Every time we come to the NSW east coast for house and pet sitting we ask ourselves "why don't we spend more time here?" It really is a beautiful part of the world and this sit was no exception.
We looked after two furry friends Oscar and Molly who are just so very cute and great fun to be with. Our favourite time was when we would walk down the beach with the ball and play in the water. This led to our not so favourite time of washing out the sand at the end, mind you we were all eager to return the next time so it couldn't have been that bad :-)
Our house was a sanctuary in the the bush overlooking the bay. Each day we had all manner of birds come in for breakfast and lunch and as long as we kept them in food all was good.
If you have not been to Port Stephens and surrounds then as far as we are concerned it's a must do. We have traveled the world and would add it to our list of one of the most beautiful places we have been.
There are amazing beaches, walks and bush all around the place, we will definitely be back.
Port Stephens House Pet Sitting Highlights in 90 Seconds
If you have been to this area and know of more places to go then drop a comment below and let us know for next time.
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Having a house and pet sitter in your home whilst you're away is a good alternative to leaving your pets in boarding kennels or catteries.
It saves you a lot of money, and your pets remain in the comfort of their own home and get lots of attention. House and pet sitters also serve the purpose of maintaining your property and providing that lived in security that a vacant property just does not have.
There are a lot of reasons for using house and pet sitters, and as the area matures, more are being discovered. However the question remains of why would I want virtual strangers living in my house and looking after my fur babies?
Well after 4+ years of sitting for home and pet owners across the world, here is the list of some benefits they have expressed.
Insurance and House Sitting
Yep check with your home and contents insurance provider and you will find one of those small print paragraphs that your policy becomes void if the property is left vacant for more that 30 days (varies with country and type of policy).
So you will find getting in house and pet sitters is one way of keeping your home secure and ‘lived in’ and you insurance company happy.
Saving Money with House Sitters
Most sitters don’t charge, yeah crazy hey! We feel there is a fair exchange of services between living in a place at no cost and looking after a property and/or pets.
Let’s face it! If you have a couple of animals to take care of over a few weeks while you're away, it can get very expensive. e.g. caring for 3 animals over three weeks is approximately $1,500+ at boarding kennels etc, and that does not take into account the stress and anxiety your furry friends go through.
Best Pet Care with House Sitters
House and pet sitters stay at your property for the duration.
We find we generally spend more time with your pets than you do, walking, playing, feeding etc. Additionally as your pets are not leaving their environment they do not have the same separation stress etc, normally associated with owners going away.
Yes they will still miss you but just not as much as you think :-)
House Sitters Maintain Things for You
Unless you arrange and pay for a company, ask a family member or neighbor (and return the favor at some stage), to look after your property, you will return from a wonderful holiday and spend the next week or so undertaking the property and garden maintenance that was not done while you were away.
With house and pet sitters you come home to a clean house, lawns mowed, gardens tidy, pool clean etc. Additionally in our house sitting experience we have cleaned up after storms, dealt with pipes bursting and other maintenance tasks as they have come up.
House Sitters give you Peace of Mind
It has been our experience that homeowners enjoy their holidays and time away if they know their property and pets are well looked after.
We have received the common response from homeowners that they felt relaxed and reassured that their pets and property would be well cared for in their absence, and found that to be true when they returned to find happy pets and a clean and tidy home.
Communication with House Sitters
Through your choice of text messages or emails you can be kept informed with what's happening with your home and pets while you are away, so you are not left wondering or worrying.
We have found that our homeowner’s communication requirements are all different. Some want to know all and others only wanted to be contacted if required. One said only in the case of Cyclone, Fire or other natural disaster.
Yep it’s all up to you!
Other Benefits to Consider with House Sitters
As House and Pet Sitters we have collected and sorted mail. On some long term house sits we have opened, sorted, scanned and forwarded important mail, saving the owners in redirection and other assorted fees.
Additionally we have had homeowner’s family and friends thank us for doing the tasks they would inevitably be doing if we were not there. Oppppss oh yeah they also said not to tell ...
Anyway these are just some of the reasons owners have given us for continually getting house and pet sitters to look after their property and pets.
But what about the house sits gone wrong I hear you ask. Yes the stories you have read on social media, watched in movies and been told by friends of friends.
Yep these stories exist and some might be true.
However in our next post we will go through the simple things you can do to ensure you attract desirable house sitters and ensure you have an outstanding House Sitting Experience.
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This is part two of our tips for travelling, house and pet sitting New Zealand where we explore:
House & Pet Sitting and Getting Around
One thing we noticed about the house sits in New Zealand is the requirement for a vehicle. All the sits we did and a large majority of what we saw advertised required the use of a vehicle to get to the shops, transport the animals etc. We were fortunate to have access to owners’ vehicles in all but one sit and even though we were selected for a few others we could not accept due to the lack of suitable transport.
Additionally we found quite a difference between the Islands in the way we traveled and house sat as explained here:
We found that seeing this Island by using a House & Pet Sitting Assignment as a base and doing day trips was never going to work. For starters opportunities on this island are limited, and the ones that are available are usually not within day trip distance of the best places to see. Our suggestion is to hire a campervan between sits, leaving yourself a minimum of 25 days to really experience and explore the island. Additionally the whole island is an attraction so moving on each, or every few, days is a must to see it.
This island is different. The best to see are clustered into areas and within easy day tripping distance. Additionally there are many more sits available, which are usually close to a cluster of things to see. Our suggestion here is to use the bus system to go between sits, which for the most part is very good, and do sits where a vehicle is available to do day trips.
Things to Do and See
On the South Island for us it was all about the natural beauty and there is something new to see around every corner, and on that Island there are plenty of corners! Some of the must go and do’s are:
On the north it is all about the movies, beaches, geothermal and culture. This Island is quite different from the South in that you travel long distances not seeing much between point A and B. Some of the must go and do’s are:
What and What NOT to expect
There are a few things in New Zealand that if to come expecting you are going to be sadly disappointed. Yep this is the forewarned section:
Internet – The internet sucks. Yep sorry folks if you come here expecting that access and speed you have in other first world countries it’s not going to happen. In the cities it’s passable and the further you get out the worse it is. Yes you can make do, but if you rely on steady connections and speed do your research.
TV – Don’t get me started, even pay TV. Our suggestion BYO it! Make sure you have plenty to watch before you come. A hard drive of movies and TV shows has been a valuable source of entertainment.
Road Works – Our experience is make time for them. It seems that the roads on both the South and North Islands are in a perpetual state of repair and you can bet on being delayed.
Note:- If you have any comments, questions or additional tips please share below.
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Thinking of going travelling in New Zealand, and using House and Pet Sitting for accommodation?
Well here we have detailed a few tips and tricks to consider, (some of which we didn’t), before you pack those bags and book the tickets to the land of the long white cloud.
In this two part post we explore:
Finding House and Pet Sitting Opportunities in NZ
There are a few world wide House Sitting Sites that cover New Zealand such as:
Other places you can visit or advertise your services are:-
What time of year to visit?
Well this really depends on what you want to do, where you want go and most of all what you want to pay!
Our basic criteria was to travel and see as much of New Zealand as possible, while keeping it as cost effective as possible with the hope of avoiding as much of the tourist crowds as possible.
Yep big ask I agree, yet we managed to achieve it for the most part and here is how we did it.
We traveled in the shoulder season (mid spring) and so glad we did. For starters the campervan rental prices are about a third of what they are in summer and they have all just been serviced over the winter period. Next there is virtually nobody on the roads, or at the attractions and there is plenty of room in the camping grounds so no forward booking is required. So what is the down side you may ask? Well really we could not find one, the weather was great, there was still snow on the mountains with minimal road closures.
As for house and pet sitting at this time of year there was limited opportunities. However we were lucky to do one week in Nelson, travel for a month, then spend another month in Nelson sitting. We found the majority of available sits on the South Island to be around either Christchurch or Nelson.
Lets start this with a don’t!
Don’t try travelling around the North Island over the Christmas New Year period. In fact don’t do it between mid December and mid January. Not only is this prime tourist season the locals are also on holiday and everyone heads North. Our suggestion is, this is the time of year to house and pet sit, get off the roads and just do day trips.
In fact we found summer to be a great time to visit the North Island. There is an increase in the availability of house and pet sits because the locals are taking their holidays, and as we talk about later we found travelling this island is totally different to the south.
In travel, house and pet sitting we have found there are four main costs so let’s deal with them separately:-
Food – In New Zealand food is about 20% more than OZ and the common European countries, and on a par with London, yea yikes right! That was a shock for us as well! The locals put it down to having a 15% GST on all food stuffs, me I feel it has a lot to do with no serious competition in many areas. We would suggest buying from the locals with roadside stalls in many of the towns that have them.
Transport – Public transport is on a par with OZ and the common European countries as is hiring a car or camper. Fuel costs on the other hand are between 50% and 85% more. We were prepared for this after doing research, as we hired a campervan to travel the South Island. So we suggest making use of the various fuel discount cards that are available, such as the “AA” card.
Accommodation Between Sits – Depending on the time of year and place’s, the cost is on a par with OZ and the common European countries. If you go to the popular places at popular times then yes it will get expensive fast.
Activities – The cost of activities in New Zealand are on a par with OZ and the common European countries and there is plenty to do. The thing about New Zealand that we found was it could be enjoyed and appreciated without spending a lot on the paid activities. However in saying that some (in our opinion) are must do’s. (See “Things to do and see” in part 2)
Note:- We saved a significant amount on activities in NZ by booking through bookme.co.nz.
In part 2 we explore:
• House & Pet Sitting and Getting Around
• Things to do and see
• What and What NOT to expect
Read part two here ...
So ask yourself, what have you done over the last 3.5 years of your life?
This is what we asked and in the process came up with some surprising fun facts!
The reason we used 3.5 years is because that is when we decided to live a new life and start Travelling and House Pet Sitting full time. Now the fun facts don’t tell the full story like:
3.5 Years Travel House & Pet Sitting Fun Facts
So there it is, a brief summary of what is possible with this lifestyle. If you asked us is this what we imagined 3.5 years ago I would have to say no. However what I can say is we have no regrets and have learnt a valuable lesson in just "Living What’s Given" and being the joy in life.
Ok folks its that time again! Yea its official we are off to New Zealand.
Yep really don't understand it myself, but there it is and we are off soon. Another few weeks on the Sunny Coast in Oz then off to the land of the long white cloud. The plan as it seems to be happening is we will spend two months House and Pet Sitting and travelling the South Island then head to the North Island at the end of November.
It seems we are to be on the North Island for a few months, probably over Christmas and New Years and currently have no commitments. So if you, or anybody you know, wants a House and/or Pet Sitter over this time period and feel we would be a good fit then please contact us here.
Our preference is a 4+ week sit over the Christmas New Years period, but as usual in our "Living what's Given" lifestyle, we shall consider all offers on the North Island from the end of November onwards. Additionally it seems we are to get a campervan or equivalent while on the North Island so again if you know of anything just let us know here.
Well that's it for now, thank you friends.
Jill and Gavin
Additionally if you have any tips for New Zealand drop us a comment below :-)
As a House Sitter / Pet Sitter on a House Sitting assignment you become responsible for the property along with the health and well being of the pets.
Here we have included 5 of our top essential questions we ask home owners before accepting a house sitting assignment, so we are very rarely surprised by events, and enjoy the house sits. These questions are part of knowing how to be a house sitter.
1. What are the actual times and dates of the house sit?
It is surprising how many home owners have changed the dates and times since writing the add, which may have just been estimates so due to change in flights, itinerary, etc, their dates change and they may forget to tell house sitters when talking with them. So assuming they are correct can lead to some awkward moments.
2. Are your pets always secure on the property?
Some home owners don't mind their pets roaming the neighborhood, so securing the yards they play in has not been a priority. If you are not of the same mindset then this can lead to a very stressful house sitting assignment!
To give you 2 examples: Firstly, we house sat 3 dogs in a lovely neighbourhood and were told the dogs were secure in the back yard. However the owners had not left the dogs before, and once gone the dogs figured out how to jump the pool fence! (caught in action as pictured below!) The neighbours did not appreciate the dogs running into their property and it became a huge challenge to contain them. (that’s another story for another time! )
However on another house sit, we were advised that the border collie was in the habit of jumping the fence and visiting the neighbours and returning after a short time. So when we witnessed the dog leaving the property we were not concerned because this was accepted practice and both the owners and neighbours were fine with it, so we trusted that it was all ok and just allowed things to continue as normal.
3. Have you used House Sitters before?
We have found that Home Owners who have used House Sitters before don't need as much information or reassurance as ones that have not. Don't assume that all home owners know what goes on.
4. Have your animals been cared for by anyone else?
As a House Sitter you always want to know this because pets act very differently with other people. If you are not experienced with pets then you may not want to do these as they can be very unpredictable, and some pets do suffer from separation anxiety.
5. What are your pets special care requirements?
(e.g. medication, exercise) Home Owners will take a lot for granted when discussing pet care as they do it all the time, so unless prompted will fail to pass on important information. Therefore accepting an assignment uninformed may lead to very unsatisfactory sits.
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Being a city girl I had very little experience and exposure to farm animals, except for the mandatory Sunday afternoon drives my Dad insisted on taking the family on, which inevitably found us lost in a cow paddock or caught up in a flock of sheep across the road. These occasions are not amongst my most favourite childhood memories. Though well intentioned as quality family time, I likened it to slow, repetitive torture, but fortunately it didn’t leave any irreversible impressions of cows and sheep.
So it was with a sense of adventure and desire to experience country life that we accepted a house sitting assignment on a hobby farm, on approximately 3 acres, in a rural area. There were 2 cows, 1 sheep, 1 horse, 4 chickens, a cat, 2 dogs and a budgie.
The cows, Wallace and Gromit, were young and surprisingly cute with their big brown eyes. The sheep was obstinate and always fighting with the cows over the food. He was not very popular and earned himself the name of “Sunday Roast”. (No prizes for guessing his future!)
Jazz the horse was a majestic black, gentle giant, which was lucky for me as I volunteered to take care of rugging him. Needless to say I was a little nervous at first, standing behind him and threading straps between his legs to secure his rug. That is truly a position of trust for any male allowing a stranger to handle their back end! But such is the new experiences of a House and Pet Sitter.
Being quite short, as I am, was also a bit of a challenge to throw the rug over the top of his back, but he was very patient, and I improved over time, and with the help of a few carrots we became good friends. Fortunately the duties didn’t extend to riding him, as that was reserved for the owner, much to my relief.
Even though we had written instructions for the care of all the animals, which we highly recommend, it was wonderful to spend the day with the owners, before they left, to be shown how to do everything, so that when they left the next day we all felt confident about our ability to handle all the house and pet sitting duties, so the owners left with peace of mind and comfort knowing everything would be taken care of.
So your are going on that well deserved holiday and you have heard about using House Sitters to look after your beloved furry friend(s). Well The first thing to consider is where will you find your ideal House & Pet Sitter, which can get quite confusing.
There are other important factors to take into consideration before composing your House Sitting Advertisement that will make a huge difference between getting your choice of Ideal House Sitters, or as is happening these Christmas Holidays, missing out completely on getting anybody.
So to assist you in securing your Ideal House sitter we have included our top suggested essential elements to consider in your holiday planning.
Plan Ahead for House Sitter's Sake
Don’t leave your planning to the last minute!
Let's face it, if you don't want to leave your best friends with just anybody and your preference is to have Pet & House sitters, you will need to advertise in plenty of time to have the best chance of finding that someone suitable and for the dates you require.
One thing we have noticed is how many home owners miss out on securing sitters because they leave their advertising too late, particularly over the busy Christmas – New Year period, and Easter holidays.
Another thing to consider is you may even need to be prepared to pay for House & Pet Sitters over these peak periods because there is such a high demand. This could especially be the case if you are not located in a popular area, and for it to be as attractive to Sitters as other areas would be. Even kennels & catteries are heavily booked over these periods, so don’t assume that this can be a back up plan as you may be disappointed.
Think About Your Dates from a House Sitters Point of View
When planning your holiday and knowing that you require House Sitters, think about the dates of your departure and arrival home. If you are going away over peak periods, such as Christmas and Easter, you may wish to look at the Public holidays and extend your dates before and after them, to make it more convenient and attractive to house sitters. For example: arriving on Xmas Day or departing on New Years Eve, may not suit many house sitters, so you are limiting your options, as the more attractive and convenient you make it the more choice you will have.
House Sitter Accommodation
If you are planning to leave early in the morning, you may wish to have the House Sitters arrive the day/night before, so as you have time to meet them (if you haven’t prior to this), go over the instructions, and do the “hand-over” tasks. If you don’t have the room to accommodate your House Sitters overnight, then you could offer alternate suggestions in your area, if they are not local. We can assure you that when you take these little things into consideration getting quality Pet & House Sitters will not be an issue at any time.
If you are flying to your holiday destination, you may wish to consider asking your House Sitters if they would be able to drive you to the airport, and/or collect you, as sometimes this is the easiest option and is something we have been happy to do. Additionally an attractive option for some House & Pet Sitters is the use of a car over their stay and can sometimes make the difference in getting that Sitter.
The simple facts are that the more time and consideration you put into your planning in using a House a Pet Sitter, the better your chances are of securing your Ideal house & Pet Sitters and keeping your beloved furry fury friends safe, happy and loved, giving you peace of mind and a relaxed time away.
We were fortunate to care for two of the cutest dogs, who were full of personality and very affectionate. This is what epitomises the fun of pet sitting and dog sitting.
Arriving in the dry country area of central Queensland, there wasn’t too much to be excited about, however the home owners were so lovely and inviting and their dogs were gorgeous, so we were very happy to be there. After being taken out for lunch and being shown around the town, we settled in to the house and got to know the owners and the dogs a little better.
Everything was going along nicely until we were watching the 4pm news and heard that Qantas was grounding flights due to industrial action. Well our home owners were due to fly out on their holiday the next afternoon on Qantas, so they were thrown into a state of panic! Quick thinking by Gavin enabled them to book on to another flight, although they would now be departing from an airport 2 hours away instead of locally. Consequently we offered to drive them there, which meant a 4 hour round trip for us, but hey it meant that they could still go on their holiday and we were able to continue our house sit. It was very unusual circumstances, but being flexible and resourceful is part of being a good pet sitter and house sitter.
From there on everything went smoothly and the dogs were an absolute delight to care for.
Check out the video below to see the girls in action when we were going “walkies”.
After a big run in the park the dogs were happy to relax at home and cool themselves on the tiled floor.
It looked like synchronized sleeping, and that’s pretty much how they slept on the end of our bed each night, very quiet and still. The area itself didn’t have much to offer as far as places of interest go, however we went further afield to explore the Gem fields one day, and experienced panning for sapphires.
Needless to say we didn’t make our fortune, but scored a few small sapphires and had fun doing it. We finished up the day visiting the private mining plots and were amused at how serious they take themselves, as seen by this sign.
Luckily Qantas had sorted out their flights by the time the owners were due to return and we were able to collect them from the local airport. The dogs were so excited to have them home and the owners were pleased to see the dogs looking so happy and healthy.
Which is definitely a result of being cared for in their own environment and having lots of TLC. It was sad to say goodbye to such lovely dogs and people, and we hope to meet up with them again one day.
Journey Updates Blog
Want to know where we are and what we are up to, then this is the place. Additionally we will give you free House and Pet Sitting tips and tricks to assist you in making the whole experience easy and effortless.