Recently, we had a chat with Grace.
She has had the MOST incredible adventures around the world!
From chefing in Costa Rica to teaching English in SE Asia!
Find out how she has landed over 100 house sits (she has some incredible tips for finding sits where YOU want to go!)
Plus find out about her next house sit in Hawaii…. caring for 5 birds!
Tell us a little bit about yourself – who are you, where are you from, for, do you do it full-time or sporadically
Hi! I’m Grace, from the USA. I’ve been fully nomadic for over 8 years now.
I worked in the restaurant industry as a chef for 15 years and utterly burned out from the terrible working conditions.
When I finally decided to quit, I chose to fulfill my true calling, which is traveling. So I quit my job, sold everything and moved to Bangkok to do a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certification course.
I traveled throughout SE Asia and made my way to Central America. I ended up living in Costa Rica for a few years working as a chef in a restaurant in a small fishing village on the Nicoya Peninsula. Living there really changed my life.
I lived close to the beach, in a shack, in the jungle with all the jungle things you could imagine. Snakes, Howler Monkeys, crab infestations, you name it. Life was very simple, and beautiful.
During those two years, in the low season, I backpacked Panama, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Belize and El Salvador.
I picked up house-sits and pet-sits in Costa Rica and Guatemala. This started my current portfolio of international sits.
I’ve since been traveling around Mexico doing housesits and working online (I gave up the English tutoring, phew, it’s exhausting) as a virtual assistant. I’m currently in the state of Oaxaca, loving all the food!
How many housesits have you had and where?
I honestly have done too many sits to count, It has to be near 100.
I have done sits in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico and all over the USA. I have a sit in Hawaii coming up, that’s exciting!
Why did you do petsitting? What is the main motivation?
The main motivation for me is twofold.
I am an animal empath. I thrive when I am around animal energy. I can’t have any of my own because of my lifestyle, so pet care is a way that I can be around animals and get my much needed dose of animal love.
Also, doing pet care and housesitting is a way to achieve my lifestyle goals of being fully nomadic.
Cutting down on the biggest expense, accommodations, allows me to spend less time working and more time living.
Was it hard for you to secure your first housesitting gig? How many applications did you have to send before you got accepted for your first assignment?
Nope, not at all.
Even working as a chef all those years I was a dog walker and dog sitter and in college I did dog sitting.
So I’ve done it for 20 years on and off and know the ropes. Plus I’m really good with animals, and people have asked me to sit for them on their own.
How much luggage do you travel with?
1 60 liter backpack and a duffle bag. But, I’m trying to widdle it down to be the same as my backpacking days. Too much luggage is challenging with how I travel.
Want to Become a Digital Nomad Too?
If you want to become a digital nomad we recommend listening to podcasts.
As well as reading as many personal blogs as possible.
This will give you insight into how they got started.
Plus some tips for starting your own journey!
Pros of House Sitting?
It’s a great way to see the world for cheap, save money on accommodations, get all the animal snuggles and have access to fully equipped housing.
Cons of House Sitting?
Having responsibilities—such as animal care, gardening, etc.—means you don’t have as much freedom.
Also, if you fall in love with a pet, it can be hard to say goodbye.
Things that have happened to me: Bed bugs!, broken pipes and flooding, really really mean homeowners, filthy house and dishonestly about well-being of their animals (as in the were very sick and I wasn’t told).
But overall, I think I have had 95% awesome sits and those bad situations have been outliers.
How do you decide on a destination?
I start looking for sits in locations I want to explore.
So, for example, I’m making moves for South America in October.
I’ve started joining local facebook groups in Ecuador and Peru and have put myself out there.
I have started looking at all the house sitting sites to see which ones have locations in South America (not many) and have updated my profiles for those ones.
What’s been the biggest adventure so far?
Getting stuck at a house sit with 4 cats for 5 months when it originally was supposed to be 1 because of border closures due to a freaking global pandemic!
Having to navigate bill paying, emergency vet care and groceries in a foreign country when everything got shut down.
Or maybe the time I did a sit at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala in a rustic lake side house with an ole meany dog who was blind and diabetic and who I had to give twice daily insulin shots to and he hated me. Poor dude.
I was just a stranger poking him twice a day! Don’t blame him one bit.
The internet went out constantly and some sort of night club moved in next door. I honestly have never heard music that loud. It was sort of an insane sit.
Note: We suggest using a pet sitter instructions template. That way the house sitter has all the information if something like this goes wrong.
How did you find out about house sitting?
I have my own website www.gracesbuddies.com
I also get tons of sits from word of mouth (this goes back to completing close to 100 sits!). I belong to Trusted House Sitter, House Sit Mexico, Nomador, Mind My House and House Carers.
I am not a paying subscriber to all of these at all times. I pay in when I am in an area or planning on traveling to an area that is covered by one of these websites.
And lastly, I join local expat facebook groups for where I want to travel yet and see if anyone is looking for a sitter.
Did you ever have any unusual pets to take care of or responsibilities that were out of the norm?
I feel like so many of my sits in Latin America can be considered out of the norm. LOL.
Buying raw dog food from a street vendor. Having home calls from vets in foreign countries, paying bills with local currencies in foreign government buildings, speaking languages other than English.
Just the way of life is different.
The only unusual pets I suppose are a hedgehog and a turtle.
But I am booked to take care of 5 parrots in Hawaii soon! That will be a first!
Tips for others wanting to get started?
My number one tip I always give people wanting to do this is to complete some house/pet sits locally in your area first.
If you are comfortable being in someone elses home and dealing with all kinds of surprises then you know you can handle it if you are far away from home.
And then you can get some good references to get you started. I also want to really stress, you HAVE TO LOVE ANIMALS.
Where to next (when you can)
I’m in Oaxaca, Mexico now…then to Chiapas, Mexico…then to Maui, Hawaii…..and making moves for South America, starting in Ecuador.
Want to see what she gets up to next?
You can follow Grace’s adventures here
Want to try House Sitting As Well?
There are thousands of opportunities to house sit around the world!
Check out the resources for getting started as a house sitter here.
Are You Ready to Start House Sitting?