UK sits going into summer

Hi. First time poster and soon to be first time sitter in the UK over summer. It looks like now that the New Year is here, listings are slowly starting to increase. I know after the last 3 years it’s hard to predict anything, but does anyone know if listings tend to continue as a slow trickle or snowball rapidly. I’m trying to put together a loose timeframe to work to. Thanks in advance and all the best for your sits going forward. Sara

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@SJD I think that’s a very difficult question to answer. New people will be joining all the time, some owners list their sits months in advance, others fairly late. What I’d suggest to you is that you just keep looking and, with the 5 applicants pausing you need to get your applications in quickly.
Good luck!

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Hi @sjd Welcome!
Its all been very unpredictable over the last couple of years with Covid.
Having monitored listings numbers in UK all through Covid, my experience is as follows!
During my 2 years of membership pre-Covid there was usually an average of around 1000 sits at any one time.
In April 2021 on the day I checked there were literally only 25 sit listings in all of UK!!
Then during Covid everyone bought a dog and post Covid they all wanted to travel again…
So in April 2022 (1 year later!) there were over 4000 listings!!!
As a result we did a monster housesitting intensive in UK last summer and ended up doing 31 sits in 5 months, all back to back! Most were very easy to get as sits vastly outnumbered available sitters so we had our pick!
Last time I looked (a couple of weeks ago) there were still well over 1000 - returning more to pre Covid Stats.
I think the UK is still going to be a fabulous place to sit this summer as all those dogs aren’t going anywhere!! Everyone will start planning their summer hols soon so keep monitoring daily. Then apply immediately before you get caught out by the 5 Applicant limit!
Good luck and have fun!

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@ SJD
welcome to the community!
Good luck with your applications. The only thing I can suggest is that you decide on your timeframe and then set up searches for countries/dates/what type of pets/length of stay preferred (by you) so that you will get notifs of the sits as soon as they become available, and you will need to move quickly to submit an application due to the 5 applicant pause that occurs.

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Hello @SJD. Welcome to TrustedHousesitters and our community here in the forum. I’m glad you found us and introduced yourself.

I’m a sitter too, and, like you, I’ve noticed that most pet parents wait until after the end-of-year holidays to begin planning their holidays for the next year. Many have already locked in their 2023 sitters, but most don’t seem to plan that far out. I, too, am now starting to see sits listed that meet my criteria for this year’s sits.

That said, many pet parents don’t get around to planning until much closer to their travel dates. That’s even more the case for really desirable locations. Getting close to the local holiday periods and school holidays will also contribute to the volume of listings increasing just prior to sit dates.

So long story short, from what I’ve observed, listings will continue to build over the coming months, then start to snowball as we get close to summer. Last summer there were LOTS of available sits in the UK, many of them posted close to their start dates. That can make it tough to plan, but many sitters will lock in one or two key sits, then travel to the region they want to be in and look for sits to fill in their gaps from there.

I hope this helps!
Karen

Hi @SJD we are currently in the UK sitting full time for 4.5 months over their winter & spring. We have been here since the end of November. We pre-booked all our 11 sits months in advance before we left Australia as we didn’t know what to expect as this is our first international gig and we didn’t want to wing it ! I’m kind of sorry we just didn’t book the first few sits and then booked the rest when we got here as there are so many sits advertised closer to the sit dates, therefore more choice. Because we didn’t want to criss-cross back & forth across the UK, as trains can be expensive if booked at the last minute, we booked all our sits to be as close together as possible to minimise accommodation costs and got “stuck” in southern England for most of our sits. But “stuck” in a good way as there is so much to see and experience but we do wonder what we are missing out on in other areas. Just means we will have to come back again and again :grinning:

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Hi everyone. Thanks for your replies - they have been very helpful. 'Like you @Crookie I am coming from Australasia so trying to group my sits in regions to minimise accomodation costs. Thanks @Karen-Moderator for your experienced insights. And thanks everyone for the heads-up about 5 applicant limits - somehow that had escaped me so no putting applications off until ‘admin day’ now! Best wishes, Sara

Hi @SJD Like @Crookie we did most of our sits in the south, mostly within an hour of each other to minimise driving times & costs. And to facilitate the occasional overlap. We also managed back to back the entire time- not one single paid overnight in 5 months! It took some planning and logistically juggling but was a great adventure! Incase you didn’t see my earlier post to you just scroll up for more details! Have fun!

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@SJD Not sure this is of any use to you, but these are the school holidays in Essex, a neighbouring county of London. Schools fine parents for taking their children out of school in term time, so the holidays are popular times for people to go away. Dates in England will be similar, but Scotland and Wales May differ.


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@SJD each county will set its own school holiday dates. Those that @Daisy999 posted for Essex for 2022-23 broadly match Gloucestershire on the opposite side of England. I’ve found that the holidays that can differ from county to county are the October and February week long half term holidays, and the Easter break. For example we were invited to a repeat housesit in February but had to decline because their half term holiday was a week before ours. They will always be in mid to late October and February though.

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Thanks for the school holidays head’s up @Daisy999 and @Debbie . Sara

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Sara,
I can relate our experience from Summer 2022. We are Americans. We departed the U.S. early April to travel Europe, planning to arrive in the UK early July. We didn’t apply for any sits until mid May. I landed the first in Hastings for the day after we arrived via Eurostar. Then started chaining them together, one after the other as good choices appeared. Usually allowing one day apart for travel. We were able to do 6 sits over 9 weeks. Longest off time was 3 days in Birmingham, because we intentionally planned it that way. We kept the searches between Birmingham and the south coast. That took us to Hastings, London, Brighton, Oxford, Bromsgrove, and Crystal Palace. Great summer.
Plus we were constrained because we didn’t have a car, so we had to stick to urban locations with access to the bus. This greatly reduced our potential sits, but we pulled it off anyway.
The beauty of the UK compared to the US is the ability to pretty much get anywhere in one day via train. We could have ventured further north, but we had been there previously.
You feel like you need to lock sits down far in advance, but as the dates draw nearer (within reason), more listings pop up. We were surprised it all worked out.
Good luck, you will have a great time.

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It’s all a learning curve and finding what suits you best. You’ve done well, very well and when you come back you will feel incredible with your experiences and confidence.

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Thanks Terry. Yes I think it as much about trusting the process as anything else. I’m a bit of a planner but am old enough to know that things usually work out in the end. That said, with all the train strikes (and train prices) I’ve decided buying a cheap car might be a good plan when I get there. Takes the pressure off catching public transport and opens up a whole lots more sits. Thanks for your insights - much appreciated. Sara

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Hi Sara
Buying a car is a great idea. We bought a cheap car for our UK summer tour and it was absolutely the right move for us. It gave so much flexibility and a lot more housesit options to choose from. We kept the car 8 months and sold it again before flying to the tropics (India, Singapore & currently in Bali!) We worked out that the cost of the car for us was less than£100 per MONTH of ownership, including tax & insurance- far less than the car rentals we saw for £200+ per WEEK!
And as others have said- no need to plan too far ahead and book yourself up fully ahead if time.
We booked some if our UK summer sits ahead and the rest, including gap fills, after arrival. New sits pop up every day & there’s always something suitable. We ended up doing 31 back to back sits over a 5 month period and everything just slotted into place perfectly! We didn’t even have a single overnight cost in all that time!
Just trust the process and enjoy the adventure!:blush:

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Sara,
we initially planned on getting a 6 month lease from Pugeot or Renault. Good deal per month at that length. However, Brexit screwed that all up. Used to be that the included insurance provided in France was good in the UK. Post Brexit, it is not valid. You need to get additional insurance. Sounds simple enough. The two places I contacted required that I have a British mailing address and a British bank account.
Two of the sits we had in England, the home owners were willing to let us use their cars, to take the dogs to dog parks that were too far to walk to. Even after offering IDs, international driver’s licenses, a letter saying we could drive the car, etc., the insurance companies continually said NO.
There was a bunch of discussion about this in the forum back in May, 22.
So we ended configuring our 6 month trip with public transportation in mind. We surely ended up in places we otherwise wouldn’t have gone in the big cities of Europe. Without having to think about a car, the high cost of fuel and where to park the dang thing – which is a real issue.
If we were to do it again, we would stick with the busses and trains. I really miss them here in South Texas.
Either way, you will have a blast.

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@Lokstar where & how did you buy your car in the UK? Did you have to supply a UK address & bank account? How did you sell it at the end of your UK trip? How easy was the buying & selling process & getting insurance? Sorry for all the questions but it would be good to know for next time.

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Hi @SJD /Sara, as @Terry says it’s very easy to get around the UK via public transport and car parking IS a nightmare in the more populated areas. Many homes don’t have room for a car.

A few of our home owners wanted to lend us a car but their insurance companies wouldn’t allow us to be added to their insurance as we are not UK residents. We even looked in to getting our own temporary visitor car insurance but so many companies required that we had to be residents for at least 12 months or be UK ex-pats. The one company we did find wanted around £200 for 2 weeks cover, way more than what we spent on public transport in that time. If a HO offers you use of their car ask them to double check with their insurer that you definitely will be able to use the car as many don’t know about the problem adding non UK residents to their insurance. We’ve only had one HO who has been able to add us. We will find out in a couple of weeks when we get to the sit if that actually is successful.

When we were setting up our sits (before we confirmed the sit) we asked every HO where the closest bus stop or train station was from their house and how long a walk that was. Home owners will usually pick you up and drop you back to the station or bus stop. All our home owners have offered to do this but if they don’t offer just ask them.

If you use Google maps and click on the bus stop it will show you all the bus routes from that stop. It takes a bit of research but really helped us in our planning and deciding whether to accept the sit or not. Do be aware of any ongoing rail strikes (set up a Google alert) as that caused a layer of stress for us that we didn’t need. There are often disruptions to trains for various reasons but you can usually get on the next train OK, just build in a buffer between sits to allow extra time. We use Trainline journey planner for booking trains (www.thetrainline.com) which is really easy as it covers all the rail companies. The Trainline app also sends you real time notifications about your train, including any disruptions or delays. We bought a rail card to save 30% on rail fares. The secret is to pre-book to save money. We learned a lot about the nuances of UK train travel from The Man In Seat 61 (www.seat61.com). This website has a huge amount of information covering train travel in many countries. We use Traveline journey planner to work out our bus travel (www.traveline.info) as it gives a step by step guide. We are finding that some bus website schedules are not accurate.

Rather than having to carry multiple bags of groceries home on public transport we order groceries online for home delivery which is working really well for us. I highly recommend this. Nearly every grocery chain delivers. We are using Ocado (www.ocado.com) which doesn’t have physical stores but do have a fantastic range including M&S and they are often cheaper than the stores. We got a great introductory deal of 3 months free delivery plus 25% off our first shop & a total of £55 off our next 4 shops.

We are 54 days into our 153 day trip and I already feel like I can write a book on our UK learnings!

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Hi @SJD Are you on any other sites? Housesittersuk is totally focused on the UK as the name suggests. I wouldn’t confine my limits to just this site. I advertise here, housesittersuk and mindmyhouse. THS promotes itself as the go-to place but that isn’t the case. Good luck!

Hi Crookie
Great to hear you are having fun in the UK!
In answer to your questions about car buying in the UK- I’m not actually sure if its possible to buy and insure a car there if you are not a resident. I’m a UK citizen so I’ve never had to look into that. My husband is German so we’ve bought cars in both countries and put each other on the respective insurance. We don’t live in either country but we have mailing addresses set up. My official residence is UK- all banking & official stuff goes through my UK address. That keeps things legit.
We started researching cars from Spain where we were on a winter sit so had already decided on what type of car, and made some connections in UK, before flying over. We actually ended up buying a cheap car from someone on Facebook marketplace! But we also researched through Autotrader & Gumtree. For insurance I used an online search engine to get the cheapest one & got quotes from various companys. Ended up with Admiral.
We rented a car for a week when we flew in and bought the car during that week.
We did a huge smount of driving- including over to the continent & back for a few other sits over there before our UK summer ‘housesitting intensive’- 31 sits in 5 months! We ended back in Germany and sold the car to a trader -for parts. We got back about half what we’d paid after driving around 15K miles in 8 months with no major car issues- so it was very well worth it!
Where are you from? Australia or USA I’m guessing? Do you have any friends or family connections in the UK who you could buy and register through? I can’t think of any other way to manage it. :thinking: