% discount, but no print-out bonuses) so you can read it on the go!

A special offer for readers of UltimateHousesittingGuide:

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The advantages of housesitting: The housesitter’s perspective

In Part I of this 2-part series, we have outlined the advantages of housesitting for homeowners. In Part II, we are sharing why housesitting is a win-win situation for both sides and how housesitters benefit from caring for somebody else’s house.

Whether you are a long-term traveler or just looking for affordable accommodation, housesitting is the perfect way to go – here are the main advantages of housesitting:

1. Free accommodation

That’s right – free. When you housesit, you stay in a proper house in exchange for caring for the house and pets.
ontario dogs letterbox

2. Living as a local 

You will stay in a local neighborhood, shop at the local store, eat at local restaurants see a place through a lens you otherwise never would have staying in a hotel.

3. Cook for yourself 

This is a major advantage for long-term travelers. Rather than relying on restaurant food, you can cook up recipes using ingredients from local stores. If you are simply ‘on vacation’ while housesitting, meaning you are only there to relax, you might not want to cook for yourself. In this case you can always go out or even have food delivered. But cooking for yourself is cheaper, takes less time than waiting for restaurant service and is an utter blessing to be in complete control of your diet.

4. Privacy 

Even if you stay in a great hotel suite, you have maids to deal with and anything you want to do outside of the room takes place out in public. When you housesit, you have an entire house or apartment to yourself. We love this for working out, having drinks out on the terrace, even just watching TV in the living room on the couch.
Canadian beer

5. Being home without going home

Traveling can be tiring, and a housesit allows stability and the use of a comfortable house for a few weeks or months at a time. At first you might not miss certain things, but after a couple of months on the road, having a couch, a washing machine, reliable internet, maybe even the use of a car for shopping and sightseeing are such a relief.

6. Puppy love

There are housesits out there that don’t require pet care, but most homeowners who invite house sitters in to their homes have pets they love dearly. Caring for dogs, cats, goldfish, and in rarer (and more rural cases) chickens, horses or sheep is often part of the deal.  Cuddling up with the pets is so heartwarming, but as to be completely mobile, it doesn’t make sense to have our own. House and pet sitting allows time with furry four legged friends on a temporary basis.

HouseCarers banner

The advantages of housesitting: The homeowners’ perspective

Housesitting: An all-around Win-Win 

The thing that makes us the most enthusiastic about housesitting is the fact that, when done correctly, everyone wins.

This is the first of a two-part post on all the advantages that housesitting offers – for housesitters and for homeowners.

Advantages for homeowners:

1. Take a longer vacation

You own a home. You have roots and responsibilities. You can’t just go away for a longer period of time, can you? Yes! If you invite a housesitter to stay in your house, suddenly all those longer trips you wanted to take become possible. That month in Europe you never took in your early 20s or a return trip to see how things have changed since then. Take that trip around the country in an RV camper van, spend two weeks in Peru hiking Macchu Picchu, or even six months on the beaches of Thailand. You make the rules and only those housesitters who fit the description apply.
iano sunset with champagne

2. Peace of mind 

Knowing someone is in the house while you are away means a stress free getaway. Whether you take that long trip or your family is just taking the annual vacation, you know your house is safe, and that if anything goes wrong, someone is there to deal with it.

3. Save money

You don’t need to pay the neighbor boy to come pick up the paper, the mail, walk and the dog and mow the lawn. Housesitters do all that, plus deal with any packages, workers and issues that arise. All for free.

4. Keep your pets happy

You also save the cost and stress of kenneling your pets. You can be happy knowing that while you are on holiday, your pets are happy and healthy at home, rather than in a kennel missing you. Housesitters feed, pet and play with your animals, give them medicine, remove ticks and keep them happy while you’re away.

5. Safe House

Simply put – having a housesitter is just about the best theft-deterrent out there. You leave, but your house is still lived in. Forget automatic timers on lights. Instead, you have people coming in and out all the time. Rather than becoming a target, your house remains off the radar to thieves who take advantage of empty house.

Read on to find out why a housesitter would want to stay in your home in Part II of this post.

break free the ultimate guide to housesitting bookGet started housesitting now – our housesitting book Break Free – The Ultimate Guide To Housesitting is now on sale for $8.99 in pdf format or for $9.99 on Amazon for your Kindle! Both versions of the book include a 25 % membership discount to TrustedHousesitters.com, free bonus print-outs and over 120 pages packed with everything you need to know about housesitting!

How to set up the perfect housesitting profile

Your housesitting profile is the first thing a homeowner sees about you, so you if you want to win a housesit, make sure it attracts homeowners’ attention in a way that reveals you as trustworthy and reliable.

Here are our tips on how to set up a great housesitting profile.

Photo

Most housesitting websites allow homeowners to scroll through the profiles of housesitters that include their area as a possible housesitting location. Most listings immediately display profile pictures, before the homeowners even click on a profile.

No matter what housesitting website you sign up with, there are always going to be more housesitters than homeowners, making competition pretty fierce. In order to get the homeowners to click on your profile, first impressions count for everything! If you are a couple, have at least one picture of the two of you and show your faces – don’t hide it behind sunglasses or underneath a hat. Whether you are single or a couple, have a picture that shows you with a pet, too, as most housesitting involvements involve pet-sitting responsibilities, so that immediately associates you as good with pets.

Most websites also let you upload several photos, so take advantage of that and show yourself in a variety of situations – at home, with your pet, and maybe a nice photo that was taken on a vacation. If you have a nice garden, feel free to show this is a picture as well. Just make sure to upload photos that already give an idea of your personality.

Good examples:

housesitting profile photos good

Bad examples:

housesitting profile photos bad examples

Headline

The headline is the second most important thing. How can you describe yourself in one sentence without being too centered on you but pointing out what you can bring to the assignment.

Some good examples are:

  • Reliable, animal loving adult to care for your home or pet/s
  • Experienced Housesitter couple with references
  • Retired professional firefighter and wife available for house and pet sit. Trustworthy, clean, non smokers. Currently with homes in England and France
  • Charismatic, multilingual entrepreneur animal-loving couple
  • Reliable and trustworthy house/ pet sitter looks forward to care for your house
  • Honest, reliable, and experienced housesitter available

Some not so good examples:

  • Semi retired Canadian couple – not interesting enough to make homeowners click.
  • Warm greetings from Holland – also nothing that catches a homeowner’s attention
  • Looking to housesit/petsit for 1 week April 2013 – too inflexible. It is unlikely that they will be contacted by a homeowner with such a narrow time frame.

Some bad examples we have seen:

  • “eat, pray, love” sabbatical & retrieve – It should be beneficial for the homeowners, not self-centered.
  • Two friends looking for work and adventure! – Again, nothing stated that the homeowner could benefit from, plus friends have less committment to each other than couples, feels less reliable.
  • Let me handle it for you, whatever “it” may be.. – Too vague
  • Brother and Sister – looking to see the world – self-centered
  • Young professional looking to travel – self-centered
  • WeRHere4U

This is the one sentence a homeowner sees before deciding whether or not to click on your profile. Keep it simple, sell yourself on how you can help them.

housesitting profile headlines

Be personal

It is important to be personal in your profile. Give any homeowner who visits your profile the chance to get an idea of who you are in a few short sentences, but remember that this isn’t about you. The homeowner is looking for someone they can trust with their house, their pets, their life while they are away. This process is entirely about them, no matter how you benefit from it.

Introduce yourself shortly – your occupation (or what your career was if you’re retired), what your interests are and why you housesit. If you are a couple, tell the homeowners something about you and your partner. Point out what you can bring to a housesitting assignment – are you a dog person? Do you enjoy gardening? Have you owned a home for twenty years? If you have dealt with any major home improvement projects or solved emergencies successfully, it is a good idea to include examples for that, too. Focus on the things that matter to a homeowner and refrain from stating the things that you want from a housesitting assignment – these things can still be discussed once a homeowner gets in touch.

Experience

You cannot list enough relevant experience in your profile. Line out previous housesits that you have done, the pets you’ve looked after and all the other responsibilities that came with the assignment(s). If you are new to housesitting and have not had a housesitting gig yet, you can still give examples of your experience with pets – what kind of pets you’ve owned, how long, how many, etc. Also, for new housesitters, because you have no references yet, include reasons why you think you’d be a good housesitter and why you would enjoy it.

References

We don’t recommend including references directly in your profile, for the privacy of the other homeowners you have housesat for,  but definitely mention that you have them. If you have had housesits that went very well and you know that the owners will give you a glowing reference, point out that you have ‘excellent references available immediately’, if you have housesat in several countries, mention that you have ‘references from country X and country X’ (especially if you are looking to housesit abroad).

TrustedHousesitters.com gives housesitters the option to request references from homeowners through their very own system. This gives them the choice whether or not they want their info displayed. This is good not only for your previous housesit references, but also can be sent to landlords, employers, family members or other people who would vouch for you (important for those with limited experience). On TrustedHousesitters.com, these references will be shown right on your profile.

break free the ultimate guide to housesitting bookGet started housesitting now – our housesitting book Break Free – The Ultimate Guide To Housesitting is now on sale for $8.99 in pdf format or for $9.99 on Amazon for your Kindle! Both versions of the book include a 25 % membership discount to TrustedHousesitters.com, free bonus print-outs and over 120 pages packed with everything you need to know about housesitting!