If you’re anything like me, you drool over the posted house sitting assignments on match-up websites like HouseCarers.com. The places! The photos! Wouldn’t you love staying in a romantic and charming French country estate or a rugged Australian outback boutique farm complete with small herd of cattle? Or a thatched-roof hut in Fiji? What would your travel be like if you “lived” in a mountain retreat in the Smokies of Tennessee? Here are a few screen shots from HouseCarers.com:
And if you’re considering a house sit away from it all, are you up for it? Does it conjure up visions of meditative bliss?
Should you try a remote location?
Okay, so what does “remote” mean? Very simply, remote means away from villages or amenities. It can mean off-the-grid. It may mean no neighbors. But let’s go a bit deeper into this business of remote. You read through the posted house sitting assignments and two of them say their home is remote. Homeowner #1’s definition of remote means their home is in a town with only one pub, one grocery, one bakery. Homeowner #2’s definition of remote means it’s a two hour drive over rough terrain to the nearest neighbor, and another hour to a lone grocery outpost.
Homeowners #1 and #2 both used the word “remote.” Sometimes you must read between the lines to decipher the remoteness of a home. In short, you must do a lot of reading between the lines – and ask many questions so that you really match your vision of remote with theirs.
Here’s how it went down for me while applying for a remote house sitting assignment:
- Loved the photo of a tiny off-the-grid mountainside home in Southern Spain, posted for a 6-week assignment. The description of the assignment was short. Contacted homeowner to find out more.
- Homeowner emailed me the Google map of the property with satellite coordinates. The home was so remote it had no address! And by the way, I highly recommend you obtain the address of any possible house sit so you can do a Google map of the area. This lays out for you in no uncertain terms exactly where the property is – remote or not.
- Skyped with the homeowner three times, during which I got the impression he was downplaying the remoteness of his home.
- Took the assignment.
- Yes, it was EXTREMELY remote and did scare me at first, but was also one of the most incredible experiences of my life. No regrets. Conrad and I wanted the adventure and we were up for it. We loved the challenge posed by living off the land. (And we’d do it again.) But if I had not read between the lines with the homeowner, it could have been a bad experience. We wanted to use bikes while there to save money. Once there though, we found out the town was farther away and was completely impossible to bicycle over the treacherous and gravely mountain roads, which the homeowner had told us we could do. Not to mention that the home was partially powered with propane, which meant carrying the replacement tanks on our bicycles. In Spain, propane tanks are much larger than in the U.S., and full ones weigh 80 pounds. Luckily, I made an arrangement with the homeowner at the last possible minute to use a car of his while there.
The bottom line is to ask, ask, ask a million questions. In a remote situation you may not have the ability to “squeak by” if you don’t have all the facts.
Here are some things to consider when you’re thinking of trying a remote house sit:
- Will you look after animals? Animals may be time-consuming or can’t be left for long periods of time. This can be very restrictive if you want to go out exploring the surrounding area, especially if you must drive a long time to get to civilization.
- What happens in an emergency? Can a fire truck get to you? Can you call 911?
- Do you have experience with, or are a handy problem-solver, when it comes to alternative energy sources – wind, solar, composting toilets?
- Can you handle being far away from everything for days at a time? No ambient light. No traffic noise. No TV or internet, (although you’d be amazed at the remote locations that have internet! We did, on the Spanish mountainside!) No corner market. Just you and the wilderness. Would you be able to handle that?
Finding a house sitting assignment is filled with options. If one of the options for you is to look for a remote location, I hope you find out all the facts before jumping in. Going in with your eyes wide open may lead you to the greatest experience of your life. Being totally immersed in nature, where you learn the daily rhythm of the wind, get to know the wild animals in your “neighborhood,” and watch the majesty of changing weather patterns, changes you for the better. All humans should experience it at least once!
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I wish you happy and safe travels always and all ways,