It seems that in recent issues of House Sitting Magazine, we’ve talked more about hot weather climates and the problems associated with extreme heat and humidity. These wet, off-season months are often when owners leave their homes to vacation or visit family. But we thought we should look at some of the challenges that extreme cold can present when house sitting.
Whilst many of us are looking for warm weather opportunities, there are some that want to experience the magic of snow and ice. Aussies spring to mind in this case!
Winter in Europe is expensive as the ski season gets underway, and house sits are unlikely as properties can generate high rental incomes. But in Canada it’s a different story and house sitting opportunities are available every year as “snowbirds” migrate south.
This month we find out more from Canadian snowbird housesitters, Tim and Lou Read of House Sitting World.
WHO ARE THE SNOWBIRDS?
A snowbird migrates with the seasons.
In Canada, the Northern USA and Northern European countries, human snowbirds are typically retirees or business owners who wish to escape the snow and the cold temperatures of the winter season. Instead they benefit from warmer climates with increased sunlight hours.
Generally, they travel to Spain, the Bahamas, Mexico and the southern USA states where they often maintain a winter residence. They leave the north in November and return in April. The average snowbird is gone 4-6 months.
Many snowbirds own small dogs and cats, and given the high cost of kenneling or a home check service, house sitters are beginning to become a more popular option.
Snowbirds will begin looking for house sitters as early as July and, as the popularity of house sitting increases, so too will the competition for great snowbird housesitters willing to brave the cold. As the winter months in Canada are a unique challenge, house sitters get an unforgettable experience.
Adventure abounds for snowbird housesitters
For those house sitters who have not had the opportunity to experience a typical Canadian winter, this is a fantastic opportunity. Depending on the location of your house sit, as a snowbird housesitters you’ll be able to:
- ski cross country or downhill
- ice skate outdoors on lakes and canals
- do some ice fishing
- go snowmobiling
- experience the absolute joy of a hot tub in sub-zero temperatures
For the truly adventurous, try:
- ice hockey (hard)
- curling (easy and fun to learn)
- winter camping (above average outdoor survival skills strongly recommended)
Getting prepared for the snow
This year, we’ve agreed to do a house sit in Alberta, Canada. We expect the average daytime temperature to be around -20 C. To date, we’ve had two in-person meetings with the owners to learn about the dogs, the hot tub, and how they expect us to manage snow and ice around the home and property.
Fortunately, as Canadians we’re well prepared for the cold, and we know exactly what to expect from the weather and its unique impact on the dogs. Our host has used house sitters for many years and cannot imagine leaving the house for so long without a sitter in residence.
Unique challenges for snowbird housesitters
If you do agree to house sit in Canada during the winter months, be warned. It can be a very challenging experience.
Snow storms or ice rain can wreak havoc on the roads and driving in such conditions presents many hazards.
Once the temperature drops below -30 C, you must take special precautions when outdoors ensuring that ALL your skin is covered lest you get frostbite.
Remember that no matter the temperature, the dogs still need to go for a walk.
Some dog breeds have pads that allow the snow to accumulate between them and you’ll have to clean them out. You know this to be the case when the dog stands still and holds their paw up as if they’re injured (they’re not).
Regardless of the dog, they cannot be left outside without access to shelter in extreme cold.
Winter house sitting in the northern climates can be a thrilling experience. While it does present challenges, unique opportunities abound and, if you take advantage of them, you’ll find these house sits create amazing memories!
We are Tim and Lou – nomadic grandparents. A semi-retired, professional couple who simply walked away from the demands of our respective industries. Why? Because one of our grand-kids has a shirt that says “should’ve, could’ve, did”.
As Canadians, both of us have traveled through Canada extensively. Between us, we’ve been to every corner of the country, even the North Pole! House sitting has allowed us to combine our experience with our desire to travel.
In the past year we have sold everything (almost), traveled to 4 continents, visited 21 countries and house sat over 200 nights!
You can find out more about Tim and Lou at their website HouseSittingWorld.com
or join their popular Facebook Group by the same name