Each year HouseSitMatch hosts a Blog Competition and this year our entries are better than ever; here we share the Housesitting Blog Competition Finalist 6 entry. Andrew Redfern an Australian from Sydney started housesitting as a way to find a new neighbourhood where he and his partner would like to buy a house. That was nearly two years ago, and they’re still housesitting and discovering new locations and countries by living like locals. Read his blog entry to find out what they’ve learned along the way…
Housesitting Blog Competition FINALIST 6 – Andrew Redfern
What We learned from House Sittting – By Andrew Redfern
We love the house sitting lifestyle and all it has to offer. When my partner, Christopher and I left Sydney more than 560 days ago, little did we know of the adventures that lay ahead. We had decided to relocate to New Zealand and were house sitting in various parts of the country to help us decide where we would like to settle. During our second house sit in Dunedin whilst we were enjoying our morning coffee, we looked at each other and asked, “Why do we need to settle down? Why can’t we keep house sitting our way around the world?” Since then we have minded pets and homes in New Zealand, Australia, USA and are currently in Mexico. The house sitting journey has been fantastic and each experience and situation offers something unique, with many lessons being learned along the way.
New friendships are an unexpected part of the house sitting lifestyle. Little did we realise that we would become friends with so many people around the world. Not only have we remained in contact with the home owners we have helped but we have also met other house sitters along the way. Connecting via Facebook and other social media has enabled us and them to remain part of each other’s lives, irrespective of where we are in the world. And the virtual friendships that have resulted in physical meetings have truly been special. Chatting with people online that you then get to meet in person is exciting. Recently in Mexico, we met up with eight other house sitters for lunch who were in the area. What a time we had, sharing stories and laughing lots.
Expect the Unexpected
Before setting out on this fantastic journey, we led pretty organised lives and had routines for our daily living. We are great planners and enjoy the process of travel organisation. House sitting certainly challenged this as each new assignment meant settling into new routines with pet feeding and walking times etc. And then in those times when we thought we knew where we were going, an exciting new sit would present itself, meaning our plans changed dramatically. In New Zealand we had no intention of house sitting in Auckland due to it being just another major city. However, we were presented with an opportunity to look after a dog and two cats for three weeks. It meant changing our flights and other appointments but it was well worth it. Those three weeks looking after Solo, Mo and Chuppy near the beach with daily walks up an extinct volcano were awesome and that sit rates as one of our top sits. Had we held fast to our pre-determined plans, we would have missed out on these experiences.
An Open and Positive Attitude is Key
Seeing the Frank Lloyd-Wright Fallingwater Home was on our bucket listSince that time, we have adopted an open attitude of ‘Yes’ to allow ourselves to experience things we never thought possible. This has resulted in ticking off some of our bucket list items (although we refer to it as discovery list) including a visit to Niagara Falls and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater Home in Pennsylvania, USA. We accepted a five week sit in Erie, Pennsylvania which most people thought would be dull and boring. We found it to be the opposite with our days being filled exploring the area, attending great theatre and learning about the local history and nearby Amish culture. As Niagara Falls and Fallingwater were nearby we added side trips before and after our house sitting assignment and we still have to pinch ourselves to remember we have actually now visited these places. Experiencing Darwin during the build up to the wet season, participating as an extra in a New Zealand film and performing a role in a local community theatre production in Mexico are some of the other wonderful experiences that have come about as a result of accepting sits in lesser known areas of the world and saying “yes” when opportunities presented themselves.
Housesitting is so much more than free accommodation
As we continue on this housesitting journey, we have no idea when we will actually settle down in one spot again. We love the unpredictability including not knowing where we will be next month but we trust that something will always present itself. Living out of a suitcase and being a full time nomad does present its challenges but they are far outweighed by the exhilaration of exploring the world. House sitting is so much more than free accommodation and in fact we don’t really even consider this any more, as we know we’re engaged to take care of what is most precious to our home owners, their beloved pets and their homes. It is both a huge responsibility and a great honour. We never take our good fortune for granted as we continue to collect memories and not things.