Life on the Road: House Sitting

[singlepic=1644,200,,,right]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.

[singlepic=1642,200,,,right]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:

For those that have already done some house sitting, we’d love to hear about your experience!

Other comments

14 Comments on "Life on the Road: House Sitting"

  1. John Bardos - JetSetCitizen on Tue, 19th Jan 2010 12:04 pm 

    House sitting would be a great way to see the world and still have a relatively stable life. Those links look like a good starting point.

    I would imagine that it would be very competitive to find decent places to stay though. I would be reluctant to have strangers stay in my house.

  2. brian | No Debt World Travel on Tue, 19th Jan 2010 12:59 pm 

    I keep hearing about house sitting but never read a first hand account of it. Thanks for the post!

  3. Sherry Ott on Wed, 20th Jan 2010 12:49 am 

    This is something that I really want to try this year! Thanks to Leigh for providing the resources!

  4. Andy Hayes | Sharing Travel Experiences on Wed, 20th Jan 2010 4:48 pm 

    Great tips – I have always considered this as a fantastic ‘location independent’ option. Thanks Leigh.

  5. Leigh on Fri, 22nd Jan 2010 9:26 am 

    Thanks guys! I’m considering doing another house sit soon in NYC, we’ll see.. 🙂

    John, it can be competitive depending on your preferred location. I’ve found if you have good references and some house sitting experience, it gives you a much better chance. I had no problem at all with the one in Asheville.

  6. Lisa Lubin on Fri, 22nd Jan 2010 10:37 am 

    Yes! Great article. I house sat (and cat sat) in Istanbul for 2 months! It was an amazing way to feel like part of society. I had my own little neighborhood, cafes, and shops and kitchen! It is so awesome to be a travel and yet have keys and a front door.
    I also house sat in the Hollywood Hills in a beautiful home. Have to admit – feeling luxurious for a week was pretty cool too.
    I am on housecareers and Sittercity.
    Thanks for the other links!

  7. Leigh on Fri, 22nd Jan 2010 9:34 pm 

    Very cool Lisa! That makes me want to house sit somewhere exotic. I agree that having your own little neighborhood, cafes and kitchen lends to a richer travel experience. Best of luck in your future house sits!

  8. Sherry Ott on Mon, 25th Jan 2010 3:28 pm 

    Leigh – I’m curious why Mind My House is your favorite. Can you provide anymore info on why?

  9. Leigh on Sat, 30th Jan 2010 11:17 am 

    Hi Sherry,

    Mind My House doesn’t list as many as say HouseCarers, the competition is less fierce. I also like how the website is set up to be a little more user friendly. And the whole site just seems friendlier.

  10. Taylor on Tue, 9th Mar 2010 3:49 pm 

    I’d be interested in hearing more of your thoughts on Asheville. My wife and I are considering a move there, and are looking for a housesit there to check it out, as well.

    We know the area very well, though I’d love to get your pros and cons.

    Happy travels!

  11. Leigh on Fri, 12th Mar 2010 8:54 am 

    Hi Taylor,

    I really loved Asheville. I would probably live there except that there aren’t many young professionals living there. (my age group) My favorite pros: Healthy lifestyle embraced, great food/restaurants, tons of outdoor things to do, and a good mix of people. (except for young professionals 🙂

    Feel free to email me at if you’d like to discuss further. Good luck with your decision!


  12. How to find short term housesitting | Ottsworld on Thu, 1st Apr 2010 1:13 am 

    […] minimal. I first looked into the typical house sitting sites around the web. There is a whole house sitting industry out there – but I quickly found anything which involves travel and free lodging is saturated; everyone […]

  13. Jeremy B on Thu, 29th Apr 2010 1:46 pm 

    Great article. I have thought about this before but never tried it. I think the movie The Holiday made this a more popular thing to do. One question though – is it easy for families to do this as well?

  14. HOW TO: Access Free Accommodation During Travel on Thu, 8th Jul 2010 7:35 pm 

    […] you probably won’t enjoy sitting around someone else’s house for months on end. But, some people swear by it and if you need some downtime to replenish funds and catch your breath, house sitting may be for […]

Career Break Guide Table of Contents

Meet Plan Go