House sitting is a cool exchange opportunity that has come on my radar in recent years and quickly become my go-to starting point for travel planning. I’m somewhat of a modern nomad. Since graduating high school fifteen years ago, the longest I’ve lived in one place is a year and a half. In the last five years, I’ve become even more transitory, basically spending a few days to a few months at a time in one place. House sitting has been very useful to make this work financially and sanity-wise.
Basically, there are house sitting websites that connect homeowners looking for house and pet care while they travel with travelers looking for a place to stay in their region. Most of the time no money is exchanged, just free accommodation for free pet/home care. You can find more information, including house sitting websites, in my post on 5 Ways to Sleep for Free. In this post, I’m going to discuss five big benefits of house sitting so you can decide if you want to give it a try.
1. Save Money
Maybe the biggest benefit for a budget traveler like me is the amount of money I save house sitting. You basically get free accommodation. Even if you go the really cheap route and stay in hostel dorms, a night’s rest in Europe, for example, can cost US$20 to $50! If we say it averages out to around $30 per night, that adds up quickly to $210 per week and $840 per month!
I recently spent over two months traveling around the UK and Ireland. During that trip, I did a ten-day house sit in Scotland and a whole month in England. I easily could have spent upward of $2000 on accommodation, but because I slept for free house sitting so much, I actually spent less than $500! House sitting is a great way to save money and keep your travel budget low.
As a budget traveler and an introvert, one of my biggest stumbling blocks while traveling is privacy. I really crave a private room when I sleep, a sanctuary where I can close the door and be alone after being out sightseeing and navigating a foreign country all day. This need is constantly at war with my wallet, as private accommodation is so much more expensive than shared dorm rooms.
House sitting for me is like a beacon of light in this respect. I get not just cheap, but completely free accommodation that is totally private! And not just a room in a noisy hostel, hotel, Airbnb house, etc, but an entire house or apartment just for me. I love to cook, so having a private kitchen is fantastic for unwinding while preparing my evening meal – not to mention I save more money this way. I can lounge in my own living area and sometimes even balcony or garden area and really relax. It makes a big difference in what I get out of the trip as a whole!
3. Furry Companion
I’m an animal lover and enjoy cuddling up or playing with a dog or cat, so the fact that most house sits are actually pet sitting, is a benefit for me. I get some companionship while maintaining my privacy and alone time. Because I travel so much, I really can’t have my own pet, even though I would love to. House sitting gives me my animal fix by letting me borrow other people’s pets for short amounts of time, which I think is a great bonus!
4. Local Perspective
In the majority of house sits I’ve done, the homeowner has really taken the time to tell me all about the area, even physically show me around, before they leave. They tell me the local sights worth visiting, walking & hiking trails in the area, the best food stores, shops, & restaurants.
When you house sit, it’s really more like living in that town or city. You get much more of a local perspective than what you would get from a hotel concierge or hostel desk clerk. House sits are also often out of the main tourist section of town, so you get to explore more residential areas you may not have otherwise and really get a feel for how people actually live their lives in another country.
5. Make New Friends
House sitting is also a great way to meet locals when you travel. A lot of times homeowners will want to get to know the person they are trusting with their house and pets. I’ve often had long skype conversations with homeowners before they offer or I agree to house sit. Most times they ask me to come a day or two before they leave to give us a chance to talk in person, for them to show me around their house & neighborhood, and get comfortable with their animals.
I’ve met some pretty cool people when house sitting, with whom I’ve kept in touch – even one where the actual house sit didn’t end up working out, but the homeowner and I kept emailing just for fun! It’s a great opportunity to get to know people around the world.
These are just five of the many benefits of house sitting. Based on my experience with it over the last few years, I would definitely recommend it to anyone thinking of trying it out on their next trip. From saving money to gaining privacy, temporary animal companions, a local perspective, and maybe even new friends, house sitting is a travel trend I intend to maintain!
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