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.
While 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 7in7.co
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!
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 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!
Mary, 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.
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.
Talon 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, and on Twitter.
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.
Simon Fairbairn and Erin McNeaney 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?
Writer 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.
In 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.
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.
Available 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.
And our most exotic housesit?
Have you ever done a housesit? We would love to hear your most memorable housesitting experience the comments below!