For us 2017 has been (surprisingly) the year we’ve opened up our home to strangers. As well as having a couple of Air BnB guests, we’ve also had housesitters for the first time and it’s not only saved us money, but enabled us to travel more and stay away for longer.
I was introduced to the website Trustedhousesitters.com last year by a friend (scroll down for 20% discount link). What’s unique about the site is that the majority of their housesitters offer their services for free in return for staying in your house, so we were lured in by the potential massive savings we would make on kennel fees when we went away.
Having two dogs means kennel fees are usually the best part of £300 for a week and it’s always a nasty sting in the tail when you get home from holiday and have to pay the bill. Having to put them into kennels also stops us for going away for longer periods, because as good though the kennels are, being confined to a concrete run for most of the day can’t be fun.
Having never tried housesitters before we were a little nervous about the whole thing, so we decided to dip our toe in the water by seeing if we could get anyone for a long weekend in January. We had several responses to our listing, but decided to take up the offer of a couple called Brian & Val who call themselves “silver nomads” and have been housesitting back to back for several years having sold their home in Australia.
Unsurprisingly Brian and Val have loads of experience and we were extremely lucky to have them as our first housesitters, as they taught us quite a lot about how to prepare to hand over your pets and your home. Brian had a comprehensive check list which included questions like “are you going to get any deliveries? and “are you expecting any trades people to call?” On their second stay here (they came back in July) we answered “no” to both and then ended up having a pallet load of bricks and our builder turn up unannounced! Fortunately they were not phased!
Brian and Val’s first stay with us was a first for them too, as it turns out that no one (until us) ever advertises a long weekend! However it happened to fill a gap they had in their schedule so we got lucky and they took us on. They joked it was their first “micro housesit”
Coming back from our weekend in Cornwall we had a really long drive and I surprised myself by quite how pleased I was to come home to a warm, clean and tidy house with friendly faces willing to help bring the luggage indoors and distract the children. The dogs were happy too and we immediately asked Val & Brian if they’d come back again for our holiday in July. For the first time ever we were going to away for two weeks!
July’s holiday was much the same, except that we had never actually had a fortnight’s holiday before and it was entirely down to being able to leave the dogs in our house. Having housesitters in the summer meant the added bonus of having someone to water the plants too and Val even kept a record of how Theo’s seedlings were growing.
Brian and Val arrived at our home the night before we left for our weekend away and we prepared supper for all of us. One thing I hadn’t expected is that they were great with both our kids and Val especially helped get their meal ready and entertain them.
After supper we then spent some time in the evening sorting out our packing while they relaxed and watched some tv. We left quite early the next day and managed to sneak out of the house without disturbing them. It was a great feeling to get into the car and not to be worrying about which windows I hadn’t closed or which electrical item I might have left on!
We went away for a third time at the end of August, Brian and Val weren’t available so we posted another advert and this time took up the services of Graham & Maree another pair of retirees from New Zealand who were visiting the UK for several months mixing up housesits with hotel stays.
Once again Graham and Maree arrived the night before we left with a bottle of red wine and two warm and easy going personalities. We liked them immediately and they settled in quickly getting the measure of the dogs and the children. I’m always a little nervous about what people will make of our big dog (because she is quite big!) but Graham immediately took a liking to her and told us about all the different farm dogs he’d had over the years in New Zealand. It was clear that Macy had met her match and was going to be in very capable hands!
On our return from Sweden I organised an Ocado order to deliver the ingredients for an easy supper for all of us and Maree bought a fruit pie and custard. The house was once again tidier and cleaner than we had left it and we had a warm welcome to return to. Graham and Maree were such good sports I suggested we took a photo of all of us the morning before we left and we’ve remained in touch on facebook following their continuing adventures around the UK.
We’re already planning next year’s holidays and will definitely be using housesitters again. A recent two night stay at the kennels cost us £77 for two dogs, so even with our annual membership paid for I estimate we’ve saved ourselves at least £1000 this year…. and made some lovely new friends on the way!
If you’d like to save 20% on your TrustedHousesitters.com membership please use this link. I’ll also receive a short extension to my membership in return.