Mon Dieu, nous sommes soignants maison ~

“It is my second week in Escamps, a cluster of medieval farms and impossibly narrow roads in southwest France, a region known as The Lot, in the Midi-Pyrénées. There are no shops in this hamlet, only a church, an ancient cemetery, and a tiny bibliothèque whose librarian, Monsieur Dubillion, I nearly ran over in my tiny rented Renault. Still, word of my housesitting at Sophie Dumont’s farm, Piepalat, has preceded me, and on my daily walks residents often invite me for a cup of espresso or a slice of their goat cheese. In the language I learned from my French mother, I chat with farmers and masons whose ancestors have lived here for centuries.”

So wrote Judith Reitman, an American from North Carolina, in an article I stumbled on several years ago in AARP Magazine.  Judith wasn’t retired but she was looking for adventure on the cheap.  She found it big time, through an ad in HouseCarers.com.  In return for taking care of Sophie’s four cats – Lulu, Bijoux, Chouchou and Mia (which involved fresh cooked fish twice a day), feeding the chickens, and a little garden work, Judith got to stay practically free in a 17the century limestone farmhouse.  From that first experience, Judith was hooked.   I was hooked too.  And I’ve circled back to this idea time and again.  Finally, the time is right to give it a go ourselves and I am very excited.

First, the good news.   Especially where our beloved pets are concerned, there are more people than ever looking for someone to stay in their home while they are away.  This can be from one week to as long as a year or two.   You can find house sits world-wide – from farms to city apartments to luxury vacation homes and even on yachts!  Then, the bad news.  The word is out on house sitting and the competition can be fierce for the prime locations.  Flexibility is key, and you might be staying in your dream location in the off season.  Still…

Here’s an opportunity I found on TrustedHousesitters.com.  Two years in Castello Branco, Portugal.  Two cats, 11 chickens, vegetable garden.  Oh, baby!   

It helps to have house sitting experience and references, SO – if you or anyone you know is looking for someone to take care of the homestead, walk the dog, pet the kitties and water the plants while you’re out of town – let me know.  I am eager to dive in and get our feet wet.

The three most popular sites I’ve seen are HouseCarers.com, TrustedHousesitters.com and Housesittersinternational.com.   To get the ball rolling, I’ve decided to sign up with with a couple of agencies.  Trusted House Sitters and HouseSitMexico.   For less than $60/year to join, I think it’s a great way to test the water before we go half way around the world.  So, I’m working up our perfect profile and giving it a whirl.  We can do this!  In fact, a quick check this week on the HouseCarers.com for house sit openings in Washington State and bingo – I wanted to vacation on Bainbridge Island and here it is.  Click on the link and tell me, who would not be happy to spend two weeks in this gorgeous place and snuggle up with these two beautiful kitties.  One for Les and one for me.  Purrrfect!  (sorry).

If you are as intrigued by this idea as I was, here are a couple more links to check out :

Caretaker Gazette – Yep, a Newsletter for and about house sitting.

This UK couple have taken the house-sitter lifestyle to a new level – They have their own website and provide a lot of good info on avoiding the inevitable pitfalls.

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4 thoughts on “Mon Dieu, nous sommes soignants maison ~

  1. Sounds delightful, Nancy! I know people who house-sit and they love the “life-style” – staying in places they’d never been before, taking care of someone else’s property, touring around during their “off hours.” What a fun way to go! Another idea along a similar line, if you still have a house, is house-swapping, where you swap your house with another person who wants to come visit your neck of the woods. One such website designed for the house-swapping set, is http://www.homeexchange.com/. Even Rick Steves has gotten into the mix with a page of house-swapping tips for Europe http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/tips/0400swap.htm – the page also has a link to another popular house-swapping website. Good luck and have tons of fun!

    • Thanks Lois. Definitely another post on home exchange is pending. I first signed up for home exchange back in l996 with Univac before anything was online and you got a big book with listings. I had no idea about Rick Steves. Thanks for the info. I think this is definitely a possibility while we still have our house. Great info. Thanks!

  2. Hi Nancy. Thanks for visiting my blog. I’ve thought a lot about house sitting. I’m not sure how successful we’d be at house swapping unless someone was coming for extended position at a university in town since we’re in the Midwest of the States, not someplace like California or Washington State. It will be awhile before I have my own Retired Gentleman (he intends to work until they kick him out, which doesn’t happen often for professors), so I might have to test these house sitting adventures on my own.

    • Hi Julie, It is fun to explore all of the travel options and share my findings with others. I think you might be surprised how many people would like to experience living in middle-America. Thanks for the comment and I look forward to following your blog.

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