Starting Her House-Sitting Adventure – Interview with Erika

Recently, we had a chat with Erika. After not finding her job fulfilling Erika and her husband were looking for something new. Both being avid traveler hackers, they were excited to discover house-sitting!

Below you’ll learn how Erika began her house-sitting adventure and how she landed a EPIC house sits in San Fransico and London!

Tell us a little bit about yourself – who are you, where are you from, for, do you do it full-time or sporadically

My name is Erika and I grew up and still live in Los Angeles.  I spent 30 years working as a Human Resources Manager. 

I was good at my job, but it was stressful and did not bring me much joy.  I lost my job last fall and decided it was time for some soul-searching and reevaluation. 

I decided to slow down as my husband and I are moving closer to retirement and exploring other work types.  I have always said that I would prefer to work with animals vs. people, and travel has always been my passion. 

This led me to discover Trusted Housesitters. I’m doing this part-time.  I also registered with a pet-sitting site and pursuing work in Voice Over. 

We also have two cats at home, so full-time travel is not an option.  Thus far, I have done my housesits solo as my husband’s work schedule didn’t allow him to join me, but there will be times when he will join me.

Why did you do petsitting? What is the primary motivation?

My husband and I are always looking for affordable ways to travel and I’m also a points/miles hacker.

So continuing to do the hacking and working with Trusted Housesitters will allow us to continue to explore, whether that is in our own state, or venturing further. 

We are also animal lovers and we love meeting and spending time with furry creatures.

How many housesits have you had and where?

I had previously house sat for friends and family, but had never used a housesitting platform before to sit for strangers! 

Experienced housesitters often suggest starting off with a local sit, so my first TH sit was about 30 minutes from my home in an area that I liked (Westwood – near UCLA)  About a month later I did a sit in San Francisco.  Both were really wonderful experiences. 

How did you find out about housesitting?

After losing my job, I spent many sleepless nights pondering my next move.  I believe it was a google search on “working with animals” that ultimately led me to Trusted Housesitters. 

It seemed too good to be true, so I did my research!  After reviewing multiple blogs, YouTube Videos and podcasts, I discovered that the feedback on this platform was overwhelmingly positive.

What’s been the biggest adventure so far?

Spending 10 days in a stranger’s home in San Francisco was a wonderful experience. 

I can still recall the excitement as I drove up the beautiful California coast from LA to SF and really enjoyed spending time with a sweet old dog named Dudley. 

The home was in a great location with Golden Gate Park and the beach only a couple blocks away, so Dudley and I explored together.  I found the daily walks in this beautiful city to be very relaxing and grounding.

How much luggage do you travel with?

We always do carry on only!  Roller suitcases and backpacks.  We are experienced travelors and know how to pack efficiently! 

Pros of House Sitting?

Free accommodation in exchange for service.  Spending time with animals. 

Meeting new people and discovering other cities. 

I grew incredibly attached to the animals I cared for and was very sad to say goodbye to them when the sit ended!

Cons of House Sitting?

Responsibility is involved, so this is not a “carefree” vacation.  While there is an opportunity to explore the local area, pets should not be left alone for too long and you need to manage your schedule around the animals’ needs. 

If a dog needs to be walked 3 times a day, you can explore in between those times, but your first priority should always be the animals. 

There is also the small chance a homeowner might cancel, but I understand that is rare and I have not experienced this. 

What was your favorite housesitting experience to date and why?

I had an amazing time in San Francisco.  Although I’ve been there previously, I never grow tired of this beautiful city. 

I also have relatives in the area, so it was good to see them. 

The home I stayed in was very stylish and comfortable and the homeowners went out of their way to offer local recommendations and welcomed me with a bunch of snacks and wine. 

I was up there over the Christmas holiday, so after receiving permission from the pet’s owners, I took their dog with me to a Christmas day celebration.  We had a great time and he charmed everyone!

How do you decide on a destination?

I ultimately prefer the city over the countryside, so transportation options are a big factor.  If the sit is in California, I can drive there and use my own car. 

If the sit is outside of the state, I would only select a location where I had easy access to local shops and activities, as well as public transportation. I do love to explore, so there needs to be interesting things to see within walking distance.  Knowing that the area is safe is also really important.

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 booked my first two gigs within two weeks of joining Trusted Housesitters.  I probably applied to half a dozen jobs before securing those sits. 

We did facetime interviews and I had a long list of questions prepared in advance.  My first two jobs were over Thanksgiving and Christmas, which is a very popular time for housesitting. 

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?

One home I stayed in had beautiful marble countertops in the kitchen, but the homeowners warned me that they were extremely vulnerable to staining.  I was trying so hard to be careful whenever I used the kitchen. 

Fortunately, while I never stained the countertops, I somehow managed to drop the small bathroom wastebin it and it broke into several pieces!  It was actually a quite stylish designer bin, made of bamboo. 

I was able to determine the brand and frantically searched for a replacement, but nothing was available locally, so I had to arrange for it to be shipped to the homeowners several weeks later.

I fessed up to the homeowners, who insisted I didn’t need to replace it, but I really felt obligated to do so.  (Fortunately, it wasn’t terribly expensive – just hard to find!)

Tips for others wanting to get started?

Start off sitting locally to build a portfolio and reviews—good way to see what you are getting into also.Make sure your profile clearly demonstrates your love of animals and your responsible nature. 

Photos and references are key.  Don’t be afraid to be discerning about which sits you will take. 

Have a list of priorities in mind and stick to those when evaluating sits.  Trust your gut!

Did you ever have any unusual pets to take care of or responsibilities that were out of the norm?

Nothing out of the norm.  I did sit for one dog who was a sweetheart, but the owner had warned me that he occasionally liked to eat his own feces, so I had to race to pick it up before he got to it! 

Where to next (when you can)

Heading to London this summer for my first overseas sit! 

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?

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