Ian & Vanessa - International House Sitting Couple
We are long term house sitters with a tremendous amount of experience in looking after pets and properties, both our own and those belonging to others.
We may be exactly who you are looking for
This is our way of life - it isn't just a way to get an inexpensive holiday now and again.
Our semi-retired lifestyle, coupled with working from home when we do work, means that we get to spend most of our time in and around the home. This means your pets get lots of attention and affection.
House sitting is a part of our long term lifestyle solution. However, there's a very clear line for us between travel and house sitting. We do not house sit whilst travelling and when we house sit all our attention is directed to the pets and property in our care.
We love animals and miss having pets around, and so particularly enjoy this aspect of house sitting. Our aim is to allow you to enjoy your travel adventures without any stress or worries, by providing a professional, free pet and house sitting service while you are away. You'll get status reports as often as you require and pictures and updates to provide as much reassurance as you need.
Our lifestyle choice allows us to travel and immerse ourselves in different cultures around the world. We also get great satisfaction from inspiring others as we journey through this exciting phase of our lives.
Find out more about us in our video intro:
Skills and abilities
As well as looking after pets, we've accumulated a wide range of skills and abilities. Some of these have been gained through owning our own properties and businesses, and some through house sitting, as both home and pet owners, and house sitters:
What you might want to know about us
If you were looking after our home and pets, we'd want to ask you some questions. Hopefully this section will give you some answers to specific questions you might have.
Countryside or city?
We've had experience of living in both. Vanessa was born in London and Ian in the rural North of England. Since then we've lived in coastal Cornwall, the Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales, Perth in Australia, the remote forests of the Yukon Territories in Canada, the Spanish mountains of Andalusia, on a small private Caribbean island off the coast of Panama and most recently in a city of 20 million people in Shenzhen, China! We've owned property in all but the Yukon and China, and we've only recently sold the off-grid property in Panama. You can be confident that because we were property owners we understand the importance of looking after your property investment.
Both fit and healthy, we enjoy active outdoor pursuits and are happy to spend time either in the city or in the countryside. We do, however, tend to gravitate eventually back to the open country, the mountains or the sea.
What about pets?
Pets have always been a part of our lives and we're extremely comfortable with, and enjoy being around cats, all size and breed of dog, and even parrots. We've raised and tended our own chickens, and Ian is particularly fond of their amusing behavior! In the Yukon, Ian helped look after and train 23 Alaskan Husky sled-dogs. He also tended a small herd of pigs. More recently we've looked after pigs in Australia, and sheep and goats in southern England. Having had our own pets (now sadly departed), we really do understand how hard it is to leave them in the care of others, especially as they get older or are on medications. Be assured we will give yours all the love and attention they need while you are away, whether that be special walks, favorite games or unusual dietary requirements.
How do you spend your downtime?
We are social but also very happy and content with our own company and considered homebodies by many of our friends. Relaxing around the home with the animals, reading a book or watching a film is often enough. But we do also enjoy long walks, mountain hiking, cycling and visiting farmers markets so that Vanessa can rustle up a wonderful meal. She loves cooking! If you grow vegetables in your garden she will be very happy to look after and tend your produce! Unusually she also enjoys weeding!
How practical are you around the home and land?
Ian bought an overgrown island and built an off-grid home from scratch with the help of local workers. This he negotiated in newly learned Spanish, with the added logistical challenge of transporting building materials across the sea from the mainland. He is comfortable with electrics, plumbing, solar power battery systems, inverters, rainwater management, pool and land maintenance. He's now lived off-grid both in extreme heat and extreme cold!
Vanessa lived in and maintained a 100 year old Finca with swimming pool in the mountains of Southern Spain for 3 years, where she renovated two properties, designed gardens and tended fruit trees and other garden plants and produce.
We've lived "off-grid" both on the island and in the Yukon, Canada and know how to survive comfortably in remote locations on limited resources and utilities. We understand rainwater management and how to use solar without putting a strain on the inverter or batteries.
Between us there isn't much we can't turn our hands to and we are both blessed with that rare commodity - common sense. This tends to see us through even the most difficult situations!
We've both lived in Spanish speaking countries and can get by well enough on a day to day basis. Our French is basic, but this is on our list to improve! We've both found that living in a country is the quickest way to rapidly develop language skills, and neither of us would shy away from attempting to use the local language of the country in which we are living or house-sitting. We even attempted Mardarin while we were in China for a year!
Do you work?
We are self sufficient financially but do occasionally supplement our income with some part-time online work. Up until July 2018 we continued to teach English to Chinese students online, but we have recently given this up to concentrate on House Sitting Magazine, a free online publication that supports the house sitting community. We also created and hosted the first ever House & Pet Sitting Conference in the UK in 2019 - house sitting really is our passion!
Ian also does some occasional public speaking and he writes for online magazines such as Virgin.com. Vanessa loves writing and enjoys providing monthly posts for our own magazine, as well as guest posting on websites like Expat Focus.
It is important for us to have some access to WIFI although we are happy to consider short term house sits where it's actually nice to have a break from the internet! Unfortunately we can't consider long term opportunities (more than 1 month) that do not have some form of internet connectivity.
Why do you house sit?
We are both avid travelers and consider ourselves somewhat nomadic. That said we are not at all anti-social and it is nice to stay in one place for longer than just a few days, and to live like locals in new environments. It gives us the chance to settle for a while, meet new people and make new friends, and of course to cuddle up with something furry! It is not everyone's cup of tea but it is the way we most love to live. We also find it very rewarding to help home owners and pet lovers experience their own adventures, knowing everything is being cared for back home!
Whilst we love travel we do always separate our house sitting lifestyle from our travel adventures. When we are house sitting that is our focus and the priority is solely your property and pets.
Driving and getting about
We both have clean UK driving licenses and Ian also has the Australian equivalent of an HGV license - he can drive seriously big vehicles. We have recently driven a large 34 foot RV around the USA, and are both confident drivers. During our time back in the UK until April 2020 in the UK we will have our own vehicle, a small van so that we can transport dogs to their favorite parks and beaches with ease. We are also comfortable with quad bikes, motorized boats and associated engine maintenance, and Ian has also ridden and maintained motor cycles.
Contracts and references
We are more than happy to sign a "house sitting agreement" but in over 80 sits we've only been asked once. We can supply references for previous house-sitting assignments and any character references that you might require. If you need to contact our references we can supply email details. You will also find a selection of our most recent references here.
Availability and further questions
To find out about our current availability please get in touch via the contact page. You may have more questions. If you do, please go to our contact page and send us an email. We will get back to you as soon as we can (usually internet dependent if we are travelling).
When we lived on the island in Panama we we're very excited to be selected to appear on a couple of TV shows. Press the play button, then click the icon at the bottom right of the video to make it full screen:
Ian’s unique story means that there’s a lot of information about him online. In 2013 and 2014 we were featured in a couple of TV documentaries including the UK’s “Ben Fogle: New Lives in the Wild”. You can watch the video above if you’d like to get more of a feel of the type of people we are. Remember though, this IS television!
We were also featured in a Korean documentary shown on SBS (Seoul Broadcasting Services). The show was filmed in March 2014 and aired April 2014 (SBS, Seoul Broadcasting Services, Korea). The whole show is pretty interesting, but if you just want to see our bit it starts at 33 min 25 secs.
Our house sitter profiles
As full-time international house sitters we currently maintain online profiles at a couple house sitting websites. Click the links below the images to view either of these profiles.
Get in touch
If you think we may be the right house sitters to look after your treasured pets, home and possessions, then send us a message: Get in touch