Life on the Road: House Sitting
Leigh Haugseth is a bona fide travel addict as well as a certified WellCoach (and co-founder of Vibrapreneur), so she understands the importance of keeping healthy both physically and mentally. She says “Part of being ‘well’, means having meaning in your life, reaching for your dreams, and taking risks. Traveling can help with this. It can transform your life. Often in ways you’d never expect.”
Leigh shares with us how house sitting can be a great option during your travels!
House sitting and home exchanges are becoming more and more popular these days and for good reason. They are a cheap way to explore a new destination, you have the creature comforts of a home, and you get to live someone else’s life for a while. What’s not to love?
Here’s how it works: You register on line at a reputable house sitting site (see list below), pay a small annual fee, and put up a profile. Select your preferred dates and countries and have weekly or daily assignments delivered to your in box. Simple! Some homeowners will ask that you pay utilities during your stay. Also, some house sits require your own transportation, although I’ve seen some that will allow you to use their car, bike or are near public transportation.
My first real house sitting assignment was back in May 2009. I had recently quit my job to travel for a while and house sitting in the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains was the beginning of a six month adventure. The house was located in Asheville, North Carolina with two cats that were sweet and mildly annoying at the same time. I had considered moving to Asheville before but really wanted to take some time to see what it would be like to actually live there. Two weeks allowed me to really get a feel for the city and the surrounding areas.
During that time, I learned that I absolutely love the Blue Ridge mountains. I hiked almost every day, explored beautiful waterfalls and hung out downtown. It was incredibly relaxing and therapeutic. I also learned that while Asheville is indeed beautiful, I don’t think I’d want to live there permanently.
Some house sitting assignments are easy to get, but not all. In fact, they can be quite competitive at times. However, if you have a thorough profile up with references and are open to different locations, there’s a pretty good chance of you finding something. There are many people that house sit full time. It’s a lifestyle for them and they jump from one location to another for years. These people enjoy slow travel, and rather than spending two weeks somewhere, they spend two months or more.
There are also those that just need a break from reality and want an extended vacation somewhere remote where they can get some peace and quiet. Whatever the reason, house sitting is a very cheap way to explore a destination without fully committing to it. And while a lot of these assignments are in more remote areas, there are plenty in medium to larger sized cities to go around.
So why should you house sit other than for free rent in exciting places around the world? (as if you need another reason..)
1.) You Can Test Drive a New Location
If you’re looking for a new place to call home and want to try out a destination before signing a lease, house sit for a week or so to check things out. Meet the locals and ask them what it’s like to live there, take long walks around the city, eat at the restaurants and frequent the kinds of places you enjoy.
2.) Meet New People
In a new town, you can meet all sorts of interesting people. Get out and meet people, invite them over for dinner, and ask them to house sit for you sometime. If you end up really liking your house sitting location, you’ll have instant friends when you decide to return.
3.) Get Your Creative Juices Flowing
Being in a new place can really spark your creativity. New surroundings and new people stimulate fresh thought. Writers, especially travel writers, can take time to explore a location thoroughly and really absorb their surroundings. Not a writer?…take a painting, pottery or tango class in town.
4.) Experience a Different Life
Living in another person’s home let’s you look at life through their viewpoint. It shows you their habits, their daily rituals, favorite past time, books, music etc. Living in their home and seeing these things may spark a change you’d like to make in your own life. A couple of years ago, I house sat for some friends for about three months. They had a pool table and a house full of orchids that had to be taken care of. I managed to keep those delicate orchids blooming and by the end of my stay, had acquired a faint green thumb. I also became a pretty decent pool player! Who knew?
5.) Heal and Renew
If you just had your heart broken or experienced something traumatic, sometimes a little quiet time away from the situation can help you heal and gain perspective. In the case of a breakup, I’ve found that out of sight, out of mind really helps the grieving and healing process along. If quiet time alone makes you think too much, you can go out and about in your new city, keep your mind busy with new activities and people, and have so much fun that you realize life is short and dwelling will not help.
6.) Rent Free Living
If you are unemployed and need to save your rent money, house sit while you job search. While you’re there, investigate ways to make money on the road so that you can travel as much as you like. Experiment with the location independent lifestyle. Who knows, you may even be inspired to start a business that allows you to live office free.
Reputable house sitting companies:
- Mind My House (my favorite)
- SabbaticalHomes (home exchanges, rentals, house sitting for those in the academic community)
- House Sitters America (only in the US)
For those that have already done some house sitting, we’d love to hear about your experience!