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Passionate experience junkie. Lover of the arts and architecture. Want to see and share the world, one village at a time.

Close to Home: Surprisingly Rewarding for House Sitting

House Sitting in Spain

Most of the Time, The Joy of House Sitting is Seeing New Places Like Sexy Bilbao, Spain

Most of the time, house sitting and travel to far-off lands go hand-in-hand. After all, house sitting means you can travel farther and longer – I preach it constantly.

But it’s not the only way to reap the benefits of house sitting. There is another way to approach the whole philosophy of free lodging. Why not stay close to home? It’s easier and less expensive because there are no airline tickets to buy, and you may continue to work. You may be near your family and established friends.

You may then ask what is the point of house sitting? Why go away from your own comfy bed and familiar surroundings to someone else’s home – especially when you have the responsibility of looking after a home and sometimes pets? Why not just stay home?

It turns out there are several excellent reasons to stay close by.

I asked three veteran house sitters about their experience with house sitting close to home and came up with some surprising answers – one of the most valuable has to do with gathering multiple letters of reference to use in the future for more ambitious and far-flung assignments.

“This is how I eventually built up really good references for my later housesits out of the area for people I didn’t already know,” says Shannon Terry, a young traveler who started out several years ago house and pet sitting for friends in her Florida home town.

Close to home house sits are also a super way to visit with family, as you’ll find out from Sandra, a house sitter who sold everything to adventure around the world. Sandra had to alter the definition of “close to home” a bit because she is basically homeless, but keeps some belongings in her daughter’s home. More on that below.

The third example is given by married couple Kevin and Alicia Shea. One very good reason they express   – a reason everyone can relate to:

“One reason for sitting close to home (up to 3-4 hour drive), is that we wanted to visit places that we previously have just driven past,” says Kevin.

House sitting travel

Kevin and Alicia Shea enjoying grilled barracuda at Jack’s, Princess Margaret Beach during a house sit in Bequia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

I caught up with Kevin and Alicia in Bequia, St. Vincent and the Grendines, where they are house sitting. Their website  shows numerous testimonials that any house sitter would be envious of. Their experience – a lovely references – allow them to win gorgeous assignments in Caribbean paradise beach view homes, but it wasn’t always so.

“When we first started sitting,” says Kevin, “we wanted to develop recommendations and we rationalized that we could do that best by being close to home. We would be able to make ourselves available for pre-sit interviews with the clients at their home. It also permitted potential clients to evaluate us and get to know us before we sat. It also allowed us to view their homes and see for ourselves. Sitting close to home also lets us have multiple sits with the same client if we wanted — and to further develop our recommendations for repeats.”

And now that Kevin and Alicia are more established house sitters, They can have their choice of close to home or far away house sits.

“Now we sit both near home as well as places that we want to go to, or which are ‘on the way’ while we travel. We carefully evaluate where and for whom we sit, we won’t just sit anyplace. We conduct as much due diligence on potential clients as we can, but now that we are a bit more diverse in our sits, we interview by phone or skype.”

I really like the Shea’s professional approach – it is another aspect of house sitting I am always pushing. A little professional language, attitude, or wording goes a long way to getting you noticed by homeowners.

Shannon Terry’s experience wasn’t quite as deliberate as Kevin and Alicia’s, and happened almost by accident. It wasn’t until after she had done a number of local house and pet sitting assignments that she realized house sitting could be a method for far away travel.

“My friends referred me to their friends locally,” says Shannon, “and once I realized you could do this to travel farther & wider, I had many solid & enthusiastic references ready.  I think it’s a great way to get started as a housesitter & be really competitive for those sweet sits out of state or abroad – start local!”

house sitting travel

Shannon Terry with Stella near Madison, WI, a month-long housesit which allowed her to have her own space near family & friends for an extended visit.

Shannon does some of her work online as a resume writing professional, so the money can still flow when she takes a new house sitting assignment far from home.

Sandra, the house sitter who sold everything to adventure around the world, comes back around occasionally to stay with her daughter, but recently found a perfect solution to that feeling of overstaying her welcome. She found a house sitting assignment close to her daughter.

“Since I no longer own a home,” says Sandra, “I am a guest when I return for visits.  And while I am always welcome to stay at my daughter’s, I chose to house sit during my last trip home.  I loved being near enough to spend time with family and friends, yet also have home all to myself.  It was the best arrangement and also let me have great fun in an area that I may consider locating.

See more about Sandra at her website.

house sitting travel

Sandra Kelly in Ireland where she house sat for a young widow who owned 7 cats, a tank of fish, and Ziggy, a border collie.

The takeaway from this article is: Staying local is good for house sitters just starting out and for veterans who want a change of pace or to enjoy extended visits with family or friends.


Here are more articles with tips for successful house sitting.

I wish you safe and happy travels always and all ways,


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14 Responses to “Close to Home: Surprisingly Rewarding for House Sitting”

  1. An interesting article Josie. If only I had just said no to two “close by home” house sitting opportunities only yesterday. An excellent way to increase references I agree 🙂
    budget jan recently posted..Escape to Bamboo IslandMy Profile

    November 8, 2013 at 10:14 pm Reply
    • Good to hear from you Jan! It’s funny you say you turned down a couple close to home house sitting assignments. As I (daily!) peruse all the possibilities from the match-up sites, I saw several opportunities right in your hometown and they jumped out at me because of that. I wondered if you could possibly know any of them!
      One thing for sure though — Australians love house sitting! The number of opportunities there must surely outnumber all other countries.
      Take care,

      November 9, 2013 at 9:56 am Reply
  2. Hi Josie! Such a cool site! I’m going to spend some time looking around your blog to read your thoughts on house sitting, which would be a perfect way for me to visit Paris for an extended period of time (my dream).

    And….I am so impressed that you lived on a commune in the 70’s! So cool.
    Claudia Schmidt recently posted..We’ll Always Have ParisMy Profile

    March 1, 2014 at 11:41 am Reply
    • Haha Claudia, yes my experience living in a commune left an indelible mark on my character.
      Glad you mosied ’round here to check out house sitting. Yes!, you can stay in or around Paris for an extended time. Absolutely the best way to immerse with the locals and understand the culture — similar to our first house sit outside Copenhagen. We took our time wandering the city a dozen times or more over 6 weeks.
      Welcome my new friend, and thanks so much for your kind words.

      March 1, 2014 at 11:55 am Reply
  3. I admire all these people who take a leap of faith and step into the unknown. Travel stories about such people’s experiences are heartwarming. You have a wealth of knowledge, Josie and I enjoy learning from you.
    Heather recently posted..Aboriginal art and culture markets take offMy Profile

    May 5, 2014 at 8:28 am Reply
    • Awww, Heather, I’m blushing! Thanks for your sweet and kind words.

      Yeah, there are some amazing travelers out there, living adventurous and darn cool lives.

      I like knowing YOU’RE out there in the world.


      May 5, 2014 at 5:36 pm Reply
      • Thanks, Josie! I think what resonates with me more than anything else about housesitting is a mutual sense of appreciation and respect. This method, with appropriate safeguards, is such a lovely way to break down barriers, get to know new people who are total strangers and yet have interests in common. You educate people as well as provide great info and share authentic experiences. I trust what you write.
        heather recently posted..Aboriginal art and culture markets take offMy Profile

        May 5, 2014 at 7:27 pm Reply
        • You’ve hit the nail on the head Heather. I love meeting –and house sitting for — complete strangers across the globe. This process was impossible only a few years ago before the internet. So we discover that the world is populated with way more wonderful, trustworthy, and fascinating people than I ever thought possible! House sitting makes our meeting happen. And I have learned that our trust in people is justified. Darn good stuff!

          And as always, my friend, thanks for commenting!

          May 6, 2014 at 8:19 am Reply
  4. Great post Josie.

    I really feel you hit some very valid points here for sitting close to home. We know many sitters that have started off this way, and it is certainly something we recommend also.

    If you are just finding your feet in house sitting, then being in a place that is familiar to you can certainly help. Suddenly being in a new country with different language, currency, customs, climate etc can be overwhelming, all whilst getting used to a new routine, new surrounds and new pets in an overseas sit.

    Local familiar sits are definitely a great way to get your feet wet and learn first about house sitting and how it works, and then venture into more exotic places.

    And those all important references as you say make all the difference.

    Another way people are using local sitting is actually to purposely save on rent. Some people have no real aspirations to travel with house sitting but will happily do house sits around their city (usually has to be a large enough city to make it work) to save on rent. Just recently there was a story out of Australia where a lady house sat around Sydney and saved over $30000 towards her home deposit over 2 years. Not a bad way to go!!
    Nat Smith recently posted..PRESS RELEASE: New Mobile Magazine Reveals How Volunteer House Sitters Save Pet Owners Tons of MoneyMy Profile

    June 17, 2014 at 11:52 am Reply
    • Hey Nat,
      House sitting has so many benefits! I love your story of the Sydney house sitter who saved up to buy a home. Thanks for your ALWAYS fact-filled comments. The people in the house sitting community amaze me. Good, good stuff!
      Wishing safe and happy travels,

      June 18, 2014 at 4:39 pm Reply
  5. Sam #

    Right on! We’re relatively new to housesitting as we’ve only been housesitting full time since December 2015. Since we’re new, we’re focusing on being able to meet in person, as it levels the playing field and even gives us an advantage over someone that might have a ton of stellar reviews but is located far away. Once we meet and connect with homeowners, they always offer us the gig. After all, why would they pick someone they have never met that lives far away when they have a guaranteed, local couple who is more than up to the task?

    After our first (multi-month) housesit found online, we were able to line up another in the same city because we met the owner. She said the same thing, that there were plenty that applied with way more reviews, but the ability to meet in person put her immediately at ease. She saw how we interacted with her dog, and we got to chat and connect on many things. Now, we’ve returned to our home base to do shorter term housesits in the area and rack up those references. Ideally we want 2+ month sits, and hopefully will work our way up to some great locations! I can’t believe you housesat in Bilbao, such a lovely city. Hopefully one day for us!
    Sam recently posted..No Destinations: Forget the List and GoMy Profile

    June 26, 2016 at 11:24 pm Reply
    • Hi Sam, and Welcome!
      What a fantastic comment, my friend! You found a great solution for getting started house sitting, and thank you so much for adding it to my post.
      Wishing you safe and happy travels.

      June 27, 2016 at 7:02 am Reply
  6. Grey World Nomads #

    We don’t have a home and so ‘close to home’ is out. But we return often to our children in Switzerland resp. South Africa. For these occasions house sitting is kind of near ‘home’. Greetings from Scotland!

    June 28, 2016 at 11:54 am Reply
    • Marcelle and George,
      House sitting to visit others definitely counts! Thanks for stopping by and adding your unique take on “close to home.”

      June 29, 2016 at 6:40 pm Reply

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