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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!