Reaching 100 completed house sits is such a huge achievement for us. Not just because it is an absolutely crazy number, but it also represents almost five years of trusting our guts, following a dream, and actively carving out a new lifestyle for ourselves. When we arrived at our first house sit at the beginning of January 2018, we had no big plans for reaching a target number of house sits, and we had no idea we’d still be doing this 99 house sits later. When friends asked us how long we’d be doing “this house sitting thing” for, we kept replying “Until it stops being fun”.

Over the years we’ve had our ups and downs (being pet sitters during a global pandemic in which nobody travelled was definitely a challenge, to say the least), though after so long doing what we do, we often find ourselves telling clients “There’s not much we can’t handle”. As with every milestone, it gives us the opportunity to sit down and reflect on how far we’ve come, what we’ve achieved, and what parts we’ll take forward or leave behind. We hope you enjoy this insight into what it’s like to be on the road full time for five years, adventuring via 100 house sits.

Learning the hard way

When we began full time house sitting we’d spent a year caring for dogs and small animals in our rented flat, dog walking and providing day care to spend as much time with animals as we could! Even though we had been around animals, it didn’t compare with pet sitting where we now spend all day every day looking out for pets in their homes. In the beginning, though we were enthusiastic and eager to learn, we lacked a confidence that comes with years of settling into new places and caring for a variety of animals on a weekly basis.

We learnt the importance of asking dozens of questions and taking notes or asking that notes be left for us, without feeling embarrassed that somehow we should already know everything. One particularly eventful house sit at a partly-renovated house taught us to ask each homeowner where the stopcock is to shut off water, as the tank in the attic burst, water came through the ceiling, into our bedroom, onto our belongings, down into the kitchen below, onto our belongings – including Suze’s laptop. (After almost five years it still gives us a sinking feeling!) Aside from house quirks, we learnt to ask more about a pet’s temperament, especially if we won’t have a face-to-face handover beforehand. A couple of days into our third ever house sit, we realised the owners hadn’t been completely honest about their reactive terrier, and we spent a miserable two weeks feeling on edge at home and out on our walks.

The most important lessons are often learnt the hard way, but now we’re five years in our experience and our confidence has grown – which means we can truly relax in the comfort that ‘We’ve got this!’.

Trusting our guts

When we took the leap of faith to give up our jobs and home in Brighton, we certainly had to trust our guts! After years of running on the 9-5 hamster wheel, we knew deep down we needed a big, scary, exciting lifestyle change!

A certain amount of being able to trust your gut comes with common sense, and knowing what’s best for you, but it’s a lot to do with experience too. Over the past 100+ house sits we’ve learnt to recognise the red flags when speaking to new clients, and put great importance on the vibes and energy they give off. At one house sit, we had a strange vibe from the client when we spoke on the phone, but decided to give them the benefit of the doubt. Fast forward a week and we were standing in a field at 11pm, in the freezing cold snow, while a ewe gave birth and the homeowner gave instructions over the phone. We’d had no warning prior to our arrival that this would be expected of us, they hadn’t asked if we had any lambing experience, and when we asked if we could call the farm hand to help us we were told “You’ll be fine”… Moral of the story: if something feels off – it usually is! Nine times out of ten nowadays we cut our losses and decline the booking when something doesn’t sit right. It might seem harsh, and we don’t shy away from challenging situations by any means – but when we feel we aren’t being given all the information upfront we know it’s best to move on.

The brighter side of trusting your gut is in the times we’ve had wonderful experiences as a result of just going for it! For our fifth ever house sit we drove for four hours for a weekend sit as we just HAD to jump at the chance to care for five miniature Dachshunds. We spent the next two days giggling as we took them for walks, their individual bells on their collars jangling while every person we passed gave them a big smile and heart-eyes! Last year, we made another long drive for a two day sit caring for eighteen Pugs, Pekingense and Chihuahas, which was one the most fun stays we’ve had! The adorably chaotic photos speak for themselves!

There’s no one way to live life

Back in 2017, we were both burned out from jobs we hated, paying rent and bills to live next to awful neighbours, feeling unsure of what to do next. Deciding to pack it all in and begin travelling via house sitting was a huge decision but, looking back, it was also a no-brainer! We’re so grateful to have now stayed in over 80 different homes, as the biggest takeaway from our time on the road is that there really is no one way to live life. In all the different lifestyles we’ve experienced via house sitting, some suit us more than others – not that any of them are bad – as the joy of pet sitting is getting to experience lifestyles that you wouldn’t have otherwise!

Our friends and followers on social media often marvel at the big mansions we get to live in, with swimming pools, home gyms and ginormous rooms all for our use during our stay. But the truth is, while these places look impressive, it’s a lot of daily upkeep for just two people! We’re much happier hunkering down in a simple home with everything to hand – at one sit in a townhouse, the rooms sprawled over three floors and it was a nightmare if you forgot your phone charger on the top floor…

In the early days, house sitting was a way for us to try different lives and see how they suited us. One of our early house sits, in Norfolk, saw us looking after two little terriers and two dozen chickens at a rural cottage. We purposely said yes to it as it was the kind of lifestyle we could see us living one day, when we eventually settle down in one place. We spent our mornings taking the dogs for walks around the neighbouring fields, collecting fresh eggs, and enjoying a cup of tea while admiring the countryside views from the kitchen window. It was completely idyllic, and since then we’ve found little moments of joy in every lifestyle we’ve slotted into.

The job will become your life

This seems like an obvious one as we house and pet sit full time, but it’s in the little moments that seep into our days that we realise how much this has become our life. It doesn’t matter how long it’s been since our last dog sit, we will always find a scrunched-up handful of dog poo bags in our belongings! Sitting at London City airport in 2019, waiting for our plane to take us to a house sit in Berlin, Chris’ bag got pulled up at security for what the attendant described as “A small round object, like a pot of cream”. A quick rummage later revealed a Chuck-It ball zipped up in Chris’ coat pocket. Luckily we were returning to that house sit after Berlin, so Jem the Saluki was quickly reunited with his favourite toy!

Aside from pet sitting seeping into our days in ways we don’t expect, we consciously make a choice to put the needs of the pets before our own each day. It’s part of the job to prioritise the responsibilities given to us by the homeowner, whether it’s carrying out duties around the house or giving their pets our full attention when required. We wouldn’t trade any of it for a second – we love our job and are so happy that we carved this path for ourselves!

When you don’t have a house, you can make anywhere your home!

Something we’ve done since day one of house sitting is be incredibly respectful of people’s homes, though we’ve definitely learned to relax in our environment a little more. In the early days, homeowners would tell us we could use their fancy coffee machine, or borrow their wellies, or use the house phone if we couldn’t get good reception on our phones – though we never took them up on these offers! Nowadays we understand that, to fully enjoy and appreciate wherever we are, it’s important to treat every house like our own and this means relaxing into utilising the space and items we’ve been given. This tends to lead to us have experiences we wouldn’t have otherwise – like enjoying a home swimming pool on a hot July day, or a Hotel Chocolat Velvetiser on a chilly Winter evening (if you know, you know!) We take homeowners up on their offers to use their RSPB cards, or local parking permits, to visit places we’d have to pay for otherwise. It helps us settle into their routine and enjoy the house sit more.

At the crux of it, home is a feeling, and wherever we are together we find ways to enjoy our hobbies and interests no matter what kind of house we’re living in!

Never taking it for granted

Beyond dipping our toes into new experiences at each house and trying out lifestyles we could otherwise only dream of, we never take for granted that our days are our own to do as we please. We remind ourselves that, even on our most challenging day at a house sit, we could be stuck in a windowless office, working for someone else and planning adventures to slot into the 28 days of allocated holiday we’ve been given. It’s definitely not lost on us that we’re incredibly privileged to live our lives this way, especially in our thirties, though we wholeheartedly believe that none of this is down to luck. We’ve worked hard to reach 100 house sits – putting in years of organising and planning, going out of our way to gain experience, and getting clear on our goals and pushing to make our dreams a reality. Now, every day we get to live our days according to how we feel that morning, and that’s something we’ll never take for granted.

Our lifestyle recently changed once again with the addition of our camper van conversion finally being completed at the end of October! We’re currently still finding our feet and next year we’ll be splitting our time between house sitting and van life. We’re so glad we took that leap nearly 5 years ago, and feel so happy that we’re still growing and evolving our lifestyle to suit us more and more as the years go on!

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