Guest post by Josie Schneider. Josie is a freelance writer, international house sitter, Airbnb host, and experience junkie. To help others get started in the rewarding and low-cost world of house sitting, she offers tips and inspiration at her website, HouseSittingTravel.com
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Would you travel more often – or to more exotic locations – if the cost were lower? Imagine being able to travel where you’ve always dreamt of, but couldn’t afford it. Or how about finding a house sitting assignment near your grandchildren and visit them every day for a month. House sitting may be the answer.
My husband Conrad and I discovered the amazing world of house sitting in 2008 and we have enjoyed several European locations and in the States. We hop from one assignment to the next while exploring the world. We “lived” in a large and comfortable renovated home in Denmark for six weeks. Our next “home” was a remote off-the-grid mountain cabin in southern Spain where we rejuvenated our souls in the glorious natural surroundings for two months. We got ten days of free apartment lodging in amazing Tuscany in return for harvesting olives. And right now we are tending a gorgeous home near Washington D.C. for a year while the two doctor-homeowners are in Italy on work assignment. As I type this, I’m listening to the bubbling fountain in the back yard through the open French doors. Tough work!
What About You?
Is house sitting for you? If you are flexible, and enjoy discovery and adventure, then it could be a fabulous way to travel for less cost. Most assignments are an even trade – the homeowner gets peace of mind knowing their home, (and sometimes animals), are looked after, and you get free lodging. Lodging costs are a big proportion of your traveling dollars, so without that expense, traveling longer or farther becomes possible.
Visiting family is more feasible too, when you house sit nearby. And because the assignment may be for long periods – like our current one-year house sit – you can really get some quality time with your loved ones.
When you house sit for someone else, their home, and pets, you don’t have a choice of travel dates. You must be flexible enough to adjust to their schedule. And once there, you can’t call the front desk to bring fresh towels. All of the chores – laundry, cleaning, cooking, walking the dog, or mowing the lawn are yours. In addition you are responsible for the well-being of house and animals.
The Up-Up-Up Side!
The most compelling upside is that your lodging is free. That’s a perfectly good reason to jump for joy, but it is by no means the most important upside, and all seasoned house sitters heartily agree with this next sentence. Cultural immersion and living like a local are by far the most life-affirming and life-changing events that occur while house sitting. Not only do you understand a place after several weeks of living there, but you can choose house sits in locations that are completely unavailable to “regular” travel. Want to look after a cattle farm in the Australian Outback? What about an off-the-grid mountain home in Southern Spain – we did! Or perhaps you’d like a regal Irish castle, all to yourself, in which to spend your summer vacation.
So how do you start house sitting? Websites connect homeowners and house sitters together. The matching-up process is fun and safe, as correspondence is internal, so you keep your privacy. As a potential house sitter, you receive daily emails detailing new assignments. You initiate a back-and-forth communication until a good fit with a homeowner is found. House sitting assignments are available in virtually every state, every country, and every corner of the planet, with very little exception.
Three good house sitting sites, (but there are many):
Wishing you safe and happy travels!