For the past two months we’ve been housesitting a beautiful rural home a few miles outside a small village in Andalucia, Spain. We’re surrounded by rocky hills covered in cacti, olive, and almond trees. The only sounds are the chirps and hoots of birds, the occasional chainsaw buzz of cicadas, and in the evenings, the tinkle of the bells from the goat herd wandering down the dry river bed below our house. Our nearest neighbours are 1km away and the nearest shops are in the village, a 30-minute hike over the hills. We often go days without seeing anyone and we love it!
For some people the house may seem too remote, especially as we haven’t had a car for most of our stay, but we love the tranquility and being surrounded by nature. Unlike our adventurous off-the-grid housesit in Spain a few years ago, we have no pets to look after and our biggest responsibility is cleaning the pool.
Our time here has been all about the simple pleasures. With no distractions, we’ve been able to get into a great routine where we work five mornings a week and have the rest of the time off. We’ve had time for hiking, swimming, running, yoga (I love doing Yoga with Adrienne’s Youtube videos on the beautiful terrace), reading, drawing, baking bread (the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes recipe makes it easy), cooking, and meeting up with our friends who live in the village for wine and tapas.
The nearby village of Lubrin is one of Spain’s Pueblos Blancos with simple terracotta-roofed white houses tumbling down the hillside. Although quite a few British expats live in the surrounding countryside, tourists rarely make it up here in the hills 45 minutes from the popular coast. Menus are in Spanish and no-one speaks to us in English. For such a small village there are a surprising number of facilities—a few shops, five tapas bars, three bakeries, two banks, a pharmacy, and a public pool for the hot summer months.
On Wednesday mornings we hike into the village for the weekly produce market. It’s not big but has everything we need—plentiful mounds of fresh produce, huge wheels of sheep’s cheese, an array of olives and nuts, and the temptation of hot churros. The village even makes its own olive oil and honey, both of which are inexpensive and superb.
As we spend most of our lives on the move, we’re relishing our routine here. On Wednesdays we treat ourselves to chocolate chip cookies from the hole-in-the-wall bakery—the baker doesn’t even have to ask what we’d like anymore. Our Saturday night order of nachos and pizza (as vegetarians, our options are limited) at Bar Los Chiveros is just as predictable.
For our final few weeks we hired a car when Simon’s mum and stepdad came to visit. We dragged ourselves away from our quiet lives to explore more of the area. We wandered the pretty white streets of Mojacar Pueblo, enjoyed veggie paella on the beach, and sampled blue wine (coloured with raspberries) at Bodega Perfer, Europe’s only desert winery.
Tomorrow we leave to spend a month in Berlin. We’re sad to leave our simple routine behind, but we’re also looking forward to vegetarian restaurants and museums and coffee shops. The great thing about being digital nomads is not having to choose between living in the city and the countryside—we get to have it all. We love the diversity of our lives that takes us from the tranquil hills of Andalucia to the hipster neighbourhoods of Berlin.
We’ve housesat multiple times in our 6+ years on the road in Spain, Italy, London, Japan, Argentina, Florida, and San Francisco. We love it as a way to experience a place like a local, visit places we’d never otherwise visit, be temporary pet owners, and, of course, save on accommodation costs.
Here are our tips to get started housesitting:
- Join a Housesitting Website – We are members of three housesitting sites: TrustedHousesitters (which has the most listings), MindMyHouse (which has the cheapest membership fee) and Nomador (a newer but growing site with lots of housesits in France).
- Apply Quickly – Housesitting is competitive and you need to apply quickly when housesits are listed. You should sign up for email alerts from the above sites, but even better is to check the listings throughout the day and apply as soon as new housesitting assignments come in.
- Keep Trying – Don’t expect a response from every application—you’ll likely need to apply to multiple housesits before you’re successful.
- Get References – If you haven’t done any housesitting before, try asking friends and family if they know anyone who needs a sitter. Without experience you might still be able to get a housesit if you are flexible on location and dates—winter in Wisconsin is going to be easier to get than summer in Tuscany.
- Create a Detailed Profile – Make sure you have a detailed profile that lists your relevant experience, and that you send a personal application. The Globetrotter Girls’ ebook Break Free: The Ultimate Guide to Housesitting has a really helpful section on writing a winning profile and application, as well as personal anecdotes and a huge amount of information on all aspects of housesitting for both sitters and home owners. We highly recommend it if you’d like to get started housesitting.
- Know What You Are Getting Into – Housesitting isn’t just free accommodation; it’s a responsibility. Make sure you know what you are getting into and ask lots of questions before you commit.
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