James is going to answer this question for us! James Cave works as a housesitter, looking after expat’s homes when they have to go away. He’s discovered some interesting facts and figures in his job. Let’s hear more, so over to James …

An Expat Christmas in France

James and Jemma and some of their charges

This Christmas is going to be a very busy Christmas. Aside from the wrapping of presents and cooking a Christmas dinner, I’ve also (perhaps stupidly) decided to invite both my parents and partner’s parents to meet. At the same time we’re house sitting, that is to say we’re looking after a home for others while they’re away travelling so we’ve got the challenges of maintaining and heating this rather old, and often very cold, French property and making sure the two pets we’re looking after have a lovely Christmas as well.

It’s a good thing that I like my partner’s parents. I’ve just been looking at the results of a survey I ran with TrustedHousesitters.com  – incidentally where we were lucky enough to find someone needing a home sitter in France for five months – and it seems I’m very much in the minority. 8 out of 10 expats who took part in the survey said they’d rather spend Christmas with their pets over their in-laws. That’s the worldwide figures. If you look at the results from expats living in France 94% chose their pets over their in-laws! Maybe I’m just not honest enough J

But expats, or we expats I should say now that I’ve become one, are pet crazy. Just take a look at some of the responsibilities for pet sitting jobs on Trusted Housesitters and you’ll see what I mean. We’re rarely asked to just feed and walk pets; we’re asked to cuddle, talk to and befriend their pets while they’re away. This survey isn’t necessarily a dig at in-laws – although I’m sure there are plenty we’d rather not spend Christmas with – but a few stats about how much we expats care for our pets.

James and Angela the alpaca

For example, did you know that 72% of us will be buying a Christmas present for our pets this year? I haven’t decided what to get the dog (Cassie) and cat (Thomas) that we’re looking after but it’ll probably be something small like a bone and a tin of tuna. That should put me in line with the majority of expats who completed the survey; 8 out of 10 who said they’ll spend up to twenty Euros – a decent stocking filler but not enough to break the bank. There is the 8% of people who’ll spend more than 60 Euros on their pets but I think I’ll make it up to the pets by cooking them a special Christmas dinner instead; something around 50% of expats do every year.

It looks like a good year for pets, but perhaps the expats using Trusted Housesitters were a little biased. After all this is obviously a particular group of expats who are mad enough to seek out someone like us to look after their pets while they’re away so what are your feelings? Will you buy a Christmas present for your pets and will you cook them a Christmas meal? I’d love to know and if you’ve got any tips for a Christmas dog’s dinner with all the trimmings, please leave it in the comments below.

Originally from Ireland, James is currently pet sitting in the Midi-Pyrenees with his partner Jemma.