Just yesterday, we stood on the side of the road, talking to a complete stranger about house sitting. We’re into our third year of travelling the world this way, and I’ve posted about our experiences, but maybe it’s time to share some details about how we do this.
First, let me give you a bit of history. Going back to when I was a kid, I house sat for family friends when they were out of town. I didn’t move in, but I walked dogs, fed cats, watered plants, and even played with newts and hermit crabs (I only needed to feed them; playing with them was for my entertainment).
Classroom pets went home with me over over school holidays. Poor mom. With five kids, a dog, and a cat in the house, I’m sure she didn’t need another living thing to worry about.
Karen, is also an animal lover, but her experience was quite different. Her biggest childhood trauma was not being allowed to have a cat. She got by with bunnies, birds, and fish, but it wasn’t until she was grown and living on her own that she could start her cat collection.
Fast forward many years and six cats (not all at once!!!), and we said good-bye to our little buddy and travel companion, Monster. We vowed not to get another pet. This decision allowed us to travel freely; it also left us without the companionship of animals.
Enter house sitting!
Why did you start? We’ve looked after friends’ houses and pets before, and we’ve even looked after children (relatives, only). Even so, the idea of using this as part of our travel repertoire didn’t hit us until a few years ago. Friends asked if we might be interested in pet sitting in Thailand. They didn’t need us, after all, but that planted the seed. A little internet search, and I discovered that this is, indeed, a thing.
There are several websites dedicated to matching up home owners and house sitters. I sifted through reviews about several of the websites, took the leap, and joined one.
Round-up of Housesitting Websites
Trustedhousesitters.com For only $99/year, we have access to a huge pool of gigs around the world. This is the first website I joined and is, by far, the best of any I’ve used. It’s easy to use, and has excellent tech support. Using this site, we’ve lined up jobs in Canada, England, Wales, Spain, and Australia.
Housecares.com $60/year I joined this website, because it seemed to have a fair number of sits in Australia. The website, itself, is a little cumbersome, but it’s worked out well for us. We’ve even had homeowners contact us, without our applying. Through Housecarers, we’ve had sits in Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.
Through these sites, we’ve arranged 15 house sits which have added more to our three winters of travel than either of us would ever have imagined! The cost of the memberships is small peanuts compared to the experiences and the savings on accommodations.
To be honest, at first, we thought of house sitting, primarily, as a really cool way to save money on hotel rooms. It has turned out to be much, much more. This style of travel has given us the opportunity to experience wildly different lifestyles. Sure, we’re at each place for a limited period of time, but we are living in homes, experiencing different neighbourhoods, all around the world.
We’ve lived in cities, suburbs & small villages. We’ve lived on rural properties. Along the way, we’ve had the company of wonderful animals, and met warm and generous people who share our love of exploring the world. We’ve found our niche.
I hope I’ve filled in the blanks about the very basics. In a future post, I’ll get into some of the other common questions we are asked, such as: What are the biggest challenges you face? Have you ever had a really bad house sit? What have you learned along the way?
Is there anything else I should mention? Let me know in the comments space below or comment on my facebook page. Feedback is always welcome.
Oh, by the way, that trip to Thailand that sparked all of this in the first place? It’s finally happening. Our next house sitting gig will be in Bangkok in under a month! Woo hoo!!