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In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age of 38. Now, into their 3rd decade of this financially independent lifestyle, they invite you to take advantage of their wisdom and experience.

Make the Most of House Sitting

Interview with Lori and Randy Grant, Professional House Sitters

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

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Many people would like to know more about house sitting -- the ins and outs, what to expect, how to get started, and if it's really feasible to do house sitting as a lifestyle.

Lori and Randy Grant, professional house sitters, were more than generous with their time in answering our questions, and in providing photos and a couple of house sitting stories at the end of this interview.

If you would like to try house sitting, take advantage of what Randy and Lori know.

Enjoy our interview!

Randy and Lori enjoying a side trip to Santorini, Greece between house sits

Randy and Lori enjoying a side trip to Santorini, Greece between house sits

Retire Early Lifestyle: Could you tell us a little bit about yourselves and why you decided to do some house sitting in your retirement?

Lori and Randy Grant: Randy and I are former teachers whose careers took us overseas to Japan for sixteen years, where we taught U.S. military dependents at the high school level. After our son, Chase, left Japan to go to college in Florida, we started thinking about making our own exit. At first, it was just daydreaming about being location independent, financially independent, and doing whatever brings us joy every day. Finally, we took the big leap, started selling everything we owned, and accepted an early retirement incentive package from our teaching careers in 2014. It was a slightly terrifying, but mostly exhilarating experience to jettison ourselves to complete freedom.

Our first year in early retirement was spent exploring Thailand's culture and language. We really took that time to settle into our new lifestyle, and there were a few ups and downs for me. I lost my daily structure that teaching brought me, so I struggled to find a new routine to my days. Thatís where house and pet sitting became a good fit for us. We started out by just being asked to watch family and friendsí houses and pets while they went away on vacation. Soon, we found that the word-of-mouth about us was filling our calendar with sits all over the place! We eventually joined an online house and pet sitting site and put a profile online advertising our services, which are free, to a worldwide database of homeowners looking for the perfect sitters.

Retire Early Lifestyle: How long have you and Randy have been house sitting as a way to enhance your retirement and travel?

Lori and Randy Grant: We have been doing this off and on for approximately five years.

Retire Early Lifestyle: Could you tell our readers how you work this to your benefit?

 

 

 

 

Lori and Randy Grant: Since lodging is one of the biggest expenses as we travel, this is a great way to cut that major cost. House and pet sitting is a free service. We trade out for free rent and utilities in the home where we stay. Another added benefit is that since we are in an area longer than just a few days, we get to explore the area more in depth. We actually feel like part of a neighborhood! We really believe that pet sitting is a win-win situation for all involved because pet owners get to keep their pets in their own environment rather than facing the stress and expense of kenneling them.

Enjoying a neighborhood in winter

Randy enjoying a neighborhood in winter

Retire Early Lifestyle: Would you recommend house sitting as a lifestyle or as a way to reduce housing costs in retirement?

Lori and Randy Grant: Absolutely! The money you save in rent can then be used for something else.

Retire Early Lifestyle: Can a single house sit? How about a single woman? Is it harder for a single to house sit?

Lori and Randy Grant: We donít think it matters as long as you are a fit for what the homeowners are looking for. Some applications will request either a couple or a single person if they have a specific preference. You might also see a request for non-smokers or people who are willing to spend most of their time at home with the pets, rather than those who are interested more in sightseeing around the area.

Randy brushing Calvin after a walk during a pet sit

Randy brushing Calvin after a walk during a pet sit in Bellingham, WA

Retire Early Lifestyle: What if I want to house sit in a foreign country but donít speak the language?

Lori and Randy Grant: It could potentially be an issue; however, it usually depends on the owner. We had a house sit that we applied for in Venice, Italy and we werenít selected for it because the owner wanted someone who spoke Italian. These days, we have no qualms about house sitting in a country where we donít speak the language. Google translate online is our main form of communication in cases where we are not familiar with the language. That, and we always manage to meet up with other English speakers wherever we roam.

Retire Early Lifestyle: What does a House Sitter do?

Lori and Randy Grant: Usually an owner will leave specific instructions on how they want their home and pet cared for and what things need to be taken care of in their absence. Our main priority is the petís needs such as their feeding, exercise, and daily routine. After that, we focus on keeping the home tidy and well maintained, the yard or garden spruced up,  as well as the trash and recycling disposed of properly. The remainder of the time we do whatever we want such as hiking, yoga, cooking, and exploring the local area.

Besides pet sitting, we are also sometimes responsible for keeping yards and pools maintained

Besides pet sitting, we are also sometimes responsible for keeping yards and pools maintained

Retire Early Lifestyle: How do I get started? Do I have to join a house sitting organization?

Lori and Randy Grant: We started out with just doing favors for friends and family by watching their home and pets. Then, from that experience we built a house and pet sitting profile online that included recommendations from homeowners whom weíd sat for previously. Finally, as we came to the realization that we really enjoyed house and pet sitting regularly, we joined a house sitting site online to get more worldwide exposure.

We are Retire Lifestyle Mentors. Our goal is to help you achieve your retirement dreams.

Retire Early Lifestyle: How do I interview for a house sit?

Lori and Randy Grant: The first thing to do is apply for the house sit on whatever forum you choose such as a Facebook site, an online house sitting site, or via a community message board. Owners will then look over your profile to determine if you are a good match. If you are on their Ďshort listí (one of their top three applicants), you may be asked to interview over the phone or video chat through Skype. This gives the owners and sitters an opportunity to meet face to face. It also gives you the ability to see the pets and have a look at the house. After your video chat/interview, wait for the owners to contact you that youíve either been selected or they have chosen other sitters. If youíre selected, you then begin a regular conversation so that you can ask questions, share your travel plans to their home and get more detailed information about their petís needs.

Pet sit in Ajijic, Mexico

Making new four-legged friends on the malecon in Ajijic, Mexico

Retire Early Lifestyle: How much should I charge for house sitting?

Lori and Randy Grant: We do not charge for our services. It is an even exchange of pet sitting for free lodging.

Retire Early Lifestyle: Is house sitting safe?

Lori and Randy Grant: We have always felt safe with our house sits, but remember to always do your research before agreeing to a sit. Look at the area where the sit is located and talk to the owners about the neighborhood, as well as the homeís specific security measures.

Retire Early Lifestyle: Do you require anything from the homeowner when you take a house sitting job?

Lori and Randy Grant: We have a list of questions we ask about the petís daily routine and anything we need to know about how things run in the house. We donít require anything specific, other than good wifi.

Pet sitting in San Francisco, CA

Randy and Fawkes having a staring contest during a pet sit in San Francisco, CA

Retire Early Lifestyle: How do you choose one sit over another?

Lori and Randy Grant: We usually look at the area where we most want to travel and if the sit coincides with the dates that we will be in that area. We also prefer sits that are not too isolated or in very remote, rural areas. We tend to choose sits that are more town/city centered so that there are more options for things to do.

Retire Early Lifestyle: What do you look for when you are wanting to find a house sit in a certain location?

Lori and Randy Grant: We look for the length of the sit mostly. We prefer the longer sits (over two weeks long) if we can get them. If we are constantly traveling to lots of different short term sits, then it becomes cost prohibitive for us regarding our transportation expenses.

Lori is a warm lap for a stray kitty in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Retire Early Lifestyle: Do I have to pay my own travel expenses?

Lori and Randy Grant: Yes. It would be extremely rare to find a sit where the homeowners agreed to pay for a sitterís travel expenses. However, many homeowners have offered to pick us up from the airport or train station when we arrive, which is a very nice gesture.

Retire Early Lifestyle: Can I find popular destinations like Hawaii or Paris?

Lori and Randy Grant: Absolutely, but apply early, as those sits tend to have many applicants vying for them.

Retire Early Lifestyle: Can I travel the world by house sitting?

Lori and Randy Grant: Sure you can. We are doing it!

Pet sitting in Germany

Randy introducing himself to Flash in Kaiserlautern, Germany

Retire Early Lifestyle: Can house sitting help me avoid paying rent? Can I do this all year round? Where do I go between house sits?

Lori and Randy Grant: House sitting is a fantastic way to save on rent! It can be done year round, but it would require a bit of logistical planning on your behalf to combine a number of back-to-back sits. If you have some time between sits, go check out an area nearby that interests you.

Retire Early Lifestyle: How can I stand out as a house sitter?

Lori and Randy Grant: First and foremost, get good references from sits youíve already done, even if theyíre recommendations from family and friends. Donít be afraid to brag on yourself. If youíre good with a certain type of pet, tell the owners about it. Lots of pictures should be included in your profile showing you interacting with pets of various types.

We compare the process of applying to house sits as kind of like being on a dating site. Always put your best foot forward and be sincere.

Retire Early Lifestyle: Do I need a background check to work as a house sitter?

Lori and Randy Grant: Some house sitting sites have basic background checks included with their yearly fee, but other home owners might require a more in-depth police check from you.

Retire Early Lifestyle: What do I pack as a house sitter?

Lori and Randy Grant: Since we have all our belongings with us all the time, we bring everything along. Always check out the climate in the area you are going to and pack accordingly for the weather and the length of time youíll be there. Since youíll be hanging out with pets on a daily basis, weíd recommend leaving most of your really nice apparel at home. Everything we wear becomes covered in pet hair after a few days. Good walking shoes are also a must!

Retire Early Lifestyle: How much can you earn House Sitting?

Lori and Randy Grant: We have heard of people charging for their pet sitting services but do not know specifically what they make. That would be a conversation based on the individual pet owner and the pet sitter and we imagine prices would vary depending on the job.

Pet sit in San Francisco, CA

Lori and Cookie hanging out together during a pet sit in San Francisco, CA

Retire Early Lifestyle: Can I get a house sit if I donít like animals?

Lori and Randy Grant: We have had sits that did not involve animals, but these seem to be rare.

 

 

 

 

Retire Early Lifestyle: How do you get around the area when you house sit?

Lori and Randy Grant: Some owners will allow the use of their car. However, we prefer to walk, or use a combination of ride sharing and public transportation.

Retire Early Lifestyle: Could you relate a couple of stories about your house sitting experiences? I bet our readers would love to know how you handled something like an emergency or something out of the ordinary.

Lori and Randy Grant: Here are a few stories. Building a relationship with the homeowners is very important. After all they are trusting you with the care of not only their pets, but their home as well. While house sitting in Bellingham, WA, they had a record cold spell. Temperatures in the teens was expected as well as snow. We decided to wrap the outside pipes and trickle the water to safeguard the house. The homeowners were extremely grateful that we thought of that and expressed their appreciation to us many times.

House sitting in winter

Lori on a winter house sit

Sometimes we encounter a crisis that has to be handled immediately. During a pet sit in Ajijic, Mexico we were in a house that was being renovated. Lori was by herself when she suddenly smelled gas in the house. She quickly called the contractor who discovered a leak deep within the newly installed dry wall. The entire wall had to be torn down, the leak repaired and wall redone. The lesson we learned? Always make sure you get important phone numbers before your owners leave. We also ask for additional emergency numbers as well as the petís veterinarian information.

One more!

We pride ourselves in leaving the homes where we sit even better than we find them on our arrival. We usually spend the entire day before our homeowners return getting the house super clean, linens and towels washed, and everything of ours packed up and ready to go. We want the house to be in 100% tip top shape (Lori calls it being ďhotel readyĒ) and the pets happy and healthy when our owners return. One day while sitting in San Antonio, Mexico the owners showed up a whole day early with no advance notice from them! The house was in good shape, but not up to the 5 star quality we like to leave it when home owners arrive. Randy was alone when he saw our home owners suddenly drive up. He immediately went into panic overdrive as he washed up the few dishes in the sink and spot cleaned along the way as he helped them carry their luggage upstairs to their room. Just remember to always be ready in case you get an unexpected early return.

We'd like to thank Randy and Lori for their time in sharing this information on how to be a great house sitter.

After reading this, is house sitting something you think you might want to try?

For more information on house sitting, see our House Sitting Page

For more stories and interviews of interesting Characters and Successful Early Retirees, click here.

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About the Authors

 
Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance, medical tourism and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their award winning website RetireEarlyLifestyle.com, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991. They wrote the popular books, The Adventurerís Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible available on their website bookstore or on Amazon.com.

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