Expat homeowner: housesitting helps at home

1 Aug, 2016

Expat homeowner: housesitting helps at home

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From time to time we ask our homeowners what drove them to seek a housesitter, and how does housesitting help them manage their property.  A new expat homeowner recently joined HouseSitMatch looking for a long term sitter (10 months) to housesit near Durham in the UK. And, as we usually do, we approached the owner to ask if we can help them find any specific skills or experience for this housesit. We also like to ask what in particular motivated them to choose us above the competitors.  Read on to hear her comments about how we are helping her as an expat homeowner, and her responses to our particular questions.

Expat homeowner finds housesitting helps!

housesitting helps one homeowner in Durham
Durham Cathedral, UK – Picture Credit (Alias FarmerBarleyMow)

Expat homeowner Q & A

1. As a US expat homeowner in the UK, how was moving from the US to the North East of England – can you tell us what in particular surprised you (pleasantly or otherwise) about life in Durham vs life in back in the US?

 As a former New Yorker I had to adapt pretty quickly to the fact that in my village near Durham there are no shops!  I was accustomed to rolling out of bed, walking to the corner of the street in Manhattan, and being able to purchase pretty much anything 24/7.  Even outside of my village, shops shut relatively early in the town.  I also had to adjust to walking much longer distances, not having a car, but the area is so beautiful and especially the walk from my village into the city centre along the river so I really don’t mind now and it keeps me fit.
2. What would you say are Durham’s best attractions to anyone wanting to sample life in this historic city?
Durham Cathedral is commonly referred to as ‘the greatest example of Romanesque architecture in Europe’ or as author Bill Bryson puts it, ‘the best cathedral on planet earth.’  Start there and work your way around the peninsula it’s built on, taking the riverbank walk around it–better yet, the guided walking tour given by a local architect several times per year.  From there you can enjoy canoeing and kayaking on the river; plenty of country walks around the region. Some of my other favourite must sees include:
  • Crook Hall, a 16th century estate with tea room and wonderful gardens
  • Beamish, the historic open-air museum with buildings and setting in the early 1900s, located nearby
  • Finchale Priory 12th century extensive remains where St Godric once resided, it is beautifully situated on the River Wear.
3. What are your favourite hidden insights to the city that only the locals would know, and visitors can sample to ‘live like a local’?
For a traditional pub experience, visit the Victoria Inn which remains unchanged and a true British pub experience, where you will likely strike up a conversation with locals. The best casual eats are at Flat White Kitchen, the weekend brunch is to die for but good luck getting in! Flat White also boasts the best cafe in town, nestled down a quiet alleyway off the New Elvet Bridge. For fine dining it’s Finbarr’s, reservations required.
expat homeowner recommends the Victoria Inn in Durham UK
The Victoria Inn, Durham UK

Cultural top tips from an expat homeowner

 4. Which foods or cultural activities particular to the North East would you recommend to visitors?
Durham has a Regatta in June every year where crowds gather on the river banks to picnic and watch the boat races. The regatta has it’s origins in a procession of boats to celebrate the men who won and survived the Battle of Waterloo.  The Durham Lumiere which takes place every other November is Durham’s stunning winter festival of lights and is definitely worth coming back for.
There are also some great spots to enjoy the fruits of the nearby North Sea such as The Old Boathouse in Amble, Northumberland which has some of the best seafood I’ve ever had anywhere in the world, and where you can take in the harbor view while you dine.  My personal favourite place in the Northeast, however, has to be Bamburgh Castle on the coast of Northumberland for the sheer majesty of the place, the location and the miles of white sand.
5. Why is housesitting a good idea for a homeowner like you? 
Because I am no longer much in Durham only a couple of months in the year, I need reliable, responsible people to tend to the house in my absence; housesitters are more likely than tenants to accommodate my furnished home and to be available for a shorter term, say less than a year which allows me to come every so often and enjoy my house.
Furnished living room in Durham housesit
Furnished living room in Durham housesit

Why this expat homeowner chose HouseSitMatch

6. In particular is there anything about the HouseSitMatch site you think handy, useful or easy to use?
HouseSitMatch is the first website I’ve subscribed to but it seems to offer more personal attention and features that will help me to find the right person, and all for a fair price!

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Founder and Director of HouseSitMatch - I'm a hands-on Admin on the site. Please ask any questions and as soon as I can I'll happily answer and assist where I can.

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