Interview: Chicago couple discover house sitting in Australia and beyond!
Traveling duo, Brock & Kathleen from Chicago, USA share how they discovered house sitting, which has taken them all the way over to Australia and New Zealand, and their top five tips on how you can become a house sitter.
“If you had asked me five months ago what house sitting was I couldn’t have told you. But, here we are just a few months later, and we are pros! We stumbled upon house sitting by accident back in January of 2013 and have had two awesome 1-month sits since then with no plans of stopping anytime soon!
My husband, Brock, and I left our home in Chicago in June 2012 to see the world and live a life more fulfilled than we were finding working long hours accompanied by long commutes and mundane routine. We sold everything we owned including both of our cars and all of our furniture.
I had always, yes always, had a dream to travel the world and live as a local. We love travel, but enjoy really being in a place and getting to know it’s culture not just visiting popular monuments and tourist attractions. I had no idea how we would make this happen, but the universe delivered! House sitting!
House sitting happened by accident
We had decided to move to Australia on a working holiday visa to make and save money in early January of this year. We were offered jobs at the same resort prior to leaving the United States and were excited for the opportunity. We planned to work for six months and save and then move on from Australia because the high cost of living. Well, long story short the job did not work out and we had to come up with a plan B.
Since we are bloggers we know of other nomadic couples and individuals that house sit all over the world in order to be able to work and travel slowly. I started reading every blog post from these sites, bought an ebook, and immediately signed up for TrustedHouseSitters.com. We wanted to find a house sit in Australia so we could leave the job but stay in Australia since we had traveled so far from the U.S. to get there.
We put together the best profile we could and included a letter of recommendation from a house sit we had done in 2010 back home in Chicago. We applied for two sits and one of our applications was accepted immediately for an assignment only three weeks later!
House sits this year
The house sit was in rural Australia, bush country, in a cute little house that was completely off-grid. The house ran completely on solar energy and had satellite TV and internet. The homeowners were on holiday for a month. Our responsibilities included running the watering system that pumped water directly out of the creek, feeding the chickens and geese, cutting the grass, playing with their adorable dog Allie, feeding the kitty, Mie, monitoring the input/output of energy, and running the generator on overcast days if necessary.
We learned a lot from our first house sit, number one: Never assume anything. Ask questions, and then ask more questions, and clarify answers to the questions. Our first assignment was great for us and exactly what we needed at the time, but we learned what to look for in future house sitting assignments.
While we were in Australia house sitting we decided that we would travel to New Zealand as soon as the house sit was over there. We knew we wanted to travel extensively, but also secure a house sit in New Zealand if possible. We were so fortunate to apply for two sits and both of them chose us! We only ended up accepting one of the assignments, because after further discussion about dates the second sit wouldn’t have worked out.
Our house sit in New Zealand was magical! We were in a small town called Diamond Harbour on the Banks Peninsula in New Zealand’s South island for five weeks! The house was magnificent, the area was what dreams are made of, and the pets we looked after stole our hearts!
We had the privilege of taking care of two gorgeous dogs and making sure they had long walks each day along the beach or trails in the forest. Rough life, I know. We were so sad to leave this house sit as we became very attached to the dogs and bonded with the homeowners. Thankfully, the homeowners were so pleased with how well the dogs were cared for they’ve asked us back for their next holiday!
We LOVE house sitting
It is safe to say we love house sitting. We love the life it affords us and the adorable pets we get to care for all over the world. House sitting fits our lifestyle because we are nomadic and work as we travel. We miss the simple amenities of home while we are on the move, and little things like having a kitchen, a refrigerator and a washing machine are treats for us.
We love house sitting so much that we always take it very seriously. To us, house sitting is a really important job. When homeowners are leaving us in the care of their home, property, and furry family members we don’t take that responsibility lightly. We know how fortunate we are to be entrusted with someones home in return for free accommodations and we don’t take that for granted.
House sitting in our future
This summer we have our next house sitting assignment in California close to the ocean! We will be caring for a beautiful golden retriever and taking him on hikes while his owners are traveling for just under two months. After our time in Southern California we are heading to Europe for two and half months and will be looking for some short-term sits during that time!
Top Five Tips For Getting into House Sitting
1. Get experience - Even if this means house sitting for a friend or family member in your hometown. Get the feel of looking after someone else’s home and pets for more than just a few days. Learn what works for you and what you are comfortable doing.
2. Sign up for Trusted House Sitters - there is a reason this is the biggest house sitting site, it is the best and most thorough.
3. Build an awesome profile. Be honest and sincere when writing your personal reasons for wanting to house sit, you who are and your past experience. Include pictures and letters of recommendation. (even if you don’t have house sitting-specific references you can ask a landlord or roommate)
4. Only apply for assignments you really want and that you are available to do! Write genuine applications to homeowners explaining why you are the best fit for their assignment.
5. Always ask lots of questions and clarify exactly what will be expected of you. Financial responsibilities, pet care, transportation, communication (internet/phone), household chores, etc. Make sure you are comfortable with the arrangements before accepting a job.
Kathleen and Brock are a nomadic American couple who have left their conventional life and 9-5 jobs behind in 2012 to travel the world. Their website, OurFavorite Adventure.com, is an up-and-coming blog where they write about their travels and pursuing their passions. Their goal is to inspire others to follow their own dreams by sharing their journey.