Many long term housesitters and petsitters will tell you they love either rural housesits or city housesits. London house sitting can have a remarkable draw for both types of housesitter. Housesitting in London offers a fantastic diversity of experiences, including and most importantly pet care, for animal lovers, and an exciting urban setting. Read on to learn the reasons why one particular housesitter is constantly drawn back to housesits in London, year after year.
London calling for London house sitting
Most of the calls for housesitting in London are for pet sitters. Occasionally the owners want a housesitter to keep the property occupied and therefore insured. However, mostly the calls are for a pet sitter in London. London calling is a play on the phrase I have heard a lot in the city. Though London often calls to me and I find it hard to resist a housesit assignment I see posted in this city.
London pet sitting
Pet Sitting always entails a balance of caring for the pets and home with an opportunity to see the sights.
Pet care comes first
Naturally the responsibilities of pet care always come first, along with the proper care and safety in the home. Dogs and some cats can only be left alone for certain lengths of time. This it to be determined by the pet owner. Outings and excursions must be organised around feeding and exercise times. I always spend time with the animals I am caring for to show them they are loved. Mostly I find, that the timing is outlined by the owners. It gets and some will emerge as you bond with the animals. I tend to stay ion the home for the first day or so to connect with and attend to the emotional as well as physical needs of the pets.
This time in the home can be used for researching what you would like to see and experience.
Time out as a house sitter in London
London is one of the most vibrant and interesting cities in the world. Before coming here I had been inundated with ideas which have not all proven true. In this blog I will share some of theses mis-apprehensions as well as some of the wonderful things to do in London Town. I will offer a very brief guide to some of the different areas and what you can find there so you can target a specific area for the time you have away from pet care.
Being a house sitter in London
My fear of costs and the weather
Housesitter travelling on a fixed income budget
The two biggest concerns I had were:
- London is very expensive – It is definitely expensive if you are staying in hotels, or even hostels and going out to eat in upscale restaurants. However, if you have a free place to stay and a kitchen to use, the food in the local markets is very reasonably priced. I have found Tesco and Sainsbury to be about equal in price as supermarkets go. Marks & Spencer’s is of higher quality and Waitrose is likely to be on the top for quality and range of produce and foods. Organic food is now available almost everywhere. Plus, there are aisles tabled Free From which have your foods that are free from specific allergens, such as gluten. Even Keto focus and labelling is finding its way here in the stores. There are a number of Whole Foods stores and smaller health food type stores all over London.
- London rains all the time – Actually rain can happen at any time, but so can sunshine. I have found that in any given day, there can be a four season range to the weather. So I have learnt to layer, bring a lightweight brolly and a silk or cashmere scarf (both lightweight) for warmth, when the fickle weather changes from one minute to the next.
Travelling around the city as a house sitter pedestrian
Getting around London can be a challenge as it is a very large city with a population of 9 million people. Getting from one area to another can take time. It’s a big space with Greater London covering over 600 square miles. Here is my rundown of the transport options:
- Walking – This is my favourite. You get to see, feel and experience the life on the streets and come across treasures you may never have otherwise seen – small art galleries, lesser known museums, charming cafe’s.
- The Tube or London Underground – The Tube is very well run, goes pretty much everywhere and there are always attendants in the stations to help you navigate your way. There are announcements on the trains themselves, letting you know the next station and what other train lines connect there. There are no Express Trains, such as you find in NYC, so it takes as long as it takes. People on the Tube are generally very polite.
- Busses – The single decker and double decker buses go everywhere and you can see the sights as you move. However, they stop quite often and so travelling this way can take quite a bit of time.
- Taxis – These can be expensive, and I rarely take as I don’t like getting stuck in traffic, so I haven’t much to say about them other than they seem to be quite plentiful.
London house sitting – Top Tips:
- Travel – The best value for travelling on the Tube and Bus is to get an Oyster card. They cost £5 and you fill it with however much you like. When you leave London you can get a refund of the £5 – any station attendant can help you with this.
- Senior discounts – If you are a Senior (I think it is over 60 in Britain, you can get a Senior Rail Card for £30 which gives you 30% off your Train Tickets when travelling on the trains and you can link your Oyster card to get discounts on Tube and Bus rides as well.
Where to go and what to see…There is so much, it’s hard to know where to start sometimes. You can find a list of Museums on many London centric websites. Most of the large museums are free for the Collections and often have Special Exhibitions which you pay for. Most now, as of Covid, ask you to book in advance. I went to the Tate Modern the other day and booked my ticket in advance when I got to the door by scanning a QR Code. It was easy. Again, check on line to see what the current protocols and policies are.
Touring and shopping
House sit in London and it’s easy to be a tourist
The huge advantage of housesitting in a capital city like London is that you have so much within reach. I love museums, and many here are free to tourists or accessible at a moderate price. Three of the smaller Museums I recommend are:
- The Cartoon Museum – it gives a glimpse into not only British humour but the social and political climates at different times.
- The Foundling Museum – This one pulled at my heart strings, especially the wall of photos of the orphans who had grown up and the trinkets they had left to identify them.
- Handle and Hendrix – Did you know Jimi Hendrix lived right next to where the Composer Handle had lived? See both homes in this small museum near Oxford Street.
Shopping as a house sitter
London has everything. Large department stores, Designer Elegance, High-street everyday wear and Charity and Vintage shops where treasure abound.
32 London Boroughs to visit when London house sitting
There are so many different parts of London where you can have diverse experiences. Altogether there are 32 London Boroughs, that’s the name of the local authority districts in the city. Here are some of the areas of London where I gravitate naturally with each visit. Some have a remarkably village-like appeal, others feel super metropolitan. These are some of my favourite places where you too could spend a few hours away from your pet charges when housesitting in London.
- Marylebone (learn to pronounce this correctly – Meryl-le- bone. Just up from Mayfair, here you can find the Sherlock Holmes Museum, The Wallace Collection and Regents park.
- Camden Town is very hippy-esque with outdoor markets.
- Bloomsbury is home to The British Museum (did you know it is the oldest in the world?). The Foundling Museum and Charles Dickens house are also here.
- Kensington borders Hyde Park on the west. Home to The Victoria & Albert, Natural History Museum, Science Museum and Design Museum. Walking along the streets you will see elegant architecture and a plethora of cafes and shops.
- Knightsbridge is the home to Harrods the luxury department store. If nothing else, the main escalators are worth a look. Harvey Nichols (which I prefer to Harrods) and borders Hyde Park on the South.
- Chelsea is south of Knightsbridge toward the Thames (pronounced Tems) and is home to Sloane Square with plenty of beauty, designer shops and The Saatachi Gallery.
- Mayfair is elegant and lovely. The Ritz, Fortnum & Mason, The Royal Academy. Old Bond St and New Bond St have all the Designer shops. You can stop in for a tea or coffee in the Ralph Lauren pop up café right in the centre. Bordering Hyde park on the east, it is easy to walk around.
- Covent Garden has upscale shops, The Opera House (a great view can be had from it’s café upstairs) the Transport Museum, street performers and you can get an inexpensive hair cut, called a Hair Model from a student at the Rush Academy.
- Notting Hill is charming, with colourful buildings and a famous market on Portobello Rd.
South and East
- A walk along Southbank will bring you to the Southbank Centre, with food carts, entertaining street performers and Tate Modern Museum.
- City of London. Old London Town and the financial centre. I highly recommend a visit to the London Museum and The Barbican. Check out Leadenhall Market, St Pauls and Guildhall Museum. The Tower of London is close by, as is iconic Tower Bridge.
Catsitting in London
Many of my housesits in London have involved cat sitting and caring for more than one cat. I always make sure the pet owner documents the feeding routines, and if possible I like to stay the night before they leave for their holiday so I can better understand how the cat lives in the home. I like catsitting in London because I happen to love cats and their company, plus you do get a little more time to yourself.
Dogsit in London
Equally I regularly get asked to dogsit in London. I really love dogs, and always ask where the nearest park is so we can spend time outside together exercising. That really is one of the best dog sitting tips I can offer, make sure you understand where the dog likes to walk and if they are good on recall.
I’ve just about scratched the surface here, there is so much more to explore and discover in this great capital. Are you ready to venture forth and explore the wonder that is London Town?
By Tiera St Claire, House sitter
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