From time to time we love to feature blogs written by members of our housesitting community. Right now we are hearing many compelling stories from housesitters stranded far from home and out of their usual world of housesitting. Many find themselves away from the home country because of the sudden lockdown triggered by the Covid-19 crisis.
They are stuck waiting either for the travel ban to be lifted or for new accommodation to become available at an affordable price. Read on for Heidi’s story of housesitting during the Covid 19 Lockdown in the UK…
Finding compassion in the world of housesitting
by Heidi Heynes
To begin…to start somewhere for me is to imagine a world that no longer exists.
The world of housesitting is one in which housesits just magically appear on house sitting websites, one after the other, with perfect timing. Well definitely somebody works hard to get them published, but the housesitter gets to choose.
Normally, we travel from one housesit to the next, choosing new experiences, new dogginess, new kittyness, new hermit crabness each step of the way. Each housesit brings so much joy in this world of housesitting!
Life as a housesitter in that world of housesitting was different than in this new world of the Lockdown.
Where is the joy ?
But…the Joy? It’s still there! The dogs and the kitties and the hermit crabs and the ferrets and the goats, hamsters, guinea pigs, chickens and all the rest still need us, want us and love us. But right now, it’s just a little bit different.
Maybe the numbers of people wanting to travel by housesitting will diminish. Maybe the numbers of people needing housesitters will diminish…maybe the people wanting to housesit purely because of the pets will diminish. Who knows!
The world is different, that much is inescapable. But, that doesn’t mean we stop learning and growing and that we don’t adapt to the changes and keep on going. Oh no.
Joy of travel in the world of housesitting
My housesits were going to be the key to my travel to see all of the UK, house sitting Europe to discover that fascinating continent. That dream for now, though not entirely dashed, has transformed into wishes and hopes with a little desperation for normalcy rather clinging along for the ride. I’m sure you know what I mean.
The pandemic dashed a lot of dreams of travel and the world of housesitting.
Kindness is clearly present in our world of caring for the homes and animals of strangers. Kindness is built-in to the foundation of what we do and that kindness becomes immensely apparent in hard times filled with doubt and worry such as those we are now experiencing.
My current situation is I believe a temporary one. The world of housesitting changed when my last housesit ended abruptly. This happened when the homeowners learned of a repatriation flight available within short hours of lockdown being declared. They cut off the last few days of their holiday and visit in India and took the repatriation flight to return to Britain. Then they began a fortnight of self-quarantine.
They requested merely that I move into the guest bedroom and stay overnight and leave the next day. For me, if I was going to be in the house with them during any portion of their quarantine period, I’d be forced to remain throughout the quarantine. This was clear to me.
This meant I had less than 24 hours to determine the best course of action AND act upon it. Luckily I had already been in contact with a couple in Portland, UK.
Kindness in new friends
This couple had previously been a potential housesit. However, their dates didn’t make it into my calendar for various reasons. They had, however, been venturing on a holiday to New Orleans. By coincidence, being a proud native and natural concierge for the city, I share many tips and hints about how best to enjoy that great city.
They were appreciative and when they returned they sent me messages about how much they enjoyed the city and appreciated my suggestions.
To my surprise, they also offered me the refuge of a room, should I need it at any time in the coming months. They even added, if this virus thing turns into an issue for me I would have a home with them!
Generosity in the world of housesitting
Yes, incredibly kind is what I’d call it. So, finding myself potentially homeless I reached out immediately and they responded post haste. Yes absolutely they had meant it and of course I could come stay for as long as I needed, or until my next housesit.
My eyes filled with tears albeit briefly as I begin to rush about packing and cleaning and attempting to tidy up the house, which in the mayhem, I was surprised I managed any actual benefit from the tidying.
Though the travel day was strenuous and stressful, I arrived in Weymouth at 11:30 pm, none the worse for wear. My hosts, retired and in the 70’s were there, smiling, with arms extended to help me down from the train.
And so, here I am, in the arms of generosity in the time of need, for the duration, for however long this lockdown may be. We manage, we three strangers, given compressed time and space to get to know one another and find our way through this. Like so many people all around the world we are helping each other.
Helping with the pets
And I get to help with the dogs, which is wonderful.
Without compassion what kind of world would this be? And how very fortunate we are that it’s a very good thing we don’t have to find out. At least not yet. Long may it live with its fab collaborators in our world of housesitting. If you want to join the world of housesitting, read onto find out how to get started as a housesitter, which is an excerpt from another blog.
How to get started as a housesitter
If you fancy getting started as a housesitter find a family member or friend how has a pet and offer to care for them in their absence. Build your experience. And build your petsitter and housesitter references.
Next you should get an up to date Police and background check, so that you can housesit for people who don’t know you. This is the best way to start your journey in the world of housesitting.
How to start as an international housesitter
If you are thinking of housesitting across borders, as a fun thing to try, then you need to think carefully about your next steps. So here are our top tips for getting started as an international housesitter in the world of housesitting:
Join a small housesitting platform
Join one of the smaller housesitting sites such as HouseSitMatch. Posts on the larger sites can draw 30 or 40 applicants – daunting competition for a newbie! But the smaller sites offer less competition and increased customer service that is often personalized. I can attest to HouseSit Match’s unparalleled hands-on support. Also consider the option to become a house sitter for free.
It means you are volunteering and will exchange your services for free accommodation. The barrier is low to get started.
Other advantages of being with the right platform is they will have guidelines, templates and support documents to help you understand what best practice looks like. Make sure they have a responsive administration so you can ask questions about housesitting and petsitting. A good platform will support you in your endeavours as you explore the world of housesitting.
Build a great housesitter profile
- Create an engaging description of yourself that answers the question, “Why I want to housesit for YOU!” Show what you can bring to the “table” in your house sitter headline. Don’t just focus on what you get out of housesitting, remember it is reciprocal. You are providing a valuable service, not looking for free vacation digs. This is really important to remember in your house sitter profile.
- Provide a little personal background – for example, your age, nationality, career, who you are traveling with.
- Emphasize your experiences with pets and animals.
- Include your experiences with managing/owning homes, pools, farms, gardens.
- Include any medical or veterinarian background.
- Stand out by showing your personality in your photos, it is a good way to make a statement in your house sitter profile. It’s OK to take a risk and be controversial. In my house sitter profile on HouseSitMatch, I mention that I’m writing a book about my experiences in the Middle East working with Iraqi refugees. That might turn off some people, but it has floated my application to the top of some very long lists. Sound like someone the homeowner would like to meet!
- Mention your travel experience as this conveys your flexibility and adaptability.
- Triple check your spelling and grammar in your trusted house sitters application, particularly if you are not writing in your native language. Demonstrate that you pay attention to details.
- Headline your house sitter profile with a phrase that sparks curiosity and inspires confidence.
- Choose photos of yourself interacting with pets for your house sitter profile. You’d be surprised at the number of house sitter profiles that
- feature what appear to be police mug shots. Or, worse, people looking like party animals with empty beer or wine bottles in their photos. In my house sitter profile, I include photos of me playing with big and little dogs, cuddling with kitties and petting rabbits. In just a glance, a pet owner can see what types of animals I have experience with.
- If including photos taken during previous housesitting assignments, be sure they don’t include any images that might compromise homeowners’ security or privacy.
- Smile! And make sure your eyes aren’t obscured by sunglasses or big hats.
3. Start housesitting with short housesits – it will help you get started in the world of housesitting
While you might be asking yourself ‘ are house sitters in demand? ‘ you should start locally or do short housesits first before launching yourself on the world of housesitting.
Looking for local housesitting jobs or house sitting jobs near me before you go house sitting international, gives you a chance to build a few references and experiences before you travel further afield. This gives you a “leg up” on sitters traveling from foreign countries. It is worth doing if you possibly can. Local housesitting is definitely a good way to get started as a housecarer.
Further reading about the world of housesitting and housesitters
At Housesitmatch.com we like to share useful blogs and practical advice about housesitters, housesitting and pet sitting. We believe they can help you get started as a housesitter. We hope you find this small selection of our blogs on house sitters and house sitting in London useful.