Is housesitting around the world right for you? It is a great way to save money while traveling abroad, read on if you’re considering making housesitting a part of your travel plans.
I grew up housesitting. I always had cash coming in and all through high school I slept at houses all around the town I grew up in. I was a pro with dogs, adored cats, knew horses like the back of my hand, was way more responsible than your average 16 year old, and word spread. I sometimes had two houses at the same time – over school vacations I had to turn people down. I prioritized hot tubs and spare bedrooms. Then I went on to college and did it again – I used two sites (care.com and sittercity) to get clients and built my reputation from there. This was all paid work and it was easy to come by. I managed to snag a few paid gigs when I was living in Prague but otherwise have not gotten paid since. But that’s o.k., housesitting has instead become a part of how I travel and has allowed me to save massively on accommodation in countries all over the world.
I use mindmyhouse and that’s where I’ve gotten all my housesits from. I find this site has fewer housesits but it also has fewer people competing for those housesits. It’s $20 to join the site for the year and with that you can send as many messages as you want and do as many housesits as you can squeeze in. An alternate site is Trusted Housesitters. I’ve never used TH to contact anyone, though I have browsed their listings from time to time. It’ s a much bigger database so it has more listings but also more people applying for those listings. Plus, the price tag is higher at $129 per year. Either way though, even if you join both, you’ll be saving a huge amount of money on accommodation even if you spend just a few nights housesitting.
My Housesitting Successes
Valence D’Agen, France
4 Horses, 2 Dogs, 1 cat, a whole bunch o’ chickens
The first sign of a successful housesit is a host who is where they say they will be when they say they will be there. Polly, owner of said menagerie of animals and the beautiful old French farm house they all lived in and around, met me off the train in Valence D’Agen. I was coming from Toulouse and had no transportation around the countryside once I arrived to the station. Polly drove me into town where we had a coffee and a chat. Then we headed home.
I stayed in a separate building from Polly and her partner Howard, but I was just next door. I arrived a few days before they left so I could get the lay of the land and learn the routine before they took off. We went for a few rides together and walked the dogs around the lush fields across the road from their dirt driveway. I overcame my fear of chickens and Polly refreshed my memory on how to drive a manual – they gave me use of their old farm truck while they were away. they made me a few lovely meals, and then they were off. This was a fairly short stay. Polly and Howard were headed back to their native England for just a few days. My duties were the animals – feeding, walking, poo picking, egg fetching. And in between I took shelter from the intense midday summer heat in their very cool home.
I explored the local villages – a vehicle in the rural French countryside is pretty vital and bought myself some fancy French wine and foie gras for my birthday. They kept two horses off their property for the summer to graze nearby fields. They were kept at a stunning chateau down the road which hid beneath towering sunflowers and was watched over by a small windmill. I drove the truck every few days to check their waters, give them a groom, and douse them in another layer of fly spray.
It was an idyllic few days. A lazy sojourn in the French summer sun. Round one down.
Another host who picked me up where they said they would. I came on a bus from Malaga, and was met near Lagos. I arrived the same day the family was taking off, there wasn’t an extra bed for me so overlap wasn’t really possible. But they showed me around quickly, gave me necessary details and took off. For seven weeks to Australia.
The moment they left I had an ‘oh shit I’m stuck here for seven weeks’ moment. But it was one of the best times of my life. I took care of their one, elderly dog who mostly lived outside and was too old to go for walks. They promised me before they left that if she died they wouldn’t blame it on me. Not the nicest thought but also reassuring. And for the record, she didn’t die.
The house I sat was a short walk to a long Mediterranean beach which had a chirringuito which sold some epic seafood and plentiful glasses of Tinto de Verano. I met one of the hosts friends who had been left with their two cars and so she lent me her car (it was the oldest of the three). Having a car made it easier for me to navigate the area. There was a bus but it didn’t come that frequently so a car meant I could grocery shop with ease and explore surrounding towns both inland and along the coast. This one was a resounding success in my books.
6 horses, 3 cats, 2 dogs, 1 donkey
This housesit was set up a bit differently than many others. Because of the high number of horses, and stalls that needed to be mucked out daily, I was paid a daily rate. It wasn’t a lot, but it was a bit of cash on top of the typical housing. Housing was also in a separate house, often letted out as a holiday home, which meant I had my own space. The dogs stayed in with me once their owner was gone. But we were all able to get to know each other for a day or two before she took off. Also, I was able to use her car which meant I could bring the dogs walking off the property and I could do some exploring of my own.
I did have a bit of an awkward interaction with the owner when she turned in which she suggested one of the horses was ill and that perhaps it was my fault. The horse turned out to be fine and was just resting in the first sun they’d seen in a number of days. This made things a bit tense between her return and my departure, putting this on the borderline of successes and failures.
This was easily one of my favorite housesits. I ended up out on the west coast because of Taylor Swift – no joke. And then I got a job a few weeks later starting down in L.A. so with a bit of time in-between I looked for housesits and found Kathleen and Tom. The home, which was north of the city of Seattle was big, comfortable, and clean. There was a large yard, lots of nearby walking trails to take the dogs out on, and a downstairs with a separate guest bedroom which I used. This meant I could arrive early and stay late and I had a wonderful time doing so.
I wasn’t left with a car, which was fine as there was grocery ad food options within easy walking distance. But I did end up renting one for part of the time I was there so that I could do some more exploring of the area. I also knew a few people in Seattle so this was a nice opportunity to catch up with them.
My one regret is that I didn’t stay long enough afterwards to get to venture out on their boat and see the beautiful islands of the Puget Sound. Kathleen has been in touch more recently and asked me to return. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to go out west at the time but will definitely pay them a visit next time I can!
The Housesitting Successes of Others
To prove to you that it’s not only me. That housesitting is a versatile way to travel all around the world, I’ve asked some others to share their stories of housesitting successes with me – and here I am not sharing them with you.
By: Valerie – Valeries Adventure Time
My boyfriend and I started housesitting in summer 2018 in Japan. Since then we have housesat all around the world and it has become our favourite way to explore new countries. Especially one of our first housesits in Japan stuck in mind.
Back then we had just started our online business and were travelling on a tight budget. We were in Vietnam, which is obviously very budget-friendly when we started applying for housesits in Tokyo. To visit Japan has been a dream of ours for a long time and as soon as we landed our Tokyo sit, we booked our flights. We were over the moon and the housesit turned out to be one of our favourites to date!
It was in a beautiful 3 bedroomed house with garden and a cute rescue cat on the outskirts of Tokyo. There also were a couple of bicycles available for us to use, which was great. All we had to do was to look after the cat and water the plants. The cat was very independent and spend most of his days outside exploring the neighbourhood. When we first got to Tokyo a few days before the sit started, we went to introduce ourselves to the homeowners personally. Not only were they incredibly kind and welcoming, but they also insisted on inviting us to dinner that evening and went for a walk around the neighbourhood to show us the area. They were a young Australian couple with a small child, teaching English in Japan. Since my boyfriend and I had spent quite some time in Australia ourselves, we had a lot to talk about and the day we spent with them felt like being with old friends, which was wonderful.
During our 3-week housesit, we got to explore Tokyo a lot which has since become one of our favourite cities in the world and thanks to this housesit, we managed to stay in Japan on a budget and actually ended up spending just as little as we did in Vietnam.
Needless to say, this housesit was a success all round and we can only recommend giving housesitting a go to anyone!
2 dogs, 2 cats
By: Isabella – Boundless Roads
When I decided to leave my safe and fabulous job and my comfortable life to leave for an undetermined journey I tried to find ways to save money while on the road on the principle that the more I saved the more I could stay on the road, free to live the life I wanted. Among the tips I found was housesitting. I love pets and it was one of the things I had to give up if I wanted to live my dream.
Housesitting gave me the opportunity not only to have a free home but to enjoy the company of adorable furry babies. The difficulty was to get the first assignment because I didn’t have any references to prove my reliability and trustworthiness. However, I was lucky and after the first amazing experience, opportunities kept coming and, now after about 6 sits I can say, I have 6 more families, friends, and homes in my life.
They have all been fortunate encounters and I am still in touch with all of them. With some, we have even become close friends but all have been incredibly enriching experiences.
One of my favorite experiences was in Guatemala. The homeowner, who I am flattered to consider my friend, is an amazing person that left her comfortable life to fund a charity and help families in need in Guatemala. She had a lovely home and 4 adorable furry ones 2 doggy-girls and 2 cat-boys that she rescued from pain and hunger. The cats, unfortunately, recently passed away but they remain in my heart forever. We bonded as if we have lived together forever, even the grumpiest of the cats, Fatty, ultimately became my best friend, even though he still hated when I would squeeze and kiss him. But he would sneak into my bed every night and purr the night away.
I am so happy I will be able to go back this year after two years apart and reunite with her and the dogs. I will also meet the new member of the family, a lovely kitten whom has also been rescued.
Now I have a job that I can do from anywhere in the world and the main reason why I am doing housesitting is not to save money anymore but to meet such amazing people and be able to spend time with animals, which my nomadic life wouldn’t allow me otherwise.
Vicky – Buddy the Traveling Monkey
We’ve been house sitting for over two years now and it’s been such a great experience. Because we’re digital nomads and have work to do online, we tend to look for longer house sits so that we can settle in and get into a routine. Our house sits tend to be about a month long, sometimes even longer.
Besides allowing us to get work done, longer house sits also allow us to really get to know the town or city we’re staying in. This kind of slow travel is something we love and one of the best things about house sitting.
We recently spent over a month in the city of Ocala, Florida. The city is in central Florida with not much surrounding it so it often gets overlooked. This was our third time house sitting for the same family, so although we’d been there before, during this most recent stay we really made sure to take advantage of any free time we had and went out to explore the area.
We quickly realized that there is a lot more to Ocala than most people think. There are beautiful parks and hiking trails, amazing museums, great restaurants, and fun events. We did some of what would be considered the “tourist things” but we also spent a lot of time in “local” places based on recommendations we got as we explored.
Having these more authentic experiences is all because of house sitting and getting to stay in a city for an extended period of time. Thanks to house sitting, Ocala now feels like home.
Without a doubt housesitting is an excellent way to travel the world. It gives you the opportunity to live in a comfortable home while saving on accommodation. To hang out with some cuddly pets and get out walking dogs. Often, housesits will take you to parts of the world that you otherwise might not venture to – quiet rural areas, or the outskirts of cities. And, personally, those are my favorite spots. Plus, to top it all off, you get to meet some fabulous people and have homes around the globe.
It’s worth mentioning too, I tried to get some housesitting failure stories, and none surfaced. Maybe people don’t want to talk about the bad housesits they’ve had, but more likely they just haven’t had any.
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