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Housesitting

Adventures in housesitting in New York City

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During my four months in New York this month I ended up housesitting eight times – and none of those gigs had been arranged before I got there.(I’ll share some tips for getting a housesitting gig in NYC at the end.)

I came to New York specifically for one housesitting gig, which I had scored a couple of months prior to the sit the usual way: I saw the ad for the housesit on one of the websites I use, wrote a personalized application and a few days later I ‘met’ the homeowners via Skype. We all decided that we liked each other and I was offered the position. If you have read my July travel update, you already know that in the end, I didn’t get to look after the adorable puppy and cat that I was supposed to take care of. I moved in with the owners for the handover period, but because one of them was still recovering from a severe sickness, the couple decided to cancel their trip on short notice.

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A warm welcome to a housesit in New York

This was actually just one of several Firsts in housesitting for me – and one thing I learned this summer was that even after co-writing The Ultimate Guide To Housesitting, there were/are still things I had never experienced, in spite of having successfully completed well over a dozen housesits all over the globe (which just goes to show that it’s time for the 3rd edition of the book). Having to deal with a sudden cancellation was one of them. To make things worse, I had flown halfway around the world to get to the gig, and I had no return flight booked.

homemade huevos rancheros
One of the benefits of housesitting: Homemade Huevos Rancheros!

While I could totally understand the homeowners’ decision to stay at home, I was in utter shock because for me this meant being stuck in NYC without accommodation and no home to go back to. I decided to give staying a shot and started the search for a room right away, even though I knew it was almost impossible to find a room on such short notice. However, the New York apartment gods felt sorry for me – I lucked out and found a room two days later, just a few blocks north from the housesit on the Upper West Side.

central park may 2014 nyc
Living on the Upper West Side means that you are right by Central Park.. one of my favorite spots in the city.

The homeowners had planned another trip in late June, so I decided to stay at least until then and help them out during their shorter getaway ( the other housesit would have been for a month). In that time, ads for shorter summer housesits in New York City started to appear. I lucked out and scored two housesits in Brooklyn for July, which made me extend my stay for another month. I hadn’t had any intentions of spending so much time in New York, but the longer I stayed, the more addicted I got to the city.

Brooklyn Prospect Lefferts Gardens
Prospect Lefferts Gardens, a beautiful Brooklyn neighborhood I got to know thanks to a housesit

And I didn’t only need to rely on ads – while I was waiting for my July gigs to start, I told more and more people I met that I was a petsitter, staying in New York partially housesitting and partially subletting, and people usually listened up when I explained I didn’t charge for my petsitting services in return for accommodation. In a city where people are used to paying money for just about anything, they were ecstatic to hear that I was looking after pets FOR FREE! Through word-of-mouth, I ended up looking after two adorable cats in the East Village in June, the cutest puppy on the planet in Crown Heights in August and another kitty cat in a fancy Chelsea apartment right off the High Line Park. And this was another First for me: because people I knew vouched for me, none of the word-of-mouth gigs wanted to check any references, they simply trusted my friend’s judgement. I would just get a text message saying something like ‘A friend of mine needs a catsitter for the first two weeks in August. Are you free?’ I even had to turn down some gigs because of timing issues.

chelsea rooftop
The rooftop of ‘my’ Chelsea apartment

I loved both sits in July – one of them, a cat dame named Jessie, actually became my favorite protégé and I ended up looking after her three times over the course of the summer, while falling in love with her neighborhood of Prospect Heights, an area where I hadn’t spent much time before. The other sit, which I had found on TrustedHousesitters.com, also brought me to a new neighborhood, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, just fifteen minutes down the road from Jessie – the easiest move during my entire summer!

jessie the cat
Jessie, the cat. My favorite pet this summer.

The apartment was right off Prospect Park, Brooklyn’s answer to Manhattan’s Central Park, which I loved for two reasons: 1. It made it impossible NOT to go on a daily run – Prospect Park is just gorgeous. 2. I was there during the Philharmonic in the Park summer series, during which the renowned New York philharmonic orchestra gives free concerts in the park. With the spacious kitchen in my apartment I was able to make some yummy salads and snacks for a picnic with friends, and was home after the concert in twenty minutes, not having to take the subway. One of my favorite days of the summer. Also – and that’s what I love most about housesitting – thanks to the dog I got to know a neighborhood I would’ve never visited, taking her on sightsee-walks around the different historic streets. And Lefferts Gardens is a very cool ‘hood – I am glad I had the chance to explore it.

philharmonic in prospect park
The Philharmonic Orchestra in Prospect Park. An absolutely amazing night. My apartment was a short walk from there.

Looking after an insanely cute bundle of fur named Little Monkey brought me to my favorite apartment and second favorite neighborhood I discovered this summer: Crown Heights. This up-and-coming area with its vibrant Caribbean community and a (quite recent) large influx of hipsters, made for an interesting mix of trendy eateries and coffee shops with traditional chicken joints and Caribbean supermarkets. I loved the vibe in my neighborhood, especially on Saturday nights when most families were hanging out on their stoops, a boom box in the window silt, speakers turned towards the street. I’ve never heard as much B.I.G. as during my time in Crown Heights 😉 But the best bit about this housesit was that I didn’t only have a giant kitchen (even with washer and dryer, almost unheard of in NYC), but also a big dining room. I had to take advantage of this and invited some friends over for a dinner party – something most sublets just don’t allow for.

august dinner party crown heights
The first dinner party I threw in very long time. Loved it!

It was also interesting to see how different each apartment was (and how much it was to live there, in those cases when the owners shared that information with me), and I took my housesits as an opportunity to check out different neighborhoods around town to see where I’d want to sublet next. While I was still pondering about my sublet location for August, I came across a housesit in Carroll Gardens on Mindmyhouse.com. Carroll Garden is a neighborhood close to Brooklyn Heights, where I housesat last year for a couple of months and which I loved – I had also briefly been to Carroll Gardens back then and remembered it as a beautiful residential neighborhood with gorgeous brownstones. Applying for this gig was a no-brainer. I sent my application before breakfast and after dinner on the same day I received the keys to the lovely top floor apartment to take care of an elderly cat the coming week. This wasn’t a first, by the way, but happened all summer long: most of the housesits were super short notice.

brooklyn brownstones
Brooklyn brownstones.. so pretty.

I finished my housesitting adventures this summer with a week in a brand new apartment in Chelsea, dubbed as ‘Luxurious High Line Apartments’ in big letter on the side of the building. This apartment made me wish to be rich enough to afford a place like that, and I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect place to finish up my summer in New York in. Had my visa not expired, I could have done another three housesits this month, but I’ll patiently wait to return next year for more housesitting adventures in New York.

high line in the morning
I walked the entire length of the High Line Park five times in my last week in NYC, because the apartment I took care of was a two-minute walk from the park.

My tips for securing a housesit in New York City

I have to admit that I had quite a few advantages when I applied for a housesit – a) I was in town already, something that helped with each and every application, b) I was totally flexible with timing. Sometimes people would just email me about returning a few days later and I could always say ‘Sure, no problem at all’, or owners weren’t sure about the exact dates until the very last minute – also something that I was able to accommodate with. I realize that when you agree to a housesit while you’re not in the same location, it isn’t as easy to be flexible, considering you have to book flights and make other travel arrangements. However, here are my top tips for scoring a housesit in New York:

– You have to be flexible. If you are 100% set on your dates, it will be almost impossible to find a gig. If you decide you want to spend a week in New York in the spring, it’s much easier to find a housesit in that period. In your application, make sure to put the owners’ needs first though, not yours (Date XX is when I need to be in NYC: Wrong attitude!)

housesitting in nyc
My Crown Heights dogsit: a gig I got because I was flexible and I talked about my desire to housesit. With it came a blender (which I miss dearly whenever I don’t have one) and a super cute dog :)

– If you’re in New York already, make sure to mention this. I got most of my gigs because the owners knew I was around and could meet them in person before they trusted me with their pets and apartments. Mention it right in the subject line of your application. My friends Nat & Jodie who run the Housesitting World Magazine (packed with housesitting stories and advice, 100% free to download onto your iPad!) also scored two gigs in NYC because they were already in town.

– Be modest in your expectations. While I looked after some stunning properties around the world, I noticed that the apartments in NYC were much more ordinary. Several times, owners would even apologize for either their apartments or neighborhoods. I never felt uncomfortable in an apartment I looked after, but none of them were comparable to some of the exquisite suburban houses I got to stay in during previous gigs.

– Talk about your desire to housesit in NYC. If you’re there already, there’ll be people in need of a petsitter in your network already – co-workers, friends, or friends of friends. Post about it on Facebook or ask your NYC-based friends to ask around if you’re not based in NYC. I was amazed how many word-of-mouth gigs I got this summer (and I couldn’t even fulfill them all.) The number of housesits on the housesitting websites is still pretty limited, and competition for them is fierce, but there is a much higher need for petsitters in the city than it appears.

brooklyn botanical gardens butterfly
My housesit in Crown Heights (which I got through word-of-mouth) was a ten-minute walk from the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. I took advantage of the proximity and went there three times during the sit, enjoying the peace & quiet.

– Be fast. As I’ve already mentioned – competition for housesits in New York is extremely fierce. If you see an ad on one of the housesitting websites, apply immediately. Had I waited until that evening to apply for the gig in Carroll Gardens instead to apply right when I saw it in the morning, I might not have gotten it, because she had made her decision within a day. I also felt that way with other gigs – as soon as the owners see a decent application, they’ll go for it, not wanting to drag the process out and have their pet care sorted for the time they’re away.

– Be aware… of the responsibilities that come with the gig. A cat sit is usually easy; you only have to feed the cat a couple of times a day and clean the litter. A dog, however, needs much more attention and care, including several walks a day. If you’re planning to tour New York, a dog sit might be too restricting. Also, evaluate how comfortable you are with ill pets – this summer was the second time that I took care of an elderly sick cat that could have died during the sit. Are you willing to deal with a dead pet? While housesitting has many positive aspects that I can’t stop raving about, there are certainly some restraining aspects as well.

Sign up now! Sign up to a housesitting website TODAY! I’ve been comparing my three favorite websites, Mindmyhouse, Housecarers and Trustedhousesitters, for housesits in New York, and I have to say that I’ve found by far the largest number of housesits on TrustedHousesitters. If you use this referral link, you get 20 % off your membership fee.

manhattan cat
The most beautiful cat in Manhattan? I think so! :)

Want to find out more about housesitting?

I have compiled everything you need to know about housesitting here.

You can buy Break Free – The Ultimate Guide To Housesitting here. Have a look what readers say about it!

Any questions about housesitting? Ask away in the comments below! If you’ve housesat before, I’d also love to hear your own experiences and tips you might have.

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Our five favorite housesitting experiences (and the 2nd edition of the Break Free housesitting book!)

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As many of you know, housesitting has become an unexpected passion of ours – and an integral part of how we maintain a comfortable nomadic lifestyle. Saving thousands of dollars in accommodation costs over the last three years hasn’t hurt, either!

In fact, we are in the process of negotiating another dream housesit right now for next spring. We’re not revealing any details until everything is set in stone, but it feels like the absolute perfect fit!

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Clockwise: Housesitting in Chiang Mai, Thailand; Los Angeles; Chicago; Ontario, Canada and Costa Rica

To celebrate today’s launch of the brand new color PDF version of Break Free: The Ultimate Guide To Housesitting, we put together a list of our own top five housesits and we also included our top tips for how to get started with housesitting yourself.

A while ago we rounded up a bunch of our housesitting friends and put together an epic post about dream housesits around the world.

Today’s post about our own top five is to help you better visualize what a housesitting experience can be like, and show how different they all are. Jump into our memories with us as we show you what our top five housesits (so far!) have been like:

5. A Bed & Breakfast in Tuscany, Italy

It was a rainy Sunday morning in January back in 2010 when we read an article in the Guardian about a journalist who had an entire Bed & Breakfast in Italy to herself with her boyfriend, ‘housesitting’ for a couple of months while the owners went away. This was the first time we’d heard of housesitting but even so, something this romantic seemed like a crazy long-shot.

Cut to 14 months and four housesits later and we would be doing just that: housesitting a B&B in Tuscany, where we cared for five outdoor cats, a centuries-old farmhouse and stared out at the beautiful Tuscan landscape.

housesit Tuscany

4. A luxury condo in Santiago, Chile

We had no idea how lucky we were scoring a housesit in Vitacura, one of Santiago’s finest neighborhoods. The owners were expats and looking to spend the holidays in Europe. They needed us to care for their two Scottie dogs and we happily accepted. We ended up falling head over heels for these two dogs and spend eight weeks living in and exploring Santiago. We had a blast in the city and it felt amazing to return home to our luxury condo and two adorable dogs every night.

Housesit Santiago

3. An adobe desert home in Tucson, Arizona

This was our first ever official housesit that we found through one of the housesitting websites (Housecarers.com) in 2010, and it was the reason we decided to keep housesitting! The beautiful home, surrounded by the Sonoran desert, wonderful owners, lovable dog, great neighbors and perfect summer weather in Tucson charmed us so much that we have returned twice to look after Miss Millie again – and probably will return for another housesit!

Housesit Tucson

2. Our own Caribbean beach, Mexico

Entirely off-the-grid, no cell reception and miles away from civilization outside a town you’ve never heard of: having our own private Caribbean beach was an experience we will never forget. We were there to care for the house alongside our ‘guard dog’ Loba. Loba turned out to be our best friend; her larger than life personality playing and hopping through the water chasing fish kept us entertained for hours a day. There was a hurricane during the housesit and we packed up the entire house and escaped with Loba, thankfully there was no serious damage upon our return. Even with that adventure, those eight incredible weeks living the Robinson Crusoe life were magic – sunbathing, snorkeling in the crystal clear water right in our backyard and endless Mexican food. Although we would miss the beach, the hardest part was saying goodbye to Loba at the end of our stay.

You can read more about this housesit here:

Housesit Mexico

1. A condo in New York City

Living in New York City has always been a dream of ours, but to do it rent-free? That was something we never imagined possible. We couldn’t believe our luck when we were asked to care for two indoor cats in a posh Brooklyn Heights condo just five minutes from the Brooklyn Bridge. We spent just under two months in New York in the late spring, exploring way beyond the tourist trails and coming home every day to two cuddly cats. This was, by far, the ultimate housesitting experience for us. Can you imagine how much a vacation rental would have cost for two months – average rate $149 a night x 60 nights = impossible. This was the absolute best way to live in New York City.

Read more about this housesit here: Housesitting in New York City: A dream come true

Housesit New York City

How to get started housesitting:

Housesitting used to be much more word-of-mouth, a friend-of-a-friend kind of thing. Today, there are plenty of housesitting websites that connect homeowners with housesitters, and the process is much more professional, almost like a job interview of sorts.

We have a detailed listing of 20+ housesitting websites on our dedicated housesitting website UltimateHousesittingGuide.com, and recommend choosing a couple of sites that offer housesits in the region(s) you’re looking to housesit in.

Our top three housesitting membership websites are:

  1. Housecarers.com
  2. Trustedhousesitters.com
  3. Mindmyhouse.com

Read our tips on how to set up the perfect housesitting profile here and we share more tips on how to actually get chosen for a housesit here.

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Clockwise: Exploring Malaysian food during our housesit in Kuala Lumpur; beach fun with fellow housesitters in Mexico; homemade food in Bavaria; one of the monkeys that swung by daily during our housesit in Costa Rica

Break Free: The Ultimate Guide To Housesitting, 2nd edition at special price!

We want you to start housesitting.

We want you to get chosen for the housesits you really want.

We want you to have success while you housesit so you do it again and again.

We wrote this book specifically to help you get housesits and to help homeowners find the absolute perfect housesitters for them.

That is why Break Free – The Ultimate Guide To Housesitting is packed with over 120 pages of everything housesitters and homeowners will both ever need to know about housesitting.

The Kindle version on Amazon has also been updated and is better than ever. It’s a great book to have with you on the go for $9.99.

This brand new direct download version is packed with pictures, a beautiful layout makes it easy to read and search, plus we include a bonus package of practical housesitting print-outs to print again and again for each housesit. Both the Kindle and the PDF have the 25% membership discount to TrustedHousesitters.com, one of the biggest housesitting websites. This makes both ebooks practically free, considering the discount is more $$ than the books, themselves!

You can download the colorful Break Free eBook directly right here for our special introductory price of only $8.99!

Find out more about Break Free – The Ultimate Guide To Housesitting.

Break Free 2.0

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Housesitting in New York, a dream come true

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The fresh, crisp air buzzed with the kind of excitement only those first few summer days can bring. This is what drew Dani and I out onto the Brooklyn Promenade that afternoon. Working away in our Brooklyn Heights condo, where we had been housesitting for nearly two months, the sounds of summer teased us through the open window.

Once we decided to take a break, it was easy to speed down the stairs and run two blocks to sit on a bench and take in the cyclists and skateboarders, couples kissing and kids balancing ice scoops on sugar cones while running in circles around tired tourists who just finished their obligatory trek over the Brooklyn Bridge in order to snap pictures of the Manhattan skyline just across the water.

manhattan skylineHad we just been in town on a quick holiday, we most likely would have joined those tourists, Dani would have worked on getting good skyline shots and then maybe we would have had dinner somewhere before heading back to a Manhattan hotel near Central Park or Times Square. This time around, though, we were not tourists.

We were New Yorkers, albeit temporarily, and housesitting for two months, we were able to develop a routine, habits, in fact a full life in the city. For an hour we let the strong sun singe our skin as we sat lazily on a bench with that relaxed feeling you can only have when you’re just a few blocks from ‘home’ and don’t need a thing.

Union Square Farmers Market New York
Enjoying the fresh produce from the Union Square Farmers Market

Instead of descending upon wicker tables in a hotel lobby and eating half-frozen cantaloupe slices and toast for breakfast, I woke up everyday at 7am to feed our two adorable pet cats, meowing so loudly you’d think we hadn’t fed them and spoiled them with cuddles and treats the day before. Then I fed the fish and re-joined Dani (who slept through feeding time) in our king size bed, and fell back asleep to the sound of rough cat tongues licking away their piles of organic cat food.

Eventually we woke up, made scrambled eggs or yogurt and granola and cups of ridiculously strong coffee and got to work. As simple as eggs and granola are, I am seriously considering a personal chef, even if its just for a day. The mornings were filled with writing, phone calls, interviews, podcast or video editing – the multi-faceted mountains of work bloggers chip away at just to keep plates spinning every day.

Brooklyn Heights
Brownstones in our neighborhood in Brooklyn

As morning dissipated into the long afternoon stretch, we would inevitably become anxious to get out and explore before returning to feed the cats in the early evening and heading back out for dinner or meet-ups with friends. That’s the thing about actually living in New York – there is never a shortage of interesting people to meet, including friends from the online world and friends of friends who turned into great friends of our own.

When we weren’t out exploring the five boroughs, or meeting people for coffee, ice cream, dinner or drinks, we were enjoying the comforts of ‘home’, watching Netflix movies on the futon and ordering in any type of international cuisine using the Seamless food delivery app.

Spring in New York City
We loved the glorious spring days in New York

In the two months we housesat in Brooklyn, we hung out in hipsterville known as Williamsburg, walked home to upscale Brooklyn Heights from up-and-coming Red Hook, crossed the Brooklyn Bridge several times with visiting friends, walked the length of Broadway in Manhattan, went to Queens, the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Governor’s Island and Roosevelt Island, walked through Prospect Park and Central Park, Cobble Hill and the East Village, Chelsea and downtown Brooklyn, we hit flea markets, farmers markets, ate from food trucks and at trendy brunch locations.

But it was the soft, easy details of actually living in New York that filled us with joy. Dani went running over the Brooklyn Bridge once or twice a week, we loved jumping out to sit on the Brooklyn Promenade or watching in awe as teenagers sang doo-wap on the C Train back home at night, eating in the diner around the block or having coffee in a cafe around the corner from our house.

Meeting friends in NYC
New and old friends in NYC

These moments probably shine even brighter for us because we were able to do this all without paying a single cent in rent. Cuddling and feeding their cats and giving the condo a few good scrubs was all that was required for us to live out an absolute dream. We estimate that we saved between $5000-$7000 in rental costs over those weeks, which meant we could drop extra cash on concert tickets or see a Broadway show. In fact one of our absolute highlights was seeing the best piece of (interactive) theater we have ever seen, Sleep No More at the McKittrick hotel, which we may not have done if we were already spending $150 a night on a hotel room or vacation rental in New York.

More than anything, spending the spring and start of summer in New York gave us a massive gift, one we have been looking for since we started traveling all those years ago. We discovered that New York is a place we could actually call home. Even if we never settle down there (or anywhere, for all we know), our love of New York is now so ingrained in our hearts that we know we want to create a lifestyle that involves a month or more here, every year, at least.

new york manhattan skyline at sunset

Interested in housesitting in New York?

breakfree-coverAt first, a housesit in New York was like finding a needle in a haystack, but ever since our first NYC Housesit, we have come across several sits in the Big Apple this summer – especially TrustedHousesitters is noteworthy here, where in recent months several amazing gigs have popped up for New York City.

Our discount offer with TrustedHousesitters.com

If you’re not signed up with TrustedHousesitters yet,  you can sign up via this link and get 20 % off your membership fee!

Start housesitting today! Find out more about the most comprehensive book on the subject here, written by us for you.

References: http://www.ifonly.com
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Dream housesits around the world: Travelers share their most memorable housesitting experiences

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Our GlobetrotterGirls readers know all about our love affair with housesitting, which has recently culminated in the release of our new ebook on the subject (check out our book trailer for that at the end of this post).

Today we wanted to share the stories of some of our fellow housesitters out there whose experiences have been as incredible as our own! You’ll read about couples and even full families who have housesat in places like an actual desert oasis, on tropical islands, on a beach in a tropical jungle, and a few in exciting global cities in the world. They save thousands of dollars on accommodation, make some great local friends, and one lucky couple even had their own service staff on hand in the lap of luxury!

Three months on a tropical island in Fiji

Lisa and Cheryl of WhatBoundariesTravel.com

From the porch of our house sit, we’re watching sailboats slide across the bay as dolphins jump in front of a spectacular sunset background. Paddy, the adorable dog, is curled up at our feet occasionally rolling over for a belly rub. We’re in Fiji and we still have to pinch ourselves to believe we’re really here. Fiji – a sultry, tropical locale we’ve only dreamed about visiting and now we’ll be living here at almost no cost for 3 months.

It started innocently enough while we were back “home” in Florida, deciding what course our busy lives should take next. We knew travel was at the top of the list, but how could we manage to see all of the awesome places and stay long enough to feel like locals? Through our web site, Will Work 4 Travel, we’d already discovered work exchange programs like Helpx and WorkAway, but what could we do to allow ourselves time to write and work on our own?

House sitting was the answer! We found and registered with the first service we discovered, House Carers, and started looking. The Fiji house sit popped up and we decided (with more than a little apprehension) that this was the one we wanted. Waiting anxiously to see if they wanted us, too, we began to plan. We jumped up and down when we got the confirmation and haven’t looked back since. House sitting is now our preferred way of seeing the world and stretching travel dollars.

What Boundaries Travel - Fiji HousesitWhile we were in Fiji we became a part of the community, attending Rotary Club meetings, volunteering at the hospital, serving as honored Chief Guest at the Secondary School Library Week, and becoming friends with so many of the colorful people who made our stay so special. It was more than a way of saving money. House sitting in Fiji gave us the opportunity to love Paddy and to make so many wonderful memories of a place where we weren’t just visitors, but truly felt like we belonged.

Lisa Chavis and Cheryl MacDonald are two forty-somethings who decided to sell everything and travel the world. They have been traveling, laughing and working their way around the world since 2007, visiting 4 continents, 30 countries and over 200 cities. They share their adventures on WhatBoundariesTravel.com and you can connect with them on Facebook and on Twitter.

Saving $1,000+ on accommodation costs in London 

Kit Whelan of Seek New Travel

Scoring a housesit in London is the holy grail for any traveler. This fantastic city, so full of museums, restaurants and theaters is also ridiculously expensive. Our three week assignment, found on TrustedHousesitters.com, was to care for one dog and two cats in a typical Northeastern suburb. The house came with a relaxing garden, large kitchen and comfortable sitting room where we could watch British TV to our hearts’ content. But our favorite activity, when we weren’t out walking the dog or attempting to cuddle the cats, was walking the ten minutes to the Tube to head out on the town. In only half an hour we could be in the West End, Hyde Park or walking along the Thames towards the Borough Market. Saving over a thousand dollars on accommodations meant we had tons of extra cash to spend having fun. And every night we slept in a house five times larger than any place we could afford to rent in London. The definition of a win-win!

Kit Whelan is a digital nomad on her fourth year of nonstop travel. You can follow her adventures on her blog, Seek New Travel and on Twitter @kitwhelan.

A dream house on the tropical island of Langkawi, Malaysia

Mary (and family) of BohemianTravelers.com

We have been lucky enough to land an amazing house sitting job, which I was surprised to get seeing as though we have children. It is located on the island of Langkawi, Malaysia where many Expedia hotels are located and in our opinion is a true luxury villa, laid out in an open air floor plan. We found this great spot through the website trustedhousesitters.com. The owner has welcomed us with open arms even though I have a large and active family of 3 boys. I think she was interested in having a lot of people in order to provide the 2 dogs with constant attention. They are somewhat high needs and the fact that we have always had pets I think helped. We are at the house for 6 weeks, where we are enjoying playing with the dogs, swimming in the beautiful pool, and admiring the lovely ocean view. We are responsible for watering plants, keeping the pool and house clean, and most of all taking care of and loving the dogs, 1 of which has some medical issues. It was a great spot to be as Langkawi is really beautiful and full of so many fun things to do. Being here so long has availed us the opportunity to see it all.

As an aside, a tip of sorts, I would say that someone with a larger home or someone who already has children would be the most likely to select a family to do the house/pet sitting. But I basically contact anyone I think fits with our time frame and location. It only takes a few minutes and the outcome is so worth it!

langkawi by bohemian travelersMary, her husband and her three boys escaped the American rat race over five years ago, moved to Costa Rica and continued their permanent travel adventure in Asia. You can follow their travels on BohemianTravelers.com and connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

Living on a houseboat in Amsterdam

Warren and Betsy of MarriedWithLuggage.com

Without a doubt, our favorite housesit to date was on a houseboat in Amsterdam, which we found through TrustedHousesitters.com. We had never been on one before, and the opportunity to spend 3 weeks on a canal in this beautiful city was a true joy. The best part of the experience was the family of swans who came up to the window twice a day to look in and beg for treats. It is an interesting feeling to be cooking and look over to see 8 heads staring back at you from 3 feet away. The opportunity to live like locals is why we will continue to explore new housesitting opportunities around the world.

Amsterdam by MarriedwithluggageIn 2008, Warren and Betsy Talbot decided to go after their dream of world travel. After 2 years of focused effort, they were able to turn their dream into reality, one they are still living today. Follow their adventures on Marriedwithluggage.com and connect with them on Facebook.

Life in a desert oasis in Morocco

Talon of 1Dad1Kid.com

The owners of a home on an oasis in southern Morocco contacted us through MindMyHouse.com to care for their dog, two rabbits and a bunch of chickens for two months. I could not resist the opportunity to live on an oasis in such a rural, exotic-sounding place. Especially tempting was when I discovered there is a camel souk (market) on Saturdays. Imagine the experiences we could have!

The housesit is very rural, approximately 15 km from the nearest real town, and to get there we have to wait on the road for an hourly bus or shared taxis to drive by. In town we are usually the only white people. Most locals speak French, others speak only Arabic, so we communicate with a little French, a little Arabic, occasionally a little Spanish, and some pantomiming.

Life is extremely simple here. On the oasis you feel like you’re in another world.  When going into town, it’s like stepping back in time.  The town is not very large.  Grocery stores don’t sell fresh items, so meat and produce is obtained through various vendors.  Your chicken is still running around when you go to buy it.  The poulterer takes care of all the yucky work to get it ready.  Our favorite bread vendor enjoys giving us brief Arabic lessons during our twice weekly trip to get supplies.  Our preferred vegetable vendor greets us with an almost toothless smile as he offers the traditional Arabic greetings one gives a friend.

We have regular power and running water, but no landlines for the phone. Internet is through a USB modem and is very slow. The refrigerator runs on propane and a small metal box connected to a propane tank serves as an oven.

While simple, remote, and only a few steps above camping, it’s impossible to beat experiencing this type of life.  We have had an insider’s look at Moroccan culture and daily life that no other opportunity could have provided.

DSC_0026Talon Windwalker is a single parent who left his traditional work life  in May 2011 and embarked on life as a full-time nomad, traveling around the world slowly with his son, who was 9 years old when they began their new life. You can follow their adventures on their website 1dad1kid.com, on Twitter and on Facebook.

A traditional wooden home in Kyoto, Japan

Simon and Erin of NeverendingVoyage.com

One of our favourite housesits was in Kyoto, Japan, which we found on mindmyhouse.com — we were lucky as housesits in Japan are rare. We looked after three lovely cats in a rickety traditional wooden house complete with tatami mats and sliding doors. Although the house wasn’t luxurious our 3.5 week stay saved us thousands of dollars in accommodation costs and was the only reason we could afford to visit expensive Japan at all. Kyoto is a gorgeous city of diverse temples, peaceful gardens and some excellent vegetarian restaurants (unusual in Japan) and we loved having so much time to explore it at a slow pace, learning to cook Japanese food, stumbling upon local festivals, and experiencing life in a real Japanese neighbourhood.

Kyoto Japan neverendingvoyageSimon Fairbairn and are a British couple who sold everything and left the UK in March 2010 to travel the world forever. They write about their travels and life as digital nomads on Neverendingvoyage.com. You can connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

Amazing first-time housesit in Costa Rica

Karen and Eric of Transamericas.com

We hit it out of the park with our very first house sitting gig which we enjoyed in late 2012 in the hills above Playa Matapalo on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast—and not just because of the spectacular location. When we saw the listing for a house and pet sitter on TrustedHouseSitters.com we knew it was for us: rural location, reasonable responsibilities (maintain a presence at the house and take loving care of one small dog and one independent cat) and a laid back vibe from the home owners. Plus the house had high speed internet so we would be able to get work done while fulfilling our duties, which we did during the three weeks we enjoyed the home which was built to really immerse you in the surrounding jungle. Turns out, that jungle was also home to toucans, king vultures, jaguarondi, enormous insects and remarkably nonchalant sloths. A female with a baby and a lone male hung around in trees less than 100 feet from the house for so long that we actually named them. We spent hours watching our own private episode of Wild Kingdom unfold in front of us from the comfort of the enormous, breezy patio of the house. Did we mention the 180 degree view of the Pacific and the amazing sunsets?

Housesit Trans-Americas in Costa RicaWriter Karen Catchpole and photographer Eric Mohl are the duo behind the Trans-Americas Journey – a 200,000 mile multi-year working road trip through 23 countries in North, Central and South America, which they started in 2006. You can connect with Karen and Eric on Facebook and Twitter.

Living the dream on an island in the Gulf of Thailand

Meg and Tony of LandingStanding.com

We always thought that finding cheap accommodations on the road meant staying in a hostel, couch surfing, or renting a cheap apartment. Seven months into our trip, we decided to give housesitting a try…

Best. Decision. Ever.

After just 5 days of signing up for Trustedhousesitters.com, we saw a request come through for a month-long pet sitting job on the island of Koh Samui, Thailand. After several email correspondences with the owner, we got the job. We had zero expectations going into the job, but it turned out to be over the top amazing. The job was to stay in the owner’s luxury villa/mansion and look after his two lovable (and giant) German Shepherds. Not only were the dogs wonderful but the house came fully equipped with two infinity pools, a full gym, media room, a poolside bar, and a full-time staff of three. With panoramic views of the Gulf of Thailand from every room in the house and adorable dogs to play with every day at the beach, it was the perfect month in paradise.

LS HousesitIn January 2012, Meg and Tony Rulli left their jobs to travel the world and try out this ‘location independent thing’. They are aspiring entrepreneurs and digital nomads blogging about travel, food, and all things ridiculous. Follow their journey at LandingStanding.com, on Facebook and on Twitter.

You might have noticed that quite a few of these housesits were found through TrustedHousesitters.com, as was our current housesit here in Santiago, Chile. We have teamed up with TrustedHousesitters who offer a very special discount for readers of our book, Break Free: The Ultimate Guide to Housesitting.

break free the ultimate guide to housesitting bookAvailable for Kindle on Amazon.com, the $9.99 book is essentially free if you sign up to TrustedHousesitters using the special discount code in the book, and after reading what is truly the ultimate guide to housesitting, you’ll be leaps and bounds ahead of other applicants for amazing housesits like the ones you read about above.

Don’t have a Kindle? No worries, we are offering Break Free – The Ultimate Guide To Housesitting also as a pdf download directly onto your computer! For only $11.99, you get over 120 pages filled with everything you need to know about housesitting, plus three bonus pdfs that will come in handy for every housesit – for both homeowners and housesitters!

Break Free 2.0

And our most exotic housesit?

As for our most exotic housesits, you can catch a glimpse of several of our own housesitting experiences in our Break Free book trailer below. 

Have you ever done a housesit? We would love to hear your most memorable housesitting experience the comments below!

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How to Break Free in 2013: Our book launch!

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We did it!

As of today, our first ever ebook is available for purchase on Amazon.com! Writing Break Free was most definitely a labor of love, and to some it might seem like a big risk publishing a book about something that not many people know about.

But that is exactly why we wanted to write it.

break free the ultimate guide to housesitting book

Why we wrote Break Free

Our long-term readers will know that we are super passionate about housesitting. Whenever we are asked how we manage to live as nomads, we explain about working online, being savvy travelers, keeping our budgets in order…but it is when we mention housesitting that we suddenly have a captive audience asking us question after question about how ‘the whole housesitting thing works’.

The idea to write this book came on a train feeling inspired after our great housesit in Italy and we started taking it more seriously in Thailand last winter. As we traveled and housesat our way through South East Asia, India and then the U.S. this year, we became more determined to write it, to put the answers to all the questions people were asking us in one place and spread the word about the housesitting movement.

That’s why it seemed so fitting that we ended up outlining the book during a housesit in Mexico, writing the bulk of it during our Costa Rican housesit and now publishing it while housesitting here in Santiago, Chile.

editing break free
One of the adorable Scottie dogs we are looking after helping us edit Break Free

Our goal was simple: inspire and inform others how to get involved with housesitting. Our second goal was to create an ultimate guide, a one-stop shop where anyone can go to get all the information they need about housesitting. To do this we broke housesitting down step by step based on our own knowledge gained from over a dozen housesits across four continents, plus interviewed owners of three of the world’s leading housesitting websites (there are over 20 in total) and spoke with other experts, like a couple that has been running a housesitting business for seven years straight.

The real reason we love housesitting

On the most basic level, it works like this: a homeowner wants to go away for a few weeks or a few months and needs someone to care for their house and likely a pet or two. A housesitter is anyone who agrees to come in and keep that house safe and the pets happy and healthy until the homeowner returns.

But housesitting is so much more than that, for everyone involved.

It solves so many problems that people see as barriers to travelling for longer and ultimately to living a more fulfilling live. Let’s say you’ve been thinking about a career break, but don’t know how to afford accommodation – housesitting in your own city is a perfect way to eliminate rent payments before you set off and even better way to cut accommodation costs as you travel.

With the money we save by housesitting, we are able to eat in better restaurants and opt for organic food, pay for nicer transportation, rent cars more often and sleep in higher quality hotels during our travels.

Our passion for the housesitting movement, however, has to do with the incredible experiences you can have and the fascinating people you meet through housesitting.

In Italy, we lived in a gorgeous old stone farmhouse, converted into a bed and breakfast by the owner, a former British Royal Air Force pilot and leader in the worldwide Esperanto organization. He enveloped us immediately into the Dolce Vita lifestyle, with white wine and pasta lunches, afternoon cheese plates and walks along rows of the tall, thin Cypress trees lining the centuries’ old countryside paths on the outskirts of his tiny Tuscan village.

borgo a mozzano viewDuring our two-month housesit on Mexico’s Caribbean coast, we worked every day from hammocks, and when we wanted to take a break, we could literally put our flippers on and walk right into the water to snorkel the reef area that started not 100 feet from the shore.

In Germany, we housesat for a former model whose house in the foothills of the Alps was incredibly refreshing – our drinking water literally came straight down from the snow caps above, and we went on hikes in the fresh spring air almost every day.

It’s not just about the beautiful locations, however. Housesitting also offers (long-term) travelers the creature comforts so often missed on the road. In Chiang Mai, Thailand, instead of a small hotel room or vacation apartment, we had a two-story house with our own kitchen and a master bedroom with a huge TV and sound system. You have access to little things that even luxury hotels don’t have, like blenders, maybe waffle-makers, comfy couches, washing machines and dryers, and often even Jacuzzis, infinity pools and home theaters.

And then there are the animals! For many people, keeping their pets happy and at home is the main motivation to having housesitters. This works out great for us, as we are huge animal lovers but as long-term travelers can’t have pets of our own. We shower the pets with love and often get a little emotional when leaving our furry friends at the end of a housesit.

pet loveAll of these things combine to make housesitting an amazing way to see the world. Housesitting allows us to:

• Stick to a tighter budget by reducing the cost of accommodation and restaurants.
• Get more work done thanks to a comfortable, private atmosphere.
• Experience each place in a more authentic way, not just zipping through.
• Keep fit with our own kitchen and ample space for our workouts.
• Meet more people by getting involved in local events.

Housesitting is not the only way we travel, instead it is something we only do when it fits into our travel itinerary. For example, we didn’t expect to housesit at all in South America, but when we spotted an ad in our TrustedHousesitters.com email alerts for one in Santiago de Chile over the holidays, we jumped at the chance and we were accepted. As I write this I am looking out a wall of windows of the fourth floor condo in one of the most exclusive areas of Santiago. Dani and I are in charge of two awesome Scottish terriers while their owners spend time with family back in Europe.

The way we see it, there is absolutely no reason why you can’t do this, too!

If you own a home, finding a housesitter allows you the freedom to travel longer as well, without having to deal with arranging friends and family to check on the house and care for your pets – or worse, having to pay someone to do it, instead. The entire process is on your terms. You just say how long you need a housesitter for and what the responsibilities are, and you will get plenty of responses – in fact homeowners are often overwhelmed with the number of applications they get!

Costa Rica pool
A dream housesit: Our infinity pool in Costa Rica

So, what is Break Free all about?

Break Free: The Ultimate Guide to Housesitting has over 100 pages packed with everything you will ever need to know about housesitting, such as:

• How to find housesitting opportunities
• How to write a stellar profile
• How to get a housesit, even with no experience
• How to find the right housesitter
• How to get your housesitter up to speed and in charge before leaving for your trip
• How to deal with issues of homeowner’s insurance, contracts and emergencies

We include an entire section of samples for you to model your own profiles, applications and housesit ads after, plus provide full checklists that both housesitters and homeowners can use to make sure everything is covered before, during and after the housesit. We also share more of our own experiences so you can get an inside look at what housesitting is really like, too.

The last section is an in-depth analysis of over 20 housesitting websites including membership rates and pros and cons of each site so you know which ones you want to sign up for to get started.

What’s more, we have partnered up with TrustedHousesitters.com, who are offering a membership discount to everyone who purchases Break Free, which means that the book could practically pay for itself.  Keep your eyes peeled for the special Break Free promo code in the book, which entitles you to:

  • 25% off a housesitter membership
  • 25% off a 6-month homeowner premium membership
  • $40 off the combined premium membership

The ebook will be available exclusively for Kindle at Amazon.com for the special launch price of $9.99. You can pick up a copy here for anyone looking into how to afford their trip of a lifetime, as early as in 2013! (Please note that you can also read Break Free if you don’t have a Kindle, using the free Kindle reading app by Amazon.com)

Break Free: The Ultimate Guide To Housesitting

What readers of Break Free say on Amazon:

Break Free is a comprehensive guide that will tell you everything you could want to know about house-sitting. – Tina

The book is full of practical information like what questions homeowners and housesitters should ask each other before committing and during the “handover.” – Kate

Break Free was exactly what I wanted in the housesitting guide–and then it went beyond and offered information and samples beyond what I expected. When I read Break Free, I loved how the book took me patiently through every step of the process (steps that were more painless than I had been imagining), and detailed the how and why of each part of the process. Then, they added in personal anecdotes, stories and photos throughout the book in just the right dose to keep the material engaging and interesting alongside all of the information they manage to pack into the guide. – Shannon

Break Free really deserves its subtitle as the ultimate guide to housesitting. It answers every question or concern you could possibly have about housesitting–both from a sitters and a homeowner’s perspective. – Erin

Check out our book trailer for more inspiration…

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Notes from the Beach House: The Earthquake Edition

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This summer ended with us moving on from our housesit in Mexico, where we escaped Hurricane Ernesto, to the next housesit in Costa Rica – just in time for us to experience the long-awaited ‘Big One’. At 7.6 on the Richter scale, this earthquake was intense and lasted roughly 60 seconds, an eternity when the world is literally shaking. We had arrived the day before and were just settling in at our new beach house when we found ourselves sprinting outside barefoot across the gravel driveway with the homeowners.

For the next two months, we are caring for a house that belongs to a family of surfers from the U.S. and couldn’t feel safer considering how well the house held up in the earthquake. Not a cup, plate or picture was out of place, while some of the local houses were totally obliterated and the supermarket looked like the apocalypse.

earthquake damage costa ricaWhile life is still a beach for us, our surroundings could not be more different. Instead of the glare of the bright blue Caribbean shining at us from all angles in Mexico, now the crashing waves of the Costa Rican Pacific thunder in the distance. The house is set high on a hill, just 500m from the beach as the crow flies, but we are surrounded entirely by lush, tropical jungle. Howler monkeys eat, sleep, play and howl in the trees right by the infinity pool, waking us in the morning and entertaining us throughout the day.

A new pet has entered our lives as well. We are looking after an adorable little mutt with a Napoleon complex who most definitely thinks she runs the show. I took to her right away, but Dani was still truly heartbroken leaving our last dog in Mexico. Two months is the longest we ever spent with a pet before, but her heartbreak was more intense because they really had a very special bond.

mexico caribbean housesitTwo months was also a long time to hang out with our new Kiwi friends. We miss them a lot too, although it may have been the best thing for all of our beer bellies to stop hanging out for a while!  Down at the beach, we got into a really comfortable routine, which started at sunrise taking the dog out for a walk on the beach, and ending with snorkeling and/or dinner with the Kiwis more and more often as our housesit days dwindled.

At three weeks into our remote housesit Dani and I were suffering from cabin fever, yet after eight weeks we could have easily stayed eight weeks more.

Now, in our new home, there is one aspect of life that is infinitely better – we are back on the grid! Lights can be switched on and off freely and ceiling fans can stay on all day if we want without worrying about how many amp hours the solar batteries have or lugging out a hundred pound generator to make more electricity. Oh and the internet…After eight weeks of only 350MB of downloads per day, we are now free to surf the web at will. We can use Pinterest again (just 20 minutes on Pinterest at through 50MB of our 350MB limit, to put that into perspective), listen to Spotify radio while we work, download podcasts, and the most glorious of all – we have YouTube again! It could not feel better to be back online and on the grid. Monkeys, an infinity pool and a cute little dog don’t hurt either!

costa rica housesitLet us know if you have any questions about how we housesit around the world. We’re happy to share advice and experiences with you. 

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Notes from the beach house: The hurricane edition

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Our time at the beach house has gotten considerably more intense since our last post.

Do we stay or do we go

The most notable change was the arrival of hurricane Ernesto last week. The storm itself is said to have reached Category 2 as it hit land just 20 miles north of the beach house, ripping through the jungle and knocking down all the power lines in its path.

But it was the build-up to the hurricane that was so intense. Speculation as to whether what was then tropical storm Ernesto would turn into a hurricane or fade out into a tropical depression. And if it did become a hurricane, would we stay or would we go.

It began almost a week before the storm with an email from the homeowner whether we had heard about the possibility of Ernesto coming to visit. At this point it was laid back, a possibility, something to keep an eye on and a topic of discussion with the neighbors.

These were the sunniest of days spent relaxing in the water, working from the hammocks or right on the beach. A possible hurricane seemed surreal, but emails kept coming from the homeowners in the States and the whole hurricane threat slowly kept building.

beers in the ocean
Two days before the hurricane – a storm seemed impossible.

We went over how we would pack everything up, including whether or not to knock all the coconuts out of the palm trees in the front so they didn’t end up shattering windows.  And then, slowly but surely, everything got technical.

Avoiding the ‘Dirty’ side

Email chains turned to information about storm systems. I found myself calculating latitude and longitude and possible points of contact using online meteorological tools to estimate best and worst case scenarios.

The local expats started talking about the chances of being on the ‘dirty’ side of the hurricane – meaning the hurricane hits south and winds hit counterclockwise and cause much more destruction.

Suddenly all we wanted was for the storm to hit north. There was no doubt now that the storm was coming, and not only would it be a hurricane, it could possibly pick up speed to become a Category 2, which, according to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale on Wikipedia, means that ‘extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage’.

We looked at our options. We could stay in a house not 30 feet from the beach, hours from any sort of real assistance, no phone or internet waiting out a possible Cat 2 hurricane that could take up to 18 hours to pass overhead.

Or we could leave.

So we left.

There had been some heavy rain the day before, but the morning we left, the water was calm, the birds were chirping, and the only indication that something was a bit ‘off’ were the dozens of dragonflies that were hovering around.

sunrise mexico before the storm
An eerily calm ocean on the morning of the hurricane.

In fact, we almost felt foolish for leaving. Many of the expats were staying and the homeowners kept saying it was ‘our call’, which to us meant they would stay if they were here. Our Mexican neighbors to the south had been boarding up and made their escape that morning too, and as we made our way through the village, watching the sun glistening off the bright blue ocean out the windows of the truck, we passed all the fishing boats which had been called in, and passed by the clapboard houses all boarded up and empty. The locals had fled.

As we made our way north, several Army pick-up trucks filled with Mexican soldiers sped past us, back toward where we came from, and in fact much of the Costa Maya was evacuated just a few hours after we left to head to Playa del Carmen.

(Bitter)Sweet Civilization

After five weeks down in the middle of nowhere it felt great to rejoin civilization again for a few days and made us realize just how isolated we have been and how ready we will be to leave here in two weeks. But it will be bittersweet.

cake in playa del carmen
A piece of cake in Playa del Carmen – Dani’s first cake in weeks!

This is the longest we have ever stayed anywhere in over two years (previously that was our lovely Canada housesit last summer). This is also the longest we have ever had to bond with a pet, too, and leaving Loba will be gut-wrenching. We seriously love this dog. She is full of personality and has some of the most adorable habits, like when she hops through the shallow Caribbean water hunting for fish, looking more like an antelope springing up and down across African plains. Dani taught her to give paw, and we spent hours playing with her, or watching her sprint laps around the beach like a race dog. No matter where we are in the world, we will always think about her all the way down here guarding the beach house.

Loba on the beach in mexicoWhat seemed like an endless stretch of summertime has now whittled its way down to less than two weeks left here at the beach house. The countdown begins. Only two more times filling water in the solar batteries, four more times with the generator, a few more dinners with our awesome new Kiwi friends / fellow house-sitters and not enough time to catch up on all the snorkeling we wanted to do when we arrived…

Next Stop: Costa Rica

There might be some snorkeling to be done though on our next stop: Costa Rica! That’s right, we have been accepted for our sixth housesit of 2012. This time it will be a two month stint in a beach town on the Nicoya peninsula…a new puppy, a new house and much more civilization – relatively.

Stay tuned for our final Notes from the Beach House – Mexico edition – in two weeks’ time. Let’s hope for a hurricane-free time until then!

Start housesitting today! Find out more about the most comprehensive book on the subject here, written by us for you. http://globetrottergirls.com/housesitting-book

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Notes from the beach house: Week 3

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We have been out here on our most remote housesit ever for three weeks now, and with the exception of some small town drama and intense weather we have settled in to a nice routine here at the beach house.

Dani took our dog for a walk at sunrise this morning along quite possibly the most serene beach setting either of us have ever seen. Herons hunt and peck for fish in the sea grass popping out of water still and flat as glass at low tide. Pelicans glide overhead for a catch further out with their dinosaur-like beaks. A gorgeous redheaded woodpecker tap tap taps away at a palm tree near the house as I wait for the water to boil to make coffee and listen to the silence.

Fun with the dog in MexicoWeather makes all the difference

We can walk north just under two miles before we hit a house that is inhabited. American expats own the two other houses we pass, but they sit vacant during the summer. One had an American woman staying there, a fellow housesitter, but she recently hopped in a pick-up headed for Cancun and left, distraught at the lack of support she received from the homeowner, who is back in the States. When we got here, we were given a list of all the houses around here and the names of the housesitters in each of them. Usually we are the only housesitters in a neighborhood, but on a Mexican beach lined with vacation homes, we have actual housesitting acquaintances for the first time, and can compare notes on life out here.

mexico our private beachUnlike the American, we are still very happy with the opportunity, and luckily have no need to plan an evacuation just yet and the only thing that will cause us to leave would be the threat of a hurricane. Although these are rare, almost every day the sunny sky blows over the house and brings with it a black sky. Darkness first forms at the reef wall, about 500m from the beach and by the time the storm reaches land, the winds have been whipping for over an hour; the palm tree leaves can be incredibly loud as they slice through the air like knives. Sometimes, the big sky is all talk, throwing only intense wind and the feeling of impending doom.

Mexico bad weatherOther times, it is as though someone has pointed a field of power hoses directly down onto our beach. When the weather is good, it is so beautiful here we stop whatever we are doing to just stare out at the sun bouncing off the water, looking like diamonds, and the different shades of blue that stretch out to what seems to us like the end of the world. There are no in between days. The weather is always present in our minds.

Two dirty words 

Along with the power of the storms, there are two words that have gained quite a bit of power since we arrived to the beach house – words that cause Dani to emote deep feelings of anger and frustration. One of the words is ‘generator’.

Our lives here are ruled by the weather in this solar powered house. Most days during this semi-rainy season, we do not get enough sun to fully charge the batteries.  When there is no sun at all, we have to lug out the compact red gas-guzzler of a generator. It weighs more than a dead man’s body (or so we’d guess) and lugging it out of the store room is just short of causing us ulcers. But it’s not the weight, the filling it with gas, the starting it and hooking it up to the energy inverter. It’s the fact that because it might always rain, we’ve got a tarp over it and have to be aware that, at any moment, we have to lug this now super hot deadweight of a machine back inside, like some sort of Strong Man X-Games contestants. This constant state of alertness is intensified by the fact that if the generator doesn’t run long enough and it rains too long…not only will we be without power, but there is a possibility that the batteries could go kaput as well. This means keeping our electricity consumption at a low at all times.

a caribbean sunrise in mexicoThe other thing that we have to learn to limit our consumption of just happens to be the other word we have grown to hate more than all the Twilight films and Instagram food photos online alike.

That word, my friends, is ‘Internet’. Of all the things about our remote life, our strict daily internet budget has been the hardest thing to adjust to. We hover between 10-15% remaining on our minuscule daily allowance of 350MB. Our Facebook time is VERY limited; luxuries like YouTube or just surfing the net no longer exist for us, and some days we have chosen to only check emails in the morning and do the bare minimum to keep our business in tact.

working in mexicoOur daily routine

The truth is, we are growing quite accustomed to the pattern of our new lives, and there is plenty to keep us busy.  A couple from New Zealand is housesitting up the road and we have had beers, went snorkeling and even had a movie night (their house is massive and has a movie projector/screen!). There have been trips into town for dinner with some of the expats, too.

We receive a daily visit from the tortilla guy, who delivers a still-hot stack of fresh corn tortillas every day on his motorbike and the grocery truck comes two times a week. We can’t predict what he might have, so some days we buy tomatoes, avocados and lychees, other days we buy eggs, tomatoes and a pineapple – at inflated gringo prices of course, but hey – he delivers!

grocery truck mexicoDani went out every day until she beat back nature and cleared away all the dense piles of accumulated sea grass in order to clean up our patch of beach, and between paying attention to the solar batteries, sweeping the house, and laying in the hammock, I could fiddle around the house all day without running out of little things to do. The snorkeling in the gorgeous corals right off our beach is breathtaking and whenever the weather is right, we go out to snorkel in the afternoons as well.

The next great adventure

We’ve been living off rice, beans, tortillas, eggs, tomatoes and cheese for way too many days, which means that tomorrow we have to make the three hour drive (and three hours back, partially on a dirt road) into the big city for some heavy-duty grocery shopping. We’ll hit up all the mega-supermarkets and snap up as many canned, boxed and frozen foods as we can realistically get back here, plus produce that will only last us a few days in this heat anyway – and this time, Dani won’t forget to buy enough sweets to soothe her cravings for hopefully the next three weeks at least.

fresh tortillas mexico

Start housesitting today! Find out more about the most comprehensive book on the subject here, written by us for you. http://globetrottergirls.com/housesitting-book

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Notes from the beach house | Week One

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We are writing today from the shores of Mexico’s Caribbean coast, just three days in to a two-month house-sit. These are views from just about everywhere on the property:

mexico our beachThe sun has burned away most of the morning cloud cover, and the wind rustling loudly through the palm leaves makes for a perfectly cooling sea breeze despite hot and humid temperatures. I alternate between typing and gazing out at the shallow water just barely covering the barrier reef that stretches 200m out to sea. I watch the waves crash way out there where the shelf drops off starkly and the deep blue of the ocean begins. We can snorkel right in our own backyard among the shades of azure, cobalt, sapphire, teal and navy blue water. The house-sitter staying a few doors down says she tries to go everyday. I imagine we will too, but the homeowner is still here and we have a lot to learn before he leaves us to our own devices for eight weeks.

mexico our coconut tree and oceanLiving out here in some of the most remote reaches of Mexico isn’t exactly just a day at the beach, and the level of responsibility is higher than other housesits we have had (this is our 11th housesit in two years). But the pristine beauty of the area is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and once the wheels were in motion, we could not turn the opportunity down. We applied for this through housecarers.com, with the application process beginning as they always do – on a whim; just a glimmer of possibility.

“Hey, wanna go down to Mexico for two months for a housesit after Tracey’s wedding (my best friend got married in Denver in June)?” Dani asked one day a few months back. She was going through the Housecarers notification emails – as she does every day – and out of the 30 or so choices that day, this one understandably caught her eye. She explained that it was a beach house, it was very remote, the ad mentioned snorkeling right off the private beach and that the house was almost entirely off the grid.

“Well, we have experience with solar power from our Bavarian housesit last year,” I answered, “and we do need some peace and quiet to get a bunch of work done…” As we looked back and forth between the ad and each other, there was no flooding of excuses, no ideas why we shouldn’t at least apply… Cut to two weeks later when we received an email and it turned out, of all the potential housesitters who applied (and this time, like all other times, there were dozens if not hundreds who had) Dani and I were chosen. Emails went back and forth, references were checked and plane tickets were purchased. We were committed to spending the summer months in Mexico.

mexico our patioNormally, a two day handover is required before the owners leave, but this case is different. Here, we’re learning how to maintain a house that runs almost entirey with solar energy in a very remote location. Though we didn’t step into this blindly, the word ‘remote’ can be a relative term. Someone from Manhattan might consider Iowa City remote, while a cowboy from Montana would apply the word to a 10 hour ride into the mountains reachable only by horseback. We are somewhere in between, but much more to the side of the cowboy. Several times on the ride down here, the owner would turn onto another perfectly straight road, flanked on either side with miles of sprawling green trees and mangroves and we would mutter another exasperated ‘Wow’, mesmerized by just how much wide open space laid behind, in front and on the sides of us.

“Didn’t Angela* tell you how remote it was?” Tom* asked each time. “Yes of course,” we would reassure him in unison. Truth be told, however, there was no way to know just what we had gotten ourselves into until we finally pulled in to the drive and brought our bags in to our temporary abode.

mexico shell and our beachLuckily, it is better than we dared to imagine. The beach house has hot water (even a rain shower head, my favorite bathroom accessory), a full kitchen with a stove, fridge and freezer, a double bed, plenty of closet space, a couch and two tables inside, and a set of beach chairs on a patio outside, all with a clear view of the ocean, obscured only by palm trees. The property is kept clean and neat and seems much newer than its nine years. There is an outdoor palapa off to the side with a table, chairs and even electricity sockets to plug in and work, plus another gorgeous table and chairs fashioned out of driftwood down at the water’s edge.

“The hardest part of your morning,” Tom jokes, “will be deciding where to have your coffee…”

So far, we couldn’t be happier with the prospects of spending two months here alone with our guard dog and the three or four fellow housesitters in neighboring houses along this strip of beach. We will post about the highs and lows of housesitting and all our beach house adventures over the next few weeks, so stay tuned and please feel free to ask us any questions you have about housesitting in the comments below.

mexico our ocean viewFor anyone who is interesting in housesitting – we found this housesitting gig through housecarers.com.

*Names of homeowners and certain details of our location will be changed to respect their privacy and maintain anonymity during our stay.

Break Free on Amazon.comStart housesitting today! Find out more about the most comprehensive book on the subject here, written by us for you. http://globetrottergirls.com/housesitting-book

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Meeting Miss Millie

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We’ve arrived in Tucson to our 2nd house sit of our trip. We couldn’t be happier. The house that we’ll be ‘sitting’ is in the foothills of Tucson in a beautiful, quiet, secluded neighborhood.  But the best of all is our new best friend for the next three weeks – Miss Millie, an Australian cattle dog/shepherd mix and all around doggie diva.

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