It’s been over two years since Franca and I changed the way we travelled forever by dumping our life of jumping from hostel to hotel every few days, to staying for weeks at a time in people’s homes.
People’s homes? Yep. That’s right.
Rather than being constantly on the go, we instead opted to start house sitting for people whilst they’re on holiday, offering them the peace of mind that comes with having someone watch over your possessions whilst you’re away, all in return for nothing more than a bed to sleep in for the duration.
It’s an incredibly simple process to start taking part in, and the rewards have been endless. It helps us stay on the road longer, brings our accommodation budget to less than $1,000 a year, and lets us get to know a location over the course of weeks rather than a long weekend.
The reasons that we love house sitting are endless, and every time we find ourselves discussing it with other travellers we meet on the road or within the active travel-focused communities online, the number of reasons to love it increases – and not all of them are financial.
1. House Sitting Is Perfect for Budget Travel
Okay, so house sitting is a frugal backpacker’s dream. Rather than spending hundreds of dollars or pounds every month on hostels, hotels, and guest houses – plus the expense of eating out for every meal, too! – you can consolidate your expenses into one payment.
By purchasing a yearly subscription on one to three three different house sitting websites – around $200 for three sites – our only spend on accommodation is the membership. We don’t pay a fee per house sit, nor do we have problems such as housing taxes or utility bills to pay. Typically, expenses such as electricity and gas bills are taken care of by the owner, unless the period of the house sit is eight weeks or more.
Not only are we not paying a nightly fee for a bed to sleep in, we also no longer have the requirement of having to find somewhere to eat every day. Instead we can eat breakfast at home, explore during the day, and have lunch somewhere local (so that we get to explore the local cuisine). Then, we can return “home” to cook ourselves another frugal – yet delicious! – meal.
For prolonged stays, you’ll also have a greater opportunity to get to know where the locals go to purchase all of their cheaper and tastier groceries, so that you’re not going down the usual tourist and traveller route of picking up everything from the nearest supermarket or convenience store because it’s more familiar.
2. Recharge Your Batteries
The most ideal situation every regular house sitter will find themselves in is to have a house sit arranged every two-to-six weeks, so that they can travel around a new country or continent, before then travelling to their next house sit and recharging their batteries.
Following a long house sit in Berlin one year, we spent around three weeks making our way through Germany, to Switzerland, and finally to Cannes in France where we’d be spending a month over Christmas for another house sit. Following the trip through Frankfurt, Bern, Geneva, and Grenoble, we both relished the chance to recharge our batteries during December in the famous French coastal town; and following it, we had plenty of energy to travel around Spain visiting the best cities whilst sporting a cool Barcelona T-Shirt.
3. Catch Up With Life
House sitting stays can range anywhere from two weeks to two months, and any duration between the two is perfect for spending a little time catching up with life.
Whilst recharging our batteries, we can write about our experiences or put together a guide on how to write a perfect house sitting profile, as well as make all those calls home that we’d been meaning to do for months.
It also gives us time to read through a backlog of hundreds of emails that get pushed further and further down the to-do list when we’re travelling, as well as time to catch up with those little things like calling the bank to tell them not to block your credit card because it’s the 25th transaction in the 13th country of the year.
One of the biggest catch-ups that house sitting allows us is having a few days to binge-watch the latest seasons of House of Cards and Game of Thrones. We’re not alone, right?
4. Go Off-The-Path Exploring
With more time on your side, there’s more freedom to spend longer going further off-the-path; whereas on a long weekend, there’s only so much of a city like London that you can see.
When you’re house sitting for a month or longer, you can dedicate a couple of days to different neighbourhoods and towns and villages nearby that you might otherwise disregard completely because you lack the time to see them all; especially when you’re in larger cities, where the list of things to see and do numbers in the hundreds.
Whilst house sitting in a tiny village in the countryside outside of Alicante, Spain, we had great fun one day hiking with a local walking group. The views were very pleasant, and unlike anything we’d have experienced if we’d have only been in the area for a few days or more.
5. Cure Your Animal Addition
This is the crucial deal-breaker for us. Franca and I are both huge animal lovers, and our desire to look after pets during every minute of every day probably exceeds our desire to travel. However, it’s hard to really dedicate that time to animal care and play time when you equally want to keep travelling to meet people and see the world.
House sitting provides the perfect solution by combining our two primary interests together.
We have the fortune of a fantastic place to say, the ability to enjoy the company of multiple adorable cats and dogs, whilst retaining the flexibility of having a location-independent lifestyle.
If you’re also a huge travel and animal lover, then house and pet sitting is the perfect solution for you.
Are you thinking about house sitting? Ask me your questions in the comments!