There’s no doubt about it — house sitting is a fabulous way to see the world on the cheap. You incur no cost for lodging while spending weeks or months at a time in the country of your dreams. You delve into the local culture, make friends with locals, learn a new language and expand your horizons.
That’s the key to the point I want to make here. House sitting suits us, but doesn’t suit everyone. So in the spirit of discovery I have put together a short questionnaire to help you determine if house sitting is right for you. At the very least, these easy questions are food for thought and give you a peek into some of the unique aspects of looking after someone’s home.
Get a picture of what house sitting entails by answering “yes” or “no” to the following questions. If you answer “no” to any of them, you’ve got some thinking to do if this is right for you. Here we go:
1. Am I a flexible person?
2. Can I live in a house that has a different heater/water system/windows/appliances than I’m used to?
3. Am I willing to adjust to a new coffee routine?
4. Can I deal with another language?
5. Am I willing to live by the homeowner’s rules, no matter how unusual they may be?
6. Do I love animals?
7. Do I have experience with home maintenance and the references to prove it?
Okay, most of those are common sense obvious considerations, but if just one of those has your hackles standing on end, then maybe house sitting isn’t for you. I have a friend who is a pretty adventurous woman, but when she returned from a house sitting gig, she pronounced she wouldn’t do it again because the coffee machine didn’t brew the same as hers at home. There are many different ways — and apparatus — for making coffee.
Some homeowners have ways of performing household tasks — and they want the house sitters to do it their way. One house sitting assignment I had, the woman had her own way of staking up her plants in the garden. As an avid gardener with years of experience, I didn’t see the logic, but she was emphatic about it. I wrote down her way in my notes, (which are absolutely essential!), so that it was clear to us both that I would follow her recommendation. I did it her way, groused about it to Conrad, but in the end, the homeowner was happy — and I could walk away from it at the end of our assignment.
In terms of pets, every owner has their own way. I think it’s vital to follow their lead, even if they instruct you to cook filet for Fido every day and give him Jolly Ranchers for dessert.
All houses are different and there are many house sitting assignments for homes off the grid. Conrad and I eagerly tried one in Southern Spain and had some challenges, but in the end it’s the one we talk about the most. It changed our lives for the better to live with solar power, a very unique water system, and a remote location miles from anywhere. House sitting makes it possible to try this out, but it’s definitely not for everyone. A relative — whom I love dearly — says about traveling, “If I can’t stay someplace better than my home, I’ll stay home.” I heartily disagree and love the challenge posed by offbeat situations.
The first question about being flexible is a reference to traveling on someone else’s schedule. The homeowner dictates when the assignment starts and ends. (The exception to this has to do with “variable dates,” a term more experienced house sitters can use to their advantage. For more details, click here. )
I started this website to help others discover and succeed at this really fun low-cost way to travel the world. You’ll find many more tips and hopefully some inspiration to begin on your own journey. Click here for a list of house sitting articles.