Where in the world is Lucy Jane Revill?! A few people have responded to my recent in slight confusion over the weekend seeing that I am currently in a rather lovely pad in Newtown. Having only gotten used to our move to Greytown, Matt and I are now back in Wellington. What the flaming Dorito?!
Well, as you might remember from previous episodes (see blog post ‘We’re Residents of Greytown’) Matt and I were kicked out of our flat in March this year after it was bought by property owners that shipped their kids into the house and now use the lounge as a bedroom (Nope, bitter? Me? No way…).
Looking at the current rat-race for the rental market in Wellington at the moment, we weighed up our options and decided to move back in with Matts parents so that we could save money and didn’t have to commit to a property lease.
So how did my current house sitting opportunity happen?
Around 4 months ago, I mentioned on Instagram Stories that I was going to be moving to Greytown. A lovely member of our community, Emma, very kindly reached out to ask whether Matt and I would like to housesit their cats while they were on their European honeymoon. Before even moving in with Matts mum and dad, we had committed to doing this. At first, after we initially moved in, I wondered whether we’d even feel like coming back to Wellington to do the housesit? What if we were too cosy in Greytown?
So far, we’ve really enjoyed life in Greytown. Over the last 10 weeks, we had cosy fires, long baths and lots of walks with the dog. It was also nice to be close to some friends who live out that way.
There are some downsides though for the typical Wellingtonian in his or her twenties - mainly the commute - which we have been contending with since moving in. It really is something getting up at 5:30am 5 days a week! We work in Wellington and our friends are all here so our social life took a real hit. Also, Matt is studying for exams and the long days have made coming home after work and studying for him a real challenge.
As such, by the time we packed out bags to come out to Newtown for a month, we were ready for a change. I hadn’t lived in Newtown before, although Matt had. Having now been here a week, I’m totally sold on it. It’s amazing, very vibrant and feels so busy after the sleepy Greytown Village. While we would never say never to buying in the Wairarapa, for now it feels nice to mix it up.
We’re happy to have recently lined up some further house sitting gigs for later this year. While I’d often wondered about house sitting in the past, as a friend of mine has done it many times before and recommended it. I’ve never known how to go about house sitting and so deciding that this is something that we actively want to incorporate into our year of living a bit alternatively as we save together for a better future together.
My Top 5 Tips for Approaching House Sitting in Wellington
1. Have A Base
Having Greytown as our base and living with Matts mum and dad is absolutely essential to be able to commit to house sitting. When we moved out of Oriental Bay, even though we sold lots of things on Trade Me, we still had stuff we wanted to keep, like crockery. Luckily, Liz and Roger have a big storage area at the back of the house so we could put everything in there and not pay for storage at a storage warehouse. If you don’t have somewhere to go back to, and store most of your stuff, you’ll find it more challenging to house sit. It is good to be able to travel lightly (she said having carted around 300 books).
Living with family is a great way to make sure that you have a plan B in place in case someone’s travel plans change or you have a gap. We are actually going to house sit for Matts parents when they go away in September so it works out beneficially for both parties (they don’t have to take the pets to an expensive doggery).
2. Word of Mouth Is King
Ask and you shall receive. Unlike most things these days, house sitting in Wellington is something which, in my experience, is almost entirely done off word of mouth. While there are apps for getting your pizza delivered, finding a date and ordering a car, most people want someone to house sit that they already know and trust. Therefore, the biggest tip I can give you is to start telling people in your real life network, or online on your personal Facebook, that you’re in for a house sit this year. Ask well in advance and you will likely get people responding with their travel plans and hopefully hook you up. Telling people who you meet face to face, old or new, that you’re looking for house sitting opportunities is absolutely vital. There’s no shame in telling people - because although they might not have anything available now, they could have a friend or workmate who needs someone, and they’ll think of you first when it comes up!
3. Think About Signing Up To House Sitter Websites
Now, while I haven’t done this, it has come up as an option. If you are new in Wellington and don’t have many established networks, but have housesat overseas before, this could be your best bet. There are a few housesitting websites that you can sign up to. These includes:
Most websites DO have a fee, so be prepared to pay up to $125 to join. Also, lots seem to be in the greater Wellington region, like Masterton and Paraparaumu. You might end up further out than you would if you got a place word of mouth because it is harder to find willing housesitters. Also scout places on Facebook like Vic Deals or other big groups which might have an opportunity - be conscious though that you won’t know who's place you’re looking after and they won’t have been vetted. You don’t want to take risks.
4. Join The Residents Forum on Facebook Groups
Okay, okay. This one is a bit cheeky. But to help bring the readers of The Residents closer together, I’ve set up a Forum on Facebook Groups so that we can all talk honestly and freely together about Wellington, life, and things like this! It is intended to be a safe space where a more vibrant community can grow around this blog. No ads, no spam. Join the group and you’ll connect with like-minded Wellingtonians who you can get to know and trust - and hopefully if an opportunity arises one day to house sit you’ll be ready to go for it (n.b. this is actually not a house sitting Facebook group - just a possible side-perk which could arise in the future!)
5. Know You’re Doing Them A Favour Too
Last year Matt and I had our 10 week European holiday and we really wanted to find a house sitter because we ideally wanted to have a person living in the house and contributing to our bills and rent. We found that person via my colleague and it worked out well. But we were not flooded with offers which was a surprise for me. I have to say it is difficult to find quality house sitters via people who can vouch for them. So don’t think you’re being annoying if you tell people you are seeking a house sit. You might actually be a god-send.
6. Check Emails And Be Quick To Respond
Much like getting a flat, you need to be able to come back to someone fast if they have an offer for you. Otherwise, they might approach someone else. Turn on your email notifications and be flexible if they want to meet you first. Send information like references from past housesits, your Linkedin profile and other relevant information to show you’re not an axe murderer. Wellington is a small place so people want to know who you are and appreciate if you make the effort.
7. Know You’re Safe: Bring a Friend and Have A Car
Wellington is a small place but when I was 23 I once housesat somewhere in Karori when I couldn’t drive and it was a bit depressing. I was all alone - and then I got sick. Truth be told, being isolated in someone else’s house is scary, and I ended up going back to my own parents house for half the time because being unwell and all the way up the back of K-Town was a bit creepy. While that is at the low end of the spectrum of ‘unsuccessful house sitting' incidents’ make sure you ask questions of the house owner so you don’t get surprised by anything and don’t take on an opportunity by yourself if you are in a fragile state mentally. It might just not be a good time. Be realistic and take care of yourself.
8. Get Asked Back
Once you’ve nabbed the housesitting opportunity, don’t take it for granted. Feed the animals, keep things clean and leave the property in a better state than you found it. If you eat food, do a grocery shop for the house owner to say thank you when they come home. House sitting can be a wonderful, but be a good guest, don’t thow parties and be respectful - otherwise you might give the rest of us a bad name! Also, consider whether you want to go back to your base between house sits. It might make it easier to have one place to return rather than doing lots of two week house sits to fill in times in between. Happy house sitting!