Try Before You Buy: Test the Expat Lifestyle by House Sitting in Spain

There’s so much information out there for people planning a move to Spain, it can be difficult to know what to believe.

Some expats reckon Spain is the land of milk and honey.

They move out there, fall in love with the lifestyle, and never look back. But there are others who spend just a few short years living in Spain before packing their cases.

The problem is it’s hard to know which camp you’re going to fall into until you give it a bash yourself.

You wouldn’t buy an expensive new car without taking it for a spin first, so why not give the expat lifestyle a test drive before selling up and committing?

What is House Sitting?

House sitting abroad is a fairly new concept. It involves looking after the pets and properties of home owners while they go on holiday, or back to the UK.

house-sitter-spainHouse sits can last anything from a long weekend to a few years, but most tend to last roughly two weeks.

The majority of people house sit for free, offering pet and home care services in exchange for accommodation.

House sitting has more benefits than a regular research trip, when you stay in a B&B or hotel.

There are lots of house sitting opportunities in Spain, and I’ve been doing it for years.

Here’s why I think house sitting is the ultimate research tool for a budding expat.

You find out what you want from life

When I started house sitting, my dreams of living abroad were fairly generic.

I wanted to buy a big dilapidated farmhouse in the French countryside, do it up myself, and spend relaxing evenings sipping wine in the garden.

It sounds idyllic, but after nine months of looking after houses that fall into that category, I knew it wasn’t for me.

I’ve learned that for me, location is everything. I’d like to live within walking distance of a decent restaurant or bar (not drive for 20 minutes).

I found that I much prefer the culture and lifestyle in Spain, so I scored France off my ‘places to live’ list.

I would also prefer to live in a small house. Big houses may impress your friends back home, but they won’t have to spend their weekends cleaning them!

You can find the right environment for you

Different regions of Spain feel different.

house-sit-SpainEveryone knows that, but it’s much easier to get a feel for an area by living there for a little while (rather than reading about the differences in a guide book).

If you can, try a few house sits all over Spain; you’ll soon realise what you’re after.

Whether you prefer village life to the hustle and bustle of cities, or the peaceful countryside to the chaos of the coast, a few weeks of living real life in a proper house in the area will help you to understand what exactly it is that you’re looking for.

You pick up insider information about the expat life

Most of the people in Spain who are looking for house sitters are expats themselves. In most cases they will want to have dinner with you and get to know you as people; they are about to trust you with their house after all.

Often they’ll give you insider information about the area, some of the weird laws they’ve stumbled across, and other interesting quirks unique to Spain.

Over the course of a bottle of wine, you can pick up information it has taken other expats years to find out on their own.

You can find a network of ready-made friends

Chances are your clients will also introduce you to their friends so that you have someone to speak to if things go pear shaped.

This usually results in being invited out to events, meet-up groups, or just round for dinner.

If you’re house sitting in an area that you’re planning on moving to, this is ideal.

If you do choose to buy, you’ll know a few people in the area. Depending on how friendly you get with them, you’ll already have a ready-made group of friends and a support network to help you through those difficult first few months when you’re starting to miss home.

Thanks to James Cave for writing this article about housesitting: James has been house-sitting for other people while they’re away on holiday and has taken on several housesits in Spain, France and Portugal so he can get an idea of where he wanted to live and what life in Spain would be like.

Comments

  1. Ailsa and Jimmy says:

    Myself and my partner are currently housesitting Near Malaga, We have found its a great way to see many smaller towns and villages you wouldn’t normally see on vacations… We found our latest sitting on Mindmyhouse,,there is a small registration fee ,but, it’s well worth it.
    We finish here first week in April and so looking for our next long term if possible house sit in the Malaga and surrounding area,s..
    dottydaydream2018@gmail.com

  2. Hi I’m George, single retired moving out to Spain next year,Costa del sol, Costa Blanca, as far up as havia,denia, can get by with
    Conversational Spanish, looking for a house sit, exelent skills at property maintainance, or management
    Or anything along those lines. Lived round the Nerja are for about five years a few years ago, also havia,
    And denia areas,anything considered, and I am also a qualified upholsterer.

  3. Hi My name is Tina and we are planning to move to Spain next May/June..We are planning on doing a three month roadtrip as we don’t know where we would like to settle. My daughter has done her animal management course and loves animals. Her boyfriend works full time in security. I myself work as a counsellor in Northern Ireland but don’t know what i would like to do in Spain. We would love a house sitting opportunity and would look and maintain your property to the highest standard. If you have anything next summer please contact me.

  4. Isismarie Walters says:

    I’m looking to house sit someone house in Spain I would absolutely love to experience a different culture. If anyone interested in contacting that would be amazing! I’m 22 years old I’m a college student. I have my associates degree as a Medical lab technician and went to school for massage therapy. I’m continuing my education for physical therapy.

  5. linda gallacher says:

    hi would I be able to bring my small jack russel with me on a house sit ?

    • Ben mueller says:

      Hello, i am Ben and we are looking for a house sitter from end of november until mid of februaryb2018 on Mallorca. We live in a village house in Andratx with huge garden, have 2 friendly big dogs, a cat inside and some outside and our 17 year old daughter will be there as well. She does not need a sitter any more but the dogs need to be walked daily. Please contact me Ben@alegriaypasion.com or whatsapp/phone +34611328399

  6. Sharon Aubrey - Smith says:

    Hi – am looking to move to Spain (seeking the sun – as I am an ex SA) – was thinking of the Costa Blanca – came upon your webpage and was very interested to read about house sitting as it had not popped up on my radar. Any good sites you or anyone could advise would be received very gratefully. I could also house swap in the UK during the period of house sitting as I live in beautiful Devon.

  7. RORY O BRIEN says:

    I don’t know if this is the correct site to advertise. I am an English teacher resident in Madrid, coming up to retirement age very soon. My dream at the moment is to house sit / caretake a masia / finca / apartment on the Costa Brava. All replies seriously considered.

  8. Susan Dearson says:

    I found this very interesting

  9. Susan Dearson says:

    Would like to house-sit, but don’t know how to start,am now retired and live near Alcoy and bored, so would love to go to other areas in Spain as I love it.Am willing to look after any animals, am mobile, have no offences, was a Social Worker in UK. Can you tell me what to do.

  10. Christine Lawtie says:

    I intend to buy a property in Spain but haven’t decided on which area yet. I was wondering if you could advise me as to which House sitting website to join? Kind regards.

  11. Averil Elaziz says:

    I have been house sitting since January 2014. I have 2 dogs and look after 2 other 45k each dogs for the owner. I plan on moving to Costa del Sol Jan/Feb 2015. I would prefer to house sit rather than rent so any offers considered. Thank you.

  12. Jan Strange says:

    Good idea. If you can´t find a housesit, then there is another option to try – house exchange holidays. We´ve been doing this for years, first from our UK home and once using our new home in Spain. We swopped with a family from Barcelona for two weeks and we all enjoyed our “home from home” holidays very much.

    • Hi, how can i do similar thing? i want to move to Spain with my family for initial 6 months, but want my house in UK to be looked after too. Thank you. The website in the article is closing down and they don’t accept new entries.

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