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Housesitting Tips was updated in November 2021
I was meant to become an international housesitter full of housesitting tips! It all started with synchronicity. Sometimes the universe is just trying to tell you something.
When I opened my book, Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks, smack dab in the middle I was stunned to see that the chapter was called Cambridge. I have this recurring habit of not reading books from front to back.
The previous evening I had been perusing the Trusted Housesitters website and contemplated applying for a housesit in Cambridge, U.K. I had decided to sleep on it.
There in front of me was my answer. Crystal clear. I grabbed my MacBook air and applied. Within 24 hours, I had my first housesitting job and a 10-day date with some feathery fowl. I had seen plenty of feathered creatures on my travels. Thanks, universe. How hard could babysitting birds be?
Housesitting is a bona fide way to see the world. A reciprocal arrangement benefitting both the homeowner and the traveller is struck and thus starts another story.
Numerous people have asked me how on earth I have managed to find people in various corners of the world who want me to stay in their house and look after their pets. Here’s how to become a housesitter and see the world!
Trusted Housesitters is the organization I belong to. It is not the only housesitting site out there, but at this point the only one I can attest to.
There is a yearly fee ranging from the Basic Plan at $139 (Cdn), to the Standard Plan at $179 (Cdn) and the Premium Sitter Plan at $299. Use this link to get your housesitting plan at 25% off (new memberships).
I completed this, my first housesit, in Cambridge, UK. Since then I have completed over 30 housesits in France, the United Kingdom and Canada.
1. Housesitting Tips: How To Get Started
- Set up your profile
- Provide 3 references – employment, a character and a house or pet sitting one.
- Trust Verifications – there are 3 levels of verifications to complete
2. Emails Alerts
Once you are a member, daily emails are sent with the latest available housesits. Those emails provide ample inspiration for travel to faraway places and also possibilities closer to home.
3. Housesitting Tips: The App
In 2018, Trusted Housesitters created an app for easy use. The best feature is the notifications. Have your heart set on a housesit in Fiji? Under SEARCH enter your preferred location and dates, SAVE it and wait for your mobile to chime! This means you can apply quickly. Often homeowners will receive 50+ applications. If you are in the first 5, I believe you have a much better chance.
4. Applying For The Housesit
When you find a particular person/ family/ location/ animals that fit with what you are looking for and your dates, you apply through the website. I have applied to many – some successfully and some not. Be patient. An incredible opportunity you have your heart set on may or may not materialize.
I always write a friendly email explaining who I am, why I am interested and why I would be a great candidate to look after the pets. I like to personalize the email by mentioning the pets’ names! It is a good idea to try to be one of the first to apply as often there are many applicants.
Then…wait to see what comes back to you.
Sometimes you hear nothing. Sometimes you receive an email saying, “Not this time.” And sometimes it works out!
5. Housesitting Tips: The Interview
Usually, the homeowner will want to meet you on Skype or Zoom. Usually, they are interviewing several people and then will make a decision. You are applying to look after somebody’s home and loved ones. Us humans? We simply adore our pets and want that special someone to care for them.
During the video conferencing interview, it is important to clarify details for yourself. Be prepared with questions that matter to you. For example: Can I can leave the pets and go sightseeing for the day? Is the wifi reliable? Is it a non-smoking house? Can I use public transportation to visit nearby attractions?
It is important to clarify the expectations that are written in the posting. I asked one homeowner to send more pictures of the house so that I could visualize clearly where I would be living for 6 weeks.
It is a really important conversation and sets the foundation for a successful experience for both parties.
6. Successful Candidate
Once successful, I continue to converse with the homeowner through email about upcoming details such as arrival arrangements. If possible, I have made arrangements to meet in person prior to the start of the housesit.
7. Housesitting Tips: The Pros
Housesitting is mutually beneficial for both the homeowners and the housesitter. The homeowners can go away knowing that their pets and home are well looked after and the housesitter has the opportunity to live for free in a community. I have been nomadic for a while, so love satisfying my domestic side and taking care of pets again.
My experiences so far have resulted in interactions with gracious, interesting people. Authentic connections. Acquaintances for a moment in time.
Hens? I know NOTHING about hens.
I arrived in Cambridge and was met at the train station by Beverley and Richard, the homeowners. They showed me all the details of running the house and caring for the hens. We had a delicious meal together and chatted, mostly about travel, while listening to Leonard Cohen on the turntable.
After they left, I was good and ready to take on Buffy, Clara and Cambridge!
Yes, I was on a first-name basis with some fowl. This was no jungle fowl that I had spied on my travels but a Buff Sussex and an Araucana.
Clara, the Araucana, was a bit of an adventurer. I liked her right away. Kindred spirits with a hen? Anything is possible. Clara clearly preferred the yard next door. Searching for her escape route was a fruitless exercise.
I became adept at luring her through the fence with treats. She laid me beautiful blue shelled eggs. Those warm eggs? They were splendid and delicious. I surmise they were a little gift back for all her expeditions.
Buffy, the Buff Sussex, happily roosted, grazed and explored the yard. She often deferred to Clara when it came to who got first dibs on the grub. But sometimes she just told Clara off.
I became very used to “Cluck, cluck, cluck, CLUCKAAAAAWWWWK!” I kept the feeder full and lovingly cooked spaghetti noodles and frozen peas as an extra treat. Buffy and Clara were put to bed on time in their special roost. I think my motherly instincts kicked in. Who knew I could bond with hens?
With Buffy and Clara contentedly pecking away in the garden, I hopped on my bicycle and leisurely explored and re-explored charming, ancient Cambridge. I was anonymous, but not, as I flew along the riverside bike paths with my poncho flying in the wind and my bike basket brimming with groceries. I felt so academic, so British. After all, I had an address and two hens expecting to be fed.
“To awaken alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.”
When You Go…
Trusted Housesitters website can lead to some pretty great adventures around the world! Click here to receive a 25% discount on a new membership.
Visiting Cambridge? Read about what to see and do!
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