Travelling Weasels

FREEDOM FROM THE RAT-RACE

HOUSE SITTING GREECE + ATHENS GUIDE

house sitting greece

House sitting Greece is a fascinating, terrifying and enchanting way to get to know Athens better. Or at least it was in my own personal experience - house sitting Athens for five weeks in October. If you're looking for house sitting jobs and opportunities in Athens and Greece, then I believe I can help you: I have got some tips on how to find and get dream house sitting jobs over there (and beyond). Then, if you're interested, I'll tell you honestly about my own house sitting Athens story - the great, the awful and the in-between, to give you a taste of what's it's really like to house sit in the city named after the Goddess of Wisdom and War.

house sitting greece athens

1. House Sitting Greece and Athens

How to find long-term, flexible house sitting opportunities in Greece?

I personally found my long-term 5 week house sit in Athens, Greece (and then later on my two Greek island house sits) through the website trustedhousesitters.com

(disclaimer: I am an affiliate for Trustedhousesitters.com, which means if you buy membership though my link then I get a percentage of the profit (at no extra cost to you). It's kind of like how a real estate agent gets a percentage when you buy a house through them, except here you're not buying a house, you're buying a membership that will allow you free access to houses.)

Trustedhousesitters connects people who live in Greece and want house sitters, with house sitters from all across the world who want to house sit in Greece. It's generally seen as a win-for-all:

  • win for the homeowners in Greece (peace of mind whilst on holiday thanks to free pet and home carers);
  • win for the house sitters (who get to live in Greece and Athens rent-free with pets for company);
  • win for the pets (who don't have to go to scary Greek kennels).

There are other ways to find Greek house sits from searching in Facebook groups to signing up to other house sitting websites, but in my own personal experience Trustedhousesitters works best. You do have to pay £114 per year for membership, which I initially thought was steep, however, once you start house sitting in Greece, it pays for itself within a week.

Just think about it, £114 per year to be able to live rent-free in Greece (not to mention anywhere else on the planet) is cheap af. Even if you're not looking for a long-term Greek house sit - say if you just want to visit Greece for a week, £114 would be a bargain for a week's worth of accommodation there.

And it's so much more than 'just' accommodation, you're not staying in manky hostels or boring hotels, you're staying in the home of someone who actual lives in Greece - could it be any more authentic? Not to mention the access to a washing machine, a fully functioning kitchen and often a car - how many hotels offer that?

house sitting athens

How to apply?

If you're interested sign up and follow these steps to score those top house sitting jobs in Greece:

1) fill in your profile honestly;
2) upload photos preferably of you with animals, preferably who look happy;
3) house sit for your family, friends, and/or acquaintances to build up an arsenal of good references;
4) get a police check;
5) start apply to house sits in Greece, apply honestly + (again) without ego.

(Still confused? Here's a post about frequently asked questions about house sitting, another one about house sitting abroad - how to choose where you go first and if you have any questions ever,  please do let me know via email or as an IG message, I'm here, and happy, to help :)

2. House Sitting In Athens: My Personal Experience

house sitting jobs athens

So what specifically was my personal experience house sitting in Athens? Well, I stayed there for five weeks in October with my then-fiancé, now-ex, Tanbay:

free things to do in athens

(Side note: one of my biggest pet peeves is blogger gfs who make their blogger bfs pose for photos- aka when their bfs are not in the mood and don't want their photo taken. You can see it on their face. At least I can, because I used to do it all the time. Hence why it bugs me now lol. As Tanbay used to say "the faults you point out in others are your own faults in disguise". To all the bfs who are treated like pets, I'm sorry you are silenced. #freedomformentoo) 

My guilty thoughts aside (cause let's face it I could and am currently filling a book with those), let's get back to the house sit: we were looking after a tiny young cat who'd only just stopped being a stray. I really liked the life that the homeowners offered her in that she was free to come and go as she pleased (cats are one of those few non-human mammals in urban environments that are allowed to roam free... compare: dogs). The home owners had a balcony where she had shelter, food and water, always. If she wanted to come inside the house she could, if she wanted to go back outside she could. That's a free but supported stray right there:

cat sitting greece

What I didn't like though was that the homeowner told me to "forcibly touch her paws and belly daily so she gets used to it from a young age and doesn't grow up biting and scratching when you touch her there". Cats (like dogs) only show you their belly when they trust you, as it's their most vulnerable point, I don't think it's fair to force cats (or anything) to let you touch them where they don't like to be touched. The good news is, that as this is a classic example of one of the main issues of house sitting, we can use it now to address said issue:

3. What to do when the homeowner tells you to do something you're not comfortable with?

In my opinion, the answer should be made on a case-by-case basis, using common sense and should make as many parties (the parties here being pets, homeowners and house sitters) as happy/content as possible. In this case, I decided not to do it. Consensual touch only, for all.

cat sitting athens greece

We were also looking after an American Cocker Spaniel who was a very sweet little cotton bud dandelion seed who I instantly fell in love with. Walking her was like walking a little old lady - she was slow and it took ages, but the 'conversation' was interesting and the tempo helped me slow down and actually see the area.

dog sitting greece athens

And what an area it was. The area that the homeowners were living in was a very strange mixture of bourgeois architecture with a slight post-apocalyptic tinge. The neighbourhood was mostly occupied by embassy ambassadors from all over the world and Greek politicians, all of which seemed to live a filthy rich lifestyle with big fk-off walls of railings, trees, signs and fences:


house sitting athens greece

But due to the latest political thing that I now can't remember, half of them had done a bunk. Like literally, like packed up in the middle of the night and left most things behind kind of bunk. Hence the feeling of both an unfair distribution of wealth AND over-grown wilderness you'd only expect to see in some kind of nature-takes-over-after-the-breakdown kind of apocalypse:

long term house sitting greece

The house we were living in was a two storied, three bedroomed, spacious flat in an extremely quiet (half empty) building. This was the first country we'd been to where you put your toilet paper in the bin, not the toilet, which was interesting, and the house had no carpets, just tiles, cause hello heat. But other than that it was pretty much your slightly-larger than average (but Western in essentials) home.

Whilst we weren't, of course, paying for accommodation in Greece, we were shocked at the high food prices. We ended up mostly living off feta and fish (this was before we became vegan lol) and lots of free fruit and veg that we free-cycled (aka the supermarket chucked it into a big bin out back and we helped ourselves).

As for the homeowners, they were a straight married couple - he was a native Athenian and she was a New Yorkian. We didn't see very much of him as he was working backbreaking 12 hour shifts with a backache. What we did see of him was a kind, generous, 'typically Greek' (sorry for the nationalistic stereotyping), nice guy. For example he came back from work with Oozo to share and showed genuine interest in having a conversation with us. 

Unfortunately, Tanbay and I didn't see eye-to-eye with the New Yorkian: She offered to pick us up from the local train station, but wasn't there when we go there. She hadn't wanted to give us her address and didn't respond to my texts asking where she was / how we could get there on our own. After 45 minutes she did arrive, though and she was really nice, it was really kind that she picked us up.

But then it turned out that she didn't leave enough food for the cat or money for us to buy the cat's food, and she didn't reimburse us afterwards, either. This turned out to be a good thing though because a) we met and made friends with the local fisherman and b) we added to our list of things a homeowner must please do before we arrive: "please make sure that there's more than enough food for the pets for the duration of our stay, or if that's not possible, please leave enough money for us to get that food".

She also had an unusual idea of how much we should be cleaning. Most homeowners clean heavily before you arrive but she left quite a big mess. I don't mind that at all (let's face it, I can be Ms Mess myself), but I did feel like her then asking us to make sure we pull out the oven and clean under it was a bit too much. Whilst house sitters should of course clean up after themselves and the pets, they are not there to be full-time (unpaid) cleaners. They have other chores to tend to... we've also made a video about this during our house sit in Italy:



HOW TO MAKE SURE IT'S NOT A DUD HOUSE SIT

The good news is, you can profit from our fk-ups. To make sure these kind of miscommunications / uncomfortable situations don't happen to you I recommend:

  • Video calling with the homeowners before you agree to house sit with them 
  • After the video call, if you don't feel like it's a good match, strongly consider not house sitting for them. 

Our mistake was with the second point, when we Skyped with her we did feel like we might not be a perfect match, but because the house sit was in such a good time spot (bang in between a house sitting job in Portugal and a house sit in Italy) and because we'd always wanted to go to Greece we ignored our instincts. This wasn't the first time we'd ignored them and it wasn't the first time we regretted ignoring them lol (I'm a slow learner). It was the last though, please trust your gut, it knows what it's talking about. 

Nowadays, Trustedhousesitters has a better system whereby it's not just the house sitters that get reviewed, but the homeowners too. If you're nervous about house sitting, opt for homeowners who have good reviews. This has definitely helped filter out a lot of the homeowners who ask too much from house sitters.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU DON'T LIKE THE HOUSE SIT?

Still, even if you do feel like it's a match via video chat, and the homeowner has great references, there is still chance that you might get to the house sit and hate it. Then what? Weigh up the pros and cons and pinpoint what exactly is wrong: do you dislike the house sit just because of the homeowner? 

Most homeowners ask you to stay a day or two before they leave, so you can get used to the area and the routine of the pets. But if you're not getting on with a homeowner, those one or two days might feel like infinity. As long as their not asking things that are too outrageous (see below), my general advice is to stick it out until they go. Although it can be awkward to live in the house of someone you don't like, it feels a million times better when they're gone - give the place a clean, unpack your bags, hang out with the pets and you'll feel at home soon enough. 

Often the plan is to hand over the keys face-to-face or even stay another night when they get back (many homeowners request this in case they're flight is delayed etc). If you've agreed to do this but no longer want to do this, rearrange it so you leave an hour or so before they get back. You can still be available in case their flight is delayed, but you don't have to see them again. 

This advice is very general though, if you dislike the house sit 'just' because of the homeowner but believe that's going to make your entire stay miserable, consider discussing the issues with them and reaching a compromise or, worst case scenario, leave.

...Being asked to do things you're not comfortable with?

I mentioned earlier that this can be done on a case-by-case basis with common sense, but if you don't mind, I'll elaborate here: the very general responsibilities of the house sitter are to care for the pets and maintain the house. But as these are general ideas, every homeowner interprets them a little different. We're all familiar with strange habits people have with their pets and homes, and some homeowners want to push that on you, or (very often) don't even realise they are strange. I've been asked to do things like vaseline a horse's butthole (no) and de-hoard and spring clean an entire house (also no). 

Hopefully, these problematic tasks will be discussed beforehand but if not, you have three options: 1) politely decline; 2) offer a compromise or 3) nod and agree but 'forget' to do it - this last one is the coward's option, and the one I like to choose most often. I would never recommend that last option for pets, but if it's something like "clean underneath the oven that hasn't been cleaned in 3 years" you're well within your rights to 'forget' to do it. 

At the end of the day, go with your gut, each house sit and each homeowner is different and if you really feel trapped/upset/abused/etc. Leave. Life's too short to do sht you don't want to.  

4. House Sitting in Greece: Final Thoughts 

house sitting athens greece

All in all, this was one of the most interesting house sits Tanbay and I ever did. There were some parts we hated but there were many more parts that we loved. The dog and the cat were both absolute treasures; the house had enough room for both of us and we got a lot of work and yoga done; living in that area gave us a real insight into a few different parts of Greek culture - and not just the upper middle class part, we ended up becoming good friends with the fishermen and learnt a lot about the customs and culture of the Christian Orthodox. We were even able to explore Athens in depth from this base (and thus create a comprehensive guide of how to explore Athens in one day). 

So do I recommend house sitting in Greece? Yes. I went back a few years later and house sat a bulldog in Thessaloníki and three cats in Temenos. Both perfect house sits, both boring stories 😂 House sitting in Greece can be the perfect place for newbie house sitters to start: because of tourism, the country is well-accustomed to non-Greek speakers (though of course, if you do speak Greek that will DEFINITELY give you an edge), and it's very easy to get around. Have a browse of the house sitting jobs currently available in Greece, and let me know if you need any help! :) 

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Weasel your way out of the rat-race with this travel blog: House-sit luxurious properties world-wide, learn top travel tips and so much more!

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