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6 QUESTIONS (and TIPS) TO FIND OUT IF HOUSESITTING IS RIGHT FOR YOU

By Jaime Byrd

rusty-and-adam-bathing

Two years ago, we purged most of our belongings, rented our house and started to travel indefinitely.

Since then, we’ve lived in dozens of luxurious homes in some of the world’s most desirable places. Two different large villas in Bali, a modern apartment in Vietnam, a beach house in Thailand, and several luxury homes in Mexico. All these experiences were possible by house sitting.

For some people it’s a great way to vacation, but for us, it’s a way of life. It’s a way in which to help us shed our belongings, live more simply, meet more locals, and concentrate on “experiences” in our lives rather than material things.

I get asked regularly about how we find our housesitting jobs and how we travel the way we do. But I never seem to be asked, “what does it take to be a house sitter?”. Most of the people I talk to seem to think it’s a lot easier then it is, even suggesting their teenage children or anyone can do it. Well, I don’t believe this to be true.

House and pet setting is not for everyone. Some people think it’s just free lodging. Many people I know only have a short time available for a vacation and housesitting may not be the best option in these cases. Plus, there are many different things to consider when becoming a housesitter before you buy that airline ticket or hit the road.

So, is house sitting right for you? Before you actually start your journey it may be important first to take a reality check and answer a few questions. Below, I’ve listed some things to consider before taking the leap. If you’re able to answer “yes” to all of these questions, then pack your bags and get ready for an adventure of a life time! 

 

1. Are you responsible and reliable?

If you said yes, then good for you!

Remember, housesitting is a job. It’s not a way to only get free lodging while you’re on vacation. Good communication, showing up on time, taking care of the house as if it were your own, feeding and treating the pets with special care, recognizing an unwell animal, and respecting the home and it’s owners are just a few important things to take into consideration when accepting a housesitting position. Homeowners need someone they can trust to look after their pets and home and they want someone responsible, reliable, honest, and caring.

adam-and-barnie-and-tiger-love

2. Do you love pets?

Yes again? You’re on a roll!

Not all housesits have animals, but many homeowners are looking for a sitter to not only care for their home while they’re away, but also to look after their beloved pets. Many sits involve animals that will not only need to be fed and walked daily, but they also need to be loved and played with. Being present and part of the pack is the best way to make for happy pets!

For many people, pets are family members, so reassuring them that you will show the same level of love and affection you would as if they were your own pets can help you secure your perfect house sit. Pet sitting does have responsibility attached, but if you love pets then it can be more of a pleasure then a job.

our-bags-cropped

What we travel the world with

3. Are you willing to commit to stay in the home every night?

If yes, then you’re still in luck!

One of the biggest commitments with house sitting is being present in the home. Homeowners don’t like to leave their homes empty for many reasons. The owners may want to deter criminals from vandalizing or breaking into their home, or they may want things to be looked after to make sure there are no accidents or water leaks that could do further damage to their home. Leaving all day long and only returning late at night to sleep is not the best option either. Owners want to know someone is there regularly and making sure the home looks as though it’s lived in and lights are being turned on and off regularly.

Driving the dogs on the scooters to the beach. Bali

Driving the dogs on the scooters to the beach. Bali

 

4. Are you flexible?

Yes again? Great. This is looking good!

Having flexible travel dates and travel locations can help in your search for a perfect sit and experience. Try to look beyond the popular beach spots and go somewhere on a less traveled path. You may be pleasantly surprised with what you will discover! Also, the more flexible you can be with dates, the more house sits you will find.

jaime-and-adam-in-hanoi

 

5. Are you looking for more then just a free place to stay? Are you up for additional challenges?

If you said yes again, you may be a housesitter!

You may be lead to believe that free lodging is the best part of housesitting – and there is no doubt that it IS a very good part – but it is not the only part. Keep in mind that there are responsibilities and some that may put a damper on your daily excursions for sight seeing if you plan to be on vacation.

There are other factors to housesitting that some people might find challenging, such as living in a homeowners space on top of their belongings. We don’t mind it, but some people do. Many housesits include the ongoing duties of a household staff including a housekeeper who might clean weekly, semi-weekly or even daily, a gardener who comes regularly, and/or a pool maintenance worker. It is the responsibility of the housesitter to oversee these workers in order to maintain the household’s continuity. This can be a luxury or a burden depending on your perspective.

Yes, there are some homeowners out there looking for part time employees, but most of the time they just need someone who can take care of the small things that often go wrong around a house. Things that deal with simple plumbing, electric, heating, and appliances. If it’s beyond a simple repair, then you may need to make sure you can get a professional there to help with the problem and communicate well with the homeowners.

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6. Are you willing to go the extra mile and show you care?

If yes, then housesitting is in your future!

We think it’s important to do your very best and whenever possible, even go beyond what may be expected. We like to make sure things are put back exactly as we found them, wash and fill the gas tanks on any cars or motorbikes left for our use, make sure all the linens are clean and bedding is replaced, clean up, and even have cold beer, wine, juice, snacks, (or even dinner if you are so inclined), waiting for the homeowner on their return. The smallest of gestures can show your appreciation and could earn you an invite to house sit next time they are away.

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So, if you answered yes to all the questions, then you are ready to begin your journey of becoming a housesitter! There are so many opportunities out there and even though competition may feel high at times, there is always enough for everyone!  Good luck and enjoy your travels!

Hanoi Vietnam – A Slow Travelers First Impression

fish lady

Fish vendor at street market.

There is so much to look at in Hanoi. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve been suffering from jet lag after having traveled across 8 different  time zones, but there is no doubt that I’ve had a certain amount of sensory overload that happened in less then 24 hours after arriving. In a very broad sense, things here seem very familiar yet, of course, so different in many, many ways.

street-kitchen

Hanoi street kitchen.

For the next 2 months we now live in the Tay Ho area which is situated on a lake appropriately named, Ho Tay, which is just north of the bustling city center of Hanoi. This neighborhood is less crowed and quieter than the city center. It also appears to be filled with expatriates and foreigners. Most of these foreigners are from all over the world with a high concentration of people from the UK, Australia, and other Asian and European countries. We actually heard a group of people speaking Mexican Spanish yesterday while we had lunch and it made us smile. =)

sidewalk

Sidewalk obsticals

Our housekeeper set us up for our stay here with an almost-new scooter rental that has plenty of storage under the seat for all our groceries and supplies. We started with exploring our neighborhood – first on foot and then on the scooter. Though it was a challenge at first, it was still quite manageable. Scooters rule the roads here, and driving a car seems absolutely ridiculous and very difficult to maneuver in traffic. Walking can be equally a challenge since the sidewalks stop and start abruptly with over grown grass, rocks, and other not-so-friendly obstacles, leaving you vulnerable to traffic in the roads.

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Adam buys some pickled veggies from street vendor.

 

The Tay Ho area is filled with restaurants, bars, coffee houses, specialty shops, and just about anything else you may need. International products can be found in just about every bodega on a street corner. Our first Saturday was spent collecting organic food at a weekly market and organic store very near to our house.


CROSSING THE STREETS IN HANOI

trafficThere’s a strange – but understood rule here with crossing a street in Vietnam. When it appears to be no way to cross, somehow, people find a way. Nobody will stop for you, yet everyone will let you cross. It’s almost an energetic game of “Frogger”. There are people texting on their scooters who never look up, yet they avoid hitting and being hit by others. It’s when you don’t “let go” of your notions of what you think it should be, and allow the system to just work, is when there could be trouble. And in most cases, you probably won’t die. =)


PHO FOR EVERYONE

pho #1

Best Pho so far pho-sure!

We rode our scooter to the best Pho (pronounced fah) we’ve had so far, and I hope we can find it again. It was a perfect combo of broth, veggies, and spicy/sour flavors. I do, however, find it difficult to understand that when it’s 32° celsius (89° fahrenheit – but feels like 106°) with a humidity level of 90%, that anyone in their right mind would want to sit outside in the sun and eat hot soup. But everyone here does it and loves it. Surprisingly, it was kind of cooling in the end.

adam eating pho

 

yogurt coffee2

ca phe sua chua

MY NEW HABIT

Then it happened. We found our second favorite thing in Vietnam. Yogurt coffee (ca phe sua chua).

OMG. This is stuff dreams are made of. The combination of lightly sweetened yogurt and rich chocolate-y coffee – with the light bitterness of the coffee bouncing off the creamy sweetness of the yogurt – is just heavenly. I am now planning on setting aside 15,000 dong ($.70US) each day for one of these lovely drinks. Normally I only drink coffee in the morning, but when in Vietnam, coffee drinking is an integral part of the entire day and I will be happy to make it an afternoon delight also. I’m sure I will talk more about this in later posts. Thank you Vietnam Gods.

yogurt coffee

ca phe sua chua

To be continued….

Getting Started with LIVING Around the world with Nomad Jaime – The Manifester

passports-and-pasos-300x169Welcome to my blog about travel, living around the world, eating, and finding your particular path at any age.

My husband, Adam, and I have decided to start “living” around the world. It’s a lot less “traveling” and a lot more staying in one place one country at a time. We did not sell everything we own and filled our backpacks and start living off of a savings account. Instead, we kept most of everything we own, made some adjustments in our lives, and created work for ourselves that we can do while we travel and live in almost any location with a good internet connection.

What I mean by “living” around the world, is that we stay in one location for at least 2 months and sometimes up to 6 months (depending on our visa allowances and our enjoyment level). We become immersed in the community and culture and learn to really ‘live‘ in these places. We call this “slow travel“.

Those of you who know passion-300x262us, know that we LOVE to travel and have trouble staying still in one place for too long. We’ve done a number of adjustments in our lives to create this new lifestyle that we hope combines our passions, talents, and love for life and travel all in one.

In a nutshell, Adam and I are planning on traveling and being away from our home in North Carolina for at least two years – but most likely more – depending on where the work and good times are. Our plans are flexible and we continue to keep all opportunities (and job offers) under close consideration this entire time. This means we’re both available for work just about anywhere in the world – so don’t hesitate to ask us! We will also continue to be doing as much work as we can from the road.

TO BE CONTINUED…