If youâ€™ve ever thought you couldn’t afford a vacation in France, think again. House-sitting is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the culture of another place, make new friends, and have a great vacationâ€¦ for nothing more than looking after someoneâ€™s home, and taking care of their pets if they have them.
Many expats in France need people to look after their homes, especially when they go â€˜back homeâ€™ to visit friends and families, to take care of business, or simply when they go on vacation themselves. If they have pets, a house-sitter is ideal, since it means they donâ€™t have to arrange for neighbors to feed or exercise them. Of course, a house-sitter also means that they donâ€™t have to put their animals into kennels, catteries, etc., which could in effect, double the cost of their vacation. For the homeowner, it makes sound financial sense to have someone living in their home.
Even if they donâ€™t have pets, most expats still like to have someone looking after the place in their absence, just in case anything goes wrong. Coming home to burst pipes and a flooded house, for example, is a thoroughly miserable experience (donâ€™t ask how we know this). Also, the majority of insurance companies are in favor of house-sitters simply because homes are safer when someone is living in them, therefore, the risk of the insurers having to pay out is considerably lessened.
Itâ€™s very simple to become a house-sitter; all you have to do is register with an agency, such as Trusted House Sitters, fill out your profile (be sure to include relevant experience, such as looking after friendsâ€™ homes and pets, being a pet owner yourself in the past, etc.), and start applying for assignments.
If you can provide recommendations, testimonials, and character references from friends and family whose homes youâ€™ve looked after, and from employers (to demonstrate how trustworthy and responsible you are) so much the better. The more positive things people are saying about you, the greater the chance you have of getting the assignment of your dreams. Whether itâ€™s a chic apartment in Paris, a smallholding in Provence, a chateau in Dordogne, or anything in between, there will be something youâ€™ll love, and someone who would love to have you look after their home.
Youâ€™ll want to vet the homeowners just as much as theyâ€™ll want to vet you, so a good idea is to ensure you get lots of photos of any properties you like the look of, and arrange Skype calls with the owners. That way you can all get to know each other a bit before making any firm commitments.
A great way of getting both testimonials and experience of house-sitting is to take on assignments in your own locale, or one very close. In addition to being a source of positive feedback and experience, it also gives you the chance to meet people in person, see their homes, and get a feel of the kind of things you should be asking about when deciding whether an assignment is suitable for you.
Once you have found a suitable home to sit, and all the arrangements have been made, all thatâ€™s left to do is sit back, and enjoy the experience (apart from taking the dog for a walk, that is)!
If youâ€™ve been a house-sitter in France, and would like to share your experiences, highs, lows, and cautionary tales, please let us know in the comments below. Weâ€™d love to hear from you.0