House sitting for snowbirds in winter
Have you ever yearned for the snow, and perhaps considered being snowbird housesitters?
Whilst many of us are looking for warm weather house sitting 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 jobs are available every year as the "snowbirds" migrate south. Many are long term sits as people need a house sitter to look after their home and pets throughout the wintry months.
House sitter, Louise Read, describes her experience of snowbird house sitting.
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, international house sitters are beginning to become a more popular option.
Snowbirds will begin looking for winter house sitters as early as July and, as the popularity of winter house sitting increases, so too will the competition for sitters in Canada who are willing to brave the cold. As the winter months in Canada are a unique challenge, house sitters get an unforgettable experience.
Winter house sitting for snowbirds - adventure abounds!
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, snowbird house sitters can:
- 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 adventurous snow lovers - try...
- ice hockey (hard)
- curling (easy and fun to learn)
- winter camping (above average outdoor survival skills strongly recommended)
Getting prepared for snow when house sitting
Last year, I agreed to be a snowbird house sitter at a winter house sit in Alberta, Canada.
The expected average daytime temperature will be around -20 C. To date, there have been two in-person meetings with the owners to learn about the dogs, the hot tub, and how they expect the management of snow and ice around the home and property.
Fortunately, as a Canadian I'm well prepared for the cold of winter house sitting, and 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. There are many others who also need a house sitter to keep their home and pets safe.
Unique challenges for snowbird house sitters
If you do agree to snowbird house sitting 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. You can learn more here about driving in winter conditions.
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 snowbird house sitting in the northern climates can be a thrilling experience. While it presents challenges, unique opportunities abound and, if you take advantage of them, you’ll find these house sits create amazing memories!
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Last updated on December 30th, 2020