Everything You Need To Know Before House Sitting in Portugal

trusted house sitters portugal

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

trustedhousesitters discount code

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 in Portugal is that it will take you just outside those tourist hot-spots to give you the best of both worlds - you can still experience the touristy spots but also see the authentic places natives really live. 

We loved house sitting Portugal and we'd love to help you house sit Portugal 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 Portugal
  • Useful Portuguese words to know as a house sitter in Portugal
  • Our personal experiences of house sitting Portugal (giving you a taste 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 when house sitting Portugal

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 homeowner 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 Portuguese gardens

The 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 homeowner first. 

3. The hot weather house sitting Portugal

house sitting portugal

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 house sitting in Portugal 

It does get 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 in Portugal

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 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 when pet sitting Portugal

house sitting in portugal

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 as a house sitter

If you're lucky, your homeowner 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. 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 Portugal 

trustedhousesitters portugal

8. There are scary dogs when pet sitting Portugal

house sitting 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 may be feral cats when pet sitting Portugal 

pet sitting portugal

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 homeowner does, it may not be a good idea to feed them - if your homeowner usually doesn't it's not a good idea to start - the homeowner 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 pet sit an exotic animal or two 

portugal pet sitting

You do of course get house sits in Australia and the UK that come with a reptile or two, 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 Portuguese house 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. 

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 dog 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 figs, 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!

house sitting 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. 

trustedhousesitters discount code

Another great thing about this house sit Portugal 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 Portugal more in the future. 

trustedhousesitters discount code

Where to find house sits in Portugal 

We found our Portuguese house sitting job, and indeed all our other house sitting jobs from Trusted Housesitters. They have a whole page dedicated to house sitting jobs in Portugal here: Trusted House Sitters 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. 

Finally, if you want to start house sitting today, have a Trustedhousesitters discount code (the site where we got our Portuguese house sit and all our other house sits). 

Do you fancy house sitting in Portugal? Let us know in the comments below!

Share this:


Travelling through the kyriarchy and weaselling our way out of the rat race - a female travel blogger writing about socially and politically conscious travelling.


    Disqus Comment
    Facebook Comment
comments powered by Disqus