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