When we say to friends and family that we are full-time international house-and petsitters, pictures of luxury mansions, filled with cuddly puppies and kittens, come to mind. They’re not entirely wrong. Sometimes we do have to pinch ourselves to realize this isn’t all a dream. But it’s not all fun and games of course. So, what does a day in the life of a full-time petsitter look like? And what do we do all day?
Get up! Early!
I can’t think of the last time I had a lie in. So, let’s get rid of one stereotype straight away: the life of a full-time petsitter is NOT a holiday! Very often, you start your day bright and early. Did we tell you about that time that we had to walk the dogs at 4.30am in Porto, cause they were still on USA time? Our morning routine is determined by the pets, as simple as that! But getting greeted by wagging tails or purring cats is all worth it, right?
Feed me, walk me, pet me
The first task of the day is usually breakfast. Not ours unfortunately, but the pets’ breakfast. Whether it’s measuring out kibble, preparing a special diet, or attending to any medical conditions, attention to detail is crucial. We might not have a routine, but the pets do, and it’s very important to stick to that!
Toilet breaks, playtime or walks have to be factored in before we can start our day. Dogs may go for walks around the neighbourhood or play fetch in the garden, while cats might engage in games with toys or laser pointers. All this before 8am. 🙂
Checking future housesits
Living the life of a full-time petsitter, we never know where our next ‘home’ will be. So every morning, we check new availabilities on TrustedHousesitters and Nomador. We have our favourite countries and dates set up, so it’s usually pretty quick. It’s very important to be among the first applicants; sometimes owners for very popular places receive over 50 applications, which they probably won’t read all. That’s why we check our future sit-notifications all the time throughout the day.
If you are looking for sits on the other side of the world, this can get a bit tricky. Because of the time difference, sits in SE Asia or the USA are put up when most people in Europe are asleep, and by the time you wake up, you might have missed out on several opportunities… When looking for sits in Thailand and Singapore, we sometimes set our alarm at 3.30am to see if there were any sits worth applying for. It worked!
Each petsit with a cat requires scooping the litter box. And most petsits with a dog involve checking the garden for poo. There is a lot of poo involved in the job. Sounds glamorous, doesn’t it? 🙂
As international housesitters we don’t get paid. “What?” I hear you say, ” You do all this for free?!” Well, yes, but bear with me. Over the last three years, we have lived for free in cities like Berlin, Paris, Madrid, London and Lisbon. We have lived in condos with several swimming pools in Singapore, and had the chance to call a picturesque French village in the Dordogne ‘home’ for 3 months. For free! All we have to do in exchange is feed and cuddle the pets, and take care of the house. If you pay rent 11.5 months/year and go on a 2 week holiday once a year, how much does it cost you? And how many adventures have you had? … Get the picture?
So yes, we do need to work to live this lifestyle. I work as a translator/copywriter and my partner as an English tutor online. As full-time international housesitters, we don’t have any rent, car or utilities to pay, so an average of 2-3 hours/ day is enough to keep us going around the world. Not bad, hey! Our online jobs also help to create some kind of routine to our day. And where else can you take your dog or cat to the office?
If this all seems like a lot of work, it really isn’t! By noon we are usually ‘done’ with our online work and housesitting tasks, so we’re free to explore the area. This is of course the best part of the job! We carefully apply for sits in areas that we are interested in. A visit to the beach, a local fiesta, a hike or just a cup of coffee ( ok, beer, who am I kidding? 😉 ), the day is ours!
We have the freedom to plan our work around our day, rather than the other way around. Sometimes we take the day off and work in the evenings, sometimes we work at the weekend and take Monday off. Sometimes we work from 7am-9am and have the rest of the day off. You get the picture.
If you live in a house, you have to maintain it, whether you are a home owner, a tenant or a housesitter. So yes, vacuuming, doing the dishes, watering plants or doing laundry is part of our daily routine as well.
Briefing the pet owners
Pet owners want updates. Do you take their dogs out for a walk? Do you play with the cat? Is everyone healthy and eating well? It’s important to provide regular, reassuring updates. Some owners want updates once a day, other ones think “no news is good news”. Again, there’s no “one fits all”.
We usually send our pictures or videos in the evening, showing owners what their pet was up to that day. This can be a funny picture, a picture of you cuddling their pet or a video of a walk or playtime. It only takes a few minutes, but is very important to reassure the owners that everything is going smoothly in their absence.
In the evening time, we wind down, like ‘normal’ people do 🙂 Depending on the pets’ routine, we give them a snack, give them a brush, take them for a last walk and then… sleepy time!
Daily routine is a difficult thing to have as a petsitter, cause all pets are different. But this is what a day in the life of a full-time petsitter usually looks like. In the world of petsitting, every day is a new adventure, filled with wagging tails, purring kitties, and unconditional love. It’s very rewarding and I can’t see myself doing anything else right now!