Recently, we had a chat with Nina and Helon from the Minimalist Ninja!
They have traveled the world and completed over 18 house sits. Including an epic one in Barcelona looking after two Maine Coones (our favorite type of cat!) Let’s find out more about their adventures!
Tell us a little bit about yourselves– who are you, where are you from, for, do you do it full-time or sporadically
Nina: I was born and raised in Austria, left in 2014 and have since lived in London and New York City. I stopped flying at the end of 2019, haven’t flown since and would only, for the time being, fly if it were really necessary to see family. I am currently based in Berlin and I am happy to house sit whenever a house sit pops up that I can go to via bus or train! 🙂
Helon: I’m originally from Mississippi but left around…2003? I moved out to California for skateboarding and then later moved to NYC with lots of traveling in between. I still skateboard every day that I can but these days I’m working as a software developer and teaching web development online.
How many housesits have you done and where?
That’s a tricky one! We had to log into our Trusted House Sitters profile to ensure we didn’t miss one. Here are the stats:
Number of house sits since July 2018: 18 sits
Countries: China, Thailand, South Korea, Denmark, Bulgaria, Romania, Austria, United States, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Latvia, Canada, Sweden, Netherlands, Greece
Why do you housesit? What is the main motivation?
We house sit because we enjoy spending time with animals and love traveling like locals.
How to Get Into House Sitting?
I believe we found out house sitting or rather thought seriously about signing up when we decided to take a year off to travel between our move from NYC to Berlin.
Pros of House Sitting?
- Being able to hang out with pets
- Staying somewhere and “feeling” like a local
- On Trusted House Sitters (the platform we are using) it’s an exchange and not a monetary transaction, which we love!
- Great selection of countries and places you can go
Cons of House Sitting?
- When it comes to applying for house sits, you really need to be “on it” – in our experience – the earlier you apply, the better
- You need to have a certain level of flexibility. If f.e. your work situation requires you to hand in your vacation for the year months in advance then you’ll have fewer house sitting options due to being a lot less flexible
What’s been the biggest or best adventure so far?
We would say getting out Chinese visas in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, for our very first house sit in Chengdu, China. The process of getting our visas was one of the most nerve-wracking visa processes of our life!
How do you decide on a destination?
Nina: As mentioned earlier, for the time being, I only travel via bus or train so proximity to wherever I am living is key for me.
Helon: Since I work remotely and am flexible enough to travel whenever I get a sit, I just think about where I’d like to visit then just set house sitting alerts.
How much luggage do you travel with?
Nina: I usually travel with a 40 L backpack and a smaller bag that holds all our value items (laptop, etc.).
Helon: I usually travel with just a 35L backpack.
Was it hard for you to secure your first house-sitting gig?
Securing our first one was actually pretty easy! The house sit we applied to was super last minute due to them having had someone cancel on them. We happened to be “close” (we were in Vietnam at the time and the house sit was in China), so we decided to go for it.
What we didn’t know at the time was that getting our visas for China would prove to be one of the most nerve-wracking visa experiences ever!
Did you ever have any unusual pets to take care of or responsibilities that were out of the norm?
Nina: I can’t really think of any experiences that were unusual or outside the norm.
Helon: I took care of rabbits once which maybe isn’t so unusual but it was new to me. I needed to go foraging for rabbit greens in the grassy fields around Riga which was interesting but not too bad, ha. I also did a sit for a pug where I needed to clip her nails and brush her teeth.
Where has been your favorite house sit?
Nina: My favorite house sitting experience was definitely house sitting in Amsterdam for two weeks in August 2021. We looked after this beautiful & lovely Siberian cat. His name was Otis! Looking after him lifted my spirits and brought me so much joy! Also, I hadn’t been to Amsterdam in years and I thoroughly enjoyed my time there!
Helon: I’d agree with Nina that the Amsterdam one was one of my favorites. Another one I really enjoyed was looking after two super awesome cats in Barcelona – Cheddar, and Toast. Cheddar was a gorgeous Maine Coone and Toast was, if I recall correctly, half Maine Coone. I love Barcelona so getting to spend a few weeks going out skating and coming home to those two fluffy hooligans was really nice.
Tips for others wanting to get started?
Choose a platform that fits you best! There are multiple websites out there which you can join and it can be difficult to choose one. Some are more region-spe
Sign up to a reputable site like Trusted House Sitters, decide in which country/area you would like to house sit in, decide on what type of pet you want to look after, and go for it!
Remember, in our experience, the earlier you apply the better. Sign up to those push notifications and apply as soon as you see something that fits.
Where to next (when you can)
Helon is constantly looking for house sits and is currently house sitting in Athens, Greece. He’ll be house sitting in New York City at the end of the year and who knows where in between.
It would also be nice to do another housesit that’s reachable via bus/train – let’s see what’s in store for us!
Want to know where else to find Nina and Helon?
Follow Nina and Helon’s adventures on their website!
Want to try House Sitting As Well?
There are thousands of opportunities to house sit around the world!
If you’re wondering how YOU TO-can travel for free, check out our resources on becoming a house sitter!
Are You Ready to Start House Sitting?