House Sitting in Spain – Spanish Manor Style
Last updated on January 17th, 2019
Our guiding factors
It’s important to know what you are looking for when applying for house sits.
We have 5 factors that guide our selection:
- Unique locations or opportunities
- Expat families undergoing a sea change or overseas for business
- Strong unlimited WIFI
- Non touristic and non English speaking destinations
- Close access to nature
With every house sit we are looking for something new and unique that keeps us connected with nature.
From off-grid living on the side of a volcano on the gorgeous Lake Atitlan, Guatemala; overseeing a Pitaya (Dragon Fruit) plantation in the jungle of Belize; to caring for a 300 year old Spanish Manor and grounds.
Living like a local is important
We want to be able to integrate into a local foreign community, so we can experience life through the eyes of another. It opens our minds to greater understanding and acceptance. It also creates an incredible amount of gratitude for the lifestyle we live, especially when compared with third world communities.
Targeting expat families has been very successful for us. It not only ensures good living conditions and WIFI, it also allows us to share their visions and lifestyles.
Coming from business backgrounds, we are both team contributors. So we love the opportunity to roll up our sleeves and help our owners with a project or two.
House sitting Spanish Manor style – 300 years of heritage
Our current home owners bought a broken down Spanish manor house 12 years ago. Their vision was to return it to its former glory and share it with others through Airbnb style studios. They also wanted their children to experience another culture and grow up speaking fluently in a second language. So Spain it was!
Armed with engineering and interior design skills, their vision honored the heritage of the rural Galician region. All the original stone work, with fortifications, has been maintained.
Meter thick walls with strategically placed arrow-holds, create a keyhole presence of the lush green gardens that await you outside. Add in an open plan kitchen equipped with marble top island benches, enamel sinks, butler’s pantry and stainless steel appliances… you get the most amazing kitchen to create meals and dine in.
Old stable doors are a feature of the living area along with a cozy combustion heater and a bunker style TV/media room. All the bedrooms have a beautiful sunny outlook over the grapevines, pool and paddocks.
In rural Galicia – size does matter!
The wealthier you are, the larger your “horreos” or grain silo!
These iconic landmarks punctuate the countryside, whilst being in total harmony with their rural surroundings. Made from granite and wood they stand proudly alongside each homestead, creating a distinctive look only found in the Galician region.
Something about this house sit makes you want to do things!
Whether it’s cooking a local paella dish in the fabulous kitchen, playing in the spring garden and veggie patch, or busting through a blackberry bramble in the back paddock.
It’s a total privilege and joy to be caring for this historic beauty, her grounds and all the wonderful animals.
How we made connections to the community
Typically we apply for house sits that are not in tourist areas or expat communities. This allows us to experience life through the eyes of the locals and forces us to practice our Spanish. “Mucho practica” is the only way to master something new!
Whether it’s shopping at the “pescarderia” (fish market), making an emergency visit to the “veterinario” (vet), buying feed for “los pollos” (chickens) and “burros” (donkeys), or trying to stop the “consejo local” (local council) from cutting down “arboles” (trees) on your property.
“Situational Spanish”, as we call it, accelerates your fluency and understanding … even if they do speak 6 words a minute faster than us Aussies.
Wherever we travel we try to support local families and their businesses. It could be a B&B, restaurant, corner store, street food outlet or local market. We’d rather see the money go into the hands of the local community than an international chain!
So we were thrilled when we discovered our home owners had the same priorities. They too liked to keep things local.
This created many special connections and experiences for us while we were at the Manor house:
- Impromptu Spanish lessons from our local stone mason,
- Cafe and “postres” with the local Major,
- Roast lamb with our farm hand’s family,
- Tea with the descendants of the original owners,
- Engaging the post lady and her network of friends to help us find our runaway donkey, and
- Sampling the home brews of “vino rojo” and locally cured “jamon” in each village we ventured through.
Funny how most of these experiences involved food!
The festival of Semana Santa
One of the highlights of this house sit was being in Spain for the Easter fiestas – costumes, music and parades.
The Spanish really know how to party!
The heart of these celebrations was in Santiago de Compostela, a sacred city in the Christian faith. It is the final destination of the Camino Way, an age old pilgrimage from the 9th century.
Hundreds of pilgrims complete their 780km (500 mile) trek over the Easter weekend. So it’s a colorful and emotional celebration for both locals and travelers alike.
From corporate to farm-hands
The property is remote and all about building a self sustaining lifestyle. So chickens, ducks, sheep, lambs, orange trees, strawberries, figs, kiwi fruit and a big old veggie patch are all an essential part of the gig.
Our passion for “off the grid” and rural house sits has seen a dramatic shift in our day-to-day activities. Coming from the corporate world our days used to be filled training and supervising staff, project managing events, coaching and supporting leadership teams and problem solving “on time” production issues.
Now we are playing nursemaid to newborn lambs, wrangling wild dogs and problem solving leaks, filtration and solar systems.
On reflection, the tasks are vastly different but the underlying skills are the same – adaptability, flexibility, diplomacy, proactive problem solving and patience!
So if you are considering a remote or rural house sit, here are some of the capabilities you will need:
- troubleshooting skills
- quick thinking
- a good working knowledge of water filters, gas boilers, generators, swimming pools, alarm systems, and mowing devices
- handling and care of livestock
Remember, life is a continuous learning experience where you build upon existing abilities.
Your greatest growth gift is the ability to transfer your skills. For example, being able to use your office meeting skills to think ahead and get the necessary information from potential house sit owners during your interview.
Trusting your own capabilities is key. House sitting takes you beyond your norms and comfort zones. The big bonus is that you learn to be comfortable in your own discomfort.
This gives you the courage to step into new, exciting and sometimes scary opportunities… so go for it!
Two Aussie chicks smashing norms and finding the courage to explore the unknown.