House Sitting Stories | Suze & Chris from Kent, England

We love hearing stories from others who live a similar life to us. In August 2020, we chatted with Suze and Chris a house sitting couple from Kent, England!

Read on to find out about the their adventures in caring for tortoises, bearded dragons alpacas, donkeys and geckos as well as spending Chris’s 30th birthday in Iceland!

Hey Guys! Tell us a little bit about yourselves

We are Chris and Suze, a couple originally from Kent in England. We’ve been together for nine years and three of those years have been spent housesitting. At the end of 2017 we gave up our flat and our jobs to housesit back to back and travel the UK and beyond!

How Many Housesits Have You Completed and Where?

Over the past three years we have completed 58 housesits, mostly in the UK but we have completed sits in Germany and Sweden too! We’ve cared for 74 dogs and 36 cats, as well as flocks of hens, ducks, a herd of alpacas, donkeys, guinea fowl, lizards, pigs and more!

Why Do You Housesit? What is Your Main Motivation?

Before we began housesitting we were completely burnt out from the 9-5 grind and in desperate need of a change of lifestyle. Housesitting full time gives us the freedom to work for ourselves, spend our time together doing whatever we feel, and choose a new adventure each week! We love spending our days together and it’s completely changed our lives for the better.

How Did You Find out About Housesitting?

In the year before beginning our housesitting adventure, we lived in a flat in the centre of Brighton. Our landlady told us about the company she works for – Trusted Housesitters, which is a Brighton-based housesitting company.

Suze applied for a customer service role there, which she wasn’t successful in, but as part of the application process she received a year’s free membership to the site. The job rejection became the best thing that could’ve happened for us as three months later, tired of the nonstop working lifestyle and looking for a change, we remembered we had that membership and gave up everything to hit the road to travel and housesit full time.

What’s Been the Biggest Adventure so Far?

We were lucky enough to get away to Scandinavia just before lockdown went into effect earlier this year! We spent New Year’s Eve at a public concert in Stockholm, before beginning a ten-day housesit just outside the city a few days later.

The house was situated beside a beautifully peaceful lake, and our daily dog walks consisted of getting lost in the forest and spending time sitting by the lakeside to admire the thin sheet of ice across the water. We then flew from Stockholm to Reykjavik, Iceland, for Chris’ 30th birthday where we spent a week visiting glaciers, waterfalls and the famous Blue Lagoon!

It was otherworldly and we’ll never forget it. Our travels mightn’t have worked out that way if it wasn’t for planning that Swedish housesit.

Pros of Housesitting

The full time housesitting lifestyle is wonderful and it’s completely changed our lives. We love living like a local in places all over the country and beyond, slotting into new routines and experiencing life in places we wouldn’t get to see if not for housesitting. As huge animal lovers, spending our days caring for all kinds of pets is awesome! Every sit is different –  from hiking mountains with dogs and cuddling up with cats, to petting pigs and feeding alpacas by hand.

When we worked 9-5 we were exhausted and our free time at weekends was spent recovering from the week. Now we create our own schedule and spend all our time together, and don’t have to wait until the weekend to visit new places! Travelling all over the UK, with no set work hours to work around, means we can visit friends any time and make new ones along the way too.

Cons of Housesitting

Over our three years of housesitting full time, one of the most stressful parts of what we do is trusting that homeowners will be honest in regards to our on-sit responsibilities. We no longer apply for housesits that provide little to no information, and have become adept at spotting red flags, as well as creating our own checklist of questions to ask before confirming!

Another downside comes with full time travel – having no base can be annoying when housesit dates don’t line up, and we have to make arrangements for days in between. Though there are a handful of cons to housesitting full time, we both agree that these are a worthy price to pay for getting out of the rat race and spending our days how we choose!

How Do You Decide on a Destination?

To a certain degree this depends on what housesits are available at the time, but we consider the location (if we feel there’s enough for us to do in the area), the pets (is it something we’re happy to look after), and the experience (does it offer an opportunity for new adventures!)

How much Luggage Do You Travel With?

A lot less than we used to!! For our first housesit we completely stuffed our car and the boot was full, as well as the back seats being rammed with things we thought we’d need. Over the years we’ve got to know what we actually need on our travels, and can fit everything into: one backpack for both our clothes, one bag for Suze’s sewing materials, one backpack for Chris’ photography equipment, one small shopping bag for any dry food we have with us, and one tote bag for things like travel games, books etc. We’re always happy to realise how few material possessions we need to be content.

Have you Ever Have Any Unusual Pets?

We’ve completed so many unconventional housesits that we almost can’t tell what’s the norm any more! People are always excited to hear about our sit with a herd of ten alpacas, who lived in the garden and loved to be petted and fed carrots.

We’ve also cared for tortoises, bearded dragons and geckos, each bringing us an opportunity to learn new skills and expand our pet care experience. The strangest responsibility we’ve had to date was being asked to push an elderly dog in a pram while we walked her younger sister, and not a pram made for dogs either – it was a Victorian style baby carriage! We got a lot of strange looks out on walkies during that sit.

Favorite Housesitting Experience?

As keen walkers, one of our all-time favourite housesits has been dog-sitting a lovely Border Collie in the Lake District for a month. We visited in January, when it was snowing and footpaths were deserted.

We spent every day of that sit hiking trails and mountains with the dog, completely in awe of the breath-taking landscapes and beautiful mountaintop views. No two days were the same, and we got a real taste for outdoor adventure.

Was it Hard for You to Secure your First Housesitting Gig?

Before we set off on our travels, we used various websites to find opportunities to care for dogs, cats and small animals, so we had some pet care experience to write about in our applications.

Thinking back, we only had to send a couple of applications before we confirmed our first housesit – but this was actually due to our love of walking! The homeowner had had previous bad experiences with sitters who were not physically able to give her dog the walks he needed. She and her doggo completed hikes for up to eight hours a day every day, so when we applied and expressed how keen we were to do the same, she booked us in and our adventures began.

Any Funny Housesitting Experiences?

We find there’s never a dull moment when housesitting, and the funniest part of our travels is getting to know each pet’s different personality and finding out new things about animals. In one of our first housesits we learned that certain dogs go WILD when blowing raspberries on their belly – Chris tests this out at every housesit we do now!

We also recently discovered Cat TV, of which there are endless videos on YouTube to keep cats entertained, consisting of hours of footage of birds and mice. Cats are hypnotised by it!!

Tips for Others Wanting to Get Started?

If you’re looking to pet sit as well as housesit, our top tip would be to gain some pet care experience before you get started. Before we set out, we’d spent months finding dogs to care for using the website Borrow My Doggy, as well as scanning local Facebook groups for people looking for pet sitters.

We also took care of friends’ animals when asked. As for getting ready to housesit, we’d recommend putting real care and effort into crafting your profile – varied photos, lots of information about yourself – and if you’re looking to travel full time, think about what you need or don’t need when on the road! It can save you lots of hassle in the long run if you pare down your possessions before you set off.

We’re getting ready to launch our new website later this month with all our top housesitting tips, so keep your eyes peeled!

Where to Next?

Due to the current climate we’re not booking up too many housesits in advance, in case situations change. At the beginning of the year we had so many plans to complete more International housesits, so when we feel confident enough to travel abroad again we’ll make our way back to Scandinavia for a trip to explore Norway and Denmark, as well as more of Sweden!

Want to Find More About Suze and Chris?

Find them on Instagram: @ChrisAndSuzeGoWalkies Facebook: Facebook.com/ChrisAndSuzeGoWalkies and their website here
Fin

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