Recently, we had a chat with Erica. She has house sat in some incredible places including Costa Rica, Santorini and is currently in Playa Del Carma, what a life!!
She has figured out how to combine house sitting with her remote job (which allows her to work from anywhere). Below you’ll find out how she got started as a house sitter, some of her adventures and where she will be heading next.
Tell us a little bit about yourself – who are you, where are you from, for, do you do it full-time or sporadically
I’m Erica and I grew up in the concrete jungle of New York – where I was
immersed in a melting pot of culture, history, and adventures to be had every day.
The thing about New York (aside from great bagels) is that it prepares you for something else. After graduating college, I set sail to Australia with a one-way ticket and a 65-liter backpack where I resided for a year.
Fast forward to 10 years and I’m still globetrotting, with a home base in Denver, Colorado. I became a Trusted Housesitter in 2018 and I’ve housesat sporadically over the past few years, with longer stints (3-4 months). However, I’m been noodling on housesitting full-time…
Why did you do petsitting? What is the primary motivation?
House sitting is truly an invaluable experience, not only to see the world but to develop long-lasting friendships with homeowners and companionships with pets.
What was your favorite housesitting experience to date and why?
My favorite house-sitting experience was in San Jose, Costa Rica. I arrived a few days early and the homeowner showed me around the neighborhood and introduced me to neighbors.
She was incredibly welcoming and I even joined her book club and later joined friends for dinner. Not to mention her cat Theo was such a great work-from-home companion
How many housesits have you had and where?
I’ve done around 25-30 house sits. And everywhere! From Colorado to Santorini, Greece. Mainly North America and Europe.
How did you find out about housesitting?
7 years ago started house-sitting for neighbors, and when a dear friend of
mine, Bianca, a full-time house sitter, recommended I start house-sitting.
Immediately, I was on board.
To this day we stay connected, meet up in
different countries, and provide a support group for each other.
What’s been the biggest adventure so far?
The biggest adventure so far was my recent 4-month housesitting in Europe and Costa Rica earlier this year. I’m grateful that my company has a work-from-anywhere policy and a 4-day work week (32 hours) allowing me the flexibility to travel and explore new destinations. There are other options for working online as well, if you become a proofreader which will allow you to work from anywhere.
How do you decide on a destination?
Deciding on a destination requires some planning. First, deciding the length of the stay. Longer duration house sits allow for time to adapt
and build a community (meet neighbors or locals, as there can be a downside of solo travel, loneliness, and at times, isolation). If I’m in the US, and traveling somewhere for say, a weekend getaway, new scenery, or maybe to visit a friend (without having to impede on their space).
For more frequent travel or hopping from house sit to house sit in different areas or even countries, flight or other transport costs could add up (unless you have special rewards and points!).
Do Your Research: Also consider any visa restraints. As a digital nomad, being aware that some countries allow for stays of up to 3 months without a visa.
Consider the location: rural vs. urban. I like to have a balance of both. I love the outdoors and hiking, so rural places don’t bother me, however, I do require the use of a car (good to have an international license).
Some homeowners are not comfortable with this, and I respect that however, it may take them longer to find a house sitter. I also enjoy city locations, with easy access to walk to points of interest or take public transport.
Certainly be aware of any recent events, natural disasters, or civil unrest in the country or city you are going to (and if there are travel bans).
And lastly – a no-brainer – a location that has been on your bucket list! I also love asking homeowners for any local recommendations, whether eateries or sights to see, as that’s a great way to learn about the area and meet people.
How much luggage do you travel with?
Hot take: Traveling with oversized luggage on wheels. Don’t do it. Just don’t. Your future self will thank you and your fellow pedestrians as well. Having to schlep 30-50 lbs of a suitcase is not ideal – especially in countries where infrastructure may not be great.
The narrow streets in Europe, dirt roads, small buses, taxis, and other transport. And stairs. Sweet Pete, no one wants to embark on that incredible journey.
Depending on how long I’m going, usually, a 45-liter backpack is compact and compresses air out. I can have about 7-10 outfits, my laptop, a small toiletry bag, and a pair of shoes.
This can pass as a carry-on with most airlines and avoid checked baggage fees. If I’m going for a bit longer, a hiking trip, or if I’m traveling in winter (unfortunately, sweaters take up a bit of space) I use my Dueter 65-liter backpack with a detachable day pack. I’m a fan of Patagonia and Deuter, both sustainable, durable brands and I’ve had my packs for nearly 10 years.
In the end, you always pack more than you need. Reset your way of packing. Take what is absolutely needed. Depending on your location, a washer will likely be available or nearby and layering and having versatile outfits is key.
3 Items I Can’t Travel Without
Aside from my passport, here are my must-haves:
● Kindle: I love to read. And Libby Library is a great way to use your local library card to check out books. I try not to rely on my phone for all entertainment, and sometimes I may not have a wifi connection. Plus, those long-haul flights – Kindles come in handy.
● Quick Dry Towel: Beach destination or not, this comes in handy for hikes or day-to-day use. Maybe you are stuck at the airport with a canceled flight and are in desperate needof a shower (yes, some international airports have showers!).
● Portable Cell Phone Battery: Maybe you’ve been traveling for a while and can’t find an outlet. Or used up all your battery juice trying to navigate the city you’re in. Avoid unnecessary anxiety with a portable battery. I have the Mophie Portable Charger that clips to your phone via a magnet – slightly less bulky than some chargers, plus a card holder as well.
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?
I started out house-sitting for neighbors and friends and asking them to leave me a review or be a reference.
With Trusted Housesitters, being credible sets you apart from the competition. At first, it may be challenging to secure a house sit, and more experience sitters will likely get priority. Don’t let that get you down.
Try applying for more remote locations or sits with lower applicants, maybe local house sit opportunities beforeapplying to house sits in very desirable locations where the competition is much morefierce, like Costa Rica or Barcelona, Spain.
When I first started out, I probably applied to nearly a dozen house sits that rejected mebefore getting my first house sit. Like anything you pursue in your life, rejection may happen and I encourage you to persevere!
Did you ever have any unusual pets to take care of or responsibilities that were out of the norm?
I’ve house sat for pets with special needs requiring medication, had separation anxiety,and administered insulin shots. Having very clear directions and communication with the homeowner is crucial.
Tips for Others Wanting to get started?
So many tips! Getting started can seem like a daunting task, but start small caring for the pets of friends, family, and neighbors. Have more questions? Feel free to connect with me on Instagram.
Where to next (when you can)
As of September 2023, I’m in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. Who knows where my next house sit will be but South America is on my bucket list.
Want to try House Sitting As Well?
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