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Longterm Housesitting in Spain: Our 3 Months in Asturias

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After our experiences housesitting in Edinburgh and then bouncing around housesitting in London for the whole summer, it was time for longterm housesitting in Spain for friends of ours. While we normally use TrustedHousesitters to find house and pet sits in various countries, this particular sit was not through the website.

*A warning before we continue: I just really want to share a lot of photos from these 3 months, so brace yourselves…animal + farm photos are coming.*

The beauty of house and pet sitting multiple times is that word gets out within your own personal network. Friends, family, and then their friends and family find out that you are willing to house or pet sit. And they start asking if you’re available!

Amanda Walkins napping with a kitten housesitter and petsitter

This sit was actually for a friend we’d met back in Roatan years earlier. She has since moved to Asturias, a region in Northern Spain filled with stunning mountainous landscape and bordered by the Bay of Biscay.

When she and her partner booked several months of work projects around the world, they needed help caring for their smallholding.

Jonathan Clarkin cuddling Pan the goat housesitting and petsitting in Spain

Enter: Friends who house sit!

She reached out to gauge our interest, we chatted details, and we arranged it all while we were housesitting in London during the summer.

If you’re not familiar with house and pet sitting, read this first to learn more: How Does House Sitting Work?

Arranging Your Own Housesit

Since this sit was not coordinated through TrustedHousesitters, we had to communicate much more openly about what she needed from us and how we would exchange our time and her home.

Mally the cat napping on a chair in front of the beautiful front garden in Spain petsitting and housesitting

With a website, the homeowner explains all of these details in the original post. Things like expectations for animal care, any gardening duties, and photos of the home and animals are all included in that original post – or, should be!

Read next: Some lessons learned house and pet sitting over several years in several countries.

With family and friends, sitters need to ensure they gather all of the important information up front so that everyone is on the same page. This includes everything from the home set-up to the animal requirements to emergency contacts and more.

The best part of sitting for friends and family is the overlap!

We got to spend a few weeks with our friends before they left on their longest overseas trip; this was such a lovely time for us all to catch up!

That overlap also allowed us to get more familiar with their beautiful home and many animals. Since this was a long-term housesit, making sure we knew what to do in any potential situation was very important.

Amanda Walkins and cat on her shoulder petsitting in Spain

Their home in Spain was a rental, which is another consideration when housesitting. You have to make sure the landlord or property manager knows you’re there and has your contact details. We would not take any sit where the pet owner tried to hide these facts. In case of any emergencies, the last thing you want to worry about is the confusion of who has a right to live in the home!

Our friends’ landlord was around quite frequently, so we interacted with him a lot, and he had no problems with us being there at all. In fact, we even took over feeding his animals for him a few times!

(To wrap this all up neatly, our friends actually love the area so much that they closed on purchasing a farm the week they returned from traveling! No more renting for them…they’ll probably expand that smallholding soon!)

Jonathan Clarkin working on a laptop with Mally the cat sleeping on his legs while housesitting in Spain

Longterm Housesitting in Spain: An Overview

TrustedHousesitters actually has tons of house and pet sits listed in Spain, so we could have easily opted to go through our normal website to spend a few months housesitting in Spain. We just lucked out that we have friends in wonderful places around the world!

Want more housesitting stories? Take a look right here.

I had lived in Spain temporarily before, spending four months in Bilbao in Basque Country. Asturias is just west of Basque Country, but similarly green, hilly, and gorgeous.

Beautiful neighborhood cow in Asturias Spain while house and pet sitting

These areas of Northern Spain also boast incredibly diverse cultures. Basque Country famously has its own unique language and talks of cessation are often present. Asturias was a central focus of the Spanish Civil War and suffered brutal retaliation after the ultimate defeat of the Republicans.

History still lives in so many facets of daily life in Northern Spain, impacting today’s political and economic scene as much as the social and cultural.

I adore Northern Spain – maybe it’s that rebellious spirit or maybe it’s the strong sense of pride in culture and heritage. Globalization has made so many places too similar, while Northern Spain retains its individuality so gracefully.

View of the Picos de Europa from our front door in Asturias Spain

It is rugged and beautiful, it is eclectic and interesting; the people are welcoming but brutally honest. And the wine…well, we all owe a great debt to Northern Spain for what they’ve gifted to the world!

Longterm housesitting in Spain grants you the opportunity to feel like a local. You can delve into the culture and explore the region in an effort to better understand this marvel of a place.

Beautiful Asturias Spain with the sun setting over the Picos de Europa

If you want to housesit to travel and to explore new places, countries like Spain offer a variety of opportunities paired with incredible diversity throughout the small nation.

You could do housesits in Southern Spain and then make your way north in order to see the variety of geography and culture. You could explore the beaches and mountains or the cities and small villages.

Yes, speaking some Spanish will make your experience all the richer, but you could probably get by in Southern Spain (where there are lots of expat Brits) and in the cities if you’re not quite confident in a foreign language.

In Asturias, we found far fewer people spoke English (even in the cities), so having some basics would benefit you for a longer stay.

If you’re going for a few days or a week, no worries at all! But, still, pleasantries go a long way so you should always try to learn some local lingo.

Our 3 Months in Asturias

We spent our three months of longterm housesitting in Spain in Asturias. The view from our kitchen window was of the Picos de Europa, the highest mountain range in Spain. These beauties offered us breathtaking vistas on the daily…which we gratefully accepted!

Our actual views from inside the kitchen, depending on cloud coverage:

Asturias Spain view of the garden and mountains beyond
Garden view with mist blocking the mountains in Asturias Spain

The town of Arriondas is perfectly situated only a 7-minute walk from the house. When you aren’t familiar with an area before arrival, it’s hard to gauge exactly what your living situation might be. I was nervous that the town would be tiny and we would feel quite isolated for three months.

Arriondas Spain where the rivers flow through town

On the contrary, Arriondas was big enough that we never made it to all the different restaurants and bars! And we did try, trust me. Dining and drinking out were amazingly affordable. We had no qualms about walking into town for a late-night dinner or for a midday beer by the river.

But our main focus while in Spain was on the animals in our care…of which there were many!

brown and black lying down in front of small trees

When we first chatted about coming to Spain, we knew we would have 2 goats and a bunch of chickens to look after. And then, a kitten showed up at the house! So, of course, the kitten became family and was also to be under our care.

Pan the goat with beautiful blue eyes

When we arrived, there were 2 goats, 1 kitten (aged around four months), and 26 chickens.

tiny kitten sitting on a chair in a dining area housesitting in Spain

By the time we left three months later, the 2 goats and kitten (though much bigger by then!) were still there, and we left 40 chickens behind!

Mally the beautiful white tabby cat in Spain Amanda Walkins house and pet sitter

Actually, the additional chickens were a friend’s. He was leaving for 6 weeks and needed a chicken-sitter (yes, that’s a thing!) so he brought his group over to our house and we all became one big happy family. [After essentially a gang war for a few days as the literal pecking order was established.]

Smallholding Highlights

We. Cuddled. Goats.

Two photos in a single image with a white goat and a brown goat from housesitter Amanda Walkins

Our two goats were super cute and cuddly and just desperately wanted attention.

Amanda Walkins and Pan the goat cuddling

That should really be all the highlighting you need to read, but there’s more!

The chickens gave us fresh eggs every day, which we gratefully accepted. There’s something wonderful about knowing that the eggs you eat came from happy chickens in the field out back. You know what they ate, which feels good. And you know there was no additional packaging or transporting involved! It was just a collection from the coop and a crack over a pan on the stove. Magic!

Pan the white goat surrounded by chickens in the yard while housesitting in Spain

I also learned that, sometimes, you get a squishy egg. It had no shell! We did not eat this one, but we did increase the calcium options for our ladies, just in case!

two photos in a single image with fresh farm eggs and a shell-less egg

We were also lucky enough to be surrounded by loads of other farm animals near the house.

The landlord owns sheep and a donkey named Pipo. Pipo desperately wanted our attention and love, so we happily obliged on a regular basis. Additionally, the landlord occasionally went away and asked us to feed the lot for him.

Jonathan Clarkin and Amanda Walkins with the neighbor's donkey while housesitting in Spain

There were probably about 15 sheep in the field plus Pipo. All of them were greedily hungry and loudly greeted us when we came with a bucket in hand.

In fact, after the first time we fed them, they then assumed we always had food and swarmed us whenever we neared the gate. This wouldn’t have been an issue except that our vegetable patch was located within their field…so we had to open the gate and make our way through their swarm bleating and crying, until we could get into the veg patch and close that gate.

Oh, and they ate a bunch of the vegetable patch, too, so that was no bueno. It was fenced off with barbed wire fencing, which obviously wasn’t enough of a deterrent when it comes to fresh veggies! We came out one day to find the butternut squash had been a typically late-night Spanish dinner.

Tufts of wool and donkey fur along the wire showed us who was responsible. Although the tooth marks on the remaining squash would’ve also given them away.

The surviving bunch (tooth marks included):

Kitten amongst butternut squash on a table after harvest in Spain

Alas, farm life! Animals will be animals and hanger gets the best of all of us!

Jonathan Clarkin sharing a drink with a donkey

And to top off all the farm animals, our little kitten grew up into a gorgeous, and bizarrely human-like, cat! He slept anywhere and came on walks with the goats. He is easily the most laidback cat we’ve ever encountered anywhere in the world.

Considerations for Longterm Housesitting in Spain

If you want to do something like we did and spend a few months housesitting in Spain, you have plenty of options.

TrustedHousesitters always has listings available throughout the country for varied lengths of time. Alternatively, you can do what we did! Reach out to your network to see who knows someone who knows someone who lives in Spain.

That’s something we’ve learned: You never know if you never ask!

By making it known what we want to do, we have been lucky enough to have incredible experiences and adventures. These include finding Lina, managing a dive shop, launching my freelance writing career, housesitting in Spain, and so much more!

Sometimes, you just need to let the world know what you want and get the ball rolling.

Views from Asturias Spain Amanda Walkins house and pet sitter

We are so lucky to have wonderful friends in many countries around the world. If and when those friends need a hand, they know they can ask us. We can’t do it all (we’ve had to turn down dog sits in New Jersey and in Nova Scotia for this year already), but we can try!

Lucky for us, these dates and this location matched with what we could and wanted to do.

We were so grateful that our friends trusted us to care for their beloved home and menagerie while they headed off to work around the world.

Visit Asturias - kitten curled up next to a guide book

This life is a damn good one; we are always appreciative for the opportunities we receive and the adventures we get to have. I hope you get to have the adventures you seek, whatever those may look like!

Over the course of 2018, we spent about 4 months in Edinburgh with various housesits, about 3 months in London with back-to-back housesits, and then 3 months in Asturias with one long-term housesit.

If you’re interested in house sitting and have questions, feel free to reach out any time! I’m always happy to help.

I will also be speaking at the inaugural House and Pet Sitting Conference in England this September. If you are curious about this lifestyle and want to learn more, come join us!

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goats eating on a grassy incline in Asturias Spain where expat writer Amanda Walkins was house and pet sitting

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