A Roof Over Your Head
As I stated above, probably numerous times, we set our adventure into motion by Housesitting, but there are a number of creative ways to keep a roof over your head on any budget. Let’s start with the Housesitting and dive into the others as well.
Housesitting & Petsitting
Housesitting is watching over people’s properties while they go on vacation or other extended trips form their home. Typically you would stay rent and utility free for the length of the housesit. Some folks just want the security of knowing someone is watching over their property, other folks need someone to watch over the property because the area, while completely safe, may have some interesting characters in the town that would help themselves to the property if they knew no one was home for an extended time. Others may need you to take care of their furry friends, scaly friends or swimming friends, this would typically qualify as a Pet Sit, but the same rules apply. You stay rent and utility free in exchange for caring for their pets. We actually do a combination of both and enjoyed them equally.
So, the number one question we get about our travels is, “Where do you find these housesits?” And the answer is, “the internet”. Where you can really find anything. You can even use that smartphone we talked about in the last chapter. A quick Google search will show you numerous online sites specializing in connecting housesitters with opportunities. Most of the sites are pay sites; however the cost usually is in the neighborhood of a Priceline Express Deal for a single night’s stay, or around $50 a year. We used a few sites, but really had the greatest luck with Trusted Housesitters, with opportunities all over the world, literally, Housesitters America and Housecarers.
This is how it works. You set up a profile, talk about yourself and your story, add some pictures and start applying to posted housesits. In our case we are a family of 4, road schooling our kids in a Hybrid. I actually think the fact that we are a family plays well to most home owners. I think people see us as safe, we’re not going to throw parties and torment your neighbors. Last year we actually had to turn down opportunities because they overlapped with housesits we had already agreed to. Depending on your strategy, the longer the housesit the better. So, if you knock down a 3 month housesit and someone asks you to do a 3 week housesit in the middle, you’ll probably want to turn down the 3 week sit.
A note of caution, try to be flexible. We did have a housesit fall through at the last minute, the women was unable to get time off from her employer, not a huge deal, but it would have kept us out of a hotel for 2 weeks, which helps out the wallet tremendously. Also, this has never happened to us, but I have heard of it happening. You lock down a 3 month housesit and the owner decides to come home a month earlier. Kind of sucks for your plans, but it is their house and they have a right to come home if need be. Again just be flexible and roll with the punches. There’s a reason for everything and maybe your loss of a roof over your head for a month could turn into a new opportunity for 3 more months, you just never know.
The first house we ever housesit in Happy Camp, CA
I’ve also seen people, families, and couples start housesitting/pet sitting businesses. I’m really not sure how successful this can be with so many free opportunities out there? Maybe some people feel it’s more legitimate if they pay for the service? Maybe they expect more from a paid service? I’m not really sure, but you will see it as you start digging around on the topic. We felt like it was more than fair to stay rent and utility free, that’s a ton of savings to fuel the adventure.
So, what do home owners expect of you? Pretty much take care of the place like it’s yours. In other words, mow the lawn, weed whack, water the plants, water the garden, change the HVAC filter, feed the pets, medicate the pets, but please only medicate them with their prescribed treatments. If you’re handy, it couldn’t hurt to do a few things around the place to fix it up like paint, lube the door hinges, and fix that light switch that doesn’t seem to turn anything on.
Here’s the link to the corresponding podcast: Episode 5 – How to be a Housesitter
More on keeping a roof over your head next week.
Follow along on our adventure at Facebook http://www.facebook.com/travelingchimps Twitter https://twitter.com/TravelingChimps YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/user/travelingchimps and now on Pinterest at: https://www.pinterest.com/travelingchimps/