How We Saved $1,500 in Lodging While in Downtown Athens, Greece!
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House sitting can be quite an adventure and it's opened doors to cities that we never thought we’d visit. So, when we were offered the chance to house sit for a week in city center Athens, we were thrilled and jumped on the opportunity! Many people have been amazed at the places house sitting has taken us (Paris, London, Amsterdam, Budapest, and many more!) and ask us how we do it. If you’re wondering the same, read on as we share our experience of applying, being selected for, and actually undertaking a house sit in Athens, Greece.
First and foremost, there are many choices out there when it comes to house sitting websites. We’ve used a couple of sites, but our favorite is by far Trusted Housesitters. It covers the whole world, has a large number of new house sits added daily, is well designed, and has a ton of features that make the process for both sitters and homeowners (especially first timers) easy and enjoyable. We've successfully used Trusted Housesitters on over 15 house sits (and counting!).
Finding the Athens House Sit Opportunity
Once we created a profile, homeowners were then able to search for us and reach out to us if they wanted to. However, more often than not, homeowners post a listing on the website that includes all the pertinent details of the house sit. We then can search all available house sits and review listings to choose the one(s) we want to apply for. Over time, as we’ve completed over 15 house sits, we’ve refined our process and figured out how to pick the perfect house sits for us. When we found the listing for the Athens house sit, we were actually looking at opportunities all over Europe, and were searching for possibilities at least twice a day. By staying flexible in our schedule and the regions we were willing to visit, the door opened to so many more house sitting possibilities. Plus, the house sits that usually catch our eye, like Athens, are extremely popular and can attract many sitters within hours of being posted. So, because we were checking the website regularly, we were able to apply right away and be within the first group to send off our application.
Let us back up though, the listing caught our eye not only because it was in Athens, but also for a variety of other reasons.
- The location was ideal as it was in the very center of the city.
- The homeowner posted great pictures of the home and pets, which provided us a better sense of the house sit.
- The listing had descriptions of the neighborhood, the pets, and what was expected of us.
- We could also see the provided amenities and check off the boxes of our must haves: high speed Wi-Fi was included and a car wasn't necessary.
So, by the time we decided to apply, we knew we’d be caring for two adorable cats, Roland and Vesper, and that we were more than capable of completing all the responsibilities of caring for them and the home, as expected by the homeowner.
Getting the House Sit in Athens
The hardest part of applying for a house sit is waiting to hear back from the homeowner! It can take anywhere from hours to several days to hear back from the homeowner, if we ever do at all. On a side note, we very much appreciate the homeowner emailing us to let us know that we didn’t get a house sit rather than leaving us wondering. As for Athens, we heard back from the homeowner Kristy the same day and were excited to start a conversation with her. Since we don’t want to agree to a house sit that we end up not enjoying, or that has responsibilities that we can’t or would rather not do, we always have a conversation with the homeowner before committing, whether it be through the Trusted Housesitters website, traditional email, phone, or video chat (we prefer Signal). Not only does this give us an opportunity to ask questions and get to know the demeanor and personality of the homeowner, but the homeowner gets to know us as well!
It didn’t take long communicating with Kristy in Athens to know that we not only wanted to do the house sit, but that we had a lot in common with her and her partner Taylor. It became clear early on that it was a great fit on both sides, and once Kristy formally selected us as her house sitters on the Trusted Housesitters website, we started to look for flights to Athens.
Leading Up To the House Sit
If you’ve never done a house sit, it would be easy to think that the process was complete at the point the house sit was confirmed and all we had to do was show up in Athens on the agreed upon date. However, since the house sit was a few months out, we made sure to keep in contact with Kristy and Taylor. By doing this, not only were we developing a friendship, but we were demonstrating our professionalism. Since Kristy and Taylor were first time users of Trusted Housesitters, our continued communication and letting them know that everything on our end was ‘good to go’ helped to ease any concerns they may have had about the process. Plus, we realized that we had a few things in common with them, as they also love travel and photography! You can check out some of their photos on Instagram, they go by Rogue Foxx.
As it may, life happens and things change, so we’ve learned that we need to be flexible and open to adjustments, especially when we’re house sitting. We’ve had a house sit canceled due to an emergency, and we’ve had several house sits where duties and situations changed between accepting, and starting the house sit. Therefore, when Kristy emailed us to let us know there was a new addition to the family, a kitten named Lilo, we of course embraced the news. After all, who can turn down an adorable kitten!?
The First Day of the House Sit
When house sitting, we always aim to meet the homeowners ahead of time and have an in person hand-over, so we arrived in Athens a day early. It helps to be able to meet face-to-face, be introduced to the pets, get a tour of the house, review all responsibilities, and ask questions. Sometimes we can stay with the homeowners the night before they depart if they have a spare bedroom; however, in this case, since Kristy and Taylor had a one-bedroom apartment, we sprung for a nearby Airbnb (use our link and save up to $40 off your first stay!).
We woke up the next morning, tidied up our Airbnb, and with much anticipation made our way to the house sit! Upon arriving, we met Kristy and Taylor, as well as Lilo, Vesper, and Roland. It can sometimes take a while for pets to warm up to new people, and we’re always mindful of this, doing what we can to make the transition as easy as possible for a nervous dog or cat. In this case, Lilo and Vesper warmed up to us right away, but Roland was quite a bit more shy. We remained calm around him and let him choose when and for how long he interacted with us, as forcing interaction would've probably scared him.
Kristy and Taylor gave us a tour of their home and we immediately noticed the artwork on the walls. We were stunned to learn that the art pieces were theirs; they're both incredibly talented! We proceeded to go over the household duties and confirmed that we understood and were comfortable with the cats’ routines. When meeting homeowners for the first time it’s important to use the time wisely, so over time we’ve refined a list of questions we ask. We make sure we know everything we need to know in order to take care of their home, care for their pet(s), and any other responsibilities we may need to carry out. Once we’d gone over everything with Kristy and Taylor, we had a few minutes to chat and get to know each other more. Sadly, since we’d become friends, it wasn’t nearly enough time! Kristy and Taylor were soon off to the airport and we started to settle into our ‘home’ for the next week.
The Rest of the House Sit
House sitting is like a mix of staying in a hotel and being at home. We have the luxury of staying in accommodations in a new city on ‘vacation’, but it comes with the daily responsibilities of living in a home. So, while some house sits have cleaners, gardeners, or window washers, Athens was much like our previous apartment in the US, in that we were responsible for cleaning it, taking out the trash, making our bed, and everything else that comes along with apartment life. In all honesty, we didn’t mind it since we had all of the amenities of a home, like a kitchen and living room. Additionally, even when we stay in a hotel, we decline cleaning services in an effort to be more eco-friendly, as well as for added privacy and security.
We usually spend the first day or two of a house sit primarily in the home, getting to know the pets and settling in. This allows a period of transition for the pets to adjust to the change and become familiar with us. After that, we do a combination of staying home and working, and going out and exploring. In Athens, we spent a lot of time playing and cuddling with the cats, they had such unique and fun personalities! So much so, that we had plenty of pictures to choose from to send with updates to Kristy and Taylor, letting them know that everything was going well!
Once we started sightseeing in Athens, we couldn’t believe how close the house sit was to everything. It was a few blocks away from some of the major tourist attractions and we could walk everywhere. Our days were full of exploring the city and the ancient ruins, while our evenings were spent working and relaxing next to three adorable kitties. We were truly fortunate to have such a great house sit, with adorable pets and a fantastic location!
Completing the House Sit
In the end, every house sit must come to an end. It’s always hard to say goodbye to great pets, great homeowners, and a fun city, but it’s part of the process. Just as we have a routine for starting a house sit, we have one for completing it. When possible, we prefer an in person hand-over. Regrettably, in the case of Athens, because of each other’s flight schedules, we had to leave before Kristy and Taylor arrived home. We left in the morning and they arrived that same evening. We were in constant communication with them and made sure to leave the home so that Roland, Vesper, and Lilo would be comfortable for the time in between our departure and Kristy and Taylor's arrival.
Usually we start our ‘wrapping’ up of the house sit a day ahead of time, ensuring that we aren’t rushed and are able to accommodate unforeseen circumstances. We clean the house and make an effort to leave every home cleaner than when we arrived. We gather all of our belongings, making sure to double check anywhere we could have left our things (we also keep our stuff contained to small areas, making it harder to lose or forget something). We then pack our backpacks, which at this point is like a science, since we each have our own method for getting everything to fit just right.
On the morning we left Athens, we made sure Lilo, Vesper, and Roland had plenty of food and water, and wrote a ‘welcome home’ note for Kristy and Taylor (we’d also sent them an email the night before with a final set of pictures of the kitties and said an early farewell). It’s always hard to say goodbye, and it was no different with Lilo, Vesper, and Roland, but it had to be done. We set off 'dark' and early (before sunrise) to the nearby metro and made our way to the airport and on to our next adventure.
In the days following the house sit, we kept in contact with Kristy and Taylor, confirming they’d arrived safely and found a happy and healthy trio of kitties! Within a couple of days, we'd both written reviews for each other that were displayed on our public profiles on Trusted Housesitters. It was essentially the last part of our house sit, but still an important part, as it's vital to the house sitting community. Reviews should be honest and unbiased first hand experiences that help future homeowners in selecting a house sitter, and house sitters in choosing an assignment.
In the end, we were incredibly fortunate to get a house sit in city center Athens, and we hope our experience helps you find similarly amazing house sits. However, don't be fooled, a lot of time and work goes into the process, and it's much more than just 'free lodging' (or free pet and house care), as some may have you believe. Although in our opinion, when it's all said and done, the companionship of furry friends, a comfortable home, and new friendships are so worth it!