Would you like to enjoy free accommodation in a historic English manor, townhouse in London, beachfront hacienda in Mexico, or retreat to Italy, Ireland, Australia, Costa Rica or a cottage amongst French vineyards? Increasing demand for house sitters means that the opportunity to live overseas is now available without the accommodation cost, which is particularly appealing in this current economic climate.
Homeowners globally are recognizing the benefit and peace of mind of having someone look after their home and occasionally pets while away, in exchange for providing a comfortable place to stay – which can range from anywhere between a weekend to over a year’s duration.
People choose house sitting retreats for a number of reasons; becoming a local; finding new and diverse locations and enjoying more cultural experiences than you would likely find in a guidebook.
Sometimes the dream of moving overseas can come laden with potential issues that may prevent us from living our dream. House sitting can overcome many of these. Feedback from many experienced house sitters looking to either move or spend long periods of time overseas has revealed many other reasons why house sitting offers an ideal and cost effective means of ‘Escaping from America’…
You’re free to go where you choose
- 1 – The world is your oyster. If you have the flexibility, you’ve retired, or can work remotely, why pick just one location? Why not see the world?
Become a local expert before you buy
- 2 – The notion of living in our dream holiday destination can sometimes be different to the reality of actually moving there permanently. Testing the water is a harmless means of gaining real insight into a new location before you fully commit. Hopefully it’ll just enforce your intended plans, but a bit of extra reassurance is always good.
- 3 – House sitting allows you to easily immerse within a local community, make friends and local contacts – both expats and locals – and gain invaluable knowledge that could save thousands of dollars and ensure that you find the best location / right price and solid title deeds, helping to avoid any potential pitfalls before you invest.
You can save money by living overseas
- 4 – Whether you are relocating for work or want to spend more time abroad, the perfect accommodation can sometimes be beyond our budget. House sitting allows you to enjoy living in often very luxurious residences free of charge, potentially saving a fortune.
- 5 – Avoid volatile property and currency markets. Foreign exchange rates and property values can be exposed to dramatic fluctuation in some parts of the world, so if your intended destination presents these risks, house sitting may eliminate any concerns about this.
Overcome any obstacles
- 6 – Get around the hassle of red tape and potential challenges. Do you angst about interpreting local planning or legal regulations, or conversing with a builder that you may not fully understand? House sitting can still help you realize your dream of living overseas without the daunting minefield that buying abroad can sometimes present
- 7 – Why all or nothing? Is the concern about ‘giving up everything’ preventing you from living overseas? Most house sitters enjoy the chance to spend long periods of time abroad, but also to keep their property at home, ensure that family and friends remain happy and avoid having to sell up and commit to the full upheaval.
- 8 – Adopt a pet – if you intending on travelling from place to place overseas, have owned pets in the past but are now restricted on this by travel plans, house sitting can still bring the enjoyment of caring for animals while continuing to give the flexibility to travel.
- 9 – Overseas and domestic home ownership can present issues if leaving a property empty – many insurance policies can become void if a home is left unoccupied for more than 30 days and the risk of burglary or maintaining property upkeep while you are away can be a concern. Again, house sitting can overcome this.
Your perfect ongoing overseas retreat
- 10 – Once you find the perfect house sit on millionaire’s row on an idyllic beachfront and feel that you could get quite used to this new lifestyle, the chances are, you can. After you’ve been trusted to look after the place once, who are they going to ask back each time they go away? You!
How a house sitter can help if you have already ‘Escaped from America’.
Keeping an overseas (or USA) property occupied with a trusted house sitter can help protect an otherwise empty home against burglary (In the USA there are over 2 million burglaries every year (US Census Bureau)). In some regions where burglary is unfortunately prolific, homeowners can be reluctant to leave homes empty even for short periods of time. A house sitter in situ also allows your home to remain insured if you are away for a while.
Property maintenance can be an issue if you travel frequently. A house sitter can ensure that if the air conditioning system breaks down, pipes burst, or your electricity supply is interrupted these issues are dealt with promptly.
If you have pets, taking them to kennels can be costly and can expose them to unwanted illnesses such as kennel cough. According to Veterinary Surgeon Katie Blackburn, taking animals out of their natural environment can be traumatic for both owners and pets.
Looking after plants and your garden – indoor and outdoor plants are at risk of withering away if left without water for anything more than a few days. And it doesn’t take long before the grass grows and provides a natural advertisement to potential burglars that your home is empty.
If only returning to an empty property on occasions, do you really want to spend half your time clearing the house and garden when you just want to relax?
Finding ideal neighbors, family or friends to keep a regular eye on things when you are away may be a challenge.
House sitter experiences
Angela and John house sit around the world
“Retired from work but not from life” is the motto of regular house sitters Angela and John Laws. They have recently been house sitting in a beautiful thatched cottage in England, and also in Canada, Australia and France.
Angela says, “I volunteer with a Springer Spaniel Rescue Association. Having decided not to have another puppy after losing our dog three years ago, our pleasure comes from giving love and care to pets who may be missing their family”. They always engage house sitters to look their own home while away which allows them to travel with peace of mind. “The world is still our oyster!”
Randy Mayer – retired from the US army, now full time house sitting.
Randy has been house sitting for many years and is taking early retirement after working for the US army in Europe and the US for the past 30 years. He is now planning to house sit full time.
“House sitting allows me to explore new places,” says Randy. He has been house sitting in England, Ireland, Wales, France, Italy and also in the USA. “I have developed a strong case of Wanderlust”.
“I love pets but because I love traveling so much I have had to make the sacrifice of not owning one. Pet sitting allows me to travel and still keep pets in my life. With a number of recurring assignments the pets recognize me on my return visits – I always receive an enthusiastic welcome from the pair of St. Bernards I’ve looked after several times over the last four years.”
While house sitting, I have often been left a car to be able to explore the local area, get off the beaten track and enjoy experience things that I may never have otherwise discovered.
Nancy and Jim – house sitting for 6 months in New Zealand this year
Nancy Spillane from Colorado and her husband Jim have recently retired and are soon heading to New Zealand for 6 months house sitting.
“We believe that house sitting will enhance our world experiences as we hope to immerse ourselves in communities where we will foster knowledge and understanding of that particular culture and people. Nothing like going to the grocery store, riding your bike, walking the dog, and doing a little gardening to create opportunities to become acquainted with local citizens, and gain a much more authentic experience beyond tourism. Taking on the care of someone’s home and caring for their pets gets one into a realm that goes beyond sightseeing.”
Debra and Art – House sitting in Italy for summer, then Spain for the winter
Debra and Art from Washington will be house sitting a stunning home in Italy for 2 months this summer, and will then be house sitting on a Spanish island for 6 months – both via Trustedhousesitters.com. “This is the perfect way to enjoy Europe without the need to pay for accommodation” says Debra.
People choose house sitting for a number of reasons; gaining an overseas lifestyle far beyond the usual budget, living like a local (or a King!), finding new and diverse locations, but one thing seems to be common in everyone’s feedback, you will likely discover and enjoy far more unique cultural experiences than you would likely find in any guidebook.
How to find a house sitting opportunity
It is easy to become a house sitter. You need to register with a house sitting website such Trustedhousesitters.com which was launched by screenwriter Andy Peck, who was looking for somewhere to live and write overseas and realized the need to help bring homeowners and potential sitters together while house sitting in Northern Spain in an otherwise unaffordable and exclusive mountain vineyard retreat.
To register, create a profile about yourself and select your preferred countries to house sit within. Email alerts are then sent each time a new opportunity arises in your chosen regions – or keep spontaneous options open and request a list of long and short-term house sitting opportunities worldwide.
Either way, you can then contact homeowners via the website when you see the perfect house sit for you. Homeowners will then assess the information you have provided against any other applicants, almost like a job interview, so the more information and relevant experience you can provide, the more likely you will secure your dream home to sit.
Homeowners and house sitters converse in detail beforehand, often via Skype, to ensure that all arrangements are agreed and understood (and Trustedhousesitters.com provides an agreement form that can help with this.)
Andy says he hasn’t heard of any issues between sitters and homeowners, although when he was due to return to Spain to house sit, he got delayed when the 2010 volcano cloud issues grounded flights. “Ongoing communication with the homeowners, contingency plans and their own flights delayed overcame any difficulties. A good house sitter and common sense will ensure that any potential issues are dealt with proactively.”
Soon after a reunion with the homeowners and taking them to the airport, one of the dogs contracted a severe eye infection. Andy called the vet and the infection was cured. According to the vet, the infection could have been missed if the dogs had been taken to a local kennels, and then the outcome could have become serious. The owners were extremely grateful and offered Andy use of their Caribbean residence as thanks. Andy says, “House sitting brings responsibilities, but also perks too. Homeowners and sitters respect the win-win that the arrangement gives and the common feedback suggests a strong friendship that forms between them – after all, why would a homeowner choose a sitter they didn’t think they’d get on with?”
To register with Trustedhousesitters.com, you need to pay between $30USD for 3 months, to $60USD for a year’s membership) although ‘Escape from America’ readers have been offered a 25% discount if you think you might be an ideal house sitter, and 6 months complimentary home owner membership if you need to find a house sitter too. Visit www.trustedhousesitters.com and enter promotional code “EFAM” to take advantage of this.