We Did What?
Growing up during the space race one could get used to the sight of rockets launching into space. Maybe for us, it became a subconscious benchmark for how things should go. However, our house-sitting adventure was not launching at rocket speed. Would we ever reach orbital velocity?
After two house sits, we had nothing booked for the second half of January and faced two weeks of hotel living. We did have a few set up for later in February and March, but the obvious question was what to do. The enormous question was, can this house sitting thing work? We were starting to wonder (and worry).
Not Much Fun
We had no rent or utility bills, but we also had nowhere to sleep. Since we hadn’t found an RV yet, we couldn’t start camping. We didn’t own any gear, campsites near my work were non-existent, and the weather – too cold for us.
I could not go to work after spending the night outside on the ground! We hadn’t told anyone local we had no home, so couch-surfing at a good friend’s place wasn’t an option either.
We spent eleven nights in various hotels after finishing up our second house sit in Burbank. Since that stay ended on a Friday, we drove down to Temecula (three hours south) and stayed in two different casino hotels, gratis.
Our stay ended with a 4:00 am Monday morning departure so I could get to work by 7:30; it took until 8:00, and it was frustrating, stressful and exhausting.
At the Edge
We spent the rest of that work week in hotels close to my job and paid a hefty price for those as well, but this time with cash. Staying at hotels is enjoyable if you are on vacation.
However, if you are living in one, it gets old fast, at least for us it did. You are just stuck in a room with a television and a bed. It was difficult not to get depressed. We both tried to stay positive, and I kept checking those websites hoping for a bite.
The weekend rolled around again, and we chose “three free nights” at a casino hotel. That meant a five-hour drive out to Las Vegas and back. You know the term “free” is relative; Wi-Fi and other fees apply, restaurants cost money, and so do slot machines!
We were blowing our budget big time with no immediate relief in sight. In retrospect, we shouldn’t have gone to those “free” hotels; we didn’t save any money, and the amount of driving we did was insane.
A Hard Place
I regularly scanned the house-sitting sites for listings, making our pitch for any opportunity we could pull off. We applied to many listings, but nothing came through, and many homeowners didn’t even reply. We were still new at this and didn’t have any house-sitting references yet or much experience. It was a tough sell.
The Rock: We joined the websites in the late fall, a time when they were brimming with house sits for the holidays. Come January the postings dropped off the cliff. Few homeowners were posting new opportunities, and even fewer were in the Los Angeles area.
The Hard Place: We had another lesson to learn about all the house sits on the websites; most were filled even though the posts remained in place. That’s a big part of the reason we were not getting responses from homeowners. The deals were already made. Again, the impression and the reality were out of sync.
Maybe We Were Crazy
Spending our salary on hotels wasn’t a long-term solution, and even if we could afford it, the next issue we came up against was food. Where to store it, how to cook it; it was a big problem. A few of the hotels had refrigerators which helped a bit, but cooking was nearly impossible.
Eating out is not fun after the first few days and eating nothing but restaurant food isn’t all that healthy. I have a sensitive digestive system, and this situation was not helping at all. It was all quite disheartening. Of course, we questioned the sanity of our decision to give up our home, who wouldn’t?
Jim began thinking of house sitting like fishing: you have to be in the right place at the right time and then wait for a hungry fish to come along. As they used to say way back when – you just have to hold your mouth right!
A Glimmer of Hope
On our last night in Las Vegas, I checked the websites again one last time before going to sleep, and a house sit in Malibu appeared. There were no specific dates listed, but I applied anyway.
Early in the morning, I found a response from the homeowner asking if we could meet. We agreed and drove the five hours back to Los Angeles as fast as we could.
We had another ‘interview’ scheduled with a different homeowner the same day and did have one other house set up for a few weeks out. Would this all work out? It better; there is no turning back now, and we have nowhere to sleep!