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I Saved Money by Working as a Housesitter in France

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 18 Feb 2013 | comments*Discuss
France Housesitter Work Family Money

It seems that more and more people are turning to working abroad as a way to gain new life experience without it costing a fortune. So even if you may wish to take a year out to travel the world, without a healthy bank balance and a sympathetic employer, this is practically impossible, and with the current economic climate, most people are clinging on to their jobs for dear life anyway.

A Win Win Situation

For Owen Challen, 34, from Bromsgrove, his recent redundancy gave him the opportunity to do something he’d always dreamed of – going to work abroad without it costing a fortune. He said, “My brilliant experience actually saved me money! I decided to look into different types of work after I got made redundant as I just couldn’t see it was very likely that I would find another job. I didn’t have much of a redundancy package as I hadn’t worked for the company for very long, but thankfully my rental agreement was coming to an end so I decided to look for a job that included accommodation.”

With no family or financial ties in the UK, Owen was able to look further afield for work. He said, “I wanted to find something that would leave me free to apply for positions in the UK so that if a great job came up I wouldn’t be too far away, but I also fancied being somewhere different.”

Having studied French at school, Owen looked into temporary work in France that would help him improve his language and add a new skill to his CV. Owen continued, “I joined a few expat websites and found that people are always looking for reliable housesitters and people to do changeovers for their holiday homes. I had been CRB checked for my previous job and had excellent references, so this made sense, especially as I would have much of the day to go to language classes and meet new people.”

Learning New Skills

Owen applied to a position in Valras Plage, a seaside resort in the south of France where the owners of a beachfront home needed a housesitter over the winter season and was asked to start in October. He told us, “Although the resort is pretty quiet over winter and it’s not very warm, it was still loads warmer than the UK. There were quite a few people about and I was able to pick up extra bar work and some English teaching. The fact that I didn’t have any accommodation or bills to pay for meant that I was able to save the majority of my money. I was able to eat food at the bar where I worked and just got used to buying basic stuff to save money. All I had to do was keep the house occupied and do the odd jobs needed to keep it ready for when the owners came back – I had to email them updates each week too.”

Owen was able to improve his language skills considerably as there were no other English people in the resort over winter, so as well as saving money he boosted his chances of gaining work when he returned to the UK. He concluded, “I came back from housesitting in a far better position than when I left, especially as the job market had picked up a bit and I had a better attitude and more skills. I’m currently living with my mum and dad but I feel positive that as soon as something comes up, I’m ready to get cracking!”

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