Housesitting in the British countryside


Bente van de Wouw took care of a house and two cats in the British countryside via, a site that brings home owners and caretakers together.

I had just come out of a long-term relationship and had also experienced a burnout relapse, which meant that I was temporarily unable to work and things were tight financially. Which is how I ended up scrolling through a housesitting site online. A luxury tree house in Scotland, a Swiss goat farm, a huge villa with a swimming pool in France or an apartment in the heart of New York, US: when I looked through the site, I was surprised by the possibilities. Fortunately there were also regular terraced houses, which seemed good enough to me for my first housesitting stint. I wanted a week away — alone.

I missed out on the first house I had in mind. Eight others were interested and you have little chance if you don’t have any reviews. Then I found a large detached house in the same neighborhood. One message and a Skype-call later and it was all sorted: I would look after the cats of an older couple.

Common interests

From the very first moment it felt good. I was warmly welcomed and there were slippers waiting for me. The owners stayed until the next day, which was very nice because it meant they could explain everything to me. Moreover, we turned out to have common interests, such as mindfulness, so we had a good chat.

In the morning I waved goodbye and was left alone with two cats. Suddenly it felt very empty — and a bit crazy to be responsible for a strange house. Yet I didn’t feel lonely that week: the neighbors came over occasionally, I talked with some villagers and one of the owners’ friends took me out to the movies. That’s the nice thing about this concept: because you’re in an ordinary house, you live more like a local than a tourist.

  • More stories about a different kind of travelling can be found in Issue 34.

Text Anneke Bots  Photography Ivy Barn/