(Guest post by Dalene Heck of HeckticTravels.com)
- 6 weeks in Manhattan in a luxurious 2-storey brownstone.
- 3 weeks in London in a multi-million dollar home in the heart of Kentish Town.
- 6 months on the tropical island of Roatan, Honduras in a new 3-bedroom house with amazing views of the Caribbean Sea.
Imagine living there without paying one penny for rent, mortgage or lease payments.
We have discovered the last frontier of budget travel: house-sitting
We joyfully hop around the globe, taking care of others homes in exchange for free rent. Besides the above, we’ve spent 2 months in a 10th century Irish manor, 3 months in rural Turkey, and more. Every few months we wake up in a new locale, exploring exotic cultures, tasting different foods and stretching our foreign tongues.
In the process we’ve saved well over $30,000 in accommodations, and have been able to keep our cost of living so low that we foresee doing this indefinitely. Those 6 months in Honduras? We spent just under $6,000 in total, including our return flights to Canada.
In return we’ve watered plants, mowed lawns, fed pets, and shoveled snow. We’ve disposed of dead chickens, chased dogs through muddy fields, and even tracked a fat escaped cat through the narrow alleys of Harlem. There is really little difference to our previous existence of owning our own home (minus the mortgage and insurance payments, or fixing that broken step or fence). Most of the time we just bask in our good fortune and the decision we made to adopt this lifestyle.
And it’s not just for us digital nomads who are able to work from various locations. We’ve had house-sits for as little as 9 days, which for some would be an ideal vacation period. Allow for some flexibility in your plans and you can find house-sits just around the corner, the country, or the world! Explore a new locale by living like a local and get a perfectly un-touristy experience. Forget stuffy and lackluster hotels as well, find yourself surrounded by the comforts of a home – maybe even with a cat to cuddle with during your downtime.
All the while, save thousands. Book yourself two vacations a year, or go a little farther than you intended. Your travel budget will be well-padded to allow for it.
How to Get Started as a House-Sitter
If you’ve never house-sat before, the best place to start is within your network. Put the word out to family, friends and colleagues on what you are looking for. Chances are that someone is taking a vacation soon. Offer to take care of their home and/or pets in order to bag that first, all-important reference that will help you get many more.
Beyond that, there are several websites set up for exactly this: matching home-owners with house-sitters. We’ve tried nearly all of them, and there are two stand-outs that we currently subscribe to:
- TrustedHousesitters.com – The fastest growing site on the web with the best functionality. Their annual membership fee is slightly higher ($75), but is well worth it for the extensive number of house-sits available worldwide (they are heavy on European sits, but growing rapidly in the USA and Australia/New Zealand)
- MindMyHouse.com – Only $20 for an annual membership, with a well laid-out website and a decent number of house-sitting opportunities.
The best part about these sites is that you are free to peruse them before you buy a membership.
My husband and I have also put our extensive house-sitting experience into an eBook. It’s jam packed with information that includes examples of successful profiles and application letters, tips on how to be a good house-sitter, as well as a membership discount to their favourite website that almost covers the cost of the eBook! You can check it out here: How to Become a House-Sitter.
Other Things to Consider:
House-sitting is quickly becoming a hot topic for would-be vacationers. Competition is getting fierce, so when getting ready to apply for your dream gig, make sure you keep the following in mind:
- Each website will allow you to write a profile – your face to all potential home-owners. Make it killer. Highlight your experience as a previous house-sitter or home owner. Exude your love for all sorts of fur-babies (if applicable), mention special skills like your expertise with foreign languages, and use lots and lots of enthusiasm in your draft.
- Apply to each job specifically, taking tidbits from their listing and incorporating them into your application letter. Make it personal!
- Attractive house-sits go fast. Being one of the first to apply can greatly increase your chances. Sign-up for email alerts in your desired areas and then make it speedy.
- References, references, references. Make them good. Ask former landlords, veterinarians who can attest to your love of pets, bosses and colleagues. Ask those who can best vouch for your reliability and trustworthiness.
We are always surprised that more people don’t know about house-sitting as a means to seeing the world in such an inexpensive way. Not to mention the potential for experiences you’d never get from a tour. It has become our favourite way to travel and we are sure it could be for you too!
Dalene and Pete Heck have been traveling the world non-stop since 2009. They run their travel website at www.HeckticTravels.com, telling readers about all their adventures from abroad. They also have an eBook out on how to house-sit as well. Find them on Facebook at facebook.com/
(That pic above is the 10th century Irish manor Dalene and Pete house-sat in!)