The idea of house-sitting came to me because my husband made life difficult for me when I was studying for my first university degree in the late 1990s. I had been working for a program where unemployed people were supported in learning about getting work. I had a TAFE qualification to allow me to teach, but I chose to get further qualifications.
I was working part-time and attending various lectures at the university campus, I spent my evenings working on my assignments. My husband had to watch tv on his own and kept interrupting me. “Do you want a glass of wine or some coffee?” or any other excuse. Sometimes I would sleep in the evening and get up at midnight and spend quiet time with my studies. My husband didn’t like that. He claimed I was noisy and he couldn’t sleep! I tried everything to keep up with my studies.
After a chat with a friend, I thought about house-sitting. What if I could care for a pet or two locally, and get the space I needed to complete my studies?
I did some research, and then put a small advertisement in a local paper, which resulted in a phone call from a lady who lived around 3 kms from where we lived at the time. I went and met the family, who were going overseas for a few weeks. It was a lovely house and there was a garden, a small dog and a cat to care for. So a couple of weeks later, they took off on their holiday and I moved in.
My husband asked about the family – I told him that they were friends of friends and I had offered to help them out.
Peace for Study
It was amazing. I managed to study on my own time and was able to quickly complete my assignments without interruption. After a few weeks, I returned to our home and coped with the interruptions. Then I started getting other offers to house sit and I would take on short house-sitting opportunities as it suited me. It worked well. Hubby wasn’t very happy but acknowledged that now he slept better without my nighttime interruptions.
Eventually, I finished my studies and graduated from the university very proud of my achievement!
Word got around among my friends and beyond, so I had many offers to house sit, and though I didn’t need it the way I had earlier, I was happy to help out people who wanted their house looked after while they were away.
House Sitting – My life savour!
Quite a few years later our marriage ended. It was house-sitting that saved me. I knew the marriage was over – and a friend phoned me to see if I could house-sit for her. Her sitter had suddenly cancelled, and she was to go overseas within a few days. So I accepted and eventually spent a year looking after her house.
When she returned I moved to another friend’s home as he was going to travel for a year and there was a little dog to care for.
And I did so for several years more, as there were plenty of offers. I lived in country houses, city houses, on an island and more. I looked after cats and dogs, and chickens, lizards, and a rabbit. When I drove around Australia I did one house sit in South Australia too.
I have stayed in a range of homes, including a property on a canal on Bribie Island surrounded by luxury!
I don’t really do it any more but have helped family members when they travelled. Recently I had a one-night stand at my daughter’s, to care for a cat. I posted a photo on FB of the cat, sprawled over the keyboard of my laptop – and I’ve been asked to do some more housesitting as a result. I am not starting my house-sitting career again. If it’s a one-nighter I can cope.
But it has been fun, though I did have a few unhappy events which I won’t go into.
If you want to explore house sitting, please get to know the people, their home and their animals before committing. You can’t just leave if things go wrong. It can be challenging.