TOP TIPS – Homeowner’s Brief to a House-Sitter

16 Jul, 2014

TOP TIPS – Homeowner’s Brief to a House-Sitter

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The most important thing for me is that you (the house-sitter) are genuine, honest and totally being yourself, with no airs and graces. All I care about is that you are comfortable with yourself and respect my home and pets. I enjoy reading house-sitter profiles and finding out about people, so tell me about yourself and your interests. Once I like you through your Profile I will then reach out to you and perhaps share my home with you. But I need to warm to you first.

Entrance to the Eco Finca House-Sit
Entrance to the Eco Finca House-Sit

Here are my tips for a house sitter

If you are NEW to House-Sitting… Here is some help with writing your PROFILE and ideas for preparation before you talk to the homeowner.

House-sitter – Prepare before you talk to the owner

  • Make a LIST of all the things you’ve done and that you’re good at, that could have some kind of connection to this experience, for example: If you’ve lived /worked in different countries/ professions; had responsibilities: house, pets, children; looked after a neighbours dogs; babysat, love gardening, had unusual experiences…
  • Ask people who have known you a long time, to write references for you.
  • Ask people you have worked for/with, to write a reference.
  • If you feel nervous meeting/ or speaking to a homeowner for the first time, take a deep breath and put a smile on your face, this will help you to feel good, even if you feel a bit yucky.
  • Look in the mirror and pull a funny face, this may seem an odd thing to do but it’ll get you in a better mood if you’re not feeling good.
  • Project yourself as the lovely person you know yourself to be.
  • Be yourself and natural in your writing and when speaking.
  • Realise that, potentially, we are just friends in-the-making, so lets start off that way.
The house-sitter can help maintain our garden
The Side Garden at Finca El Nido

Profile example of us as homeowners

(Lynne & Stuart) and our home (El Nido – The Nest)

We are an English couple in our mid-60s who live in the country, 10 minutes drive from the Port of Mazarron (and the sea) in the Murcia region of Costa Calida, Southern Spain. Although it is absolutely lovely, we have begun to feel trapped.

We bought the lovely finca we live in now, two years ago and were travelling back and forth renovating part of it. We hadn’t planned on living here full time but early one morning, 3 o’clock!… the house alarm we had set up, went off. Our beautiful house was being robbed and we were half an hour away. We moved in soon after this.

Inside our new home in Murcia
Inside our new home in Murcia

This experience, has made us realise we can never leave our house unattended, particularly at night. Hence, we need house-sitters. Alarms don’t do as good a job as having someone on the premises. We’ve had no security problems since we’ve lived here. The property is more secure when occupied.

We have installed a solar system and so have limited electricity which our sitters have to be aware of. Likewise the internet does go on and off at times but for the most part I spend hours on it, particularly on Skype without it cutting out, so its pretty good. We are soon to change our package (August) to one that gives us unlimited data after 12 midnight until 6 in the morning, so that should improve things. We have NO TV but you can watch DVDs on a laptop if you bring one, depending on the power intake, sunshine permitting.

If we go out together, it tends to be for up to 4 or maybe 5 hours at a time, usually only twice a week but if we go out separately, leaving one at home, thats fine. Also, I don’t like to leave our dogs for longer than that.

The house next door isn’t occupied and like many old houses in Spain are just left to fall down. Occasionally, the owners, a really lovely Spanish couple, come for a barbecue and weve been invited to join in, they bring all their family, and so we practice our Spanish.

Half of our garden, is laid out as garden with lovely flowers, the back garden which is on a terraced hill is unplanned as yet. Our plans are to build a pool and a garage into the hillside and also a marquee-type structure on the top of the hill which will hold events: Music, Art, Dance etc anything of a spiritual nature.

Stuart is the builder and I am arty-farty therapy oriented. Already we have designed and renovated a beautiful self-catering apartment which you will occupy when you sit for us until we have built a caretakers cabin which is next on the list. The apartment will then be available for short-term lets.

Our Pets

Missy and Brooza, two small terriers that spend a lot of time running around the garden and enjoy the treats they get for not barking at the rabbits, so we get lots of waggy tails cos they want to be good doggies.

At present I don’t take the dogs out because they have rabbit on the brain and we are surrounded by rabbits who sit and I swear they taunt my dogs….Im sure they poke their tongues out when Im not looking!! As you can imagine, our little darlings aren’t that impressed, actually they’re not Stuarts little darlings (cos they dug up the garden).

Due to this, I have been training them to avoid bits of garden and dig outside of those designated areas, if they need to. I think I’m winning. Part of the house/pet-sitters job will also be checking that they’re not digging up the garden or new holes under the fence. They have been known to escape in search of a rabbit, but they always come back, no worries.

Pet dogs at the House-Sit in Murcia
Pet dogs at the House-Sit in Murcia

Our cat, Cookie (Stuart will accept as his too, although he named her – Cooking Fat ….swap the two first letters round, its not nice!) has moved next door because the dogs are not her cup of tea. She returns for food and a stroke, morning and night & we get a purr – fair exchange. Our house-sitter should take note!

Our 5 Fish

The pond is now green and the poor fish aren’t cleaning it very well. Were getting more oxygenator plants, so this should get better. You will only need to feed them once or twice a week as they are supposed to feed off the thingies that live in the pond, or so the internet said, they look healthy enough.

Our Prospective House-Sitter

Seeing as it is mainly me that will be reading all the profiles, Stuart is always busy building, I just shove various profiles under his nose when he eventually sits down, exhausted in the evening and he dutifully reads them and says I don’t know, you choose and so, basically, its me that has to decide.

So… when Im reading a house-sitter profile, I look for personality, enjoyment, enthusiasm, different life experiences, things that you LOVE to do, love of animals, capability to adapt to alternative lifestyles, interest in conservation, FUN and energy and I read all the references. We would prefer two people and its not really suitable for children at the moment. Its better if our sitters have a bit of life experience but not totally essential as long as they’re willing to follow a more conservationist route and not waste water or power etc. We do try to be as green as we can.

From our first flower harvest
From our first flower harvest

House-sitter Skills

Gardeners and Assistant Builders as house sitter are a bonus, although as we get older, they will be essential. The plants will need watering. We have small grey-water storage bins for this and pegs for noses as we use old washing up and shower water.

This house-sit is really suitable for people who like to be away from the hustle and bustle and like time to read, write, paint, sing, dance, play music or similar pursuits.

By Lynne, Homeowner in Murcia, Spain.

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  1. […] TOP TIPS – for house-sitters when house-sitting – • Advice for Pet-sitters and House-Sitters – Notes from a Homeowner… • Homeowner’s Brief for a House-sitter – And before you begin…  […]

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