Have you ever considered housesitting? It was something that I fell into by a happy mistake. A friend told me her sister needed someone to look after her cat in her home by the beach. Two words there: beach and cat. I was in. They were some of my happiest house sitting times looking after a beautiful Burmese cat called Charlie in her luxurious beach side home while her busy owners were away. I would sleep with the sound of the waves and the gentle purr of a sleeping cat nearby. Early morning beach walks followed by coffee at a nearby beach cafe and cuddles with the cat made it a real holiday with me also working nearby. The real bonus was that they actually paid me, and even told me to drink the wine and eat the food in the fridge. Sadly poor Charlie has gone to cat heaven, so my services are no longer needed.
Then I had another local housesit with a cat whilst his owners were overseas. Overlooking a leafy park with many native birds and a wide verandah made it very relaxing. Ginger the cat was an independent boy, but likes his cuddles and food on time. Sadly he has also gone to cat heaven. His dad was a mechanic who looked after my car for a few years.
Another friend had a friend who needed her two small dogs looking after for a long weekend. That was more challenging as the unit was small, the garden was small and the dogs were very energetic. I’m not a doggy person, but tried my best with these two pooches, but was glad to see their mum return after a series of walks with tangled leashes and cats being chased and waking with them sitting on my head.
The weirdest housesit was for a buddhist woman in Sydney; she flew me down to mind her geriatric cat whilst she went off to see the Dalai Lama. This was a hard housesit as I had no car, it was raining, and the unit was miles away from shops. There was no public transport that I could find and my vision of a wander through the sales in the city and a visit to coffee shops did not happen. I had to walk miles in the rain to buy food and the poor cat had to be carried outside into the rainy courtyard to do a poo. It was very cold with no heating and the hot water was not working. I was instructed that if she died, I was to place a mandala on her forehead (the cat, not the lady). Thankfully she did not die, but I was glad to get back on the plane to Coffs Harbour.
The money part is a bit tricky. I’ve done a few for friends where I haven’t charged as it has just been something that is easy to do. I’m currently house sitting for a family whilst the mother is having surgery in another state. I’m minding ten chickens, a dachshund which has a muzzle on to stop it eating the chooks, a goldfish, a galah, a lorikeet, two cockatiels and wait for it, a mouse. They have a strict feeding and bedtime routine so its taken me a while to get it all sorted. But back to the money; as I’m driving a fair bit to also go home to feed my cat, and it is a big commitment, I do charge a reasonable amount to cover my expenses. I’ve usually had around a hundred dollars a week, though many I have done for nothing, or they have just given me a gift. As I’m retired and living on a bit of a tight income, I need to make sure I am not out of pocket.
House sitting is a privilege as you are being left to live in a stranger or friend’s home. So, I never snoop. I do not go through drawers or cupboards that I do not need to go into. I do not leave lights on, or heat on if not necessary. I usually bring my food, and if I for instance use up something of theirs, I will replace it. I always leave the house clean and neat and wash the linen and leave it on the line or if time, remake the bed. I leave some milk and if the garden is bountiful, maybe some flowers in a vase. I daily check the mail, take phone messages, and put out and bring in the rubbish bins.
House sitting has been a win for me, it gives me a new view out of the window, and a different environment. A mini-break with few responsibilities. All I ask for is WiFi, a comfy bed, and animals that won’t chase me or bite. I did recently mind two steers that made me nervous but the bonus was that there was a swimming pool and it was summer.I find my jobs through word of mouth and recommendations from friends.
Each new housesit is a new adventure.