“I’m housesitting a cat just a few blocks from here”, she said.
A simple enough sentence.
But wait… What is housesitting? I was intrigued. I had so many questions.
I was sitting around a table of digital nomads that I had met only an hour earlier through a Facebook group.
We each went around the table telling our stories about how we came to be nomadic, what businesses we were working on and how long we would be in town.
Pretty standard conversation in our circles.
That is until we started talking about where each other was staying.
Working remotely, I had been travelling for years. I considered myself a savvy budget traveller.
I knew how to cut costs, save money and find quality travel deals.
At the time, I was renting an Airbnb room and was pretty proud that I was only spending about $600 for the month.
Not bad for a place like Playa del Carmen, Mexico, a very popular tourist destination on the Caribbean coast.
Little did I know I was about to stumble onto a travel hack that would cut my travel costs by more than half.
I was about to learn how to travel without having to pay for accommodation.
I learned that when pet owners travel, house sitters take care of their pets while living in the home, rent-free.
The next 72 hours, I went deep into the rabbit hole of research. I wanted to learn everything I could about house sitting.
It seemed like a win-win for everyone.
House sitters get free accommodation. The house is kept secure. The pets stay at home where they are most comfortable.
A part of me was torn. It all seemed too good to be true.
What was the catch?
As it turns out, there was no catch.
At the time of writing this, it has been a year and half of full time housesitting through seven countries and four continents.
Here are the main benefits I’ve gathered for both the pet owners and housesitters.
HOUSE SITTING ADVANTAGES FOR PET OWNERS
For home and pet owners, while they love their furry companions, they sometimes feel restricted with their responsibility.
Having a housesitter allows the flexibility to travel.
- Reduces Expenses – Depending on the area, housing your pets in a kennel could cost up to $50 a day per pet. Kennel costs for a two-week vacation could cost upwards of $500.
- It’s Less Stressful for Pets – Pets get stressed out just like people. When they watch their parents packing their bags and leaving can cause a lot of anxiety. The beauty of housesitting is that the pets get to remain/stay/reside in the comfort of their own home, their familiar place. This reduces the anxiety for both the pets and the owners alike. Some paid services offer a drop-in (to feed the cat and change the kitty litter) but this leaves your furry friend alone the rest of the day.
- Home Security – Homeowners feel better knowing someone is at their home keeping it safe. Unattended homes that go weeks with no movement, mail piling up and grass uncut is a clear signal to would-be thieves.
- General Property Upkeep – In the event of storms or severe weather, sitters can coordinate repairs (ie. trees breaking windows and rain getting into the house, water pipes freezing and bursting in the basement, etc) in a timely fashion as opposed to waiting for the damage to be addressed upon return from a vacation. .
- Rural Homes & Outdoor Animals – Pet sitting goes beyond just the standard cats and dogs. A lot of rural homes/farms/families need support with livestock/animals/horses/goats/llamas/etc while they’re away. Just because you have a herd of alpacas doesn’t mean you can’t sneak away for an extended vacation.
- Insurance Coverage – Some insurance companies require someone to be living in the home for the insurance claim to be valid. I’ve heard of some companies voiding claims when the home is unoccupied for less than a week. A housesitter will help maintain your occupancy status as a qualifying insurance claim.
Homeowners gain peace of mind while they’re away knowing they have a reliable animal lover staying in their home, taking care of their furry family in an environment that will ease the pet’s anxiety.
HOUSE SITTING BENEFITS FOR SITTERS
Housesitting is a rewarding way to travel and not break the bank.
Here’s a look at the advantages of becoming a housesitter.
- Save Money – No matter the style of travel, accommodation is by far the most expensive cost in any travellers journey. By taking care of someone’s pets, you’re able to live in amazing homes for free.
- Live with Pets – There is a lot of satisfaction when caring for pets and having them in your life. If you live a nomadic lifestyle, always being on the road, doesn’t allow you to have pets of your own. Housesitting allows you to have a temporary pet family around the world. It is hard to always have to say goodbye. But it’s totally worth it.
- Better Work Environment – If you work and travel, living continually in hostels and hotels isn’t the most productive work environment. There is a lack of privacy and there is usually something going on that is distracting. Many homes have a desk to work from, or at the very least a kitchen table to setup your laptop.
- Live Like a Local in Real Homes – Hotels are great to fill in little gaps but it’s not the same as a living in a real home environment. While housesitting, you’ll be living in a household that is fully furnished even down to the spices in the rack. It makes the place warmer and inviting.
COST SAVINGS OF HOUSE SITTING
Of all these benefits, saving money is the big one.
Think about how much you’re paying for rent right now. Depending on where you live, renting a house or apartment will cost between $500 – $2000 per month.
If you don’t have to pay rent, housesitting for a full year could save you $6000 – $12,000.
Sitting for just for a 2-week vacation could mean saving $100+ PER NIGHT.
On top of that, you’re not paying for electricity, internet, cable tv and other monthly expenses. That’s another $200-300 you’re saving EVERY month.
At this point, I am fully bought into the housesitting lifestyle. I no longer rent or have a mortgage back in my Canadian homeland. In fact, one might say I’m homeless. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.
In fact, my current personal expenses are the following:
- Flights (less than $2500 per year, around the world)
- Clothing (occasionally)
- Electronics (frequently.. I love new gadgets)
I have fewer expenses now than I did living in Vancouver.
It’s craziness. I’m actually saving money while I travel the world!
IS HOUSESITTING ONLY FOR LONG-TIME TRAVELLERS?
We all have our own travel style.
Some people travel solo. Others travel as a couple or family.
Some people are high energy, exploring from sunrise to sunset, while others could sit at the beach for days.
Some people bounce from place to place, only staying for a few days to a week in an area. Others like to travel slow and really get to know a place and the locals that live there.
The great thing about Housesitting is how it can work for so many different types of travellers.
Whether you’re travelling with your family for a week or you’re a digital nomad with no fixed address, there is a housesit out there for you.
There are housesitting assignments out there from as little as three days all the way up to one year or more. You have a lot of flexibility with the length of your adventure.
Some are in the downtown of major cities. Others are in remote jungles, mountain ranges, forests or farmland.
Perhaps you’ve always dreamed of going to London and visiting Buckingham Palace. How about surfing off the coast of Australia or skiing the mountains near Vancouver?
Anything is possible. In fact, everything is possible!
Housesitting truly is amazing.
It’s a means to allow more people to travel the globe.
Visit more places.
This blog is dedicated to helping you learn more about housesitting and get started right away.
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