One common desire that many retirees share is to travel. The purpose for this goal varies – some retirees want to travel to new places and explore the world, while others are looking to spend extended lengths of time visiting family and friends. Regardless of the motivation behind the wanderlust, there tends to be a recurring problem attaining one’s travel goals: the cost. Globe-trotting can be a particularly expensive hobby. Even if you’re going to stay with friends or family during your travels, there’s the expense of leaving your pets with a pet sitter or hiring someone to check in on your home. Luckily, there’s a solution for you to consider: house sitting.
What does modern house-sitting look like?
We live in a world where new technology and services make it possible for us to connect with people, see new places, and live the lives we’ve always dreamt of. For Dan and Tracy Kellermeyer, this couldn’t be more true. They’re a recently married couple who have set out on an adventure – to see the world!
Dan and Tracy have previously run Sitters On Tour, a blog that’s intended to be a resource for others looking to get into house sitting, or gather travel lifestyle advice. Through their website, they tell their story of what their house sitting lifestyle has looked like in the past year! They offer their services for free in exchange for watching people’s homes and pets while they’re away. They’ve been house-sitting around America for almost a full year, from Colorado to Oregon.
For them, it’s been a fantastic way to pursue their dreams of working virtually while seeing the country. And surprisingly, they aren’t alone in offering this service. Originally, Dan says, he and Tracy thought about purchasing an RV and traveling that way. “But there’s an investment there,” he says. They wanted to find something that would effectively get rid of their costly rent in Chicago, as well as the added expenses that go with living in a big city. That’s when they stumbled upon house-sitting as an option.
How did they get started?
Dan and Tracy started by creating profiles on House Sitters America and Trusted House Sitters. They say it’s incredibly common for people affiliated with these sites to not charge for their services – and many of them are searching for travelers who need house-sitters to stay for an extended period of time. This gives them the opportunity to live and explore a new “home” for a few weeks or months at a time.
What are the dollars and cents of house-sitting?
Since they ended their lease and started house-sitting, Dan and Tracy have noticed the considerable amount of money they’ve saved each month. That’s right – they’re getting to travel the country and they’re saving money while doing it. Of course, there are some expenses that they hadn’t originally planned for. While traveling to and from different house-sitting locations, they put a considerable amount of extra miles on their vehicle. Eventually, it broke down, and they had to buy a new one.
However, small expenses like this don’t even begin to outweigh the amount they’re saving on what would be a potential rent or mortgage payment, as well as the added costs that come with running a home. Dan and Tracy have also noticed that, during their travels, they’ve been able to evaluate their budget and spending habits. Things that were once considered necessary to live just aren’t important or worth the added cost. “We spend money on experiences rather than stuff,” Tracy says. Additionally, they’ve started a Facebook page and the Sitters On Tour blog, which could eventually be monetized – leading to an additional source of income.
Why should retirees consider house-sitting?
Dan and Tracy feel that house-sitting is a perfect fit for both retirees looking to travel to new places, and for retirees looking for someone to watch their home while they’re away. House-sitting can be the perfect source of adventure during their retirement years, without breaking the bank. Longer stays, especially, can help a retiree truly get to know a new area – all while staying in a stable environment rather than a hotel or motel without the comforts of home.
Dan believes that retirees who are needing someone to watch their home and pets while they’re away can benefit from house-sitting, as well. Since the majority of house-sitters offer their services for free, they can have the freedom to visit family or friends, go on that cruise they’ve always dreamt of, or travel overseas – all without worrying about their home.
There is also the question of insurance. For many retirees looking to travel for extended periods, they need to be aware of and address the clause in their homeowners insurance policy that could leave them without coverage if something were to happen while their home was unoccupied. Working with a house-sitter can prevent this from happening.
How do you get started?
Dan and Tracy suggest that, to get started, you post a profile on either House Sitters America or Trusted House Sitters. You can set alerts or filter your search results to show only the types of house-sitting jobs you’d like to take – based on location, length of stay, etc. Once you find something that interests you, you can choose to submit an application. During the interview process, Dan and Tracy say it’s important to do your due diligence.
“Set up a few phone calls,” Tracy suggests, to see if you and the house-sitting client (or house-sitter) are a good fit. “Then, definitely do at least one face-to-face interview,” she says. By doing a face-to-face interview before your stay commences on either FaceTime, Skype, or Google Hangouts, you’re able to get a better idea of what you’re walking into and the people you’ll be working with. You can also request a virtual tour of their home – to make sure it’s up to your standards if you were to live there for an extended period.
Any additional words of wisdom?
“Have the hard conversations first,” Dan says. He and Tracy have run into not-so-great house-sitting situations in the past, and they chalk it up to not being prepared ahead of time. They suggest that you have a contract or agreement in place before the stay, that expectations are firmly outlined, and that any information regarding pets and decisions about their health in case of an emergency are decided beforehand. They also advise having an “exit plan” in case you decide that the house-sitting trip isn’t for you, or if there is an emergency that either yourself or the homeowner have to deal with.
Finally, they suggest knowing in advance the plan for your belongings. For them, they put most of their large-item furniture into storage and cancelled their apartment lease. If you are looking to house-sit long-term, you might need to move a little bit more slowly in order to sell a home, or to sell or donate your belongings.
What are you waiting for?
If you’re not sure whether house-sitting is for you, Tracy and Dan say, “Why not set up a profile?” It’s true that setting up a profile on either of the sites they use regularly is fairly inexpensive, and the worst-case scenario is that you don’t find a house-sitting job you’d like. The best-case scenario is that you find an entirely new way of living. House-sitting may not be a “forever” solution to your wanderlust, but it certainly can prove to be the adventure of a lifetime.