When we quit the nine til five-thirty to go travelling two years ago, we weren’t entirely sure what was going to happen. We had a few ideas for how to make money while on the road, but we weren’t sure how good they’d be. In the meantime we didn’t want to spend our life savings, and I didn’t want to stay in hostels.
That’s when we discovered house sitting.
Seventeen cats, eight dogs, two terrapins and a herd of alpacas later, we’ve learned that house sitting isn’t for everyone.
Don’t get me wrong, house sitting is a great way to travel. It’s the best way to integrate into a community, discover what life really is like in a country, and a lovely way to meet new people. During our house sitting adventure we got to experience things that we’d never have been able to otherwise: such as sitting down and enjoying a hunter’s dinner in a small farming village in the Pyrenees, learning how to handle alpacas, and getting some really sage advice from expats who have “been there, done that.”
While there are plenty of upsides, I don’t believe house sitting is right for people who are just looking for cheap accommodation.
If you’re thinking of becoming a house sitter so that you can “see the world for hundreds of dollars less” you need to understand that it’s not just about budget travel: it’s about serious responsibility.
Would you stick your hand in her mouth to pull out a stick wedged between her top row of (very sharp) teeth?
Without getting on my high horse, being a house sitter is hard work. Although James and I took a couple of day trips during our five month stay in a village 35km outside of Tarbes, we couldn’t leave Cassie alone for more than a few hours at a time. She needs to go out to pee, she needs two walks a day, and most importantly: she loves to spend time with her humans.
As a result, the house wasn’t just a base for exploring: it became home. We had to clean the oven, clean the shower, and basically do all of the gross nasty stuff that you need to do when you own a house.
In a hostel the cleaners do that for you, but when you house sit you’re on your own.
Would you clean gunge out of her eye every morning?
In Salies de Bearn we had to get up at 6am every morning to take two big dogs on a six kilometer walk before the sun got too hot. We love animals, we love walking, so this didn’t bother us. It does eat into a working day, especially when you have to clean the swimming pool too. It definitely takes it out of you, and means a lot of late evenings burning the midnight oil if you’re a digital nomad like me.
If you need peace and tranquility to work remotely, then house sitting isn’t for you.
Would you clean his poop off the rug when he eats food that doesn’t agree with him?
What I’m trying to say is, if you don’t like animals, then house sitting definitely isn’t for you. If you like rushing off on adventures, house sitting is not for you. If you like having your own routine, then nope: it’s not for you.
If you want to immerse yourself in a new culture while living a pretty settled life (i.e. house work on a Sunday, curling up with the pets in the evening), then house sitting is for you.
If you work remotely and want to base yourself somewhere interesting, while enjoying a few home comforts, then house sitting is for you.
If you understand the full responsibility of looking after someone’s home and pets, then house sitting is for you.
What do you think? Have you ever tried house sitting?