Articles and Experiences
Click these links to read of their experiences
13th September 2003 - Italy
* 9th October 2003 - Australia - London, France, USA
* 4th December 2003 - Australia
* 2002 - 2004 - Australia wide
* April 2004 onwards - South Africa to Scotland to USA
* 2003 - 2004 - Switzerland to Italy
* March 2005 - Australia wide - 2004 & 2005
* 2003 - 2005 - Sydney
* February 2006 - Brisbane (from Scotland)
* June 2006 - Australia 2005 / 2006
* December 2007 - Colorado USA 2005 / 2006 / 2007
* December 2007 - London to Montana USA 2007
* April 2008 - 10 Years experience - Melbourne to UK, Europe, USA, Canada
* December 2008 - Australia to USA, Canada, Switzerland
* June 2009 - Australia - Three years sitting around Australia
* March 2010 - Australia to London
* June 2010 - Extract from THE SUNDAY MAIL June 27, 2010
* July 2010 - Australia and Denver USA
* December 2010 - West Australia - From Sitters and Owners
* 2007 to 2010 - UK to West Australia - From Owner
* January 2011 - The Irish Times - Saturday, January 29, 2011
* October 2011 - Argentina / Australia - reflection on Housesitting
* October 2011 - New Zealand to Perth Australia - Housesitting over 4 years
* November 2011 - New Zealand to Sydney Australia
* June 2012 - Australia in 2012
* May 2012 - Canada to France
* October 2012 - New Zealand to Australia
* February 2013 - Canada to France & Italy
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Sitting pretty - House sitting Italy
September 13, 2003
A month spent minding an old stone farmhouse gives Vicki Williams a rare insight into life in Le Marche, the "undiscovered Tuscany".
You're watching the sun sinking behind the mountains after another perfect summer's day in the Italian countryside. As you water the fruit trees the droplets catch the sun and explode in gold fragments on the leaves. Your favourite music is on the sound system and as you take another sip of the local wine you contemplate whether to eat under the stars or inside the old stone farmhouse. And the best thing about this setting? It's all free.
I had been planning my first trip to Italy for some time. I was on a limited budget but wanted to stay as long as possible (naturally), which seemed an impossible combination. Then someone mentioned house-sitting.
Soon I was doing a web search for international house-sitting sites. I found two, Worldwide Housesitting and House Carers, and registered at both, which simply involved posting an ad about myself. Glancing at the other ads already on the sites, I realised mine would have to stand out. So along with listing the attributes that would be needed (great with pets and gardens, references available, etc) I added that I would be the best choice for their peace of mind.
While searching the sites I'd also seen a wanted ad for a house-sitter. A family in Italy needed someone to mind their place for the first two weeks of July. Despite being exactly what I was looking for and despite having a ticket to Italy (via Hong Kong, London and Paris) booked for the European summer, I couldn't think how I could do it logistically and didn't apply.
Then fate intervened. While in Hong Kong, I received an email from the house owner, Giovanni, who had seen my ad and was emailing to explain that he still needed a house-sitter, but now for the whole of July. More than 900 people had replied to his original ad, but the person he had chosen had been forced to cancel at the last moment. Was I interested?
I grabbed my Italy guidebook and looked up the district, Le Marche "the undiscovered Tuscany, rolling hills and fields, intact medieval villages and castles". By return email, I sent Giovanni an excited "Yes".
More details emerged as we continued our correspondence. Giovanni's home was a 200-year-old farmhouse on two hectares. It was three kilometres from Esanatoglia, the nearest village, and slightly less to the nearest neighbour. Fortunately, I would have access to a pushbike. The nearest towns of any size were Metalica (six kilometres east) and Fabriano (15 kilometres north); both were accessible by bus from Esanatoglia. Because Giovanni was trying to sell the house, I was able to see photos on the net. They literally made me laugh with joy, as this was where I would be living for a month. My only responsibilities would be to look after two Scottish terriers and water the flowers and fruit trees.
Giovanni gave me the website of a discount flight airline and was at Ancona airport to meet me when my plane arrived from London.
As I am a single female, several friends were a little concerned about my house-sitting plans. What did I know about this man? How did I know I could trust him? At the same time he knew nothing about me, yet he was willing to leave me with the keys to his house for a month. Trust? Intuition?
Fortunately, Giovanni, a father of two, in his mid-thirties and quietly spoken, reminded me of a good friend from Sydney, which helped put me at ease. On the dark drive back to his house, I sensed everything would be fine. We arrived quite late and were greeted by his two dogs, Alfredo and Luigi, both very friendly.
Inside the farmhouse were original stone floors, and windows set in from the facade. Only the new window frames seemed of this century. Exposed ceiling beams, brightly painted walls and open fireplaces completed the interior. It had an authentic rustic feel, yet there were also ample mod cons - a stereo, DVD player, karaoke machine, satellite TV (with 600 channels) and dishwasher.
Early the next morning, as the sun streamed in the window, I looked out and saw a patchwork quilt of green fields, interspersed with the yellow of sunflowers. I could see several smaller farmhouses in the distance and a large house with its own chapel high on a hill. Mesmerised, I stood there for ages soaking it in.
In the terracotta shower I encountered my first (small) scorpion. Familiar with the Australian version, I didn't want to be showering with one, regardless of its size. I managed to remove it. They continued to appear during my stay and, as my fear decreased, their size increased. I later learned they are common in Italy and France during summer and only give you a nasty sting.
The house was on three levels, built of stone and thin bricks, then plastered and painted in two tones of earthy pink. The stonework was clearly visible in the nearby barn, and the cow and goat sheds that formed part of the house structure. It is common in Italy for farmers to house the livestock inside, below the main living areas.
Cherry, olive, fig and plum trees, grapevines, climbing jasmine and terracotta pots of flowers in bright red, intense magenta and white surrounded the house. There were plenty of grassy areas with old rail sleepers for seating and two outdoor entertaining areas. Everything was set against the background of clear blue skies, gentle breezes and a hot summer sun that shone every day.
The only "drama" of my stay occurred on the first morning I was there alone. I came outside to check on the dogs, which were still a little sleepy and slow. Alfredo seemed a little strange, so I picked him up to see if he could stand and discovered a 20cm hedgehog spine sticking out of his neck. That was when the "responsibilities" of house-sitting hit. I pulled the spine out and walked to the nearest English-speaking neighbour for help. Emma, originally from England, and her partner, Carlo, rushed me back to the house but, in their experienced opinion, dogs with hedgehog spines in their bodies were a common occurrence and Alfredo would be fine. He was. Next morning he was back to his happy self.
Every day managed to be different. Of course, a highlight was the food. Delicious olives, melt-in-the-mouth parmesan cheese, homegrown sundried tomatoes and regional salami featured heavily at first. But it was the fresh produce that won me over and set me on a new eating path.
Weekly markets in each village (different days for each village) meant that access to an extensive selection of fresh seasonal fruit and vegetables was easy. In fact, it was so fresh I found that simple dishes were best. Vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced and topped with Italian parsley or basil, with slivers of red onion, sprinkled with sea salt and drizzled with olive oil, was a meal in itself. Panfried porcini mushrooms and garlic, with the almost-cooked pasta added to the pan for the final minutes, is heavenly. Pasta tossed with fresh rocket and cherry tomatoes ... I could go on forever.
I spoke no Italian when I arrived, and had been told there were unlikely to be any English speakers in the village, so I had learnt some simple phrases via language CDs. The only language impasse occurred when a neighbouring farmer knocked on my door early one morning. He started to speak to me in Italian, I proudly told him in Italian that I was a friend of Giovanni's but that I didn't understand or speak Italian. He smiled at me, paused and continued to speak rapidly in Italian, with numerous hand gestures and pointing. I decided there was either a large snake in the next paddock or he wanted access to his land through Giovanni's place. I nodded knowingly, he thanked me and we said goodbye. (Luckily it turned out to be the latter.)
At the end of the month, I was sad to leave. At the beginning of my adventure, I was sure I'd come away with as many cons as pros about my house-sitting adventure. But, scorpions aside, I can't think of any reasons not to do it. House-sitting provided me with an experience of Italy I could never have known as a tourist.
An Italian farmhouse
WHEN TO GO
The author went in July, the Italian summer, when the weather is hot (32-40C) and slightly humid. August can be even hotter. More temperate weather is in September.
HOW TO FIND A PLACE
Worldwide Housesitting (www.housesitworld.com) has free and fee-based registration depending on where you are registering from; searching is free.
House Carers (www.housecarers.com) has a free trial registration, with an upgrade to full membership at $US29 ($45) for 12 months. It is free to search the site, but if you want to contact the owner you need to be a full member.
Caretaker Gazette (www.caretaker.org) provides subscribers with property caretaking opportunities. Subscription costs $US29 a year.
In Australia, House Sitters (www.housesitters.com.au) charges $185-$370 depending on the area for a 12-month subscription. When someone is looking for a sitter, the company sends out a directory of suitable sitters.
Worldwide Housesitting also lists house-sitting opportunities in Australia. It charges a $50 fee for a 12-month subscription but allows you to search the site for free.
HOW MUCH IT WILL COST
Transport to and from the property, plus registration fees, food, etc.
If you book well in advance, great deals on flights can be found. Food and wine are both inexpensive.
Depending on the area, access to some local sites and places of interest can be difficult without private transport.
Within Europe, the author flew Ryanair (www.ryanair.com) Which offers discount flights for travel within Britain and Europe. Other options include: http://www.cheapflights.co.uk http://www.easyjet.com http://www.expedia.com http://www.opodo.co.uk
This story from: http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/09/12/1063341757407.html
House sitters Sydney, Australia - 2003 - 2005
I thought I would give you some comments on housesitting that we have learnt over the last two years. You may use them as you will.
Majella and I have been housesitting for a full two years with no fixed abode and literally going from house to house in Sydney. We have moved 40 times during those two years and have covered many suburbs. Our housesits ranged from 5 days to 4 months but the average is 2 or 3 weeks, which is what most people's holidays are. We have found that many people are interested in being a housesitter when they find out what we do, but they all say they only want the long ones and do not want to move often. There is a real need out there for house-sitters to do the normal holiday length sits. We get phoned or emailed constantly from people just wanting someone for a week or more. We also know that there is enough sits available for people to never rent again. We have also learnt to not book too far ahead (unless you want the sit) as often owners wait for the last week or two before a holiday to think about getting a sitter and you can get some very good sits if you do not mind not knowing where you are going to be living from month to month.
We have found that people do not want to 'upset' their loved animals by putting them in catteries, kennels, etc. And in fact, it would cost them a fortune to do that sometimes. Many of the animals are old and/or sick and require a lot of attention and care. They are also 'well-loved' and do not
want their routines disrupted so a house-sitter must be prepared to accept some behaviours that they would not normally accept in their own animals or homes. It is also best if you are a couple because often your housesitting overlaps by a day or two so one can go to each property.
We have only met a couple of other house-sitters in all this time, one being a retired couple from New Zealand that fly to Sydney for their sits a few times a year plus do some in New Zealand. The other was a woman that just sat for friends. Judging by housesitter ads, many more retired people are seeing this as a way of moving around countries.
Housesitting is liberating, exciting, interesting and fun but can also be tiring and stressful. I would recommend it to anyone and suggest that there will be a growing need as we baby boomers start leaving our jobs and wanting to travel.
Alys & Majella, Sydney, Australia, March 2005
House sitter Australia 2005/2006
Could you please add to my profile in only Victoria and South Australia "Not available till after mid August 06" as I am heading up to Queensland, and to be fair to all those seeking housesitters in the near future.
I receive several emails a week and phone calls making requests for housesitting. Seems to be a lot of people out there, looking for suitable sitters. Still hoping for another Qld offer.
Recently I travelled with my friend to Hurstbridge Vic, for a 2 week housesit. We travelled via the wonderful scenic Great Ocean Road, and returned straightest route to SA. A place I did not know existed, but what a great experience staying in a small village in the hills. Plenty to explore with Yarra Valley wine country, Kinglake mountains, local markets and local history.
Earlier this year Choice magazine asked readers to tell about housesitting experiences, so I sent off an email where I passionately spoke about my experiences, and giving a "plug" for your website. Further emails and phone conversation. They will be doing an article later on in the year, and using some of my comments.
Gwen Leske, June 06
House sitting USA - Colorado 2007
Hey there Danny
Just a note to let you know how the sitting has gone since I first enrolled on your site...this is now the third year that I advertised with you.
I am really pleased with the people that I have connected with. In all honesty the last ones in October this year weren't up to the usual standard, but even so, it was probably more from the comparison to the exceptional care others have offered my property and animals thus far. My animals were alive and well, and the house was not vandalised... so I shouldn't complain huh !
The truth is that for the most part we want our homes occupied while we are away, and the animals allowed to relax in their routines and in their own environment. In the past the sitters have gone above and beyond the call.... It has been my good fortune to usually find people who love and enjoy being around animals, and have a high sense of respect for another persons home.... this is the calibre of the people who use your site.
And yes, I am planning my next trips for 2008... something to hold onto when the snow is knee deep .... so I will be knocking on your email door again a few months from now seeking people interested in sharing the SE Colorado experience.
It is neat that fellow Kiwis, Aussies and American couples have so far been entertained by a small rural high plains life style.
Thanks also D. for your support and assistance in getting me out of Dodge for my runarounds....
you personalise the site with your help and care... but you know that huh ! Cos I've done told you before !!! :)
Till later, Merry Christmas Danny and Andrea,
Saylestates, Gillian. Colorado, USA, Dec 07
House sitting USA - Montana 2007
Hi, I thought that I should give some feedback on my house/pet sit this October. I spent the month of October house/pet sitting for a couple who have a beautiful log home on the banks of the Gallatin River in the Gallatin Valley, South West Montana. Using Housesitworld the owners contacted me in April asking if I would be prepared to look after their three small dogs for the month of October. Having spent last autumn in the Madison Valley I knew the area very well and had been impressed by its beauty and the wonderful fly fishing that is to be had there.
We exchanged emails, I provided several references, although this was my first house/pet sitting experience, the references were from professional friend and colleagues across Europe, the USA and Canada.
The owners collected me from Bozeman Airport on the 5th October and drove me out to their home. That evening we had dinner with a group of friends at a local bar and grill and the evening was just great. They were just so generous and kind to me and so pleased that I had come out to look after the dogs - three small white fluffy dogs, which were great fun and really very easy to care for. I was able to catch up with old friends, see some of the beautiful countryside and
mountains, and fish almost everyday in the most wonderful scenery and catch some stunning trout - Rainbows and Cutbows to 17", Cutthroats to 12" and some amazing Brown Trout to 21".
I went over to the Paradise Valley to meet with a couple who emailed me about housesitting the winter for them. This year I couldn't really do it, but may do so in the future. I will certainly return at some time next year.
Thank you, Housesitworld for making this possible.
University of the Arts London
10 Years of house sitting - Melbourne to England, France, Scotland, Ireland, Switzerland, America and Canada
(The following is an extract from one of our more recent clients, bringing a wealth of experience from around the world)
We've completed assignments in Victoria, Queensland, England, France, Scotland, Ireland, Switzerland, America and Canada too....
"THANKS AGAIN FOR THE CARE AND AFFECTION YOU BESTOW UPON OUR PROPERTIES AND PETS." This quote of 2008 typifies home-owners comments.....
We're nearing the completion of a repeat assignment, caring for an 18th century property, a twin manor home on six acres here in Ireland. This has been an annual 7-month long assignment since 2004. The owners relocate to their other homes in Africa and elsewhere, for lengthy periods. There are two hilarious look-alike cats here plus a German Shepherd, along with an equally gorgeous Golden Retriever. We return to Melbourne after here....
Prior to this we cared for a prime Swiss property with two resident cats, and one car to exercise, for two months duration. A magnificently converted mill, in the foothills of the Alps, while the owners headed for Thailand and North America.
Before that, was a two-month assignment caring for a Scottish Highlands estate manor on many thousands of acres - the property where Golden Retrievers were first bred back in the mid-19th century. This was for repeat clients, avid sailors who cruise the Queensland coast regularly.
Before that, we occupied a tranquil country residence in the Peak District of England for repeat request clients, a retired couple who frequent mainland Europe and Australia. Their property is a garden lover's delight, to say the least!
Prior to that, was a 12-month prime townhouse and German Shepherd-care assignment for a repeat client in high-altitude Colorado, USA. The owner loves to travel, Europe is perhaps her favourite.
Prior to that, a separate Colorado, USA, 3-month house and cat-care for Australians heading to visit family down under. They've since moved back home, down the Mornington Peninsula. We intend on catching up with each other again this year.
Before there, was a Queensland pole-house with beach-view deck. A state of the art bush property on the Sunshine Coast, accessed only by 4 wheel drive.
Earlier still, a lengthy Mornington Peninsula home and Rottweiler-care.
The list goes on, but best we don't bore you to tears..... All of these properties required security and accountability for owners on distant shores. Each owner has asked us back for additional home-care stints. Their pets continue to greet us as though we were family.
Marg and Donal, April 2008.
House sitters Australia to USA, Canada & Switzerland
Thank you Danny & Andrea for contacting us.
We are presently in Switzerland house sitting for a young couple. They are American and live here on a 2 yr contract with Johnson & Johnson. They hope their next contract will take them to Australia.
We have enjoyed our stay and our location is right on Lake Neuchatel. On a clear day we look over the lake to the Alps. (haven't had too many of those) During our time here we have visited a good part of Switzerland and the Alps. They are truly spectacular. It is snowing outside as I write this. Have just heard it is 32degrees and humid at home in Brisbane so we will notice it when we get off the plane on 9thJan.
We have enjoyed the opportunity to house sit and have had offers that were good and some not so good.
We feel this will be our last trip overseas as we are getting older and find it more difficult. This time we were 2 1/2months in the US and Canada before we came to Switzerland on 21st Nov so we have been away from home for a long time and looking forward to getting home again.
All the best, Bev & Ron, Aust to USA, Canada, Switzerland, 2008/09
House sitting Australia - June 2006 to June 2009
Since June 2006 we have been registered with Danny at housesitworld.com.au. Our first contact from the site came after only two weeks of being registered and resulted in our first ‘official’ house sit of four months. Since then we have taken house sits in different states and made so many great friends in the process. Danny has always been very efficient in changing any details on line and answering any of our queries.
We have house sat some amazing homes in wonderful places and we plan to continue with this lifestyle for a few more years. Our biggest dilemma is choosing where to settle one day, maybe we will just keep house sitting forever!
We thoroughly recommend the housesitworld.com.au website and the lifestyle it brings.
Pauline & Barry, June 2009
Experiences of happy house sitters
Australia to London, March 2010
We wanted to give you some feedback on our first housesitting experience.
We spent a great month in a beautiful terrace house only minutes from the heart of London.
Knowing that this would be our first visit to London, our very generous home owners offered us lots of advice on must see places to visit as well as very practical information covering everything from the best places to shop, to leaving us local maps and timetables for the bus and tube.
Our lovely 1800's house was in a very quiet street, only a few minutes walk from public transport and a very busy and vibrant high street. It had everything that we needed and more. The river Thames and beautiful parks were only a few blocks away. While we were there in March the the daffodils and tulips were just coming into bloom. beautiful !!!
The transport system in London is so easy and efficient that on most days we travelled into the city visiting museums and galleries. As well as seeing lots of the iconic London tourist attractions.
During our stay in Putney we discovered great local restaurants and cafes. Our favourite curry place 'Allens' was visited regularly.
We found the experience of living in a London home and feeling part of the community was a very relaxed way of visiting a wonderful city.
We greatly enjoyed our first housesitting experience and are looking forward to doing many more.
Thanks again Danny for all of your help and congratulations on a great site.
Angela and Gary
West Australia 2010 From House sitters and home owners
Hello there Danny
Just a short memo to wish you and your family ALL THE BEST FOR THE YEAR 2011 (& beyond that of course!)
We would also like to thank you for the valuable service that you are providing to the likes of us out here in the wide open spaces. (it sure is appreciated.)
We are caring for a property in BINDOON Western Australia at present. You would probably be interested in this place. It is on a few acres at the top of a range. The house itself has been constructed from what is called RAMMED EARTH. we were amazed at the thickness of the walls and also the Inside temperature. On Xmas day it was 42 degrees outside. Inside the house it was a pleasant 27 degrees without the air-conditioning being turned on! The walls have been made (poured?) in large blocks 5 foot long, 30" high and 18" thick! Evidently they have used a special sand which is mined locally and mix it with dirt, add a small percentage of cement and this is the result!. It is a wonder that it hasn't been used more often when you see the end result.
Have a very good prosperous and healthy 2011!
Regards, D and A
(Have included a reference below from the owners of our last housesit . . .
To Whom It May Concern,
We recently invited D and A (names provided) to housesit our property whilst we were on holidays November 2010
We were away for four weeks, and decided that was too long for our dogs to be in a kennel, even though we have had good experiences, we find our dogs can only comfortably stay in the kennels for short terms, which is why we decided to look at the housesitters option.
I wasn't overly optimistic of finding someone we were comfortable with, but once I started looking at some of the sitters profiles, I was pleasantly surprised.
I sent off a few emails to a couple of sitters, and was delighted to find the profile I was most impressed with came back within 24 hours suggesting our dates might fit with them. Anyhow, after having a chat, then diligently checking references we were happy to ask D and A to housesit our property.
We have 5 acres, with chooks, sheep and dogs (which we treat like our children).
D and A prefer to stay in there own comfortable van, which is was added bonus, the only thing we had to provide was water and electricity.
Both were chomping at the bit to let loose on our gardens, A was doing the lawns before we even left.
When we returned, we couldn't believe how fabulous the property looked, they certainly did a lot of work, even one month later we are still finding jobs they have done. The dogs had been spoilt rotten, preferring to hang around their van even though we were home.
Needless to say, our experience was fantastic and would use this service again, I know its always a risk to invite strangers onto your property, but you will be delighted with this couple.
Would happily speak to or respond to an email to anyone who was considering them.
Regards P and B (Names provided)
House sitting Extract from THE SUNDAY MAIL June 27, 2010
CARETAKERS: Travellers John and Vickie Barron live in luxury while saving money on their accommodation by housesitting all over the country.
BABY boomers and grey nomads are increasingly swapping their campervans and caravans for homes they can house-sit for free.
In exchange for looking after pets, plants and pools, the house-sitters are working their way around Australia -- and enjoying free accommodation for weeks or months at a time.
House-sitters pay a fee to online agencies who advertise their services and where and when they want to house-sit.
Home owners, who usually pay no fee, can peruse the ads and make direct contact with house-sitters.
Danny Raynel, who runs House Sit World, has about 1000 house-sitters listed worldwide, including 600 in Australia.
``It's just boomed especially in Australia,'' Mr Raynel said.
``When I started the website in 1999, there was only one other site operating in Australia but there are a lot more out there now,'' he said. ``More people are travelling now. We have the baby boomers who get a motorhome or caravan and go touring around Australia and decide they like it but they don't want to pay high site fees or they want to live in a home with a bit more space.'' . . . . .
. . . . Vickie and John Barron, in their 50s, have cared for gardens, pools, birds, chooks, cats and dogs in the three years they have been housesitting.
The couple have been housesitting from Tweed Heads to Townsville, recently looking after a luxury home with a pool and a cat on the Sunshine Coast. Their next housesit will be at a farmhouse on a 242ha property near Noosa, while the owners are overseas.
‘‘It’s been a fantastic experience,’’ said Mr Barron. ‘‘It’s given us an opportunity to look around different areas, we’ve met a great group of people and even made friendships.’’
House sitting Canada to France and Italy Feb 2013
I have followed your website for some years now, checking it sometimes daily to see what opportunities are there for my husband and I to experience another culture.
We live in Canada and have house sat twice in France and our daughter house sat in Italy for a month one summer.
House Sit World has been a wonderful resource for us. I've looked at other sites, but stuck with HSW because it is clear, concise and free (for both sitters and home owners). (we do actually charge the sitters a small fee for some areas now but still free for owners)
We prefer short term house sitting "jobs", so house sat for three weeks near Carcassonne and for three weeks in Normandy...exploring the Cathar castles in the south and the WWII beaches in the north. Both experiences were wonderful...so interesting and exciting to get to know another culture by living it!
Our daughter house sat in Turin, Italy for a month...living in an apartment, looking after a multitude of cats nearby and sometimes having gelato 3 times a day.
House sitting has been a wonderful way for us to travel and I thank House Sit World for giving us the idea and the opportunities. Our lives have been enriched!
Bev, Canada to France & Italy, Feb 2013