What Can You Say When You’re Housesitting?

By |2015-01-07T11:04:27+00:00May 18, 2012|Categories: Europe, Spain|Tags: , , |14 Comments

There's a crypt in Cartagena that isn't too far away, if you want a little break from mini England in Mazarrón.

We made arrangements to house sit in Murcia, Spain for two months. We thought, originally, that the house was in the city of Murcia, as the ad sort of implied, but turns out it’s a long way from the city, and a long way from the beach, and in the middle of an English colony in the middle of nowhere. Other than the people in the “club house” who serve the drinks and food, we’re the only people for miles who can speak Spanish. Rather depressing, really. Our “landlady,” for example, has lived here for six years and the only Spanish she can speak is “gracias” very badly pronounced.

So, we pass the time by surfing the internet, and sometimes driving into the nearby beach towns, which are also primarily English and specialize in views spoiled by haphazard development and shitty food. Actually, we haven’t been on the internet much because she forgot to pay the bill before she left and so the internet was cut off until I could get her to transfer in a payment…under threat of leaving and deserting her four ill mannered dogs which we stupidly agreed to babysit. But, that’s another story.

Also, the house we’re in was poorly constructed in the first place, and has never been maintained since she moved in. I could do a lot of minor repairs around here to pass the time, but she has no tools at all (Who the fuck can not have any tools in her house?) and I’m not about to go buy any. One of the doors wouldn’t stay closed unless you locked it, because the jam plate was mounted half a centimeter off. I fixed that with my multi tool, dulling my nice camping knife to mortise out the new spot for the plate. Better than locking the damn door every time I wanted to just keep the flies out.

So, it will all be over in early July, at which time we go back again to our homeless state in the States, which sort of necessitates us spending time in either Council Bluffs with my mom or Vegas, just to have a place to sleep. I suppose we’re going to have to buy a place there soon, just to have a place to rest and play poker.

We’re thinking of trying another house sitting gig, though, wherever we can get a longer stay in some place actually interesting. Ireland and England are on the list. Maybe Australia, too. But they’re all so damn expensive. Bali in September sounds inviting. We’ll discuss it. We need to get over there again because we missed so much the last time. Only did Thailand and Vietnam and Australia, and want to see the rest of SE Asia, and China, Japan and Korea, too.

But we do love Europe and have spent so much time here over the years that it does seem most like home. We think of perhaps a town house in Sevilla, if we could afford it. I like the idea of splitting time, and maybe one there and one in Asia somewhere, and rent them both in the meantime. I could use some advice.


  1. Jennifer Jones May 21, 2012 at 11:08 am - Reply

    Great article on house/pet gig! I had to laugh at Kris’ post this a.m. about AWOL dogs! Been there, done that but with a cat. . .

    • Tom Bartel May 21, 2012 at 11:43 am - Reply

      Thanks Jennifer. Kris is out looking for the dogs right now. Three of them ran off again this morning.

  2. Cathy Kerr May 22, 2012 at 7:30 am - Reply

    I have been to Bali and trust me it is indeed heaven on earth! I think the food is AWESOME, the beach is amazing and the culture and people are just too good, i would say whether you travel any where or not, do travel to Bali!

    • Tom Bartel May 22, 2012 at 12:32 pm - Reply

      Inaccurate writing on my part. We spent a month in Bali last year, then another month in Australia, then Thailand and Vietnam. Need to go back for the rest of east Asia. Next year, I hope. And yes, we loved Bali.

  3. Laura May 24, 2012 at 5:57 pm - Reply

    I have heard of many holidays from hell but this is the 1st house sit from hell! Well maybe it wasnt that bad but at least I can pick up a few tips it I get into it of what to look out for!

  4. Tom Bartel June 1, 2012 at 6:00 am - Reply

    Laura, my tip: don’t take on four dogs. Especially four untrained obstinate dogs.

    • Gail June 23, 2012 at 4:45 pm - Reply

      That made me smile, I used to have 4 dogs and 2 kids, I sometimes think that they used to secretly plan together to make my life chaos!

  5. […] House Sitting Take One (Doggie Addendum) What Can You Say When You’re House Sitting? […]

  6. Ian white June 8, 2014 at 7:18 pm - Reply

    Try housecarers.com for housesits in Europe and Asia.

  7. Damian March 21, 2015 at 12:05 pm - Reply

    I am staying with her currently (she is the mother of a friend of mine). I have read your review and I agree 100% with everything you have said! She is a nightmare, with no organisational skills and loves to twist situations and bad mouth people… real spiritual … and a real-life nightmare! She hasn’t changed at all, I have only just found this post after reading the review on the HMS Henning website. I have had to threaten leaving so the bills get paid too! And the dogs are still ill mannered and the neighbours are still complaining! Honestly, I am with the neighbours and feel for anyone who knows her.

    The best advice I can give anyone who is thinking of looking after the dogs etc., is run whilst you still can, she is not a nice person and you cannot do any worse than stay here!

    Good luck with your endeavours!

    Damian 🙂

    • Kristin Henning March 21, 2015 at 12:56 pm - Reply

      I’m partly amused to read this (OK, I was laughing out loud), and partly relieved to hear she has survived her various illnesses and misadventures. Despite her big heart, it is a no-win situation house and dog sitting for her. The experience did help us improve our vetting of potential homeowners! Thanks for the note and good luck.

  8. Tracy December 30, 2015 at 10:56 am - Reply

    Housesitting is a crap shoot, isn’t it. And, thinking of the sit we just left, I do wish to emphasise the word crap. When it works, it is heaven. When it doesn’t, you spend hours staring at the walls of your self-imposed cellblock wondering what in the hell you were thinking. We just left one of the bad ones. The homeowner was a Mexican version of the Bitch of Buchenwald. Sadistic misrepresentation was her specialty. For instance, her ad said the three dogs were fed twice a day, plus some snacks which could be given by the gardener. When we arrived, we were handed a spreadsheet outlining the special diet menus for each of the three dogs to be administered every 4.5 hours. The last feeding was at 2:30 am. I am not kidding. Awaken in the middle of the night to feed three dogs three different human-cooked gourmet meals, which included heating them to the right temperature in the microwave in the middle of the night. I have a hard time hitting the toilet on target in the middle of the night so this was a difficult request to fulfil. In addition to the feedings, were the management of medications, injections, and overseeing household staff schedules and duties. It left my old man feeling like a broken barrio version of Downton’s Mr. Carson. We tried to do the job and I think we were pretty damn good at it. But then, Buchie decided to extend her vacay and cut our free days down from 10 to 4. When we complained that the lack of sleep was wearing us down and we’d need some recovery time between her scheduled vacations (we were booked for multiple 10 day sits in Nov. & Dec.) she became ballistic and screamed that we should have known what we were getting into and how dare we complain after getting all of this free electricity and internet and 4 channels of English TV. When we explained that we are not, in fact, homeless vagabonds happy for any offered crumb and would happily go to a hotel so that she could find a more suitable victim (ahem, sitter), she backed down and somehow we survived it. I would have left but we felt sorry for the damn dogs as there is no way in hell anyone who knew this woman would have taken on this task, at any price, let alone for frickin’ FREE. Ugh. Let’s hope the next adventure has a good Karma payoff.

    • Tom Bartel December 31, 2015 at 10:46 am - Reply

      You said it all. Housesitting is a crap shoot. Except maybe your odds are better at craps.

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