This American Family of 4 Experienced Our First House Sit!

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A couple of years ago when we began planning our adventure living abroad, I kept reading about others traveling to great locations with FREE accommodation.  They kept mentioning that they were doing a House Sit and I thought to myself “Wow, how did they get so lucky?”  Then over time I found that there were a few websites that help you with the process of finding a house to sit as well as finding a house sitter.  I will share a little about where to find a house sit and then a little about our first house sitting experience.

HouseSit_Charlie-Monty

Where to find a House Sit

This is actually very straight forward once you know where to look.  There are a few core websites that help pair up house sitters with people wanting a house sitter.  This usually involves some sort of pet care and at times can involve a little work (watering plants etc). These should all occur with No Money exchanging hands, Free!

We have found the most robust site to be Trusted House Sitters, they offer many good tips on how to write your profile and apply.  They offer the biggest network of house sit assignments in the areas we desire.  There is never a shortage of assignments in the UK, Australia or Europe.  Of course there are plenty in North America as well, but that isn’t the location we are looking for at this time.  This probably has the highest priced annual membership fee, but you are getting thousands of listings to choose from.  Don’t fret over the membership fee, as it is less than what most people would pay for one nights hotel.  After just one house sit, you have more than reaped the rewards.

Some other sites:  Mind My House, which is fairly good for European locations.  This doesn’t seem to have as many listings available, but does have a much lower annual membership fee.  You can also sign up for HouseCarers Click Here!, as well as My Sabbatical.  The last isn’t as robust, but you will find some good opportunities now and again.
House Sit (3)

Okay,  you probably have more questions about house sitting and soon we will write-up some more about the process.  It really is good to poke around the sites and see what works best for you.  Don’t rule yourself out, just because you are a family with kids.  Let’s get on to our experience with our first house sit.

What did we think of our first House Sit?

We loved it!  We found a house sit just south of London, England for 1 week.  We arrived on a stormy, wet and cold day in England and entered into a beautiful home.  This was a 5 bed 3 bath home, with 2 gorgeous cats and some fish.  We were greeted by some of the owner’s friends to hand over the keys and review a few things with the appliances and emergency phone numbers.  We then got to know our pets and home for the week.  We were all so very excited!
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The kids spotted the trampoline in the very spacious backyard and once the rain let up, they were out jumping away.  In the mean time we explored the home.  On the main floor was a gorgeous kitchen, an office with our wifi.  There was a very spacious family room with a billiards table and huge TV.  Anya claimed this room for her own and watched all the shows she has missed on Disney and Nickelodeon.

There was a reading room and then the “man cave”.  Lars and Alan dubbed this family play room as the man cave as it housed the big TV with the Xbox.  This is where they spent plenty of time.  I was usually cooking, spending time in the office working on the blog or other projects or hanging out in which ever room was most comfortable.  Charlie the cat would often hang out with me.

House Sit

The first couple of days, it was as if someone let us loose in a candy store.  We haven’t watched much TV or played any video games in ages.  This home was pretty much the home we left back in the USA.  This home represented our “former” life and it was an instant fit for all of us.  The kids that live in the home are the same age as our kids, so the bedrooms were even a perfect fit for us.

It was like we had our old life for the week.  I have to say I really loved having a garbage disposal, dishwasher and clothes dryer too.  Late one night, I even had the TV all to myself and watched one of my favorite shows (of course it was one episode and not likely I will ever see the rest of the season).  At first this was great, but then it hit me… This was our old life and while it was nice enjoying all of these “things” I really didn’t miss it all that much or at least what dominoes from having all of this.

We were all in separate rooms doing our own thing.  We could even go hours without seeing each other.  At times I found it to be a bit lonely and no one really wanted to be bothered.  That said, each of us were enjoying our time and the boys really got into playing soccer.  Even when it was time to eat, the kids would rush to get back to their TV!  As it was cold and rainy and this was a “treat” we allowed that.  We also had a day out in London and a day out at Stonehenge, thankfully partially sunny days.  The kids didn’t even mention the TV or video games on those days out, so I was pleased.
House Sit (1)

This is quite different from how we experience our life now.  In Spain we live a very simple life, without many material things.  We have good discussions and interaction with each other.  Our lives are rich with interaction, thought and sometimes TV.  Our place in Spain isn’t huge, so while we are not on top of each other we can certainly talk to each other from anywhere in the apartment.  So it was a great feeling to know that we were just temporarily living our old life.  The kids both loved having pets and enjoyed sleeping with the cats and feeding them too.

I have to say, I was a little fearful of the family saying they missed that life and would want to stop the way we are living now.  Lars did mention he wanted a big TV and Xbox, but that was expected.  Now that we are back home in Spain and back on routine, the kids aren’t mentioning anything they miss from the old life.  Yes, we do miss some things, but we love what we are doing more.  I like that our kids are outside playing and not always behind the TV.  That said, we do get plenty of screen time with our laptops, but they want to go out and play with their friends and I like that.

Overall it was a fantastic experience and it was nice to temporarily live our old life. We would love to find another house sit.  I receive email alerts daily from all 3 sites, so who knows what we will find next.

Would you do a house sit?  Perhaps you can even find one near you and do a staycation in your own town.

Sign up for HouseCarers Click Here!

18 thoughts on “This American Family of 4 Experienced Our First House Sit!

  1. Timely post Heidi – we’re looking for cheap accommodation for when we head back to London for a month next summer. We’re definitely thinking about house-sits, Trusted House Sitters sounds like a good one; did you have to apply for a lot of house sits to get accepted on one?

    • Oh that is great, you will find loads available in the London area. For you it should be a breeze as you don’t come as a party of 4! We have been applying for house sits since last April, mainly focusing on Europe over the summer and school holidays. We have probably applied to about 45 house sits before getting this one. That said, we did get offered one in France over the summer, but by the time we had a reply from the owner we changed our route and were going to be in France 3 weeks later than she needed. It is more difficult as a family to get a house sit, but the off season seems to be our sweet spot. There is quite a bit of competition for the sits over the summer.

    • It is expensive. We were just outside of the city itself. There were many directly in the city, but they weren’t too interested in having 4 of us stay. It was very nice to find a “home” and we just fit right in. A quick train ride to the city and we were set. Not to mention we were able to get some pet time in, without the responsibility of owning a pet. It was nice to have cats around.

  2. Hi, Heidi. It must have been lovely to indulge for a week, but I’m glad the housesit didn’t make everyone long for home. I wish we could give it a try, but with a terrier in tow, no one in their right mind would want us watching their pets. 😉

  3. shut up! you and erin met! omg! omg! i’m so happy for you and sooo jealous! we loved house sitting in panama, even though we did lose the dog that first night and she got pregnant so we had to go find an emergency abortion for her and we thought we killed the turtle, but other that that, oh, and i thought i broke the $2000 blender, but other than that, IT WAS HEAVEN!!!!!! i totally seeing us doing house sitting gigs when we’re in europe, going to spain BECAUSE OF YOU and you’ll be in SEA. joy. i love how well we coordinated this one. i love you, gabi

    • Ha! yes we did meet, in London. This is such a small world. It was great being face to face after all this time being friends on line. You should have come… oh ya, you are getting settled in Goa after hiking for weeks in Nepal! Silly. We will meet one day. It would be great if we could all do a meet up somewhere (prefer warm weather and water). We aren’t going to SEA until summer, so you never know where our paths will cross.

      So your house sit sounds like it was full of adventure. I would have been stressed. It is a bit scary taking care of someone’s pets and looks like you are the case study why.

  4. Hi Heidi,
    I love your house sitting adventure! — and that your whole family is living a traveling life. How wonderful for your kids to experience all the world has to offer.
    Conrad and I adore house sitting as retirees. We keep saying we want to bring the kids and grandkids along one time. We’ll have to make it happen!
    Josie

    • Hi Josie, Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving your comment.

      We are trying to make travel “just part of life” and have it be second nature. I remember growing up thinking that everything was “far away” and too much trouble to get there. My eyes were opened to “bigger” travel in college and beyond and I wanted our kids to just know travel. To know the world is theirs for the taking, learning, understanding and to know that people are people no matter where you are. House sitting has opened our eyes to new possibilities and we are so pleased that many home owners are willing to give families with kids a chance. We know our kids are very well behaved and care for other peoples property as if it were their own and the home owners we have sat for agree! 🙂 We look forward to doing more.

      I would think, as retirees, you are in the ideal position to house sit. I bet there are many home owners that would love for you to bring your kids / grandkids along. Give it a go and you will likely get them hooked for going on their own too.

Come on and tell us what you think!