Dominic recently joined HouseSit Match our housesitting and petsitting network. He was looking for a change of scene and having just purchased a new home he was on a tight budget. So housesitting appealed to him. In this article Dominic has shared some details of his first housesitting experience. There are some useful tips here for both housesitters and homeowners.
First housesitting experience – The things I learned
Choose well-established properties with plenty to entertain
Recently, I saw an advert for HouseSit Match on one of the social media platforms. And being in a situation where I needed some time away for myself whilst also having a restricted income, I thought it might be a good idea. It turned out to be a fantastic opportunity to explore somewhere new without breaking the bank.
I watched the opportunities coming through whilst looking for something specific. Unfortunately, I did not really know ‘what’ at the time, so I just idly browsed what was on offer until one caught my eye. Fortunately for me I had been in close contact with Lamia the founder, since joining. So when she received an urgent request for a sitter at short notice I was at the forefront of her mind. After some brief discussions I agreed to my house sit and then immediately wondered whether I would be up for the challenge.
Housesitting with a new homeowner’s perspective
Being a new houseowner myself, with a modest cottage to my name, I appreciated the responsibilities. Housesitting means you are looking after another person’s home. Numerous thoughts were crossing my mind, how should I behave? Should I interact with the neighbours, or should I keep myself to myself?
What happens if something breaks whilst the owners are far away? Should I rely on the skills I have developed to keep my own new house running? Or should I go through the protracted process of finding a friendly tradesman nearby? Would that unnecessarily stress the owners? Perhaps they would want to know even if it is a little stressful for them at the time? Is it the sort of thing we should discuss with the owners before taking over the house? Or would that make me come across as a negative individual?
Housesitting prepares you for managing your own home
In fact, I have come to think of housesitting through Housesit Match as offering insight into how to manage moving home. Moving home is famously one of life’s most stressful events. Perhaps in my case it was not as drastic as that, but it gave me an opportunity to consider these things in real time.
My first housesit property – a good introduction
My first ever housesitting experience was in a Victorian property in a quiet village four miles from Nottingham. It had large gardens both in the front and back, and there were four adorable cats. Remarkably, three of the cats thought they were dogs. One spent much of the time that I was there curled up in his basket enjoying sun and snoozes. In fact, it was quite a surprise when over the last couple of days, he started appearing at my feet looking for cuddles and strokes.
The other three I came to think of as the ‘three amigos’. They were never far from one another. Often they were either snuggled up in a nest, or bringing me things to entertain them. Frequently. they would follow me around, exceptionally curious about what I was up to. This proved a wonderful first housesitting experience.
Managing to work while housesitting
The cats, my built in entertainment, made working on my laptop a challenging endeavour. There was a constant feline acrobatic cycle of one leaping up to investigate the laptop, whilst another prepared to do the same. A third would often choose to investigate the situation draped across my shoulders. Needless to say, it did not result in the most productive of stays from one perspective. However, it was great fun all the same. I would not hesitate to return to care for these cats.
Meeting the neighbours was helpful
Although I did not get to meet the owners in person, we remained in contact the whole time I was at the property. They sent messages regularly, regaling me with stories of their time away. Meanwhile I would send regular cat updates, to reassure them that the boys were doing well. I was lucky enough to meet the neighbours briefly. It is fair to say that they were friendly and polite. In fact one lovely neighbour helped me out of a predicament after I discovered a broken connection on the hosepipe.
One housesit led to another
I was still thinking on this when I saw an email came through for another last-minute house sit. This time the location was such that I truly could treat it as a working holiday. It turned out that I had enough slack in my schedule so I could fulfil my obligations for work whilst looking after the housesit garden.
The pleasure of tomato sitting in the Summer
The first week was incredibly hot and I really enjoyed working in their fantastic garden. All the while I had the lovely little terrier variously basking in the sun, sleeping at my feet or on a chair next to me. It was the first time I had ever looked after a well-established veg plot. Unfortunately, because of the extreme heat I found it a challenge to manage the watering in the extremely dry weather.
Luckily for me, but unfortunately for the owners COVID cut their stay short after a few days. However, they were able to stay somewhere else which allowed me the pleasure of their garden and local facilities until the end of the agreed stay. Their early return allowed me to discuss the veg patch with the owners. And together we agreed significantly more water was required for the coming week, which promised another record breaking heat wave.
Living like a local making new discoveries
As well as the garden there was also a local beach nearby which allowed for daily swimming. This was a treat. There were bars offering plenty of refreshments, and a range of restaurants presenting a variety of prices. Although I was not able to take full advantage of all these facilities, I sampled a few. And I have been reassured that all are worth a visit whether for a decent meal with friends, a romantic dinner for two or a lively drink with the locals.
Warm welcome by the homeowners set the tone for a great housesit
Indeed, the first evening I was lucky enough to be treated to a warm welcome. The owners prepared a BBQ and offered me a Beer on arrival. We also went for a nice walk with the dog, which was helpful to get to know more about him and how his behaviour. Then we went for a quick drink at the local bar. This was a wonderful welcome greet and meet before they headed off on their trip in the morning on their holiday leaving me to my first housesitting experience.
FURTHER READING ABOUT HOUSESITTING AND HOUSESITTERS
At Housesitmatch.com we like to share useful blogs and practical advice about housesitters, housesitting and pet sitting. We hope you find this small selection of our blogs on house sitters useful.