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.
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!”
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.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,