It’s true. You can actually go on vacation by being a house sitter. Think about it for a minute. The last time you went on vacation your biggest expense was probably for accommodations followed by fuel and food.
Well, if you are retired or semi-retired and on a budget, the choices available to you for holiday getaways are limited, but now there is a way to get to see the world and not spend all of your vacation budget on accommodations at your destination.
Types of House-sitting
House-sitting is a great alternative and this can take a lot of different forms. For example, you can enter into a house exchange where you offer up your home to someone in another part of the country, or world for that matter, and they provide theirs. You essentially just switch addresses for a short period of time.
If you don’t want to exchange houses, there are thousands of housitting only opportunities around the world. Feel like spending a few weeks or up to a year in France or New Zealand? All you have to do is look after the place, which might include watering the plants or feeding the cat. There are online networks that connect homeowners and house sitters from around the world. Just choose your location and you can find listings of people who want a house sitter.
Where to look for house sitting jobs
There are a number of websites where you can register and start looking for a match. They include TrustedHouseSitters.com, HouseCarers.com, and MindMyHouse.com to name a few where you can simply plan a vacation somewhere around the world, enter some specific details related to the kind of home you are looking for plus details on what you are willing to do in the home you’ll be staying in and you’re off. If you are pet-friendly, state that.
What you’ll need
It’s probably a good idea to prepare a great profile with photos of yourself to assist with the house-sitting search. You’ll be amazed at how many homeowners are listed online waiting to make the exchange so they can visit your part of the country. Other details you may need to secure the right match may include at least two letters of reference and if you are hoping to housesit overseas, you may need to update your passport. In addition, keep in mind the exchange program will put strangers in your home if you choose to go that route. With this in mind, you’ll want to be able to check them out as much as someone else will be checking you out so be professional in your back-and-forth messages and e-mails to present the right impression.
Alternatives to house sitting
If you aren’t bold enough to venture into the home exchange program you could get your feet wet by either couch-surfing or woofing. Couch-surfing is where someone pays you to spend the night on your couch or in your spare bedroom as they travel across the country or need a night to rest on their way through to their final destination.
Woofing is where you can stay on a farm where your lodging is covered in exchange for some chores around the farm. The term woofing came from the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms non-profit organization or WWOOF. Their program can be found at wwoof.org or enter ‘couch surfing’ in the search bar of your favorite search engine for a list of opportunities.
If none of these options appeal to you there is still another way to see a different part of the world and in some cases, get paid. That’s the kind of paid vacation I’d like and if you have a hankering for an extended stay somewhere you could look at becoming a caretaker for someone.
If you are a bit on the handy side, you could find yourself a caretaking job at a country estate in some far off land, or even in the U.S. where you get paid to do some basic maintenance chores. In some cases, the chores are expected in exchange for letting you stay where you are caretaking. There are a lot of different situations and you will find your perfect fit at caretaker.org or estatestaffing.com. A great resource for learning more about housesitting is Josie Schneider’s HouseSittingTravel.com.
Imagine your next vacation staying at a location that puts to shame that roadside motel you paid far too much per night on your last holiday that lasted only a few days due to your budget. With house-sitting as an option, you’ll never have one of those disappointing holidays ever again.