Category Archives: House sitting

Good-bye Bog, Hello Wicklow

My housesitting experience came to an end Sunday as my second hosts returned home, and I wasted no time putting the midlands of Ireland behind me on Monday morning. Good-bye soggy bogs, grey skies and same-same views. Hello lovely east coast, great coffeeshops and the sparkling waters of the Irish Sea.

My nearest neighbors in the midlands. ©Marcie Miller

My nearest neighbors in the midlands. ©Marcie Miller

Midlands review in a nutshell: It is a nice place to visit, on your way somewhere else. As a tourist, two days with a good list of things to see there would be plenty.  My two months of housesitting worked out very well; I feel lucky to have found both of them so quickly and I have no regrets there. But, if I do this again, I think I would look for appointments farther apart. Live and learn. But more on that in another post.

Wicklow Harbor - feels like coming home.

Wicklow Harbor – feels like coming home.

I moved on to Wicklow Town, a six-hour bus trip from Roscommon Town, and a world away. OK, well it is still Ireland, but Wicklow is set on green, rolling countryside running down to the sea, where sailboats mix with fishing boats, and swimmers in wetsuits maneuver around the boats at anchor in the harbor. The Irish have a passion for swimming in the sea all year, often without wetsuits. Keeps them tough I guess.

Dublin is an hour train or bus ride to the north, with plenty of interesting stops along the way. The coastal stretch from Dublin to Greystones (approx. 10 miles north of Wicklow) is historically where the rich from Dublin used to come on holiday — back when 20 miles was a long way to go. The towns are chock-a-block with stately Georgian homes, and it really feels like stepping back in time as you stroll the promenade along the beach.

I’m staying in a historic Georgian house on Bachelor’s Walk, which runs along the Leitrim River, parallel to the shore. It’s now  Capt. Halpin’s Hostel. I thought it would be quieter and cheaper than staying in Dublin for the final 10 days. And there is only one other hostel between here and Dublin. The room I’m sitting in, the parlor, has an original marble fireplace, high ceilings, a crystal chandelier and upright piano. It smells musty, but that’s pretty much the smell of Ireland. It used be Leitrim Lodge and it’s claim to fame is that the town’s most famous citizen, Capt. Halpin, once lived here. I had to share a bunk room with three smelly, and I do mean smelly, boys last night, but for the rest of the time I’ll be in an all-girl room.

Enough for now — sun’s out, time to go strolling!

House Sitting in Ireland

This isn't one of the places I'll be house sitting - this time. ©Marcie Miller

This isn’t one of the places I’ll be house sitting – this time. ©Marcie Miller

Well here we go — June 5th I leave for Ireland! On the advice of a friend, I decided to look into house sitting as a way to stay in Ireland for more than a few weeks and without having to shell out a lot of money for the joy of Irish hospitality. Or a hostel. Not the same thing at all. Within a week of applying I was set up to sit for two homes in rural Ireland, for two months total. Free! Well, in exchange for pet and house care. Here’s how I did it.

After an internet search I signed up for two services that match people looking for house sitters with sitters looking for houses. Housecarers.com and TrustedHousesitters.com both require a paid subscription in order to list your request, but I think if you’re willing to pay $50 it shows you’re sincere. They also have vetting procedures and a lengthy application to increase user safety. Sounded good to me.

Housesits often involve pet care, which the sitters can specify on their application. Choosing to care for all kinds of animals—even snakes— greatly increases your odds of being picked. There are approximately three times as many wannabe sitters as there are houses, worldwide, so being flexible is essential.

Both services send out daily emails with the latest house sitting requests and within a few days two came up on Trusted Housesitters that sounded pretty good for my purposes: a six-week housesit with two dogs in Co. Roscommon immediately followed by a two-week stint caring for five dogs and two cats in another rural area not far from the first.

After exchanging a few emails with each homeowner, we agreed to do a Skype call so we could “meet” face to face. Skype is the greatest invention since rolling luggage for travelers. I got to talk with the homeowners, get a virtual tour of my new “homes” and meet my four-legged roommates. We all hit it off and agreed to proceed. Some homeowners may want a contract, but we just agreed verbally.

This will be a new adventure for me; a change from my usual mode of abode, hostels and B&Bs. Next up: Couchsurfing! Stay tuned…