Recently, we had a chat with Christine and John, they only just started house sitting since COVID and have completed an incredible 42 house sits! From the South of France to Colorado, they are living the dream.
They are managing to book our their calendar according to places they want to go and family they want to visit. We learn how they have built this incredible life which allows them to house sit full time. Make sure you read to the end where they tell us where they are headed next (I am veeeeery jealous about this location)
Tell us a little bit about yourself – who are you, where are you from, for, do you do it full-time or sporadically
Hi there! We are Christine and John. John is from New Zealand, and Christine is originally from Norway. We were married in Norway 27 years ago, and quickly had our two sons, now 26 and 24.
We moved around the world our whole married life, chasing John’s energy engineering jobs. About 8 years ago, when the boys were nearly grown, we decided to build a home in New Zealand. Then COVID happened, and we didn’t leave our (gorgeous) beach in New Zealand for 2 years. And when you CAN’T go anywhere, it’s amazing how much you WANT to.
We were watching a lot of A New Life in the Sun (UK Channel 4 programme), and we saw a couple who mentioned in passing that they had been using a housesitting site for a few years. We looked at each other and said: is that a thing???
Long story short, we sold our newly built house and bravely hit the road!
So we have now been housesitting full-time since we sold our house in March 2022.
How many housesits have you had and where?
At 17 months into this adventure, we have completed 42 housesits. A lot of those have been short little stays, obviously.
We went to England first, because we saw that there were always lots and lots of sits available there. And we knew that we could stay in the UK for 6 months as visitors while we figured out the whole idea of international housesitting.
So we have spent a lot of the last 16 months in and out of the UK. But we’ve also had great sits in France (2 at this point). And we’ve sat quite a bit in the United States. We both have US passports (long story there!), so we are able to stay and housesit in the USA without visa worries.
Why did you do house sitting? What is the primary motivation?
We LOVE to travel, and we don’t really want to have a home at the moment. I know that sounds weird, but we actually find ourselves really loving the way we can move around, be comfortable, and still have the company of animals. I guess our main motivation is to travel, but to still feel ‘home comforts’ and the joy of animals.
What was your favorite housesitting experience to date and why?
Honestly, we have a few. But the Provence one always stands out. We had two great dogs in a lovely quiet but active village. It was just a magical setting with great pet parents, great pets, a fabulously comfortable house, and we LOVED the food and lifestyle.
That being said, we also REALLY loved a sit in Hampshire with just about the cutest Jack Russell you could ever imagine. There was also a pool involved ….
How did you find out about housesitting?
I spoke briefly about this above. We were watching the All 4 (UK channel) show “A New Life in the Sun”. An American couple were on the show renovating an ancient house in Italy.
They said they had been “housesitting for the last few years” and had decided to settle down at the next place they did not want to leave. We looked at each other and raised our eyebrows.
That is a THING? We did a few google searches and instantly decided this was ideal for us!
Pros of House Sitting
There are so many pros. So many more than we anticipated when we thought it looked good already! Being able to live in a real home with real creature comforts like kitchens, nice beds, and outside space while still seeing the world.
It’s amazing to be as relaxed as you are at “home” while exploring new parts of the world. When you stay in hotels or bed and breakfast, you never REALLY relax, like you do in a home. We get up in the morning, make tea or coffee in our robes, eat breakfast in pyjamas, chillax in the couch binge watching tv shows, etc. But we still see new things every day
. It’s an incredibly relaxing way to see what the world has to offer. We get to cook our own meals, which is so economical! We get great insider knowledge of local areas. AND we get cat and dog cuddles!
Cons of House Sitting
There are of course housesits that aren’t as nice as you thought they would be. And then you’re stuck in them. You can’t leave a housesit like you would a bad hotel.
You have committed to looking after animals, so you can’t really get up and leave just because the bedding is pretty crap. Also, you DO have responsibilities. You have to consider the welfare of the animals you look after before committing to anything else. The cons can be minimized over time, as you get more experience.
What’s been the biggest adventure so far?
This is a tough one to answer. We really loved our time in the South of France earlier this year, but I’m not sure it qualifies as an adventure. It was pleasantly slow, beautiful, and sort of exciting too.
It opened our eyes to such a different slower pace of life. Another favourite was a housesit in the very north of Scotland. We spent the summer solstice up there in 2022, and it was magical.
The weather was amazing, the light was never ending, and we saw puffins galore! We also really loved our month in Maryland last September. We were so close to Washington D.C., Annapolis, and the beaches of the Chesapeake Bay. It was a great month!
How do you decide on a destination?
We try to minimize travel costs if we can. So, so far, we have been planning the big flights, then have tried to pick places we wanted to go to within reach of those big ticket flights.
Up until now, this has meant that we have picked places we wanted to go to in the US and Europe. We picked Christmas in France, because why not? We went to Colorado, because it meant we could visit our youngest son there.
We have picked next Christmas in Brisbane, because it is very close to John’s family and our oldest son and his partner in Auckland. We’re hoping we can work something out to see them from there.
But we also have picked places just because we’ve never been there. Like Broadstairs in Kent, for example. We’ve never seen that part of the UK; let’s check it out!
How much luggage do you travel with?
We have one suitcase each – recently equipped with packing cubes – one roll on carryon between the two of us, John’s laptop case, and my tote handbag.
We have a luggage weigher, and make sure we stay within the 23kg weight limit for checked baggage. When we are driving around the UK, not needing to check baggage, we also have two big reusable shopping bags that take our spices, laundry tablets, etc.
Recently, we were also gifted a picnic hamper! Sadly, it will need to be regifted when we fly next!
Did you ever have any unusual pets to take care of or responsibilities that were out of the norm?
We are currently at sit where there are 3 ducks. One of them is an adorable Indian Runner duck who lost half his bill recently.
We have to hand feed him many times a day, because he doesn’t have his bill to be able to pick food up with himself. It’s pretty cute!
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 really don’t think it was that hard. I think we had three video interviews before we landed our first sit.
The world was just opening up after the pandemic, and I think, possibly, the people we were applying to were just happy that someone was willing to do travel so they could get where they wanted to go!
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Have you had any funny housesitting experiences?
I honestly can’t think of any funny ones. We have had a reasonably scary one though. We were housesitting for a gorgeous cat named Ripley in a terrace house in Plumstead East London.
He had a cat flap with a “key” in his collar that let only HIM in through the flap. We were supposed to lock the flap at night to make sure he didn’t stay out all night. This was especially important because Ripley’s brother, Riley, had been lost to traffic when they were both young.
When Ripley didn’t come home by night fall (so i could close the flap), we were so worried. We called and called and called, but Ripley did not come home. Finally, we went to bed, thinking we’d do a house to house if he didn’t turn up during the night.
At 3 AM, we were woken up by a very loud and piercing “yip yip yip” sound. We both woke up wondering what the noise was! We looked out the front bedroom window and saw a pack of FOUR foxes racing down the street, checking rubbish bins, and generally looking like prime cat hunters! Panic! Luckily, they ran on down the street.
We got no more sleep that night, so worried about Ripley! We especially felt the weight of responsibility because of the loss of their beloved Riley.
When it got light, we resumed our calling for Ripley. And, VERY faintly, we heard a meow. Somewhere from behind the 6 foot fence in the back garden, there was definitely a meow answering our calls!
After failed attempts to identify the house that owned the connecting garden, John risked life and limb to climb the six foot fence. And there, on the other side, he found a shed, where poor Ripley had been shut inside. John rescued the little man, and he returned home to copious cuddles and treats!
We never told the owners – figured they would have been sick with worry given Riley’s demise. But ever since then, we have asked owners who want their cats home at night to give us a printable pet sitting instructions for what to do if the cat does not come home at night!
Tips for Others Wanting to Get Started?
Make sure you want to look after animals. It may be called housesitting, but it’s really a pet care service. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions when applying for a sit. It is really a sitter’s market out there, so you should not be afraid to make sure the home is somewhere you really want to spend time.
Also, Don’t think you have to put up with being treated like an employee. The exchange is mutually beneficial, and you should not feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude just to have somewhere to stay. Y
ou are providing the pet owner with a freedom that would cost them WAY more than the membership fee. Don’t underestimate your worth.
Where to next (when you can)
Super excited to be going to the Abruzzo region in Italy in August. A region we have never been to. I’ve been doing some Italian lessons online (Pimsleur and Rosetta stone).
We’ll be 20 minutes from the beach! And I loooooove cooking Italian, so I’m hoping to learn some more. Then, later in the year, we are heading back to the Southern hemisphere to housesit in Queensland while the family there heads to England to visit family for the holidays.
We are so excited to be near John’s family and our oldest son and his partner. We are crossing fingers that they’ll all hop skip and jump over the Tasman Sea to Brisbane so we can have a fabulous holiday season!
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Hiya! I am Britt is one of the Travelling House Sitters. I have cared for 25 dogs, 35 cats 1 turtle, and 1 rabbit over 40+ houses in 15 countries over 5 years.
I am is ready to teach you exactly how to become a house sitter! I want everyone to enjoy this incredible lifestyle as well!
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