“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.