Each year HouseSitMatch hosts a Blog Competition and this year our entries are better than ever, here we share with you the Housesitting Blog Competition Finalist 4 Entry – Dianne and Mike Lang recently started traveling across the world as housesitters to see more of the world. They sold everything they own and hit the road. Here’s what they learned through housesitting…
Housesitting Blog Competition FINALIST 4
‘This is what we have learned about housesitting’ – Dianne and Mike Lang, Travel Loafers
Although housesitting is gaining popularity, it’s still a foreign concept for many people. The have trouble wrapping their heads around the concept (hi Mom!). So here is some wisdom we have picked up along the way.
What is housesitting?
‘So, you’re going to a stranger’s house to look after their house and pets for a couple of weeks?’ Mom says.
‘Yes indeed’ I reply.
‘And you aren’t being paid for it?’
Then I get a weird look. In a nutshell, you should view house sitting as an exchange of services. We look after your things and your pets and your plants, and you supply us with a bed and a roof over our heads for a pre-determined amount of time. Oh, and if you can throw in the car, that’d be great too. Especially if you live out in the country. Emergencies can happen. Yes, I have a driver’s license.
The upsides of housesitting
One of the best things about housesitting is that you get to occasionally stay in some great homes. I have seen incredible home owners looking for a housesitter. Some folks don’t even have pets, they just want you to turn the lights on at night and make like you live there. However, in our experience there is generally at least a goldfish to feed. Pets are a common element in most housesits.
In Sweden, our home owner was the daughter of a Count. The count lived next door in a slott (castle). As far as neighbours go, this one was impressive. The castle dates from 1080. At one time nuns lived there, which explains the nice little church in the Count’s house, and the cemetery in his front yard. He also had a petting zoo with llamas and goats and various other animals. We even found a zip line. The Count, who appears to be in his late 70s, has most certainly never used his zip line. Well, at least not recently. But we had to give it a go! We need a bumper sticker that says ‘I’ve zipped in Sweden’ or something cute like that.
We save money by housesitting
We are long term travelers. Housesitting helps us save money on lodging, and on food too since we can cook our own meals. Those are our two largest expenses. When you travel on the cheap, your diet suffers. Fast food is not the most nutritious food choice, but who has twenty or thirty dollars/pounds/euros to spend on a meal every night! We have eaten some rather dubious things along the way too, the kinds of things that make you rush to the nearest commode. So it’s nice to have access to an oven and stove to make meals just like Mama used to make (hi Mom!).
We are currently in Spain looking after a gorgeous Arabian horse, four dogs, five chickens, and twelve kids; erm, and 12 cats. Cats are just like teens, as in they generally ignore you until they need something from you. Everyone of these pets is a rescued animal. We have their names down now, however, whether we have placed the right name to the right animal remains to be seen.
We learned a thing or two about chickens
A word about chickens, They’re great, fairly low maintenance actually. The rooster’s crow is nature’s alarm clock. They provide you with fresh eggs. However, during one house sit, we looked after twenty two chickens. I tell you from first hand experience, that means there is a lot of poop to scoop on a daily basis. Note to self: one day when we get our own place and we’re out chicken shopping, stop at five chickens, no matter what kind of goo-goo eyes the sixth one may be trying to woo you with.
Travel by following the housesit opportunities
Our travels are more or less dictated by our housesits and this has enabled us to see interesting and peculiar things. Of course big cities have their monuments and museums. But we’ve done housesitting in small towns where a monument may be a hump from Roman times in a field that offers a great view of the surrounding area, and the museum might be the graffiti under the bridge leading into town. There may not be an Eiffel Tower on Main Street, but there are always local characters with at least one good story to tell. Every town has its charms. And that is a large part of why we travel.
The downsides of housesitting
If you’ve planned ahead, you can literally jump from housesit to housesit and spend little on hotels or hostels (We’re still fine tuning that!). We have been caught short. So we started doing other things when we have to in order to save on expenses. We are wrapping up a housesit in Spain and have two and a half weeks until the next one. So we are going to teach English in Budapest before heading to Italy for a Christmas housesit. Now doesn’t that sound romantic? Si!
Your relative values don’t always match up with the homeowner
By doing our homework we’ve been lucky so far (knock on wood). We talk to homeowners via Skype or Whatsapp. Maybe get a tour of the house. We have a set of questions we ask each home owner. All this in order to not end up just this side of Hell for two weeks, or longer. I don’t have to tell you that hygiene is a relative term. What’s clean to you may not be clean enough for me. Imagine showing up for a three month housesit in paradise, only to discover you’ll be staying in bug infested home. Or with mangy dogs with their fleas and ticks. We have heard stories.
Not all housesits work out
If you haven’t planned ahead (as mentioned we are working on that), you may find yourself in a spot where you have to take a housesit that doesn’t appeal to you much. This just about happened to us recently. We were interviewed to housesit in Nowhere France. But the area didn’t appeal to us. We considered taking it but opted to go teach English in Hungary instead. It’s good to have options. For a variety of reasons some housesits fall through. Then what? To a large extent, that’s what travel is about, dealing with the unexpected. Be ready for it!
Missing the pets
By far the worst downside is getting attached to the animals. You spend just a few hours with the homeowners but the rest of the time is spent with pets. And come the last day, it always pulls at our heartstrings to have to say goodbye.
But for all the minor downsides, housesitting offers an original way to travel. It’s like creating your own travel guidebook. And it’s truly the best way to experience how locals live. We look forward to another fruitful year ahead with Housesit Match!
If you’re looking for experienced housesitters, drop us a line. We’re listening!
Housesitting Blog Competition Finalist 4 Mike and Dianne (aka Travel Loafers) experienced housesitters registered with HouseSitMatch.