Recently, we chatted with Amy from @amykhornsby, we learnt about her life as a house sitter including learning how to care for bees and a cat who enjoyed walks through the Swiss Alps with Jordan (Amy’s other half) and herself!
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 a freelance writer from the UK and I spent 15 months housesitting with my partner Jordan, who is American and teaches online. We housesat full time from January 2019 to March 2020, then things changed and we had to head home!
How Many Housesits Have You Had And Where?
We completed 13 housesits across Europe and North America. We started in England, moved on to France, Switzerland, Ireland, the US, then Canada. We had two housesits in Ontario that were cancelled due to the virus then had intended to head to Central and South America after that.
Why Do You Housesit? What Is The Main Motivation?
We love animals and with travelling quite a lot, we can’t really have a pet, so this is a great compromise as we get to do both. We also like to slow travel so that we can spend time working, having down time, and seeing places at a slower pace over a longer period of time rather than tiring ourselves out sightseeing all the time. I find you get to know a place really well when you’re doing everyday things like food shopping, getting the bus, and chatting to neighbours.
How Did You Find Out About Housesitting?
I can’t remember, probably in a travel article a few years ago. It’s been on my radar for a while and I thought it sounded fantastic. It is!
Pros of House Sitting
Pets, meeting new people, travelling, seeing places you wouldn’t normally go to, slow travel, living in a home and not a hotel, being able to work remotely, becoming adaptable to many situations, learning things along the way.
Cons of House Sitting
It can feel like a house of cards sometimes. All it takes is a house owner to come home early and you realise your plans could fall apart quite easily. Sometimes home owners are not all that upfront about the house or the pets, but you get to learn the red flags. The biggest one for me is not being with my friends, and it can be difficult to meet people, so it was often just the two of us for long stretches of time.
How Do You Decide on a Destination?
We try to travel sustainably and focus on slow travel, which means we spend a fairly long time in each place or country, then try to move on to a country that’s nearby so we can travel by land. With me being from England and Jordan from the US, tourist visa times are a big consideration too, and we plan movement on allotted days in each place.
How Much Luggage Do you Travel With?
A lot! The maximum you can get on a plane with, which is a large suitcase and two carry-ons. We travelled for over a year, and the sits were very varied, so needed all that stuff. For example, we were in Switzerland over a summer and Quebec City over a winter, so we needed a range of clothing for that
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?
Actually no, we got our first two lined up pretty quickly. We made sure we really padded out our online profile with lots of information and photos of us with animals. Before housesitting, we lived in Poland where we took care of two friends’ dogs fairly regularly. At that time, I had housesitting in my head, so I’d asked the owners if they’d write a reference for us, which also went up on our profile. So despite being new to housesitting, we had other experiences to mention.
What Was Your Favorite Housesitting Experience To Date And Why?
There are so many! We loved the cities Sheffield, Baltimore, Galway, and Quebec City for exploring. We had a character of a cat in Switzerland who chatted all the time, came on walks with us, drank only from the tap, and loved sticking his head inside shoes. In Bath we looked after a small parakeet called Sunny who was a lot of fun and would sit on our shoulder and try and steal our food. We stayed in an apartment near Lake Geneva and went swimming in it every day, and even stayed in a gorgeous 13th century castle in France.
Have You Had Any Funny Housesitting Experiences?
At the very beginning of the Bath housesit we had to deal with a hive of bees who decided to set up shop in the owners’ chimney. We were lucky to get a beekeeper out over Easter weekend, and when he turned up he had a bee hive in a box in the back of his car, with a cloud of them flying around the outside. He had to come back another time when they returned a few weeks later – I don’t know what the neighbours thought.
Tips For Others Wanting To Get Started?
Join a site and spend time on your profile. We use Trusted Housesitters and Mind My House. Add photos with you and pets, and fill in all the information. If you’ve ever taken care of somebody’s pet, get them to write a reference. When applying for a sit, don’t do a copy and paste message, but write it carefully, ask questions, let them know you’ve read their post and you can do a good job. Always do a video call before accepting the sit, and trust your gut if you have any bad feelings.
Where to Next?
Probably somewhere within Europe and most likely England. We’re also looking at workaway experiences to learn some practical skills and interesting ways of life.
Want to Find Out More About Amy?
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