The Ultimate Housesitting Guide is run by Dani and Jess, the German-American couple behind the popular travel website GlobetrotterGirls.com. Since hitting the road in May 2010, we have been entirely nomadic with no home base. Housesitting has been one of the key ways we have been able to maintain our lifestyle of freedom.
Because of the way we live, we meet new people almost every day which means we get a lot of questions about how we make our nomadic life work. We talk about all the factors involved, like working online, being price-savvy, opting for overland travel whenever possible, etc, but it is housesitting that piques people’s curiosity and the barrage of questions begins. We answer a few of these questions for you below, but the aim of this website is to answer most of those questions post by post in order to encourage more people to get involved in this great, growing movement.
How did you hear about housesitting?
One dreary Sunday morning back in 2010, when we were living in London, England, Jess read the Guardian Travel section and came across the article Make Yourself at Home with a spot of Housesitting.
A freelance journalist and her musician boyfriend wanted to escape the London winter and because they were location independent, they only needed peace and quiet for her to write and space for him to play without disturbing the neighbors. They found the opportunity to care for a Bed and Breakfast in Puglia, Italy while the owners were away.
Both of us were working freelance and had worked in the tourism and hospitality so this immediately resonated with us. We signed up to Housecarers.com, and this got us thinking. Why were we working from our kitchen table when we could be anywhere in the world? Two months later we had packed up our apartment and gone traveling. We do not housesit exclusively, but when it fits our travel plans, we apply every time.
Exactly one year into our travels, we ended up getting a housesit at a Bed and Breakfast in Tuscany. It felt surreal to live out what had seemed like a dream back on that dreary London day the year before.
Where have you had housesitting gigs?
Back at the start, in May of 2010, we had quite an interesting experience in Los Angeles looking after seven cats in a tiny Hollywood condo. We lived in a beautiful L.A. neighborhood within walking distance to the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Without paying a cent for accommodation, we were able see the sights, and yet also really get a feeling for what everyday life is like for L.A. residents. The experience was priceless.
We were then accepted for a month-long stint in Tucson, USA (where we returned to for another housesit two years later). We have also had two housesits in Chicago, USA; Chiang Mai, Thailand; Bavaria, Germany; Tuscany, Italy; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Ottawa, Canada; a remote beach house on the Costa Maya in Mexico; another beach house on the Pacific in Costa Rica and Santiago, Chile.
How much $$ have you saved by housesitting?
In 2012 alone, we had six housesits in six countries which covered over six months of absolutely free accommodation, not only allowing us to work in peace and quiet and live in stellar accommodation for free, but also travel slowly having authentic experiences in the places we visit.
We have saved at least $12,000 on accommodation costs! Add to that the money we save being able to cook for ourselves instead of eating in restaurants and those savings shoot up even further.
How do you find these housesits?
There are two ways to find housesits around the world: you can start by housesitting for family and friends or use your personal network to find a housesit, or sign up to a housesitting website. We found housesits through both – personal contacts and housesitting websites, but the reach of a website is of course much wider than personal contacts. An American expat family living in Costa Rica, would have never been able to invite us, a German-American couple residing in Mexico, to housesit for them if it was not for the internet.
There are currently around 20 housesitting websites that connect homeowners and housesitters, many of which offer email alerts for new available housesits. Having an email alert set to ‘worldwide’, we receive daily emails with the latest housesit ads for assignments in dream locations like France’s wine region, the coast of Spain, Mexico, all over the United States, Australia and New Zealand. By being signed up to several websites, we increase our chances of finding places to care for that are in the general vicinity of wherever we happen to be at the time.
However, the other thing that helps is paying huge attention to detail when it comes to the application process, like applying quickly, having a stellar profile with lots of pictures and showing compassion for the homeowners’ needs. We go into that in depth in our post How To Get A Housesitting Gig.
In the book Break Free: The Ultimate Guide to Housesitting, we take you step-by-step through the entire process of finding a housesit, our tips on how to write an attractive profile or application and detailed checklists to ensure housesitters are fully armed with all information necessary to maintain the home, plus a full comparison and analysis of over 20 housesitting websites, plus our own personal experiences of our housesits which offer lessons or an inside look at what housesitting is all about.
Head over to GlobetrotterGirls.com for in-depth stories from the places we travel through, plus hotel reviews, our What I Wonder When I Wander column and inspiring travel photography including our Polaroid of the Week section.