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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.

When choosing where to house sit, should you try a remote location?

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.

house sitting travel

Up the steep hill behind the house were the solar panels. We had to keep them clean and make sure the holding batteries in the cement house were functioning well.

Here’s how it went down for me while applying for a remote house sitting assignment:

  1. 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.
house sitting travel

Tiny adobe home on a Spanish hillside spoke to me

  1. 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.
  2. Skyped with the homeowner three times, during which I got the impression he was downplaying the remoteness of his home.
  3. Took the assignment.
  4. 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.
house sitting travel

Dawn on the mountain brought gentle wind, snarling fox kits playing, and the pair of eagles overhead.

house sitting travel

Water pipes had to be bled to keep air out. I loved the honest feel to all the work.

house sitting travel

In every direction, the rugged land had a different personality. And we got to know the sky.

house sitting travel

Mountain goat families came out every day at 7 p.m., sometimes so close we could smell them. They foraged by eating vegetation or kicking into the dirt for roots.

house sitting travel

Two-track leading to the house. The one time it rained, the road washed out, leaving foot-deep ruts.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. What happens in an emergency? Can a fire truck get to you? Can you call 911?
  3. Do you have experience with, or are a handy problem-solver, when it comes to alternative energy sources – wind, solar, composting toilets?
  4. 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!

Want to read more articles and tips on house sitting? Click here.

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

~Josie

house sitting travel

If we hiked up the mountain behind the house we’d see this hilltop city of Aledo in the distance.

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6 Responses to “When choosing where to house sit, should you try a remote location?”

  1. Why did the owner need a house sitter? Did he have animals that needed to be cared for? Was he worried about security? Did you meet and become friendly with any of the locals? Sorry about all the questions. I’m intrigued.
    Just One Boomer (Suzanne) recently posted..Have Passport – Will Give BackMy Profile

    December 3, 2012 at 1:27 am Reply
    • Hi Suzanne,
      The remote home on the mountain is a second one for the homeowner, so no animals there. He was concerned about security.
      Meeting locals is one of the greatest aspects of house sitting. Because assignments are longer than a “normal” stay in a hotel or on a tour, meeting locals always happens! I love that.
      So glad you asked!
      ~Josie

      December 3, 2012 at 7:45 am Reply
  2. Wow – those photos are stunning.
    While I would love a remote experience and would totally take their word for it about the bike, it is quite clear that the car was important. I am considering house sitting at the moment so thanks for reminding me to really read between the lines. It would have been an adventure, that is for sure…but needing 80 lbs propane tanks – there is just no way on a bike! I have lugged all my belongings on a bike across Canada – but the 90 lbs of bike and gear is evenly distributed across the front and back of the bike! Clearly – this would not have been the case for you!
    Anita Mac recently posted..Waiting for the snow to fallMy Profile

    December 18, 2012 at 4:45 pm Reply
    • Hi Anita,
      So glad you are thinking about house sitting — you sound like a girl who could handle anything after biking across Canada! I’m always so amazed at the cool things travelers do.
      Thanks for your kind words as well, and keep me in the loop after your next adventure!
      ~Josie

      December 18, 2012 at 4:52 pm Reply
  3. Access to emergency services is an important point to consider when dreaming of a remote getaway. I LOVE being away from our hi-tech world. It’s so rejuvenating. Great story, Josie
    Heather recently posted..Life unravels for accidental pilgrimMy Profile

    January 13, 2013 at 6:03 pm Reply
    • Hey Heather,
      Thanks for stopping by! Glad you can relate to the joy of being remote. We need it from time to time, don’t we?
      ~Josie

      January 14, 2013 at 7:32 am Reply

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