My first housesitting experience

8 Nov, 2022

My first housesitting experience

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In this 2022 Housesit Match Blog Competition entry by Annette Foster you will learn about the first housesitting experience of a single empty nester ready for travel. During her petsitting assignments Annette learned that she loved affordable travel by petsitting and reignited her love of animals. Read on to learn how she cared for pets on her first housesitting adventures around the UK.

The theme of this year’s blog competition was ‘Tell us about a fun housesit you did recently’…

2022 Housesitmatch Blog Competition – Shortlisted Blog

Thank you to Annette Foster for entering our 2022 Housesitmatch blog competition.

‘My first housesitting experience

Competition Entry – by Annette Foster

first housesitting
At the housesit in Nottinghamshire with Alan the cat

I was at a crossroads in my life. I had reached my mid-fifties and the big 60 was looming fast. Too young to retire but I had had enough of constantly working part-time in a job I did not enjoy. It no longer excited me.  I felt I needed something in my life but what? My three adult children had flown the nest. I had been raising them for what seemed like a lifetime as a single parent.

First housesitting mentions I saw were on social media

On my social media feed something popped up to do with house sitting, never heard of it but I was intrigued. But what makes a good house sitter, I thought?

I started to follow a few people on social media who were house and pet sitting. Their lives looked interesting. They did unusual things, went to new and interesting places. I have never wanted to do the normal things in life, and have always strived to do something different to everyone else. At the very first housesitting appealed to me. So I started looking for house sitting jobs.

But how to become a house sitter with no experience ?

A love of pets

first housesitting
With Bolt the dog in Cambridgeshire

Throughout my entire childhood and well into my married life I had kept pets. When I was living with my now ex-husband I had kept dogs. But when my marriage ended animals were the last thing on my mind, it was a struggle to bring up three children as a single mum, without bringing pets into the mix.

I joined one of the house sitting websites where you exchange pet and house sitting for accommodation without really knowing what I was doing. But somehow something inside me said ‘just do it!’ Then I applied for my first housesitting.

It was for a dog; I knew about dogs. And to my surprise I was accepted.

We had a WhatsApp video call, and all was good. It was in Buckinghamshire. This was an area I had not been to before.

I Googled the area, found some places to visit. I am a National Trust member and love wandering around old houses and museums. Without too much effort I had an itinerary all planned.

Then five days before the sit was going to start, I received a message from the pet owner saying how sorry she was, but she had to cancel her holiday as she had no visas in place which she needed, but that her travel agent had neglected to explain was essential for her trip. This meant that she no longer needed me.

What next..?

She was devastated, I was devastated.

I actually cried. I thought maybe this is not meant to be. Maybe this pet sitting thing was not for me.

However, I gathered my thoughts and the next day I went back to the website and found another sit for the same time that I should have been Buckinghamshire.

This housesit was in Warwickshire. I thought I would keep it simple. I applied to care for an older cat, just a few hours’ drive from my home.

To my surprise I was accepted. This sit was in three days’ time.

I asked would they like to do a video call; the reply was, no it’s fine.


First housesitting experience

As a pet sitter on your first housesitting you care for your new furry friend

I set off that morning and arrived at the house by lunchtime. The owners were a young couple and were lovely. I explained that this was my first housesitting and to my surprise they said this was their first time using a housecarer.

They showed me around their home. How to work the oven, how to turn the television on. They gave me the Wi-Fi code was. They were very organized. We talked about what their cat needed. Then 45 minutes later, they left and I started my first housesitting.

I just stood there for a few minutes, what had just happened. Looking around me, I realised this was my home for the next five days. I heard a meow, the cat brushed around my ankles. I was his step-mum for the next few days. He relied on me for food, water, to give him a clean toilet area and of course give him love and affection.

Oddly I could not believe I was in someone else’s house, someone else’s home. I was left on my own with someone else’s possessions.

I had never met these people until 45 minutes ago. What trust… but that’s housesitting, one favour for another.

What should I do first… on my first housesitting?

vacation without the pets
Mostly pets are happy when they have company at home

I stood there I someone else’s lounge, stunned. Then after a few minutes I gathered my senses and thought, right well here goes. I unloaded the car with my suitcase and some food I had bought with me, and settled in.

I sat on the sofa after unpacking and after I had made myself some lunch. The cat I was caring for came and sat on my lap and tucked himself in. At that moment I knew this was what I wanted to do.

Touring on my first housesitting

The next day I went out for a few hours and had a look around the local area. There was a National Trust property a mile up the road and wandered around the house and grounds at leisure.

By early afternoon I was back at my temporary home, and my newest friend was there to greet me.

Befriending the pets

getting a dog
Getting to know the pets is the first housesitting priority

Over the course of the next five days, I went out and explored a few more times and had a few days where I never left the house. I felt happy and content.

Then suddenly the end of my first sit had arrived. I took off my bed sheets and put them through the wash. Cleaned the house and tidied up. Emptied the litter tray one last time and gave a final cuddle to my new best friend.

The owners arrived back at the time we had agreed, and we had a change-over chat. And not wanting to overstay my welcome I left shortly after.

I arrived back home unpacked again. I sat and thought about this experience I had just encountered. To my surprise I had really enjoyed it.

I was back on the website that evening looking for my next sit.

Making new friends from my first housesitting

The woman I was originally going to housesit for in Buckinghamshire is still in touch. We message each other once a week and have become good friends even though I still have never sat for her. It’s a lovely way to meet people.

My next sit was booked for three months later, this was for two dogs and two cats. Had I exceeded my limit in terms of pet care?  Would I be able to cope with four animals?  No. Actually this sit and the responsibilities just seemed to come naturally. Then I did a few more almost back-to-back, meeting new people with each housesitting, making new friends.

My first housesitting assignments were more local so I was able to continue with my part-time work.

Then I reached my decision to give up work and become a full-time pet sitter, to travel around the UK. All this from my first housesitting.

What my first housesitting experience gave me

My experience of pet sitting has changed my life. It’s fun. Moreover, it was a new discovery, something I did not even know was ‘a thing’ a few years ago.

Being single it has given me that purpose in life again. It’s given me the confidence to try something new and to travel on my own. Who knows how long I will continue to do this, but at the moment life is good.

Why would pet owners put their pets in kennels when they can leave them in their own environment and have lots of love and affection from us housesitters. And what are the expectations of housesitting? Well we’ll just have to see.


AUTHOR – Annette Foster

Hi, I am Annette. Being single I found pet sitting was a great way of travelling on a budget. And looking after pets gives me company.


How to secure your first housesitting

If you are thinking of housesitting as a fun thing to try, then you need to think carefully about your next steps. So here are my top 11 tips for getting started as an international housesitter:

  1. 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.

  1. Start housesitting locally first – it will help you get started as a housesitter

get started as a housesitter
Look for local housesits to get started, whether it is for rabbit sitting or dog sitting ensure you are happy with your pet charges

While you might be asking yourself ‘ are house sitters in demand? ‘ you should start locally first. Your first housesitting is the first step.

Looking for local housesitting jobs or house sitting jobs near me gives you a chance to meet the homeowners and pets ahead of time. 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 housesitter.

Especially during these times when airlines are still regaining their footing following the pandemic, your proximity provides extra peace of mind for the homeowners that their sitters won’t get caught up in airline delays and cancellations. Also, since you know your area, language and culture, a local housesit reduces the variety of new things you need to adjust to. It is one of the best ways to get started as a housesitter.



How to get started as a housesitter – Top Tips

How to travel on a budget – A housesitter’s tips

Cat sitting tourist sees London for free

What a housesitter does – Top 10 responsibilities

Top 10 tips for catsitting

Top dogsitting tips for beginners

What is House Sitting?


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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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