Last year, after their 3rd child left the nest, Jeff and Charli decided to do something they had wanted to do for a long time... travel around the United States full time as house/pet sitters.
On Dec. 17, 2014 the couple sold their house and everything they owned, packed their car with what they needed to travel and hit the road for the next chapter in their lives.
Since they started house sitting, Jeff and Charli have lived in homes in Hawaii, Connecticut (nestled in the Berkshire Mountains), Sacramento, CA, and currently in the San Juan Mountains of Ridgway, CO. Following this they will be sitting in Minneapolis, MN, Port Townsend, WA, Santa Fe, NM and Phoenix, AZ. Their engagements typically last from 1 - 3 months per location.
1. You meet great people
From the home owners themselves to their friends, neighbors and locals, the relationships you form will last a lifetime. We are thrilled to have met so many new people coast to coast who we can honestly call our friends.
2. You get to enjoy LOTS of great animals!
Yes, the pets! That's what house sitting is really about. Over the last few years we have cared for cats, dogs, parrots and very soon... rats! After spending weeks or months with these beautiful animals it's actually difficult to say goodbye when it's time to leave.
Other ads we've seen include goats, chickens, fish, reptiles and horses. We would need a bigger car if we were going take a horse to the horse park.
3. It's free
There are lots of arrangements to choose from, but we prefer the barter system where no money is exchanged for our services. We get a great place to live and the owners get someone who provides loving care for their home and pets. The bonus?... since Dec, 2014, we have not had to pay a mortgage or any of the other expenses associated with home ownership.
4. It's free-ing!
Not only did we sell our house, but we also sold EVERYTHING ELSE we owned. With the exception of a couple of keepsake bins we put in storage, literally everything we own now is in (and on) the back of our car. Of course I had to become a Tetris master to make it all fit, but we still continue to downsize every trip.
After 25 years of marriage and 3 children, we were surprised at how much "stuff" we had accumulated and how difficult it was to get rid of our lifetime of belongings. However, we were also surprised at how liberating it was to shed all those possessions and become minimalists. OK, I do miss having a motorcycle but unfortunately there's just not enough room in the hatchback for anything else.
5. You can experience the country like the locals
This was one of the main things that attracted us to house sitting. Normally when you take a vacation, you feel the need to aim at the main attractions and cram as much stuff as possible into the week or two that you are there. As locals, we get to take our time and really get to know the communities we live in. This allows us to see the hidden treasures that exist in every town and experience what makes each community or state unique. For example, we are currently living in the beautiful small town of Ridgway, CO at 8000 feet, with this view just down the road from our house.
|Ridgway, CO - Population - 924, cannabis dispensaries - 3|
6. You connect with family and long lost friends
A major benefit of wandering around the United States as house sitters is that you are in control of your schedule. A good example of this is how we slowly navigated our way from CT to CA by stopping in every city where almost all of our family members and old friends reside. The beauty of that is you can stay for a day, have a great visit and not leave any fish odor on the way out.
7. Your job satisfaction increases dramatically
I've always been grateful for the ability to work from home, but quite frankly, sitting in the same home office for 10 years became a bit tiresome. As a house sitter, I now have a new home office in a different place every month or so. As well, because I'm getting to travel the county and see all the major attractions I've always wanted to see, I no longer have the yearning to hurry up and get to my retirement so I can do it then. The daily grind has disappeared and punching out at the end of the day is now an invitation to get outside and see something new!
8. You will experience interesting and beautiful households
Big houses, little houses, modern houses, old houses... we've lived in them all. Some are rustic and nestled in the woods, others are fancier and in a bustling active community, with bike and hiking trails just outside the door. So far, every home we've lived in has been a delight.
9. The day trips are amazing
This is a huge bonus for people who like to get out and explore. A "day trip" means anything that is within an hour or two (or whatever the home owners are comfortable with) where you can swoop in, see the attraction and head back home before the dogs start crossing their legs. Or, when possible you take the pooches with you for a day in a state park or hiking trail along a river. In a few cases we've also hired a friend of the owners to pet sit for the night while we headed into NYC for a Broadway play or to Boston for a day of sight seeing. The possibilities are endless.
10. It's exciting!
All of this above adds up to one thing... a lifestyle that is different and exciting! Even the process of packing up the car and heading to the next location gives us a feeling of "Ooh... I wonder what this next town will be like!" For example from Aug-Sept we will be living in Port Townsend, WA, a small town in the northwest corner of WA that sits on the bay across from Victoria, British Columbia. You need to take two different ferries just to get to Seattle.
I mean come on... how cool is that!
"Not all those who wander are lost." - Tolkien