Category Archives: Housesitting interviews

Family housesitting: A mother and her son housesit and travel around the globe

In the latest installment of our housesitting interview series, we are talking to Ruth, a single mom who is housesitting with her 8-year old son while they travel the world. Ruth talks to us about how they started housesitting, if it is more difficult to get housesitting assignments with a child, and her favorite and worst housesitting experiences.

Tell us a little bit about yourself – who are you, where are you from, how long have you been housesitting for, do you do it full-time or sporadically, what do you do for a living.

I am a 51 year old single Mum from Australia, with an 8 year old son.  We are currently traveling in South America, and have been traveling the world for 13 months so far.

We first started housesitting in Australia. We were selling our home to come on this trip, and the house was pretty empty, so we had the chance to care for 3 homes in that time.

Then the house sold, and we were asked to housesit a neighbors home. This worked perfectly for the time we had to clean up the house for the hand-over to the new owners.

But our first big housesitting assignment was on an island in Fiji for 6 weeks.  This was a great time as we made friends with the neighbors and locals, as well as having a good ex-pat community we merged in with.

Our last house-sitting was for 2 months in Brazil.  It was 3 hours out of Rio, but we had the most spectacular view overlooking the harbor, the lakes, and river. It was a to-die-for location.

Mother’s Day breakfast overlooking the Rio harbor in our house-sit in Brazil

Mother’s Day breakfast overlooking the Rio harbor in our housesit in Brazil

How did you find out about housesitting?

When I was preparing for the journey of our lifetime, I looked for ways where we could travel slowly, emerge ourselves in a different culture, and save money.

Do you remember when and where you first heard about it?

I read about it in a travel book, and then ‘Googled’ different sites. I came across Globetrotter Girls who recommended various sites, so I joined several.

Why do you housesit? What is the main motivation?

We travel fairly fast given the fact most countries only allow you a 3 month visa. Being a single Mum, and on a budget, this can get tiring and expensive. Hotels can get lonely, and hostels can be dirty, so house-sitting gives us the time to slow down, catch up on his learning, and make new friends with the locals.

This lovely lady allowed me to house-sit her unit in Sydney

This lovely lady allowed me to house-sit her unit in Sydney

How many housesits have you had and where?

We have only house-sat a total of 8 times so far.

6 were in Australia – one having a cat and dog; 1 in Fiji which had 2 cats, and a great garden to care for; and Brazil – which turned out to be more of free labor in exchange for a place to live.  I learned a big lesson with this particular house-sit, and we ended up leaving early, but it all worked out great in the end.

Was it hard for you to secure your first housesitting gig? How many applications did you have to send before you got accept for your first assignment?

Our first housesitting gig was through friends. Several neighbors and friends asked us, as they knew I was good with plants, and my son was an animal lover. We actually scored our first international house-sit on the first application which was pretty amazing!

My son helping to do the dishes

My son helping to do the dishes

Did you ever have any unusual pets to take care of or responsibilities that were out of the norm?

Yes, I think in one place, we found the responsibilities a little full on. She had us cleaning other houses, her pool & ours, and doing too many chores. It was slave labor for a bit there, and I have learned to ask how many hours they expect you to clean. She also put up photographs of another home, and not the place we were to live. We were quite misled, and it was a costly lesson.

What was your favorite housesitting experience to date and why?

Definitely Fiji. The house was glass fronted on a hill overlooking the beach. I loved the town, the friends we met, and the neighbors we got to know. My son even went to school there. The garden was not too hard to look after, and the cultural experience was incredible!

The patio of our Fiji house-sit overlooking the sea.

The patio of our Fiji house-sit overlooking the sea.

You housesit with your son – Do you find it harder to get accepted for a housesit because you are traveling with your child?

We recently were rejected for a string of housesits because I had a child. Too remote; aggressive dogs; luxury home, and other excuses were given. I don’t mind. If they think we are not the right fit for their home, then it needs to be someone else, as you need a good relationship with the homeowner. However, I have also been approached for 4 housesits in the last 3 months we had to turn down because timing or location did not work for us.

Have you had any funny housesitting experiences?

In Australia we once house-sat a country 2 story home. It was lovely but quite remote. There were no street lights, and we had a hand drawn map to find it. It took us hours. When we woke the next day we discovered the opposite neighbors were really good friends that we had known about 10 years ago from our church. It was pretty cool.

In Fiji, one of the cats loved to find rats and frogs and bring them into the house. I trod on one on the kitchen mat when I woke up and went to make coffee. It wasn’t so fun as I had no shoes on!

Off to Melbourne for our first house-sitting assignment when my son was 3 years old

Off to Melbourne for our first housesitting assignment when my son was 3 years old

What was your worst housesitting experience? Has something ever gone wrong?

Definitely Brazil. The location was remote. The advertisement was misleading. No-one in town spoke English and we spoke no Portuguese. The work load was full on at times and over the top. The bathroom stunk as the septic tank needed replacing so we had to run a fan 24/7. It had not been lived in for a while, so the first night the mosquitoes came out and my son had about 200 bites on his face alone. It was a really lonely and horrible time, but the house / location was pretty lovely.

Do you have any tips for people who are interested in beginning with housesitting? What would your advice be for people to get accepted for a housesit / be successful housesitters?

We have a police clearance and great references. We also put we are Christians in our profile, and that we are traveling long-term. I am also a qualified landscape designer, so people feel pretty reassured about their garden. I also put that my son is an animal lover, so I think that helps.

I think the main thing is to read carefully the advertisement, and to reassure the owner that you are what they are looking for, and you will take good care of their house.

We house-sat in Adelaide when a neighbor went interstate – this was when our house sold and we had to clean it out.

We housesat in Adelaide when a neighbor went interstate – this was when our house sold and we had to clean it out.

Are you signed up to any housesitting websites? If so, which ones, and which ones have you had the most success with?

We use Mindmyhouse, Housecarers.com, and Trustedhousesitters. They are all pretty good.

You are not only housesitting and traveling, but also focus on ‘Random Acts of Kindness‘. Can you tell our readers a little bit more about that, and how they can get involved?

When we decided to travel long term, we didn’t want to just ’see the world’. We wanted to make a difference. So my son and I talked, and really it was his idea. He decided to pack up his toys, and books and take them with us to Fiji. So we rang the airline and received permission for 40 kg of donations for he poor. We found a needy village, and some kids near us who had been deserted by their Mum. So we used our money to pay their school fees, buy them clothes and food. Then for the village we raised some funds with our facebook and blog, and we hired a 4WD and drove to a really remote location and then distributed all the items. The kids were so poor they had one shoe, or only a man’s singlet on a teenage girl as a dress with no underwear.  We helped a lot there. It was very rewarding.

In Los Angeles we passed out food to the homeless.

In Bolivia we worked with many of the beggars, glue sniffers, alcoholics and homeless. We gave money to those who could use it (not glue sniffers or alcoholics), and we gave out food and clothing. It was an amazing time.

If anyone would like to donate to our Random Acts of Kindness, they can give give through our Paypal link on our website exploramumourworldtrip.blogspot.com.

Ruth and her son visiting the Jesuit ruins in ParaguayRuth is a single Australian 51 year old Mum who has been travelling the world with her son, who is now 8 years old. They decided to change their lives about 3 years ago. It took 18 months in total to prepare for the journey, but it has been the greatest thing they have ever done.

They will be traveling through South and Central America for the next 6 – 9 months, so if you are looking for a housesitter in that region, feel free to contact Ruth at her website or Facebook

Meet Jemma and James, the housesitting couple

How did you find out about housesitting? Do you remember when and where you first heard about it?

Credit goes to Erin and Simon from Never Ending Voyage for that one. Although there are plenty of blogs that discuss house sitting, theirs was the first that sent us down the rabbit hole that eventually led to us becoming house sitters.

Why do you housesit? What is the main motivation?

For us it’s to save money on accommodation. We discovered a lot of the other benefits – such as living like a local, slow travel etc – once we were actually house sitting, but initially the main motivation was to save money.

How many housesits have you had and where?

I think we’ve had eleven or twelve housesits now and they’ve been spread out between the UK, France and Portugal. Last year we had four French house sits in a row lasting nine months in total. That was a really great opportunity to experience France and to find out just how terrible we both were at speaking French.

james poolWas it hard for you to secure your first housesitting gig? How many applications did you have to send before you got accept for your first assignment?

Our first application was a complete fluke; we managed to get that one straight away. After that though it was a frustrating twenty or so applications before we really got anything worthwhile back. Also – and I think this is worth mentioning to anyone thinking about house sitting – we didn’t realize that a lot of house sitting websites don’t update the assignments to ‘sitter found’ when a sitter has been found. We were unknowingly applying for assignments that had been filled a year before.

TrustedHousesitters.com was (and still is) the exception to this rule; their assignments are very up-to-date. Now if we use any other house sitting websites we only tend to apply for them when they come up (following new assignments via email or RSS). It just saves a lot of time that way.

What was your favorite housesitting experience to date and why?

We took on a five month housesit in the French countryside. During that time an invitation came through the door from the Association de Chasse. Jemma describes the chasse on her blog as a “bunch of local men who grab their shotguns two to three days a week and wander into the woods to shoot at things”. Most of the time they tend to shoot each other, but once or twice a year they work on their aim and put together a meal for the village. We RSVP’d yes of course.

The dinner was six courses in total: gabure (soup), an assiette de charcuterie (cured meats), venison stew, a shot of whisky as a palette cleanser, wild boar, cheese and salad and finally a desert of custards and biscuit. There was a lot of wine from Madiran, the nearby wine region, as well.

Being the only ‘foreigners’ there felt incredibly special. I think getting to be a part of a community like that is something that’s really unique to house sitting as opposed to other ways of travelling – hostelling, hotels etc.

James-and-Ralph-on-groundDid you ever have any unusual pets to take care of or responsibilities that were out of the norm?

Last October we looked after 18 alpacas. It was a weird setup as even though they were farm animals and bred for their wool, they still had names and even came to their own names. We also had to be able to tell them all apart.

alpaca sittingWe learnt how to herd them, weigh them and work alongside a vet to help out with the medical work. My least favourite part was when one of the male alpacas had a cut on his man bits. I had to rub cream on him every day. I thought we shared a few intimate moments but I’ve heard nothing from him since.

We also had to separate the males from the females and Prince Charming, the studmale from all of the alpacas. I’m not sure how he ended up with that name actually. He spent most of the time spitting at the other males and being father to half of the farm, he had played the field in more ways than one.  Thankfully we managed to keep them all in their separate groups and the owners didn’t come home to any new alpaca offspring.

Have you had any funny housesitting experiences?

As mentioned, we often had to do medical work on the alpacas. One day Jemma was standing in front of one of the females cleaning out some gunge that had gotten trapped in her eye. The alpaca was sitting down and being uncharacteristically well-behaved. Then it got bored, slipped its neck between Jemma’s legs, stood up and took off running down the field.  Jemma was too surprised to do anything so all she could do was grab the alpaca’s fur and hold on. All I could do was laugh.

What was your worst housesitting experience? Has something ever gone wrong?

We crashed our own car on our first housesit in France. Nobody was injured – well apart from my pride – but it was quite difficult house sitting and dealing with insurance companies at the same time. During that two week house sit we also had to find a new car, arrange to go back to the UK to buy it (after the house sit) and work out a plan to drive across France in time for our next house sit. We never neglected our duties during that house sit, but we felt bad. We wanted the homeowners to come back and everything to be perfect but instead we had to explain our own saga and ask them if we could leave our stuff there while we sorted everything out. They were very understanding – everyone in France crashes their car at least twice it seems – but at the time we felt like we could have been better house sitters. Obviously it was a complete accident but it took us a while, me particularly, to stop beating ourselves up for it.

james_angelaDo you have any tips for people who are interested in beginning with housesitting? What would your advice be for people to get accepted for a housesit / be successful housesitters?

Take on a few house sits locally first. We’ve found that no matter your experience level if people can meet you first, they’re much more willing to give you a shot.  

Are you signed up to any housesitting websites? If so, which ones, and which ones have you had the most success with?

TrustedHousesitters.com as mentioned is the most functional of the websites and I think we’ve gotten all but one of our house sits through them. They’re also the only site to have its own devoted page that lists all of the long-term assignments. That’s incredible useful: long-term house sits really give you a chance to experience life as a local and without having to travel in between house sits you save even more money.

We did build our own website as well, but being honest even though we’ve been offered a few house sits through that, none of them have been in areas where we’re currently able to house sit. 

Additional info:

pet sittingJames & Jemma are ‘the house sitting couple’. You can find out more about them on their website thehousesittingcouple.com.

Gone nomadic: An interview with newbie housesitters Kathleen and Brock

Originally from the US, Kathleen and Brock headed to Australia and although their original plans fell through, their discovery of housesitting saved the day! They’ve since had three housesits and as a pair of digital nomads, this lifestyle is sure to continue. Thankfully they have let us interview them to share their story here, and, as always, for the ultimate information on housesitting in one book, pick up a copy of Break Free: The Ultimate Guide to Housesitting.

How did you find out about housesitting? Do you remember when and where you first heard about it?

We learned about housesitting earlier this year!  We are both from the U.S. and traveled to Australia on a working holiday visa in January.  Long story short, the job we accepted prior to arriving in Oz didn’t turn out to be what we expected (we were completely miserable) and we had to come up with a plan B that wouldn’t drain us financially in a very expensive country. Kathleen reads a lot of travel blogs so she knew of several other “nomads” that rented apartments/houses as opposed to staying hotels and hostels, and a few travelers that blogged about housesitting. We didn’t find this site right away, it was Hecktic Travels that caused the lightbulb to go off… housesitting was our plan B! We immediately signed up for TrustedHouseSitters.com and HouseCarers.com and created solid profiles.

Brock with dogs in NZ

Brock with dogs in NZ

Why do you housesit? What is the main motivation?

We house sit because we lead a nomadic lifestyle traveling the world slowly. It has always been our dream to live in countries all over the world and get to know cultures while living as locals and house sitting affords us exactly that. We love to travel, but we are also bloggers and house sitting is a great fit for us because we need quiet places to write and work. We also miss amenities of home (kitchens, cars, etc) most when we are moving around so it is a little treat to have those little luxuries once and a while.

How many housesits have you had and where?

We have had three house sits so far. One back home near Chicago, one in rural Australia and we are currently house sitting in New Zealand. Both the one in Australia and New Zealand were for a month and we found them through the websites we are registered with. Later this year we have another one lined up in southern California, also.

Mussel hunting in New Zealand

Mussel hunting in New Zealand

Was it hard for you to secure your first housesitting gig? How many applications did you have to send before you got accept for your first assignment?

Honestly, we applied for two sits when we were in Australia and we got one of them! The other sit was downtown Sydney and they wrote telling us they get a very high volume of applicants because of their location. When we decided we wanted to house sit in New Zealand we applied for two sits and both applications were accepted. We ended up having to turn the second one down after further conversations about dates. We have been very fortunate so far!

What was your favorite housesitting experience to date and why?

The house sit we are currently at will be very hard to beat. We would probably try and buy this house from the homeowners if they were interested in selling it! The house is in one of the most beautiful parts of the country and we have ocean and mountain views out of almost every window. New Zealand is one of the most beautiful countries in the world and the people here are so kind you can’t help but always being in a good mood. We are taking care of two very well-behaved dogs that go for long walks along the beaches and forest trails everyday. We are semi-rural which means it is quiet and peaceful, but we are also a 40-minte drive or 6-minute boat ride into town. It is the kind of place we would live if we were ready to stop traveling.

Brock and kitty

Brock and kitty

Did you ever have any unusual pets to take care of or responsibilities that were out of the norm?

The house we took care of in Australia was completely off-grid. This meant the entire house was run on solar energy. Living in a home completely powered by the sun is what originally attracted us to the assignment. It did present some very interesting chores/responsibilities like checking our input/output everyday and carefully watching our use of energy, running the generator if there were several cloudy days in a row, and running the watering system that pumped directly out of the stream everyday. Also, we don’t think this is unusual because of the locations of our sits, but in Australia and New Zealand we’ve had had chickens to feed and collect eggs from each day.

Have you had any funny housesitting experiences?

So far we haven’t had any real out-there funny experiences. The animals we take care of are pretty funny with their unique personalities, but nothing too crazy yet.

What was your worst housesitting experience? Has something ever gone wrong?

We had some bumps in the road at our house sit in Australia. There were some hiccups with the very important watering system and we were terrified all of the plants weren’t going to die if we couldn’t get it working, but it magically started functioning properly after a few days. Then, one of the chickens died. That was pretty awful. We just found her dead one day and had to bury her. We also were still unfamiliar with the internet usage policies in Australia (we were more accustomed to paying for the speed of internet as opposed to an amount of data). We had no idea how to gage how much internet data we use to know what we would need through the month. The homeowners had a specific amount of data for each month and we ran out pretty quickly. Having no internet is a problem for bloggers.

Kathleen with Chickens

Kathleen with Chickens

Do you have any tips for people who are interested in beginning with housesitting? What would your advice be for people to get accepted for a housesit / be successful housesitters?

The best advice we can think of would be to build a strong, honest profile. It is also really beneficial to have great references. If it is at all possible we suggest getting some experience house sitting, even for someone you know or near your home. This will give you a feel for it and give you the opportunity to gain a relevant letter of recommendation. Also, remember house sitting is like a job with serious responsibilities. It may be a way for you to travel to new exciting places, but don’t forget homeowners are entrusting their home and often times their furry family members. Being a good house sitter once you’ve secured an assignment comes from taking your responsibilities seriously and cuddling those animals that need cuddles, and cleaning the house, property or pool. We always ask the homeowners if they would like regular emails about how things are going or if they’d prefer we don’t bother them while they are away. Sometimes a note and quick picture of their animals gives them confidence that things are going well back home.

Are you signed up to any housesitting websites? If so, which ones, and which ones have you had the most success with?

We are signed up with HouseCarers.com and TrustedHouseSitters.com. We have secured one job with each site so far!

Kathleen and Brock

Kathleen and Brock

Brock and Kathleen are an American couple traveling full-time since June 2012. They are completely different in every way except that they agree life should be their favorite adventure and they weren’t finding that working 9-5 at a desk. This year they have house sat in Australia, New Zealand and are looking forward to an assignment this summer in California! They travel very slowly with the intention of getting to know a country and it’s culture by living like a local as often as possible. You can follow Kathleen & Brock and their adventures on: OurFavoriteAdventureFacebookTwitter & Pinterest.

As always, for the ultimate information on housesitting in one book, pick up a copy of Break Free: The Ultimate Guide to Housesitting.

Interview with housesitting experts Nicole and Michael from Suitcasestories.com

How did you find out about housesitting? Do you remember when and where you first heard about it?

Nicole’s mother is a full time house sitter and has been for many years. It was at her suggestion that we started house sitting in 2000 when we were building our home, to save on rent whilst also paying a mortgage.

Why do you housesit? What is the main motivation?

Twelve months ago we sold our possessions and left our ‘conventional’ life in Australia to live a life of travel. In order to afford this lifestyle we need to save money where we can, which is why we housesit. We have saved over $20,000.00. That’s a lot of money for someone living a nomadic lifestyle.

But that’s not the only reason. We love immersing ourselves into the community and culture when we visit different countries. Housesitting allows us to do just that. And I won’t deny that having space is also a major factor. When you are with your partner 24 hours a day 7 days a week for, well for years, you really need a little space where you can have some ‘alone time’. There is no space in a hotel room!

Suitcase stories beach house

House sitting on an island paradise? Yes please!

How many housesits have you had and where?

We have had over 20 house sits in various locations throughout Australia, UK, Europe and North America.

Was it hard for you to secure your first housesitting gig? How many applications did you have to send before you got accept for your first assignment?

We were very lucky because our first few sits (the ones in 2000) were from word of mouth through Nicole’s mother. However, the first sit we did as nomads (2012) was the very first one we applied for. We were so lucky!

What was your favorite housesitting experience to date and why?

One of our favorite sits has been a house in Vero Beach Florida. We first sat for them in October 2012 and they asked us to come back to sit again in January 2013, which we happily accepted. The house is absolutely beautiful (full of mod-cons and luxuries) and is located on a little island just off the main land. But more than that, we grew very attached to the 2 Bichon Frise dogs they have. When we returned in January the dogs remembered us and were so excited to see us. I guess it was a mutual attachment!

Michael with Leo and Toby in Florida

Michael with Leo & Toby from Vero Beach, Florida

Did you ever have any unusual pets to take care of or responsibilities that were out of the norm?

No nothing yet. We are always up for a challenge! So far we have looked after cats, dogs, birds, fish, turtles, chickens and a goat. We would be open to something a little unusual though!

Have you had any funny housesitting experiences?

There’s been nothing too outrageous so far. However, we did look after a dog that was attracted to Nicole’s leg a little more than what she was comfortable with! The thing was he was a very large dog so every time he decided to, lets say ‘show some affection’, he almost knocked her over!

What was your worst housesitting experience? Has something ever gone wrong?

Well, that large dog comes to mind! But we’ve been very fortunate that all of our housesits have been a positive experience. The worst thing to happen to us was actually before we started a sit. We were contacted by a home owner offering us a sit in Maui. Of course we jumped at it, I mean it’s Maui! We were so excited. The house was an architects dream, right on the ocean, great pets – It had everything going for it. We made the plans and arrangements and then they cancelled their trip! We were so disappointed. Not to mention that we had turned down other sits because we thought we were booked for those dates. Luckily we ended up finding a replacement sit in Costa Rica, so I guess all’s well that ends well.

Suitcase stories house

We have looked after many styles of homes; modern, cottage, apartments, beach houses and much more

Do you have any tips for people who are interested in beginning with housesitting? What would your advice be for people to get accepted for a housesit / be successful housesitters?

Be yourself. Be honest about what you are capable of. Be genuine – For example; if you do not like dogs, don’t accept a sit with dogs. It’s dishonest and no good for yourself or the dogs.

When you send an application to a homeowner, it shouldn’t just be about you. It should be about how you can help THEM. You should personalize it and mention their pets by name if they have in their ad. If they have mentioned how much they love their garden, you should make reference to that. You can talk about yourself and your strengths of course, but the focus should be the homeowner. Always personalize each application letter – Never just cut and paste the exact same text!

References are a big help. Even if you haven’t housesat before, you can still obtain references from people like your landlord, someone in the community, friends, your vet (to show you take care of your own pets) and anyone that can testify that you are a good person. A police check is a great idea too. It shows you are willing to take a few extra steps to show the homeowners you are trustworthy.

Once you start sitting always ask for a reference from the homeowners you sit for. If you do a good job (which you should every time!) then they will be more than happy to recommend you to others. Also, if the homeowners are happy with your service they will ask you back again. We’ve been asked back on many occasions, which is the best compliment we can get!

I think it all comes down to pride; if you take pride in what you do, it will show.

Michael walking Pumpkin & Alfie

Michael walking Pumpkin & Alfie in Atlantic Beach, Florida

Are you signed up to any housesitting websites? If so, which ones, and which ones have you had the most success with?

When we first started full-time housesitting a year ago we signed up to 6 websites. However, when it was time renew recently we only renewed 4 of them; trustedhousesitters.com, housecarers.com, mindmyhouse.com and luxuryhousesitting.com. We get most of our assignments from Trusted House Sitters, then House Carers and only a few from Mind My House.

About Nicole and Michael:

Nicole and Michael are an Australian couple who gave up their careers, sold their possessions and left their ‘conventional’ life behind for a life of travel and housesitting. They have been living a nomadic life for 12 months and see no end in sight.

They recently launched Suitcase Stories, a website where they share their stories, travel tips and destination guides. Their main goal for this website is to inspire others to travel and to show people how long term travel is not only possible but affordable.

You can follow their journey on Facebook and Twitter also.

Nicole and Michael

Nicole and Michael

Interview with the Wanderlusters Charli and Ben, who are housesitting their way around the globe

In today’s interview, Wanderlusters Charli and Ben, who are housesitting their way around the world, are sharing some of their best, worst and funniest housesitting stories, how they got started housesitting and which housesitting websites they have the most success with. They are also providing some invaluable advice for newbie housesitters.

How did you find out about housesitting? Do you remember when and where you first heard about it?

Having decided we wanted to travel we were then faced with the impossible task of choosing a route and deciding where to start your adventure. When you make the decision to commit to a nomadic existence the world literally becomes your oyster, with an endless bucket list and a fist full of wanderlust your head literally implodes at the possibilities. We knew we wanted to visit South America. Ben had been dreaming of the Far East ever since visiting Malaysia as a child and Charli was desperate to soak up some culture and a little of the good wine in Italy. However we just couldn’t decide where to start. It was just as we were beginning to lose our minds that Ben’s younger sister sent him a link to trustedhousesitters.com. Unfamiliar with the concept we thought perhaps this would provide us with a destination with which to start planning our itinerary. On a whim we signed up, created a profile and began applying for assignments all over the world. A week later we were asked to house sit in Liberia, Costa Rica and the rest as they say is history.

House Sitting in Costa Rica

Relaxing by a waterfall close to our house sit in Costa Rica

Why do you housesit? What is the main motivation?

We are permanently nomadic and house sitting provides us with rest bite from the stresses of continuous travel. When traveling for any length of time budget is always one of the main factors driving your experience and house sitting has helped us to save 90% of our accommodation costs in the past two years. While the financial aspect is a bonus we find the opportunity to live like a local in areas that we would have otherwise not considered on our itinerary to be the most rewarding part of the whole house sitting experience. We have met such wonderful people during our assignments, the home owners, their friends and neighbours have all contributed to our journey and we now have a wealth of contacts all over the world. Each assignment is different to the last and provides us with an opportunity to learn new skills and educate ourselves about life in a community far removed from the ones we grew up in.

How many housesits have you had and where?

We have had ten house sitting assignments so far:
Leicester, UK
South Kensington, London, UK
Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Liberia, Costa Rica
Playas del Coco, Costa Rica
Ojochal, Costa Rica
Vancouver, BC, Canada
Sydney, NSW, Australia
Valla Beach, NSW, Australia
Auckland, New Zealand

House Sitting in New Zealand

Spencer soaking Charli after collecting his frisbee from the water.

Was it hard for you to secure your first housesitting gig? How many applications did you have to send before you got accept for your first assignment?

To be honest I can’t remember how many assignments we applied for before accepting that first sit in Costa Rica I would guess quite a few! I recall I spent the best part of a week compiling our profile, selecting images and applying for assignments we felt we would enjoy. We currently receive an interested response from about one in every five or six that we apply for however I know our comprehensive advert and references help. In the beginning we asked our previous employers and landlords to write a short character review to post on our advert. Having applied for a lot of house sits we now realise how important your profile is. I’m pleased that when compiling our profile we treated it like an employment CV as I think that helped to portray who we are and what we can offer home owners.

What was your favorite housesitting experience to date and why?

We’ve been so lucky over the past two years it’s hard to pick out a favourite! Living beneath Kylie Minogue and Rowan Atkinson while apartment sitting in South Kensington rates pretty highly, although we didn’t catch a glimpse of either during our stay. The views from our last sit in Costa Rica were breathtaking, you could see out to the Pacific Ocean from the plunge pool and the top level boasted 360 windows for incredible views over the surrounding rainforest. While in Australia we looked after the world’s most wonderful dogs, a hilarious duo of border collie and beagle who were the polar opposite of characters. The beagle chose to spend her days laid on soft furnishings in the sun while the border collie had us running the length of the local beach on a daily basis. Our current house sit has another wonderful canine, his insane Frisbee catching skills have won him the nickname ‘acrobat dog’ affectionately given by the children who play down at the beach in front of the house. It’s hard to describe just how much these experiences have benefited our travels, they remain some of our favorite memories from the journey so far. You can read about our house sitting assignments in Australia here.

Wanderlusters Charli and Ben on the Nullarbor Plain, SA, Australia

Wanderlusters Charli and Ben on the Nullarbor Plain, SA, Australia

Did you ever have any unusual pets to take care of or responsibilities that were out of the norm?

So far we’ve haven’t looked after anything too far removed from the traditional list of household pets, however our forthcoming assignment here in New Zealand involves caring for a troop of 12 Alpacas. The owners have assured us that they are easy to maintain and fortunately don’t need exercising. We had visions of walking down to the local village with them each on a lead, getting all tangled and trying to coordinate collecting their poop with a gigantic plastic bag!

Have you had any funny housesitting experiences?

While at our first house sit in Costa Rica we woke in the night to torrential rain, about fifteen minutes later a deafening sound began. It sounded like a low pitched siren and was gradually getting louder and louder. Half asleep and not thinking too clearly I informed Ben that it was a tsunami alert and we had to find high ground. Classic. After running out the door and into the garden towards the car Ben stopped and started to laugh hysterically. He’d noticed the direction from which the noise was coming and the unusual number of toads at his feet. As it turns out the noise was the sound of thousands of mating toads. According to the neighbours at that time each year after a particularly heavy rain fall, toads are known to collect near the mango plantation behind the house and look for a mate. Their loud display was designed to attract females, not alert sleepy house sitters to impending natural disasters. Read about our house sit in Ojochal, Costa Rica, here.

What was your worst housesitting experience? Has something ever gone wrong?

All the home owners we have met so far have been wonderful and I’m delighted to say we haven’t had any negative experiences. I think the fact that we do a lot of research on the local area and spend time talking to the owners to make sure we understand their expectations helps to ensure we have the best possible experience. Read our dive report from The Poor Knights Islands which we visited whist house sitting in Auckland.

At The Poor Knights Islands, North Island, New Zealand

Charli and Ben at The Poor Knights Islands, North Island, New Zealand

Do you have any tips for people who are interested in beginning with housesitting? What would your advice be for people to get accepted for a housesit / be successful housesitters?

The best piece of advice we can give those considering becoming a house sitter is to ensure you fully consider an assignment before accepting it. Before we commit to an assignment we always talk to the homeowner on the phone or via Skype, making sure that they are on our wave length and understand who we are and what we can offer them. Get as much information from the home owner about the assignment as you can, including images of the house and pets. Establish whether you are comfortable with all the responsibilities and set your expectations correctly. The thought of a secluded mansion on a remote Fijian island can shut down rational brain function in the best of us, however understanding what is expected of you and ensuring you’re well prepared will mean that every experience is enjoyable.

Are you signed up to any housesitting websites? If so, which ones, and which ones have you had the most success with?

We are currently signed up with:
MindMyHouse– we have been offered two of our ten sits through this site
House Carers – We have yet to accept an assignment through this site although have been offered a few
Trusted House Sitters – By far the most successful for us, we have accepted five of our ten assignments through here.

Lake Alouette Golden Ears National Park BC, Canada

Charli and Ben run Wanderlusters, a new website dedicated to providing ‘Wisdom for Wanderers’. Still in the early stages of development those eager to travel can search for real world advice and keep up to date with the latest in travel news. Charli and Ben have set up the site to share their experience of long term travel. Help them spread the Wanderlust and follow them on their travels. You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.