Over the last ten months my husband and I have traveled the world using one rather unique method – house sitting! We’ve lived in five different countries for varying lengths of time and had a blast doing it. Today I’m here to share all about what house sitting is, why we do it, as well as the pros and cons of this method of travel.
What Exactly Is House Sitting?
In our experience house sitting is almost always paired with petsitting – so in exchange for free accommodations, you are caring for someone’s house and pets while they do some travel of their own. It is mutually beneficial for both the housesitter (no living expenses!) and the homeowner (no pet boarding expenses! Houseplants stay alive!)
We have used one particular website to find all of our house sits – www.housecarers.com. There are others out there, but this is the least expensive, and it has worked well for us.
Why Travel Via House Sitting?
When Joel and I first dreamed of traveling the world long term, we knew we wanted to travel slowly, not quickly. We didn’t want to just hit the biggest tourist attractions in the most famous cities and call it a day. The first idea we considered was to find furnished apartments to rent in various places for anywhere from 1-3 months at a time.
Before we seriously looked into the feasibility of that plan, a friend of mine told me about this website she had discovered for house sitting, thinking we might like it. Boy was she right! We researched several sites, but stuck with the one she suggested. Once we discovered this was an option we never considered anything else. Within a few months we had our first house sit booked, and we never looked back.
What Are The Pros Of Traveling Via House Sitting?
House sitting is an inexpensive way to travel. The biggest and most often pro of this method of travel is the cost – it is very inexpensive. In exchange for caring for the house/pets, we get to live there and use the utilities (internet, water, electricity, etc) for free. Which means our only expenses are travel in between house sits, food, cell phones, and any fun activities we do in the area. Compared to most styles of travel where you have to pay for a hotel, hostel, or Airbnb this saves you quite a lot of money!
House sitting gives you a start with someone who knows the area. Building a relationship with homeowners we’ve worked with has been a huge benefit to this way of travel as well. They are all travelers themselves (thus needing house sitters) so it’s fun to exchange stories and travel tips. Everyone has been very generous with their time and energy, always giving us a tour of the area, advice on what’s worth a visit and what’s not, and usually introducing us to other local family and friends. We always plan to arrive at least one full day before the homeowners leave so we can meet the pets, learn their routines, and get to know the area some before we are on our own.
House sitting is a slow way to travel and gives you good immersion. One of the main reasons we have come to love traveling this way is that we really get to immerse ourselves in a local community. In most places we have found a church to attend regularly, discovered favorite places to shop and eat, and made new, lifelong friends. We get to see and experience things you wouldn’t normally if you just popped into the area for a day or two. It really is more like actually living somewhere than just being a tourist!
What Are The Cons Of Traveling Via House Sitting?
House sitting means you have extra responsibility. When house/petsitting you aren’t just on holiday in the area, responsible only for yourself and your fun. You have to make sure the pets are well cared for, following any specific instructions you’ve been given, as well as care for the home as if it were your own (or better!) Depending on the house sit you may have a ton of responsibility or very little, so be sure to communicate well with the homeowners before you accept a sit. We’ve done everything from four outdoor cats who just needed food and water bowls filled, to six Persian cats who needed daily grooming and three litter boxes changed twice a day. Be sure to know yourself and what kind of responsibility you are willing to take on in order to visit a certain location.
House sitting means scheduling your travel around other people. Scheduling house sits just right so that you don’t end up homeless in between can be tricky. If you can get them to line up just right it’s awesome, but be prepared that sometimes in between sits you might need to shell out for a hotel or Airbnb for a night or two. Most homeowners want you to arrive at least one day early to hand off, and some will be flexible and let you arrive even earlier if it fits in both of your schedules. We have also had some very generously let us stay for a few extra days after they got home when that’s what worked best for our schedule. When you are house sitting in a foreign country be sure to check all the laws and regulations surrounding visas and your particular passport. You not only have to find the right housesits in the countries you want to visit, you have to make sure you can legally be there!
House sitting means you may or may not have access to good transportation. If you aren’t as budget concerned as we are, perhaps you could just rent a car for the time you are in a certain area. But if your goal is to keep your costs low (like us) then you’ll want to chat with homeowners about transportation. Be sure to ask if they are in walking distance of a grocery store and anything else you might need, or if they have easy access to public transportation. Sometimes homeowners will offer you their own car for your use, but always start with the assumption that you will be on your own for transportation. Keep this in mind when choosing a sit – our absolute favorite location was 5 minutes from the town’s main street, our absolute least favorite was 9km from the nearest town with a grocery store. We have learned that we would prefer not to do a rural house sit ever again!
I could write a whole book on what it’s like to housesit around the world (who knows, maybe someday I will!) but for now I hope that gives you a good idea of what it’s like and whether or not it might be for you. Have you ever heard of this method of travel before? Do you think it’s something you would like to try? If you have any specific questions about what it’s like or want more information on anything I mentioned, comment below and I will be sure to respond!
This is a guest post from Bethany of TheBigAndSmall.
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