Your House Sitting Story
Can you tell me a little about why you started house sitting?
We had been traveling in alternative ways for a while through CouchSurfing and HelpX. We wanted to try something new as well as slow down our pace of travel, so we thought house sitting was the perfect opportunity to do so. We wanted to go to new places that we wouldn’t have otherwise visited, save money, and have time to work on our passion projects. Plus, we love hanging out with animals! It just made sense for us.
Has your lifestyle changed since you started house sitting? If so, how?
We certainly slowed down our pace of travel. At the beginning, we would move every day to one week (when we were backpacking through India and SE Asia), but it became exhausting after a year. House sitting allows us to stay put for longer periods of time. It feels more like a normal lifestyle rather than living out of backpacks.
What is the most enjoyable part about house sitting for you?
Lianne: Having a kitchen to cook what I please is one of the best things for me. Traveling long-term without a permanent home limits the amount I could cook, something I really missed. I’m sure Adam is glad to be able to do more dishes.
Adam: Always. Change my mind. My superpower would be washing dishes faster. As to this question, the dogs are the best part to me, and having time to work on our personal and professional projects.
What is the least enjoyable part of house sitting?
It is hard to think of one, but we have had animals that were not easy to handle and the homes were sometimes cluttered or somewhat unpleasant to be in. But most have been incredible. It is a gamble sometimes when you arrive at a home and then you’re committed to stay there for a certain period of time, whereas when you’re staying at a guesthouse or doing a HelpX, you can leave as you please.
Looking back was there a moment where you decided that you wanted to become a full-time house sitter?
Perhaps during our first housesit. So relatively quickly, I suppose. The home was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been in. We hit the jackpot and we knew we wanted to continue enjoying housesits through Australia.
Tell me about some of the things you miss now that you are house sitters?
We don’t miss much actually, aside from our families a but of course (have to say that). Traveling intentionally as we try to do, just makes you want to not have a lot of stuff, so we’ve rather become minimalists, I’d say. We were also both frugal before we started traveling.
What have you found to be the most challenging part of house sitting?
House sitting is rather easy and we have not found anything challenging really. Just care for the animals as directed. Don’t skimp on walking them or watering the garden, if need be.
Have you ever been paid to house sit?
No, we have not. But we have heard it’s not totally uncommon.
Have you house sat internationally?
We are American and housesit in Australia, so yes!
Where is your favourite house sitting location?
We liked them all for different reasons – the Blue Mountains, Sydney’s hip inner west, Adelaide Hills’ beautiful countryside, the gorgeous rainforest area of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland… can’t say we have a favourite location, but we do have some favourite house sit assignments based on the homes and animals.
JLTD’s pick from Lianne and Adams instagram @AdamAndLianne
A little bit of advice
If you could give 1 piece of advice to a person starting out house sitting, what would it be?
Communicate well with the homeowners. They may worry about having strangers in their homes, so we first ask them before they leave if they’d like updates while they’re away (they always say yes). They love seeing photos of the animals and having peace of mind that everything is okay back home.
Something else is to take photos of everything when you first arrive and make sure the home looks exactly as you left it or even cleaner. It is a nice gesture to stock up on some food items and/or make the homeowners a meal upon their arrival back because they would appreciate it after traveling.
What advice would you give home owners offering their homes to house sitters for the first time?
Make a binder full of information for house sitters including instructions/reminders for animal care, garden maintenance, rubbish disposal, emergency contact information, appliances, travel information, etc. We sometimes forgot little details from the initial home tour so having a binder to refer to is extremely helpful.
Do you have any preferred websites that you like to use? Why?
We have only used HouseCarers.org, which has been sufficient for Australia. We like getting daily notifications of housesits in the regions of choice. It is a cheap membership ($55 AUD per year) which quickly pays for itself and is a really active website in Australia at least.
Have you had any incidents or bad stories when house sitting? How did you deal with it?
Not a major crisis, but on the very first housesit, the homeowners left and we waved goodbye to them. As we went back in the house, the screen door kind of broke! We fixed it and told the homeowners, who laughed and said it was fine.
We have had two dogs that didn’t like us much. One ran away every time we were near and hid away. The other sat on the couch all day and refused to go for walks. When we tried to pet her, she’d snap at us. This was only for the first few days, though. She eventually warmed up to us. And by then, it was nearly time to leave.
People are often blown away when they find out what house sitting is and how it works, we have found this the hardest to explain to people. Have you had the same experience? What do you tell people when they ask what do you do?
People think it is a great concept, and we find it rather straight-forward to explain. We take care of homes and animals while people go away on holiday to give them peace of mind when they are away. It is a win-win situation – they get free quality pet care and we get a free place to stay.
Do you make any income whilst you house sit? People often worry about this: Do you have any advice for them?
We have working holiday visas, so we both had jobs (Lianne taught at an adult night school and Adam worked at Nikon) while we housesat in Sydney. Actually, we were there for three months and changed location six times! It was great to make an income while not having any expenditures. We also got to explore several neighborhoods in the city and kept things interesting.
We are working towards making money online – we maintain a travel blog and travel Instagram which we have not yet monetized. Lianne got some freelance travel writing gigs and did some nannying during long housesits by putting an ad up on Gumtree. Check the local ads to see if there are short-term jobs. We earned pocket money by setting up a silent disco event and helping out at a Korean cooking demonstration. Lianne also plans on doing some online teaching and tutoring. Eventually, we both plan to write books. Adam would like to add “National Geographic photographer” to his resume.
Do you have or need any insurance?
We have traveler’s insurance, but nothing else.
Do you charge anyone for your services?
No, we don’t, but it is an option for the future as we build up our references and experience.
How to get started?
First, decide where you want to go and choose the best house sitting website for that region. HouseCarers is great for Australia, for instance. There are some other house sitting websites specific to that region, but come with yearly memberships, so decide how long you want to house sit for as well. We have a guide going more into details on how to get started at AdamAndLianne.com
What sort of insurance do you need?
At least traveler’s insurance, but not sure about other kind of insurance. Would like to know this.
Do you have a police check?
Yes, we both have FBI background checks because we needed clean ones in order to teach in South Korea. But we were never asked of that in Australia. Good to say you have it just in case though, assuming you do of course.
After you’ve moved in what happens if you find weird…. ?
We found a dead cat in the freezer once. Yeah… we just kept it wrapped up in the towel and ignored that second freezer for the week. To the owner’s defense though, she did first mention that if a cat happens to get out across the street and die, to wrap it and put it in the freezer so her son can say goodbye when they return.
What happens if you lose an animal?
We haven’t done that, but we would try to find the animal ourselves and inform the homeowners. We would also inform the neighbors to keep a lookout and post in the Facebook group of that town. Don’t lose the animal. But also, just be honest with the homeowners and show your best effort to care for their home and property.
some advice on international house sitting
Have you ever completed a house sit internationally?
Yes, we are American and have only done house sitting in Australia.
What was the most challenging part about an international house sit?
We don’t really know all of the customs and laws, but Australia is rather similar to America, so it isn’t much of a challenge here.
Was there a language barrier?
No, unless you count some word confusion like “thongs”, “ta”, and “arvo”
Did you have any complications with customs?
Nope, we know how strict Australian customs are, so we didn’t bring anything questionable (i.e., food) into the country.
What was the most rewarding part during international house siting?
Getting to see how locals live! We notice some little things about how Australian households differ from typical American ones. For example, most households compost, have solar panels, grow some kind of vegetable or herb, catch rainwater, etc. People seem to be leading more sustainable lifestyles than what we grew up with in America and we love it.
How did you feel before your first house sit?
Excited! We weren’t nervous really because we had been living in people’s homes through CouchSurfing and HelpX for so long already. This time, we would just be there without the homeowners.
Do you see yourself continuing to house sit long term? If so, for how long?
Definitely. We are actually going to serve in Zambia for two years with the U.S. Peace Corps starting next year, so we won’t be able to housesit until after that. We’d like to go to Europe to house sit next.
For people that are interested in becoming a house sitter is their a website you recommend?
We use housecarers.com and you can check them out by clicking the icon above!!! They are great!
Thank you Lianne and Adam for your time with us!!
Please comment below if you have any questions! We hope you are all Just Living The Dream!
For more interviews like Lianne and Adam – Check out our interviews within the JLTD Blog