Housesitting rather than staying in a hotel is a relatively new concept, but it’s taking off. Since I posted a brief story about the alternative way to find accommodation in London for the Olympics, I’ve had an enthusiastic response from people who literally housesit their way around the world. It’s given them a whole new world of travel and saved them money.
Trustedhousesitters.com was founded by Andy Peck after realising the need for a comprehensive international house sitting website where homeowners could search for ideal house and pet sitters, view references, photos, relevant house and pet care experience, police check information, and even video profiles.
Caring for pets and gardens often deters people from taking holidays, and some of the housesitting gigs including caring for them, he says. Apartments and no pets are also available. Destinations can include France, the UK, Australia, Canada, Greece, the US, South America and even Turkey. Quite often the housesitters can use the client’s car as well. I had a look on the site and a lot of properties are in France.
I asked Australians Geoff Levitus and his wife Kristine about their housesitting experiences and they emailed me this response from their current location in France.
Where are you housesitting now?
We are now housesitting in Lorgues, in Provence. A beautiful old renovated 4 bedroom farmhouse on about 5 hectares with pool, car, vineyards and olive trees. Lorgues is 5 minutes away, a lovely village with a huge market on Tuesdays.
Is this your first experience?
We’ve been housesitting in Europe now almost continuously since last September. We’ve done two on Greek islands in the Dodacanese (Leros and Chios), two in Spain (Mallorca and Marbella), and now this one in France, and will shortly be moving on to another in Bretagne. However, our first was in Sydney about 3 years ago. Each one has been a great experience in its own way, and the references we’ve been given I’m sure have helped secure the next ones.
What are the challenges?
The challenges are to be able to adapt to each new set of circumstances, including looking after animals and property, as well as to the local culture. No matter how well briefed and prepared you are, there will often be unexpected events, accidents, maybe emergencies, and you need to be able to deal with these calmly and efficiently. For us, at different times these have included no heating or electricity, a sinking boat, a neighbour’s dogs killing a number of chickens and ducks, and wrong freight deliveries – no big deal really.
How does it feel to be in a stranger’s home?
We always try to think of it as our home while we’re here, and owners have always been very helpful in making us feel this way before they leave.
What advice would you give first-time housesitters?
It always helps to learn about the place first, learn a bit of the language if possible. Don’t do it if you don’t like animals as looking after them is usually required and you have to remember they are someone’s beloved pets and are always sensitive to change. Being flexible and resourceful is essential, and keeping the owners informed about how things are going is a good idea – we send them pics of their pets, and let them know if anything unexpected happens. Get a reference if things go well.
From now on Taste for Travel will feature a housesitting property each month. This isn’t a sponsored post. Travelling is expensive, let’s face it, and next to your airfare, accommodation takes up the lion’s share of the budget. An option like this takes care of that and gives you a grassroots experience in communities you would never have dreamed of being able to explore. It gets my tick of approval and I look forward to trying it out. Here’s the first property, and what a stunner. It’s smack in the middle of bubbly country.
HOUSESITTING OPPORTUNITY IN CHAMPAGNE, FRANCE
Enjoy two weeks of summer, August 9-27, staying for free in this elegant French home with vineyards and a river at the bottom of the garden. Caring for owner’s home and pets in return for this wonderful retreat in the Champagne growing region of France, with a fridge stocked full of champagne as a thank you in return, what more could you ask for! For more details click here.
*Pictures courtesy of Andy Peck who is housesitting his way around New Zealand at the moment.