Janine Marsh discovers a way to have a holiday in France for free…house sitting in France
It is a dilemma that many of us expats in France face – how to go on holiday when you have beloved pets that can’t come with you.
For some animals there are kennels, sometimes neighbours can help but that’s not always possible.
Take me – I have ducks, geese, chickens, dogs and cats. Now while I could put the dogs and cats in kennels and catteries it would double the cost of my holiday but, there’s no chicken hotel that I know of – and if you do, please let me know!
It’s not just expats with animals either – some expats just don’t feel happy going away and leaving their home empty. They worry about things going wrong in the house, burglary – and the grass and garden growing out of control while they’re away.
Andy Peck, a screenwriter from the UK looked into this problem when some years ago he stayed in Spain looking after the home of a lady who had animals and needed someone to care for them in her absence. He loved the experience and discovered that the lady wasn’t alone in wanting someone to house sit. He came up with a solution and house sitting was it.
And it’s a win-win.
Those with homes and pets to be looked after are happy.
Those looking for free accommodation in France are also happy – it’s like a free holiday except that you treat it like you own home and if something needs doing it’s your responsibility to do it – walk the dog, cut the grass, collect the post etc.
How to become a house sitter in France
To become a house sitter you need to join a house sitting agency online, create an online profile listing any previous pet care experience (from having owned your own pet to volunteering in animal centres etc), explaining what qualities make you the ideal sitter, why you want to house sit, references (such as character / employer etc) and photos.
How to become a home owner looking for a house sitter …
If you are looking for a house sitter then you can create a listing online, detailing a little about your home and where you are based, what your needs are, and information about the pets you need care for (if you have them). Including photos of your home and / or pets also helps. This listing is then securely emailed out to all registered sitters who have expressed an interest in house and pet sitting in your area. House sitters can then contact homeowners via our messaging system. A homeowner can view the profiles of the responders and their messages and reply. Browse house sitting profiles and contact those they are interested in directly to see if they would be interested in the opportunity.
Recommended Dos and Don’ts for both parties…
Communication is key for both parties. Using Skype (free phone/video calls) is popular and allows both parties to virtually beforehand. As a homeowner the onus is on you to carry out due diligence such as checking references and requesting a copy of their passport etc.
You may find that some companies offer a house sitting contract which can be downloaded and used to give guidelines on what each party should expect.
Ask questions – and check the match feels right.
Many homeowners also become house sitters – so they can enjoy the best of both worlds.
Insurance companies views on house sitters…
Statistically a home is much safer when using a house sitter than it is when left empty. [Editor’s note: check with your insurance company to be sure].
So, if you thought that a holiday in France or a holiday away from France was out of the question – or you’re looking for a practically free holiday in France – then house sitting in France just might be what you both need!