We love hearing stories from others who live a similar life to us. In August 2020, we chatted with Sam and Vern a house sitting couple from New York!
Read on to find out about the off-grid solar powered house in the Caribbean with 17 animals they cared for!
Hey Guys! Tell us a little bit about yourselves
We’re Sam and Veren, originally from New York, USA. We have been house sitting as a way to travel since 2016, sometimes doing it full-time, and sometimes doing it part time. We have been full-time house sitters since 2018 – until the pandemic hit. All future house sits got cancelled, and there were no new house sits coming up.
We secured rental accommodation and plan to be here until there are house sits coming up regularly AND it’s safe enough to be able to jump back into full-time house sitting.
We are currently in New York, and while the pandemic situation has stabilized here somewhat, cases are rising in half the country. So the time isn’t right to jump back into full timing just yet. But we can’t wait to do so, likely later in 2020 or early 2021. For now, we will be enjoying local and regional travel through short term house sits in New York.
How Many Housesits Have You Completed and Where?
We’ve done around 30 house sits through TrustedHousesitters, and more through friends and family, so probably around 40ish different situations total. We prioritize long house sits (1-3 months).
We’ve house sat all over the U.S. and Europe. In the U.S., we’ve house sat in New York, Utah, Oregon, North Carolina, and the US Virgin Islands. In Europe, we’ve house sat in Italy, many places in Spain, England, Scotland, and Germany.
Why Do You Housesit? What is Your Main Motivation?
We house sit to travel and experience what it’s like to live somewhere else, while taking care of adorable pets. Of course not paying for accommodation was the initial motivation, and is still a big part of why we have been house sitting for so long.
How Did You Find out About Housesitting?
We had done house and pet sitting for friends and family for a while, but we originally found out through house sitting as a way to travel through a travel blog!
What’s Been the Biggest Adventure so Far?
House sitting at an off-grid solar powered house in the Caribbean taking care of 17 pets! It was a very unique experience as we’d never spent time living on an island before. The home owners were wonderful and the pets were all so fun. They had a great system for feeding all the pets, and a lot of them lived outdoors (Carribean weather!) so it wasn’t overwhelming at all taking care of so many animals.
There definitely are a lot of considerations about living in the tropics that we hadn’t thought about before, such as how to prepare for a hurricane. Happily, we never had to use that knowledge.
Pros of Housesitting
The biggest pro of house sitting is of course not paying for accommodation. And this isn’t just a free hotel room, but a fully furnished and equipped home. It’s an experience that you couldn’t really pay for.
But there are so many other pros! We are huge animal lovers, so being around cuddly pets is a major pro for us. Though it should really be a big pro for any house sitter, since house sitting is overwhelmingly pet sitting.
Last but certainly not least, we love connecting with locals – the pet and home owners. Platforms like Airbnb tout “living like a local” but we think house sitting is the true living like a local, while becoming friends with locals too! We’ve learned so much about the places we’ve visited from the people we’ve house sat for, gotten insights on the local area and neighborhood, gone out to dinner together, and just generally enjoyed connecting with people from all over the world.
Cons of Housesitting
The main con of house sitting is that your plans are dependent on someone else. Even if you want to do a certain sit, the home/pet owner still has to choose you as the sitter, and you’re working on their timeline. This also means that there is always the possibility of cancellation, which all house sitters should be prepared for.
However, we strongly feel that the pros dramatically outweigh the cons, and the cons can be mitigated through communication and doing your due diligence as a house sitter.
How Do You Decide on a Destination?
We let the house sits decide! In our experience, this has worked very well. Being flexible has opened up the possibility to visit places that we never would have considered otherwise, but that we greatly enjoyed.
We generally base ourselves in an area of the world for a period of time and then keep our eyes out for long-term house sits in that area. For example, in 2020, we planned on house sitting in North America, so we kept our eye on the U.S., Canada, and Mexico for sits that we’d want to do. In the past, we’ve spent summers house sitting around the U.K. or mainland Europe. We’ve also planned areas to house sit based on commitments, such as attending a friend’s wedding.
But overall, for us, it’s more about the right fit in terms of house sit, home owner, and pets, than a particular destination. We’re open to going anywhere, with a preference for being in pedestrian friendly cities and small towns.
How much Luggage Do You Travel With?
For the two of us, in total we have two carry-on backpacks and one shared checked bag for things that we cannot take on the plane or are too bulky (like hiking boots). Every time we show up at a house sit, people are astounded that we are traveling full-time with less stuff than they’ve packed for their vacation!
Have you Ever Have Any Unusual Pets?
Mostly we’ve taken care of cats and dogs, though we did take care of a couple of parrots once that made unique noises whenever we left the room – noises of two people having sex! It sounded uncannily accurate and was quite amusing.
The off-grid, solar-powered house in the Caribbean with 17 animals was definitely out of the norm too!
Favorite Housesitting Experience?
Choosing a favorite is so tough as we’ve had so many great house sitting experiences. But we always come back to our first house sitting experience, a three month house sit in Salt Lake City, Utah.
We connected with the home owner immediately and actually our last house sit before the pandemic hit was a repeat house sit for him. The first time we house sat for him, he was living in a luxury condo in downtown Salt Lake City with an indoor pool/gym and hot tubs on the roof that had gorgeous views of the mountains that surround the city.
The cat was also super friendly and lovable and we even took him on a road trip (at the insistence of his owner).
We also – surprisingly – really enjoyed Salt Lake City, a place we never would have thought of visiting before, and certainly not for 3 months. This experience really opened our eyes to the possibilities that arise when being flexible with where we went.
Was it Hard for You to Secure your First Housesitting Gig?
We didn’t feel that it was hard, it just took consistent work and perseverance. We probably applied to 6-7 house sits before we got our first house sitting assignment. We were not in a hurry and we really wanted to find the right fit rather than just jumping at whatever we could find. We were only applying to long term house sits because we wanted to test it out for a while to see if it’d work for us (spoiler alert: it did).
Any Funny Housesitting Experiences?
The parrots mentioned earlier were definitely pretty hilarious, they sounded so realistic. Also sneaking the cat out of a condo building (that didn’t technically allow cats) for a road trip was another funny and memorable experience.
Tips for Others Wanting to Get Started?
First off is to join a reputable house sitting website for finding house sits. From there, our main tips are to be flexible and patient, as well as do your research and due diligence. Recognize that house sitting is a serious responsibility, and ideally have some prior experience caring for pets and homes.
Where to Next?
When we can, we’d love to return to Spain. We lived there for several years and have done many house sits there. It’s our second home and we always return there whenever we can. We think it will be some time before Americans will be able to visit Europe, so for now we are looking forward to local adventures and house sits in New York state!
Want to Find More About Sam and Vern?
Find them on Instagram @alternativetravelers