House Sitting in Around The World – Susan From Australia

Recently, we had a chat with Susan.

Susan and her husband Gordan have been house sitting around the world!

They have house sat in Cyprus, France, Italy, Bulgaria and the Greek Islands!

Below you find out about their adventures in Bulgaria and the Greek Island.

Susan provides some wonderful advice for getting started and the house sitting website she used to find all these incredible sits!

Make sure you read to the end to find out where they are heading next!

Tell us a little bit about yourself – who are you, where are you from, for, do you do it full-time or sporadically

We are home owners and have been pet owners. We are retired professionals, Gordon a 35 year sworn officer with the Police Service in Australia and myself a Behavioural science professional having worked in the youth justice court system throughout Cape York and the Torres Straits.

We love to travel and have done so more frequently since 2014. We have travelled throughout Australia, south east Asia and China, Europe, the UK, Balkans and north Africa.

We started our adventures together in 2014 after only 18 months together, taking long service leave we spent 16 months exploring China (and teaching English), backpacking home through South East Asia.

After 6 months back home and me returning to work (Gordon retired) we then headed for further 6 months in the UK, France, Spain, Portugal, Morocco and Italy, house and pet sitting in France, Scotland and Wales where we started our international house sitting adventures..

Where was your first international sit?

Our first international house sit was in Brecon, Wales. We organised this sit from Australia and I recall it was the first sit we applied for. We travelled to France initially where we have friends before heading over the ‘ditch’ to the UK. We hired a car and arrived in Brecon to find our house sit was canceled due to the Mr. of the house being hospitalized unexpectedly.

The Mrs of the house was lovely and very apologetic inviting us to stay with her until we changed all our plans as it had been a 3 week sit. We stayed a couple of nights in the most beautiful home overlooking the Brecon Beacons, it was magical.

We loved the area so much the home owner helped us source some accommodation which she contributed to in the area. We stayed for just over a week exploring the area and meeting up again with the home owners for dinner after the Mr of the house was released from hospital.

During this time we managed to be accepted for another house sit on the Kintyre Peninsular in Scotland looking after 3 dogs and Cyril the Grey parrot. Cyril was a hoot, a great imitator. You would swear the phone was ringing but no it was Cyril… his favourite words were “shut up Jen” the name of the Mrs in this household.

Although unexpected we had a great time for 2 weeks exploring an area we probably would not have travelled to. A few weeks break visiting friends in England then off to a house sit on the Isle of Skye spending the Christmas and New Year period there.

Chickens, Ducks and Pigs were the ‘pets’ and although it was freezing cold we loved the experience and Scotland has remained a favourite destination. So this was our introduction to the world of house sitting. What we learned in those initial days was to be prepared for the unexpected, have the financial means to source alternate accommodation and be flexible.

During that trip we also travelled to Morocco, Italy and France where we looked after friends’ homes in Oroux and Craon.

 We departed Australia again in June 2018 and arrived back in Australia June 2019. That trip saw us house and pet sitting in Cyprus, France (several), Italy, Bulgaria and the Greek Islands, when not house sitting we explored Switzerland, Romania and Turkey. This trip saw us out of our comfort zone in some parts, particularly in Bulgaria.

The Cyprus sit was again a first application for this trip, we had a skype and 10 minutes after, the call came saying please come. From that confirmation we applied for France, a chateau outside of Paris (2 hunting dogs), a farm house in Normandy (dogs, cats, donkey, goat and chickens), farm in Assisi (dogs, cats, goats, donkeys and chickens), and a restoration project home in an abandoned village in Bulgaria  (dog and cat).

All very different but enjoyed all the same. While in Bulgaria we applied for a sit on Andros and fortunately we were accepted as this has been a highlight for us.

How did you find out about housesitting?

I think I just googled house sitting and found the Trusted House sitters site and Housecarers… created a profile and voila!

How did you go house sitting in 2020?

We had numerous house and pet sits booked during 2020 across Canada, but of course along came COVID 19 and all bookings were mutually cancelled. We would have cared for alpaca’s, goats, chickens, dogs, cats and parrots. As a result of the lockdown we bought a campervan and miraculously travelled around Australia missing all travel bans along the way. It was fabulous.

Saving money on accommodations means we don’t have to dip into savings or travel on a shoestring budget.

What do you enjoy about house sitting?

On our travels we don’t house sit back to back, no more than half of our trips are house sitting by choice.

We prefer house sitting to staying in hotels etc all the time. We like the sense of community and also routine to a certain extent of looking after the animals.

We have been introduced to “friends” of many of the home owner who we have caught up with during our stays to socialise and be introduced to the local environments.

By the time a sit finishes – usually between 3 – 6 weeks we are ready to hit the road to explore the roads less travelled.

Have you had any funny housesitting experiences?

Crazy experiences in Normandy with Darra the donkey and the goat escaping the paddock and Gordon and I chasing them around the fields trying to get back to the pen…

Bulgaria with the chimney blocked and inside our house was 1 degree, the howling of the wolves in the forest adjoining the house, a village of 100 houses but only 20 of them inhabited, snow bound dirt roads and definitely no English

Tips for others wanting to get started?

1. Flexibility

2. don’t apply for any house sit, be picky

3. Remember you need to respect the rules of the house eg no smoking, weighing the dogs food even though they will eat from each others bowl!! Or not leaving the animals unattended for too long if that’s the requirement

4. Don’t accept what makes you uncomfortable eg. for me is cameras in the house

5. If we use any food or laundry products I replace, same with fuel if a car is available – fill it up!

6. Leave the home cleaner than you found it

7. limit your luggage

8. Have back up funds for both accommodation alternatives or returning home for emergencies.

Where to next (when you can)

We have an unwell grandbaby so with multiple surgeries scheduled for the next 6 months we are staying close to home.

September 2023 heading to Canada for 6 weeks but unlikely to house sit. After our bubba gets the all clear we will probably head off for a year going via Andros house sit… Albania, Montenegro, Croatia and Hungary… we will look at house sits for Italy, France, Spain (restricted by Schengen) and Ireland.

Want to try House Sitting As Well?
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Check out the resources for getting started as a house sitter here.

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