Want to Travel Cheaply? Try House Sitting!

Steve's new secretary

Paris is one of my favorite cities, but it’s also outrageously expensive—especially in the spring. There are many joys of living a nomadic lifestyle as Steve and I do, but running out of money is not one of them. Thus, we made the tough decision to leave Paris.

We had recently read about the prospects of house sitting, and it seemed like it could be an excellent way to travel and experience local culture without shelling out one’s entire life savings (as we recently did in Paris!).  So, as a way to continue our travels while simultaneously attempting to be frugal, we signed up for TrustedHouseSitters.com. There are many other house sitting sites out there, such as HouseCarers.com and MindMyHouse.com, but TrustedHouseSitters.com is the largest and fastest growing, and we wanted lots of options.

A year long membership cost us $70—this is less than the cost of one night’s accommodation in Paris, and we found the price to be well worth it. Why hadn’t we thought of this option before?! We created a profile about ourselves, including past house sitting and pet care experience, photos and a video. “Hi! We are Leslie and Steve and this is why we are the perfect house sitters for you!”

Venus and Steve

The next step was to apply for the house sitting opportunities that fit the dates and locations we were interested in. We only applied to jobs in southern France, but we found house sits as far afield as Hong Kong, Hawaii, Thailand and New Zealand. There are listings all over the world, which is definitely something we will take advantage of in the future!

Our first assignment came from Toulouse, France for a lovely couple with two dogs—Venus and Nick. I love dogs, and miss having my own, thus I was thrilled at the prospect. Also, after living in tiny apartments or hotel rooms for the past few years, we were over the moon to have the amenities that come with a big house. Bathtub, hot tub, oven, couches, big screen TV…we were in heaven, and settled in to play house for 10 days. After living nomadically for so long, it was great fun to be domestic and  live by a schedule.

But it wasn’t all work, we played tourist by taking a day in downtown Toulouse.

Toulouse

And had a picnic with our new friends.

New friends

Though we’ve house sat for friends and family before, this was our first “official” assignment. It was an excellent experience, and we can’t wait to do it again soon (hopefully in San Francisco this summer…fingers crossed). If you are thinking of giving house sitting a try, here are a few considerations:

1. Make a stellar profile. House sitting is becoming more popular and thus the competition can be fierce! By creating a really in-depth profile, and adding photos and videos, you’ll stand out from all the hum drum ones out there. Ours is a work in progress, but here’s the one we made:

2. Be flexible. It sounds obvious, but the more flexible you are on dates and locations, the more options you’ll have.

3. Be quick. Most of the best house sitting opportunities (think ones on tropical islands!) disappear quickly, so if you respond within the first few hours of a listing, you’ll have a much better chance of scoring an assignment.

4. Go above and beyond. It’s common sense to treat other people’s homes and pets as if they were your own. But think about what you can do to go above and beyond. Leave them flowers, a note or a small gift at the end of your house sit, create a photo album of the pets—anything creative that makes you stand out above other house sitters they have had. This will earn you a great review, and thus make you go to the top of the list for future house sitting assignments.

5. Be honest. We broke a small vase while we were house sitting, and we apologized to the couple when they arrived home. They were very happy and impressed that we told them, as they said their past house sitters have tried to hide things that were broken or that went wrong.

Have you tried house sitting as a means to travel? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments.  

 

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8 responses to “Want to Travel Cheaply? Try House Sitting!

  1. Pingback: Want to Travel Cheaply? Try House Sitting! | Peace, Love & Laughter·

  2. What a great post Leslie! You’ve inspired me, and sent me off on a quest to see if we could do some housesitting, too! Love your video. Are you housesitting when you go to Mexico? Oh, and most importantly … Happy Anniversary! Us too! ~Terri

    • Hi Terri,
      I truly loved the house sitting experience! You guys should definitely give it a shot. We’re using Air BnB in Mexico, only because we had an exact location and dates we wanted to stick to. But, if you have flexibility (which we usually do) it is the perfect way to travel on the cheap! Let me know if you guys try it!

  3. Really inspirational, mostly for young people. I wish I’d experienced something like this in my twenties or early thirties! Enjoy what you’re doing!

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Julie! I hope you’ll follow my blog. 🙂 My fiance and I just bought a house in Mexico, and we look forward to testing the waters of home exchanging…a whole new world for us, but hopefully, just as inspirational and exciting!

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