Recently, we had a chat with Chelsea. She is an incredible woman who has lived in Australia, London, Spain, Mexico, and Central America.
She has over 35 house sits under her belt and we can’t wait to share her house sitting adventures with you.
Tell us a little bit about yourself – who are you, where are you from, for, do you do it full-time or sporadically
I’m Chelsea, an entrepreneurial freelance author, yoga teacher, and copywriter.
I was born in California and have now lived abroad for half of my life. My mom was a nomad so since the time I was born we moved on average each year.
I’ve lived in Australia, London, Spain, Mexico, and Central America. While doing my master’s degree in Melbourne, Australia in 2013 there was a stint when I sublet my apartment and began undertaking back-to-back housesits. Now I just do it sporadically
How many housesits have you had and where?
Probably an upwards of 35 housesits in Melbourne, Perth, Sydney and London. I’m currently living in Mallorca, Spain and looking at house sitting in other countries I love such as Switzerland and Austria.
Why do you housesit? What is the main motivation?
Firstly, I adore pets. As I’ve inherited my mother’s nomadic spirit, it’s difficult for me to stay in one place for more than a couple years.
Therefore, it’s extremely difficult to have a pet – especially as my relocations are quite drastic being countries rather than just towns or states!
Housesitting allows me to be around the pet energy and help people who might be apprehensive to send their beloved animals to a cattery or overnight doggy daycare.
It allows the pet to be in the comfort of its own home and be well looked after by someone who loves animals. It’s also a way for me to discover new places without needing to worry about the cost of accommodation.
How did you find out about house sitting?
A friend of mine had posted about house sitting and the great experiences they had enjoyed I discovered Trusted Housesitters while living in Melbourne.
I undertook most of my housesits from that platform however have utilised platforms that are most UK-based as well.
Pros of House Sitting?
- Getting to meet and spend time with an array of different animals.
- Helping people who are in need of a caring person to watch over their pes while they’re away.
- It’s a great way to meet new people in the case of dogsits as you can take the dog to its regular dog park where there are other dog lovers. Dog lovers are moe often than not quite friendly!
- Sometimes staying in a property which might be much grander than your own (in the case of when I housesat for a well-known politician back in Australia who had a giant cinema room, beautiful kitchen to cook in and an elegant marble staircase.)
- Exploring new cities or countries without the financial strain of paying for hotels or Airbnbs
Cons of House Sitting?
Even when you have an in-person or virtual meeting with the pet owner, you don’t always know what you’re signing up for. The owner might desperately want to go away on holidays so could soften the truth to get you to sign up.
For instance, with one housesit the owners fed their Mastiff 2 kilos of horse meat each day as they said it was healthier for him. I love horses so this was difficult so said it was not an issue.
They said he might get a “bit” of separation anxiety and if so, I would need to sauté the horse meat on those occasions to entice him to eat it. His anxiety turned out to be through the roof, which I hadn’t experienced before as I feel I can usually make dogs super happy so that they hardly notice their owners are gone. However, he wouldn’t eat his horse meat so each day and evening I had to sauté it and to this day I will never forget the smell.
When the pet’s owner changes dates or cancels and if you’ve already blocked that time off or coordinated other things around it, it can be quite frustrating. Especially when the housesit is in another country and you’ve already booked flights.
Have you had any funny housesitting experiences?
Probably when the owners of these two toy poodles said it was totally fine to take them into cafes while I’m having a lunch or coffee because they always hold it if they need to go to the bathroom.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case when I tried and one of them pooped right in the middle of this quite posh café in Melbourne. Very awkward but the owner was pretty cool about it.
Where has been your favorite house sit?
Definitely Benny. For some reason I feel this inexplicable soul connection with the Australian Blue Heeler I housesat in Melbourne. His owners were away in South Africa for a month and I was on holiday from uni at the time.
Each day I took him for six to eight hours on massive walks and we both got super fit. Blue Heelers are known primarily for their intelligence but also for their boundless energy – they literally never wear out.
His “brother” Tui was a Jack Russell and was super cute as well, so I got to be around that dog energy for an entire month. The long housesits are great but it can also make it hard when you have to go back home – I had tears in my eyes when I had to leave Benny. I always put his picture up on my wall wherever I move to.
What’s been the biggest adventure so far?
Each of them has felt like a little adventure!
How do you decide on a destination?
For the most part, I’ve housesat in the same general area where I’m living at the time.
More recently, I’ve been searching for housesits in other countries in places I might consider moving to one day and therefore a housesit on the ground there would give me great experience like a local.
How much luggage do you travel with?
My whole life fits into three suitcases. The last time I owned furniture was 4.5 years ago in Perth when I spent a lot of time and resources furnishing my home but the energy in the house felt “off” so I moved houses and decided from then on, I’d always rent furnished.
Was it hard for you to secure your first housesitting gig? How many applications did you have to send before you got accepted for your first assignment?
I think the first time I ever housesat was actually from word-of-mouth which is often how things are done in Australia anyway.
The first gig I found online I believe wasn’t difficult because in Australia (at the time, I’m not sure about now) there was more supply than demand. When I moved to London I thought it would again be easy breezy but I’d look on Trusted Housesitters and on each gig saw a sentence underneath each headline showing how many applicants had already applied.
It was always an upwards of 25 and sometimes even 50+. For this reason I think it’s best to go for housesits in places which aren’t typical tourist/in demand destinations.
Did you ever have any unusual pets to take care of or responsibilities that were out of the norm?
In Perth I housesat for a woman who owned an elderly blind beagle, a deaf cat, an Australian Gallah and hermit crabs. She asked me to leave the dog outside or else he would attack me, and when placing food out to just quickly fling the dog bowl outside before he came at me.
I felt bad because I tried to go outside when he was placid to spend time with him as his family was away for three weeks and he seemed okay at first, but five minutes later went nuts and I literally had to jump over the outdoor furniture and back into the house.
The cat had to receive the medicine each day via a syringe put far back in his throat as it wouldn’t take it via its food. He was equally aggressive and would hiss and scratch as soon as he saw the plastic syringe so I had to wear gardening gloves and a thick coat while holding him to administer the medicine.
The Gallah was also aggressive and the food had to quickly be shoved in its cage before it lunged. At least the hermit crabs were friendly. After that housesit I questioned whether I ever wanted to do it again!
Tips for others wanting to get started?
Ask the owner loads of questions to find out about the dog’s personality, requirements, routine.
If it’s a dog then whether or not it gets along with other dogs, what his quirks are, if he ever gets aggressive or anxious, what the rules of the house are, if there’s anything off limits,
If you’re able to utilise their wifi, if they can let you know of local parks he frequents, if he’s allowed to have treats, if he’s allowed on furniture, how long the owners would typically leave him in a day, who to call if anything happens and if there are any neighbours who can be reached in an emergency.
These are just sample questions I’ve come up with at the top of my head after about almost a decade of housesitting experience!
Where to next (when you can)
We have completed I have a temporary residence visa in Spain so would like to stay in Europe.
I’m currently focusing on undertaking housesits in places I’ve been before which I love (like England) and places I’d consider actually living in future (Andalucia, Switzerland, Zurich and Northern Italy.) Though I’m always up for any interesting opportunities that come my way if I can spend time with some lovely pets.
Where to find out more about Chelsea; her website and Instagram
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