If you are considering housesitting full time you will face a number of challenges. Not least is the challenge of solitude, which may suit some but not all. The life of a full time housesitter is ideal for anyone needing to or wanting to be alone for work, or just because. Some people prefer to travel alone and find it exciting.
Kelly Hayes-Raitt veteran housesitter shares her skill and experience in how to make friends when solo house sitting.
How to make friends when solo house sitting
Until recently, Kelly Hayes-Raitt was a full-time, solo house sitter for 12 years. Here’s how she made lifelong friends during fleeting house sitting assignments.
By Kelly Hayes-Raitt
I love solo housesitting – especially when I’m working on a project. It’s as if I’ve created my own retreat!
But, it can get lonely. Here are 8 ways I make friends when I’m solo house sitting:
1. Ask your homeowners to introduce you to a friend of theirs. This can really help when doing private housesitting jobs. This contact is someone you can meet for coffee at some cute café only locals know about, or a glass of wine in a new bistro, or an off-the-beaten-path walk.
I’m still dear friends with a woman in Amsterdam I met through my homeowner. Though I haven’t seen Liesl since my housesit in early 2017, we’ve stayed in touch and developed a lovely friendship.
During an extended solo house sitting in Réunion, a French island east of Madagascar, I befriended Anne, a dear friend of my homeowner’s. Anne really took me under her wing and showed me parts of the island I’d have never found. She even arranged for us to snorkel with a migrating humpback mama and her baby!
As a non-local, I would never have been invited on this breathtaking excursion.
Solo House Sitting Is Great When Dog-Walking!
2. Chat up other dog owners in the dog park. You might not get an excursion out of the connection, but at least you’ll see the same people (and dogs!) every day and feel part of the community. Though not so easy while house sitting without pets, but a great way to get started if you are dog minding and dog walking.
3. Ask your homeowners to add you to the neighborhood What’s App group chat. During the pandemic, many neighbors connected via a group chat. While solo house sitting in London for an extended time when lockdown was lifted, I met up with a few of “my” neighbors and really felt a part of the neighborhood!
Meet Like-Minded Locals
4. Join Meet-Up groups and look for events that interest you. This is such a good thing to do if you are solo house sitting. I became a member of a virtual Lisbon Meet-Up writers group before solo house sitting there. By the time I arrived, I had some ready-made friends!
While house sitting at my home in Lisbon, my stepbrother made friends through a running group he found on Meet-Up. The platform is free to join and the activities are endless, from supper clubs to fitness groups and more.
5. Join InterNations, an organization for expats – wherever you are. I’ve found InterNations to be a bit hit-or-miss, but in the countries and cities where they are robust, it’s a great way to make new friends while enjoying a group outing at discount prices. In London, for example, InterNations members enjoy discounted tickets to top plays, musicals and concerts, group themed dinners, city tours, and more – all with other foreigners living in and visiting where you are solo house sitting.
Work Those Networks!
6. Network with other house sitters through the many Facebook groups devoted to house sitting, such as:
Let others know where you are when you are solo house sitting! I used to house sit every spring and fall in Ajijic, Mexico – a place where many sitters traveled through. I used to organize dinners for those of us who had known each other only through Facebook so we could meet IRL.
7. Take a walking tour or join a class. I love walking tours and almost always take one at the beginning of my house sits. Sometimes, I meet other travelers who want to meet up again for some sightseeing or a shared meal. While solo house sitting in Seoul, I took several free walking tours with college students eager to practice English. I would always ask them to join me for lunch – and I ended up having some great meals and lively conversations!
…And Work Your Own While Solo House Sitting
8. Post on your own social media networks where you will be solo house sitting. Years ago, when I was solo house sitting in Hanoi, I posted my location on Facebook. A woman whose name I recognized from some FB house sitting groups messaged me that she was also in Hanoi. We met up for a street food tour and have been fast friends ever since. We’ve enjoyed each other’s company during my house sits in London, Cardiff, Ajijic…and later at her new home in Sitges, Spain and in my new home in Lisbon, Portugal. (And we’re still taking food tours!)
Before I started that incredible solo house sitting in Réunion, I posted my destination on my Facebook page.
My Danish friends Bo and Peter – whom I’d met during a tour of the Mekong Delta just before that Hanoi house sit and who later came and stayed with me in Ajijic during my house sit (with my homeowners’ permission, of course) – messaged me that they would be in Réunion at the outset of my sit!
Since I had about five days overlap with my home owner (flights were wonky), I had a lot of opportunity to sightsee, eat out and take “family friendly” hikes with Bo and Peter. What a great way to optimize my stay on that beautiful island!
Kelly Hayes-Raitt is still solo house sitting, but more locally now in Lisbon while she is tied to Portuguese language classes. She still smiles when she remembers Bo’s diplomatic reference to a hike he suggested as being “family friendly” – aka “Hey, Kelly, you’ll be able to keep up with us.”
She’s the author of a “house sitter friendly” book, How to Become a Housesitter: Insider Tips from the HouseSit Diva.
How does the house sitting work?
If you are interested in trying solo house sitting, to go on some private house sitting jobs consider becoming a house sitter. Here are some reasons that might help you learn more about it:
- Housesitting is easy to learn –If you love pets and have experience in home care it can be easy to learn how to become a good house sitter. By becoming housesitters with Housesit Match we offer you information with our free resources. Research the whole way housesitting works, respect the owners homes and pets, read our blogs, and try a local house sit first.
- Authentic travel with international housesitting – Live like a local as a housesitter and you enjoy a unique, community-based travel experience when you try house sitting jobs abroad by taking up international housesitting assignments. With every housesit you gain a deeper appreciation of each location benefitting from the homeowner’s insider knowledge.
- Free accommodation, housesitting & petsitting abroad – In exchange for free pet care and property maintenance you the housesitters can secure free accommodation when housesitting across the globe. So by housesitting and petsitting abroad you can visit new locations and stay for free. Our unique house sits or homestays offer a comfortable alternative for affordable travel.
- Real cost savings for housesitters and petsitters – Saving on rent and hotels means you can travel further. You can even try housesitting abroad when you exchange your time as a live in house sitter and pet sitter. Housesitters and petsitters on House sit match save money on accommodation through housesitting as an exchange of services.
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 and house sitting in London useful.