Recently, we had a chat with Andreas. He has had an incredible journey as a full-time house sitter and nomadic traveler.
He has over 19 house sits under his belt! Read on to find out how he almost ended up caring for 6 snakes as well as getting stuck on an island for 3 months!
Tell us a little bit about yourself – who are you, where are you from, for, do you do it full-time or sporadically
My name is Andreas, I am in my mid-40s, and after I quit my lawyer’s job in Germany, I have been nomadic since 2009.
Before learning about house sitting, I moved from country to country, always staying for 6 months in one place at least. Since 2018,
I have been housesitting almost full-time. (I don’t have an apartment of my own anymore.)
I write a blog about my travels and much more, called “The Happy Hermit”. You can find it at www.andreasmoser.blog. If I was more focused, there would already be a few books, but let’s not give up yet.
How many housesits have you had and where?
I am just finishing my 19th housesit.
In my capacity as a house- and catsitter, I have been in Austria, in Canada, in Spain, in the Azores, in Sweden, in Ukraine, in England, in Italy, in Switzerland, several times in Belgium and plenty of times in Germany.
Why do you housesit? What is the main motivation?
First of all, I really like cats. But due to my nomadic life,
I can’t have my own anymore. Therefore, getting to cuddle other people’s cats would be enough of a motivation for me. 🙂
Then, there’s the free accommodation, of course.
But what I like even more is that by housesitting, I often end up in places that never would have been on my own radar.
But I see an ad on one of the housesitting websites, the cat looks cute, the dates match, and I start investigating about the town or region.
I am super excited to go live in a town that I might never have heard of before. I like this randomness inserted in my travels. And in my life, to be honest.
How did you find out about house sitting?
Pure coincidence. While walking in the hills of Montenegro, where I lived at the time,
I met a lady from Hawaii who was dogsitting in Montenegro. She told me about it, and I only had one question:
“Are there also jobs with cats?” I knew immediately that it would suit my nomadic lifestyle perfectly.
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 actually got accepted on my first application. Which was good, for otherwise I might have given up quickly – and missed out on a lifestyle that suits me almost perfectly.
I have quite a good acceptance rate, but I treat each application like a job application. I tailor my application to the job, list my (imagined) advantages, and pose the questions I have.
But I don’t want to take too much credit: There is discrimination in housesitting, too. I am a middle-aged, white, German guy with a law degree, and I look exactly like that. For many people, this comes across as a recipe for reliability. (If only they knew more about lawyers. 😛 )
Pros of House Sitting?
The free stay, obviously. Plus having a kitchen and everything at home, you can usually live with minimal expenses, even in countries that are otherwise rather expensive.
You have a home, which is usually a better alternative to a hostel or rented accommodation could be. In most places, I felt at home right away.
I always liked staying in one place for longer, to really get to know a city, region, learn the language, the local culture, et cetera. Therefore, stays of more than a month are wonderful for me.
How do you decide on a destination?
I like to go to places where I haven’t been yet. (Although there are also plenty of places I would happily return to.)
Then, the longer the better. I am a slow traveller and I like to get deep into a place, its culture, its museums, and make local friends. All of this is easier, the longer I stay. Also, a longer stay makes the trip worthwhile.
And, very important, the owners. I need to like them, because after all, I’ll be communicating with them regularly. After as many housesits as I have done, I know what to look for. (For example, some people provided very detailed schedules for their cats’ food intake. Seriously, the cat won’t mind eating half an hour earlier.
Or people who want videos of their cat every day. I mean, the cat will be sleeping most of the time. And if people can’t switch off, then maybe they shouldn’t travel.)
Cons of House Sitting?
As the main con, I would list that you depend on the owners’ whims. Twice, it happened to me that they cut their trip short and returned home early.
Of course they were nice and told me I could stay, but that’s not really the idea, at least not for me. So I packed my backpack and left early.
One personal pet peeve I have with all housesitting sites is that there are relatively few offers from Eastern Europe.
I find this the most fascinating region in the world, and I would love to go there more often. (I have been to Kiev in Ukraine, taking care of two sweet cats.)
But, knowing Eastern Europe, I guess people there simply give the keys to their neighbors. They are less complicated than people elsewhere.
Oh, and another con, a rather recent one: People have too much technology, with which they like to supervise their home while being away.
I turn off all the Alexas, spycams and other such stuff, but some people insist on controlling the radiator or window shutters from the other side of the globe.
Have you had any funny housesitting experiences?
More lucky than funny: During one of my last sits in Germany, I went to a film festival, got to talk to people there, mentioned that I am in the area because I am taking care of someone’s cat.
One of the couples asked me if I’d want to take care of their cats the following year. That’s how I got a 4-month catsitting job in Leipzig
Where has been your favorite house sit?
For this question, I looked through the list of my 19 houesits again, and I really can’t decide.
The favorite part is usually when the cat begins to accept me and comes to sit next to me on the couch – or even comes to bed in the evening (or in the morning to wake me up). This usually lasts 2-3 days maximum. When the cat is happy, I am happy.
What’s been the biggest adventure so far?
I would say the stay on Faial, one of the Azorean islands in the middle of the Atlantic, during the beginning of the Covid pandemic. All planes and ferries were cancelled, and I had to stay for three months. I didn’t mind. 🙂
How much luggage do you travel with?
Ideally just one backpack.
One of the big advantages of housesitting is that it allows for light travel. There is almost always a washing machine, so you don’t need too many clothes. I have also used jackets, umbrellas and such stuff that belonged to the owners.
Depending on the owners’ library, you don’t even need to take too many books – although I still do. A family in Canada left me their library card, which I also found a neat idea.
Did you ever have any unusual pets to take care of or responsibilities that were out of the norm?
The most unusual for me was a bunny, which I guess is not really that unusual. But I never had a bunny before. And it was so sweet!
When I housesat for a couple in Bad Münstereifel in Germany, they were in the process of selling the house. So I had to meet the realtor from time to time.
Upon learning who I was, he asked me if I was willing to housesit in his villa in Bonn. I already got excited, until he said: “And the six snakes are hardly any work at all.” I almost fainted. He kept advertising the easiness of snake care, but I couldn’t have been convinced for the life of me.
Tips for others wanting to get started?
In my FAQ on housesitting, I have a long list with advice: https://andreasmoser.blog/2019/03/17/faq-house-sitting/
If I were asked to highlight a few, it would be:
- Treat the application like a job application.
- If the job is in the area or easy/cheap to reach, offer to introduce yourself personally.
- Tell everyone that you are housesitting. Meanwhile, I have received a few jobs from people who read about me on my blog, or even from friends or university classmates.
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