It was tough leaving the USA and even tougher selling the RV, our home for six months while we traveled around the southern states. But now we were back in England looking forward to house sitting in Reading.
I had grown up close by, so it was interesting to see how Reading had developed from my memory of a dingy, soulless town into a vibrant, modern city.
We were looking after an apartment that overlooked a park and the River Thames, just a short walk across the bridge to the city center. We had no car but we really didn’t need one here as the we could almost see the train station from our balcony!
This is one of those house sits that nearly didn’t happen. We were scheduled to look after Karen’s country home and her dogs for three weeks while she traveled. But a personal issue meant that she had to cancel and so no longer needed a sitter. However, she knew that we were flying in from the US and that it was too short notice for us to easily secure another assignment, and so she offered up her second property that was in the process of being sold.
This is what’s so lovely about the house sitting community. On the whole, and I believe because no money changes hands, everything is handled on the basis of trust and respect. People don’t want to let each other down, and Karen was amazing in this respect. When we arrived at the apartment, she’d even stocked up the fridge for us and put the heating on. What great hospitality.
So what exactly is house sitting?
House Sitting is a trend that’s become extremely popular over the last few years. It’s now a recognized alternative to a regular vacation and a great accommodation option for longer term travel.
Some people (and we’re almost in this category), house sit as a way of life. It’s an inexpensive way to visit and live temporarily in different countries and cultures round the world.
Instead of leaving a house vacant, home owners use house sitters to care for their property, possessions and pets. This can be anything from a few days to a few months, or even longer. By registering on international house sitting websites such as Trusted House Sitters, you can choose properties all over the world to stay in free of charge!
A mutual agreement is put in place where in almost all cases the house sitter is given rent free accommodation in exchange for looking after the property and pets. Over the agreed period of time, house sitters will make sure things run just as smoothly as if the owner were at home.
Ian and I have used house sitters to look after our own properties and we now frequently take assignments as house sitters ourselves.
We live a lifestyle where we travel the world full-time – we’re part of a new group of people described as “Location Independent” or “Global Nomads”.
We have no fixed abode and house sitting allows us to live in many wonderful locations.
We spent a three great weeks in Reading, enjoying the last of the autumn sunshine. We took advantage of the hourly bicycle hire, close to the apartment and explored the trails along the side of the River Thames. We also took this time to study for our 150 hour TEFL course, in preparation for our teaching posts in China.
Before leaving we managed to meet up with Karen and her partner and spent a welcome evening drinking beer in a cosy village pub.
Pet Sitting in Birmingham
It was soon time to move on and after a whirlwind visit to family and friends we settled in to our second house sit in Birmingham. We were booked on a TEFL classroom course to compliment our online study and needed somewhere with easy access to the city centre.
Once again we found a great house sit. This time we were in a well equipped, renovated Victorian house in Sutton Coldfield, where we spent a week pet sitting for two beautiful kittens. We’d arranged this pet sit from Houston, where we conducted an interview with the home owners over Skype. This is a great way to “meet” the home owners and reassure them of your credibility.
How did we get our house sitting assignments?
We found both of our UK house sits with very little difficulty through www.housesittersuk.co.uk (Use code HSMAG15 for a special 15% discount we’ve negotiated through our magazine).
They have a great website and a very good contact management system. Their charge is only £ 29.00 for an annual subscription (updated 2020) – well worth it when you consider we saved four weeks of hotel and rental charges amounting to well over a thousand pounds!
And, we saved even more by being able to buy and cook our own food. We also benefited from free WiFi and free utility bills. But the biggest advantage was to be able to live in a homely environment for our stay back in the UK. Having our own space to study and prepare for our TEFL examinations was invaluable. Much as we wanted to spend all our time with family and friends, we knew that we’d never focus on our studying!
House sitting is a wonderful opportunity to get free accommodation while providing a valuable service to pet owners. It’s a mutual exchange and one that we will continue to promote and use over the next few years as we continue our amazing world travel adventure!
You can see our house sitting profile page by clicking here.