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Everything You Need To Know Before House Sitting in Portugal

housesitting portugal


Portugal is a sunny land, abundant with beautiful beaches and delicious, cheap foods. It's no wonder you want to travel to Portugal! As House Sitting means free accommodation it can be the perfect match to your visit to Portugal. 


beach algarves

We've House Sat in Portugal twice, both times in the Algarve near Albufeira and Lagos. This is a popular place to have a holiday in Portugal, but an advantage of House Sitting is it will take you just outside those tourist hot-spots to show you the authentic places natives really live in. 

We loved House Sitting in Portugal and we'd love to help you House Sit there too, so here is: 


Everything you need to know before House Sitting in Portugal

What you will learn in this post:

  • 7 tips that will prepare you for House Sitting in Portugal
  • 3 tips that will prepare you for Pet Sitting in Portugal
  • Useful Portuguese words to know as a House Sitter
  • Our personal experiences of House Sitting in Portugal (giving you a taster of what it's really like). 
So without further ado, let's reveal those 7 tips that will prepare you for House Sitting in Portugal:


1. Beware of the ants

As Portugal has lovely hot weather, it also has a lot of those nasty creepy crawlies that come (inside) with it. Probably the most annoying, and definitely the most important one to be aware of as a House Sitter is the ants. There are a lot of (big) ants in Portugal, and you need to make sure that the house you are sitting doesn't get over-run with them. 

Luckily this is pretty easy to do, by making sure you don't leave dirty plates out overnight/for too long as this will attract the ants. (And really, to be a good House Sitter you should always avoid leaving dirty plates out, full stop!)

Sometimes though the ants just can't be avoided, so check how your Home Owner likes to deal with ants before they leave - it might be with poison, it might be with something else.  



2. Don't bite off more than you can chew with the gardens

Land is pretty cheap in Portugal, so chances are the house (or villa) you'll be sitting will have a nice big garden, probably with an orange/olive/lemon/fig tree - or 30. Fresh fruit from the garden sounds like the dream (because it is), but be careful you're not biting off more than you can chew (pun intended). 

Our House Sit in Portugal had over thirty fruit trees, which needed a lot of water, but luckily for us they were watered on a timer and all we had to do was enjoy the fruit. However, on some House Sits you might not be as lucky and will find yourself watering all day - check with the Home Owner first. 



3. The hot weather in Portugal

portugal beach

If, like us, you love sunshine then you'll find the Portuguese weather sublime. On average the Algarve has over 300 days of sun a year.  As a House Sitter there are some things that come with this of course: ants (see above), keeping the car out of the sun where possible, and perhaps turning it on every now and again to make sure that the battery doesn't go flat. And in general making sure that both you and the animals you're looking after drink enough water. 


4. The cold weather in Portugal 

It does gets cold in the winter in Portugal! Sure it doesn't get as cold as northern Europe, but it can often feel colder. Portugal is well equipped for hot weather: it has houses designed to keep the house cool and the breeze running through, but the houses don't change for the winter - hence it can feel nippy indoors even though the sun is still shining outside. Not a lot of Portuguese houses have central heating and heating a house costs a lot. 

To illustrate our point, we have a friend from Russia who lives in Portugal. The Portuguese laughed at him when he said he was cold in the winter  ("but you're Russian, how can you be cold?") The fact is, he was used to well insulated houses and efficient heating systems, which they just don't have in Portugal. 

So wrap up warm if you're House Sitting in Portugal in the winter. Or of course, you could just make sure you're not in Portugal in the winter and avoid this whole problem. (Like us.)




5. The food is cheap and delicious

You need to be prepared for how cheap and delicious the food is in Portugal. It's great! Pastel De Natas (Portuguese custard tarts) really are to die for, they're crispy and beautiful. Aldi and Lidl are still probably the cheapest places to shop in Portugal, but even shopping at your local isn't going to set you back thousands. We really recommend checking out your local butchers/fruit and veg stall/markets. The food is fresh, tasty and still cheap. We always embarrass ourselves with our lack of Portuguese and point and smile, but they are very friendly. 

6. There are lizards

baby lizard

The warm climate means that there are lots of cute lizards in Portugal. They're not dangerous but if you're cat sitting you may have to put up with one or two being eaten (or presented to you as a fabulous gift). Also, if you care about lizards, you have to be a bit careful when opening and closing doors, so that the lizards don't get squished in-between :(




7. Driving in Portugal

If you're lucky, your Home Owners will lend you their car and you won't have to rent a car in Portugal. It's worth noting though that Portugal has one of the highest rates of car accidents and fatalities in Europe (source). If you're dog sitting or cat sitting, you'll probably need access to the car on the (off) chance you'll need to take your pet to the vets. 

So that was the list of things which are good to know before House Sitting in Portugal, next are: 

3 things you need to know before Pet Sitting in Portugal 

pet sitting portugal


8. There are scary dogs

dog sit portugal
this is not one of them 
We House Sat one of the sweetest dogs ever in Portugal, but were surprised to hear that a lot of people were afraid of her (she is quite big). Then we met some Portuguese dogs and they were scary - firstly some people in Portugal haven't got the memo about being kind to dogs, and so some dogs are tied up in front of the house all day (in the sun), to bark at strangers and deter burglars (no need for House Sitters there)! 

Secondly, and more importantly, there are also feral dogs in Portugal, which you need to keep away from - especially if you are walking the dog you are sitting. Like most feral dogs, they're generally more of a threat to your dog than to you, but it's good to always avoid them. 





9. There are feral cats 

feral cat
vicious


As with the feral dogs, the feral cats are more something to be aware of than something to be afraid of. 

Firstly, they can be a bit skanky - they tend to have fleas and can be a bit inbred and scrawny. 

Secondly, depending on what your Home Owner does, it may not be a good idea to feed them - if your Home Owner usually doesn't it's not a good idea to start - the Home Owner is going to come home to some unwelcome guests, and the cats are going to suffer when their food supply stops.

Thirdly, if you are dog sitting, it's a good idea to try and keep the dogs away from the cats. 


10. You might have to look after an exotic animal or two 

baby turtle

You do of course get House Sits in Australia and the UK that come with a reptile or too, but it's not the norm. However, for almost every House Sit we've seen advertised in Portugal, they've all come with an exotic animal (or two)! Actually, when I say exotic I'm including donkeys in this - there seems to be a lot of Portuguese House Sits with donkeys!

Other than donkeys, we've seen sits with parakeets, lizards, tarantulas and turtles. (Incidentally, our sit came with a turtle). 

Don't be immediately deterred because of an unusual pet (though equally don't jump straight in with an animal you can't handle). Generally, reptiles are easier to look after than most dogs (if you have clear instructions). And donkeys are super easy - just give them hay, water and lots of love. 





Useful Portuguese words to know as a House Sitter:
The amount of English a Portuguese person knows varies from person to person. You can definitely survive in Portugal knowing no Portuguese, but we think it's always nice to make an effort and know at least a few words of the country you're staying in. At the very least it's good to know:

Oi - hi 
or if you're super British like me and can't bring yourself to say 'oi' to someone, then try:
Olá - hello
Por favor - please
Obrigado/a - thanks (with an o at the end if you're a boy, and an a at the end if you're a girl)
Desculpa - sorry
Tchau - goodbye 
Cão - dog
Gato - cat
Tartaruga - turtle
Veterinário - vet 


We got by with an embarrassing mix of Spanish, Italian and enthusiastic nodding. 

[ On a side note, if you'd like to see some of my very best enthusiastic nodding, check out the time we were filmed by a tv crew!]

If you're House Sitting in Portugal for a long time, it's worth having a bit more than a handful of Portuguese:  

Portuguese translation services 
Polilingua offers accurate Portuguese translation, transcription and voice over services performed by experienced linguists at the deadlines you require!  


Our personal experience of House Sitting in Portugal 
To end this post, I will tell you about our own personal experience of House Sitting in Portugal - this should give you an idea of what it's really like to House Sit in Portugal. 

  • Location: Near Lagoa in Portugal's Algarve (i.e. the South). 
  • Animal: One lovely mutt and a turtle
  • House duties: Nothing out of the ordinary, just feeding the dog, watering the plants and dog, feeding the turtle and cleaning out its cage
  • House benefits: Location! Really sunny and beautiful location near the beach. And the garden! Lots of fig, orange, lemon, pomegranate and apple trees to enjoy. 

housesit portugal

This is one of our absolute favourite House Sits - we love it so much we went twice in one year. 

The location is just outside the touristy area (so it's peaceful and the food is cheap). But it's also close enough to the awesome beaches!

beach algarves portugal

The dog is an absolute pleasure, she's really loving and fun to be around. She's also extremely easy to look after.  The turtle is easy to look after too, but he's not as loving. 

cute dog

Another great thing about this House Sit is the family who own the house - they are some of our favourite people ever! 

All in all, we loved House Sitting in Portugal and will definitely House Sit there more in the future. 

beach love


Where to find House Sits in Portugal 

We found our Portuguese House Sitting job, and indeed all our other House Sitting jobs from Trusted House Sitters. They have a whole page dedicated to House Sitting jobs in Portugal here: House Sitting jobs in Portugal. If you haven't House Sat before we highly recommend you check out this page: How to start House Sitting, which tells you everything you need to know. 


So there you have it, everything you need to know before House Sitting in Portugal. 

We are currently working on more of our 'Everything You Need to Know Before House Sitting in...' guides. So if you enjoyed this guide be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest so you don't miss the next guide. 

We have also just discovered Instagram and Snapchat (travelweasels), so if you like beautiful photos and funny snaps be sure to catch us there!

Finally, if you really want to make sure you never miss a post, sign up to our mailing list. As a thank you we will give you 10% off Trusted House Sitters (the site where we got our Portuguese House Sit and all our other House Sits).  Subscribe here: 10% off Trusted House Sitters!

Do you fancy House Sitting in Portugal? Let us know in the comments below!





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ABOUTME

We're Laura and Tanbay, a British/German couple who have successfully weaselled our way out of the rat-race and want you to do the same!

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