Since we began to house sit full time in June 2017, we’ve crossed the entire United States—from Cape Fear, NC to Cape Disappointment, WA. We’ve completed seven house sits in North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, New Hampshire, and Washington State, and we’ve booked an additional six that will take us through Oregon, California, Utah, and Colorado (and possibly New Mexico) by October 2018.
Once we looked at ways to live our dream of extended travel around the country and the globe, choosing to house sit was a no-brainer.
With a limited budget to work with, fulfilling our desire to lead a nomadic, free-spirited mobile life required finding a way to travel that didn’t cost a fortune to begin or to sustain. The first option we explored was to put our things in storage and buy an RV to tool around the country.
RV life may be a good choice for some, but it fell short for us. We had two old cars: a 1996 Jeep and 1999 Miata. Selling them both wouldn’t come close to netting a downpayment on a new or used RV. Factoring in the cost of a loan payment, gas, and insurance came up with a number that was more than what we were currently paying for monthly living expenses. We looked at all configurations of RVs: campers, trailers, motor homes, 5th Wheelers, but spending hours at dealerships sitting inside the various models and imagining living and working in the confined space convinced us to cross RVs off the list. (Yes, I know there are huge vehicles that probably outsize some of the homes I’ve lived in, but we didn’t want to spend $100K+ and Joe didn’t want to drive one.)
I researched the short-term rental options via Airbnb and similar vacation-rental services. I read with interest the stories of other boomer couples proclaiming the merits and affordability, with statements that living in these rentals actually cost less than living in their own homes. I suppose if you have a large house with a costly overhead that it makes sense. But we had downsized over the years to a cost-efficient apartment rental with little overhead aside from utilities and internet service expenses. Living full-time in these vacation rentals would be a major increase in expense for us.
And so we found ourselves researching house sitting. Or rather, it found us. A serendipitous house sitting request from a friend led to two trial sits. Once we completed our two “test drive” house sits, we knew we had found our way to see this country and the world on a budget we could afford.
It’s a been a year, and a study in contrasts. We’ve stayed in a brand-new contemporary condominium with sunrise and sunset views on Ft. Lauderdale’s Las Olas Isles, and a beautifully restored historic 1885 cottage, walking distance to the Pacific Ocean, in Seaview, WA. Our first house sit in Asheville was a 6000 sq. ft. luxury home, followed by a two-week stay in 600 sq. ft. rustic cabin about two miles down the road.
If we’d have booked these spectacular homes via Airbnb or another rental service, we’d have spent thousands of dollars instead of ZERO outlay of funds for housing.
House sitting met all our requirements. We could start with almost no outlay of funds. In fact, downsizing and selling our stuff provided capital to pay for our initial new lifestyle investments of practical luggage, prepping a 20-year-old car for an extended road trip, and travel gear. And house sitting also decreased our monthly expenses, instead of adding to them. Now we have a small monthly storage rental cost for a bin that houses our Miata and the few possessions we have left. We no longer pay for utilities, internet, renters insurance, or cable. So living our dreams has the added benefit of decreasing our cost of living.
How long can we do this? We don’t know. Until we want to do something else, I guess. Right now, w’re just looking ahead with anticipation for the next adventure.
If you are interested in hiring or being a house sitter (or both), and want to further explore the opportunities available, try our site of choice. You can click on the link, or use the provided code at checkout if you decide to join, and save 25% on your membership fee.
Discount Code: RAF141986