House Sitting in London for Free Accommodation!
As full-time travelers and digital nomads, the cost of accommodation is always at the front of our minds when choosing which country to visit and how long that visit should last. When on the road, we pay a nightly rate, which in some countries can amount to a considerable cost. Europe, especially London, is one of the most expensive destinations in the world, mostly because of crazy high accommodation costs. On our last visit to the UK (home for us) we for the first time tried house sitting in London. London house sitting enabled us to have free accommodation for a whole month in the city!
What is House Sitting?
House sitting isn’t new, but it’s becoming more popular so the number of people becoming open to the idea is growing. The idea is simple. Someone owns a house, in London for example, and they need to go on vacation, a business trip or want to visit family, but they do not want to leave their house unattended while they’re away. Most of these home owners also own a pet such as a dog or a cat, so actually, the primary reason for needing a house sitter is to look after their animals.
This is where people like me and Shelley step in. We’re friendly, responsible, trust worthy and love animals, so offer ourselves as house sitters to these home owners. In exchange for looking after their house and pet, we get to live in their property free of charge. This was the arrangement with our two house sitting in London gigs.
Why We Wanted London House Sitting Gigs
You might be wondering why we wanted, or needed, house sitting in London gigs when we’ve got family and friends nearby. Why not stay with them? We planned to come home to the UK for a considerable amount of time due to needing to find new tenants for our London apartment. We didn’t want to overstay our welcome by asking friends and family to put us up for several weeks, even if they insisted it was OK.
Due to working on our laptops, we need our own space with little disruptions so we can do what we need to do to earn the little bit of money we make while we travel. We’re also in our mid-thirties, so the idea of staying at our parent’s homes for long periods of time just doesn’t feel right. House sitting in London seemed like the perfect alternative.
Our Experience House Sitting in London
Our experience house sitting in London was fantastic and we’d recommend anyone to try London house sitting as a way to save money on accommodation when visiting the very expensive metropolis.
Our house sitting in London experiences were split between two properties over the period of one month. Both included dog sitting as part of the deal. London was in the middle of its summer when we house sat which made our time in the city all the more enjoyable.
London House Sitting Gig #1 – Balham
The first London house sitting property was in Balham, in the South-West of the city. Many years ago, we lived not too far from Balham, so know the area well. It’s a buzzy part of town, mostly populated with city workers in their 20s, 30s and 40s and young families. There’s a huge selection of restaurants, pubs and coffee shops and it’s easy to get into central London by using the underground station (15 minutes).
House sitting in London does not always mean you’re going to be staying in a house. In Balham, we stayed in a nice ground floor flat. The flat was modern, with two bedrooms and a spacious living area which opened out onto a garden. We had the use of a strong wifi connection, a smart wide screen TV, coffee machine and all the other kitchen gadgets the owners like to collect. Being just a 2-minute walk from the buzz of Balham center meant we didn’t have to go far for shopping or entertainment.
The thing we love about house sitting in London, or anywhere else in the world, is getting the chance to look after some awesome dogs. In Balham, we looked after Otto, a chocolate coloured Shar Pei. He has the most quirky personality we have ever seen in a dog and we could never work out what he was thinking. At times he would come to us with his ball to throw in the garden, but he mostly liked to chill out on his own and wasn’t too fond of cuddles and other affection.
Because of his breed, we had to stay on top of his gunky eyes, slobbery mouth and sores on his legs. It’s all part of the London house sitting job. We walked Otto twice a day – once in the morning around a nearby park and once in the evening around the block near the flat.
The owners were two friendly guys, one from the US and the other from Spain. They own an apartment in Madrid, Spain so they were heading over there for two weeks to see friends and family and join in the celebrations of World Pride, which was taking place in Madrid this year.
London House Sitting Gig #2 – Wandsworth Common
The second of our house sitting in London gigs was just around the corner from the first, in an affluent area called Wandsworth Common. Again, we are familiar with the area as used to live nearby, but we hadn’t visited for many years. The main attraction in Wandsworth Common is the huge green common (park) which seems to spread out for miles and miles over open green spaces, lakes and woodland.
The road on the South-side of the common is lined with really nice pubs, coffee shops, restaurants and boutique shops, all of which overlook the green common, making the area feel much like an English village. Add the abundance of cute dogs running around the place, we can see why Wandsworth Common is such a popular and expensive area to live in.
This was a proper London house sitting experience because the property was a typical beautiful Victorian terrace house, as seen all over the capital. If you’re house sitting in London, then in our opinion, this is the type of property you want to be staying at for an authentic London living experience.
The house had three bedrooms and a huge open plan ground level that opened out onto a very English garden full of colourful flowers. It was our job to keep the flowers watered each evening. Another highlight of the property was being just a few steps to the previously mentioned common and amenities. The sun was always shining so life was good at this London house sit!
Maizie the Wheaten Terrier was one of the sweetest and cutest dogs we have ever come across. As soon as her owners left, she was looking to us to look after her and we loved doing so. This involved feeding, a little medication, walks twice a day and of course a bit of love and affection. She was quite old so no ball throwing in the garden was happening, but we loved taking her for long walks in Wandsworth Common and letting her show us the way through the many paths and woodland trails.
Being a small dog and the area’s pubs and coffee shops being dog-friendly, we often took her out with us. She’d be more than happy to sit with us while we enjoy a coffee or beer. Maizie was very well trained and would even pee on request by telling her to “go pee” while pointing to the garden. So cute!
The owners for this London house sitting experience were a couple from Florida, United States, but have lived in London for many years. They were taking a trip back to the United States at the time of this house sit. The night before they left, we were invited to spend the night so we could get to know each other over a meal and drinks. They kindly cooked a delicious dinner on the garden BBQ, it was a great evening sharing travel experiences and a nice addition to this London house sitting experience.
How To Become a House Sitter
If you want to join us by becoming a house sitter and enjoy your own house sitting in London experience, the best and easiest option is to join Trusted Housesitters. Trusted Housesitters is an easy to use website that links home and pet owners with house sitters (both experienced and new).
It’s easy and cheap to sign up and all that’s needed to get started is the creation of your profile. Once your profile is up and running, home owners will be able to find you or you can search for house sitting in London or anywhere else in the world! It’s hugely popular in the UK, US and Australia, but there is also house sits across Asia, Canada, Europe, South and Central America and more! House sits vary in length from just a day to several months, so there really is enough options for all kinds of travellers.
House sitting in London is just the start for us. We want to take this experience, our 5-star reviews and hope to house sit all across the world while traveling and working as digital nomads.