Reflections on Two Years of House Sitting

unknown plant

Wow, Another Milestone!

It’s been two years since we gave up our home and all manner of regular, orderly life to start a rather nomadic life as traveling house sitters. Do we still enjoy this new life? Absolutely. Do we intend to stay at it? Most definitely.

With two years of experience, we feel confident we can sustain this lifestyle indefinitely. It is encouraging to know that our skills and imagination blend with the needs of home and pet owners. It allows us to relax knowing that we can meet the inherent challenges and reap the many rewards of our new life.

four yellow roses

During this past year, our travels were mostly around Northern California and Southern Oregon, with one unexpected trip to Arizona. We still favor back roads and found ourselves on a few familiar routes.

We also found new ones; along the coastline, and in the mountains and deserts. Our poor Camry got quite a work-out covering those miles and weaving around forest service roads to remote campsites. That’s a story for a different time.

lots of tiny yellow flowers

The First Nine Months

For the most part, our second year was different than our first year when we moved around constantly. For starters, we had two of our longest stays; five months, and then four months, both in Oregon. The first on the coast and the other, one-hour inland, for a total of nine solid months. That was new for us, and it almost felt like we lived somewhere!

We wrote about the experience of short or long stays previously, but having spent an extended period in each of two different houses, we know more what suits us best. It seems our sweet spot is around a month depending on the area.

Longer than that and we get restless as the gods of boredom start whispering in our ears. Shorter and we can’t settle in as much. Even better is a mixture of those – that keeps us on our toes, which is always a good thing.

scotch broom flowers

The Last Three Months

After being stationary for so many months, we left a week open for ourselves to do some camping and sightseeing while traveling to California. We had set up six house sits during the month we would be in the Bay Area. Five of those went great, but the sixth ended early due to an injury to the homeowner. They offered us hotel accommodations for the remainder of the time, but we decided on a trip to Yosemite instead: hotels don’t hold the thrill they once did.

The next part of our schedule included three stays in Oregon to complete the year. Those plans changed drastically when one of the homeowners was severely injured while traveling and had to return three weeks early! They graciously paid for hotel accommodations for three days and offered us a relatives’ empty house in Arizona – which we accepted, hence our unexpected trip to Arizona before heading back to Oregon.

When we share the information now, it doesn’t look like a big deal, even to us. At the time, it was a different story! Being suddenly faced with three weeks to fill presented a lot of stress and in the end, that took a toll on our car and our peace of mind. However, because of all that, we got to see two of our new favorite places – Yosemite and Valley of Fire State Park.

small yellow water flowers

Specific Details

The total for the year was 26 individual house-sitting assignments as compared to 34 during our first year. Of those, 14 were return visits, and 12 were for new homeowners. There were a few overlaps and a few solo gigs sprinkled in here and there as well.

During the year we had 23 nights outside of house sits: ten of those were of our own choosing for much anticipated visits to parks. We also had six nights either at hotels that were free for us, or with family members, all in transit between house sits. Then another seven nights at the house in Arizona, for a total of 23. That’s 342 nights of house sitting: not too shabby. We aim for 90% and came out ahead of that for the year. 

plant with tiny yellow pods

The Websites

This year we did 14 return visits for homeowners all of whom we initially found through one of the websites. Our schedule included four house sitting gigs for new homeowners from both Trusted House Sitters and House Carers. We only had one from House Sitters America and none from Mind My House and Luxury House Sitting. We also had three referrals.

While I still use the websites to find house sits, we do get quite a few requests for repeat visits and referrals. These agreements are “off the books” so to speak. We wonder whether that’s common for other house-sitters and believe it is. If so, that means a lot of house-sitting activity isn’t visible on the websites.

I wouldn’t drop my membership with Trusted House Sitters or House Sitters America. However, House Carers is a different story; we haven’t got a house from them in a while. It seems they have fewer listings in this country. I am planning to stop paying for Luxury House Sitting, but I think I might take back Mind MyHouse. 

Similar to our first year, we had to turn down many requests from homeowners: truly too many to track. Our calendar fills up quickly, and we cannot accommodate all the requests. It’s not easy for me to say no, especially when there are sweet pets involved.

Noticing Cycles

Also, it seems there are cycles for us that are not connected to the calendar year, holidays or the summer travel season. More than a few times I’ve found myself in a flurry of contact with quite a few homeowners at the same time, booking gigs one after the other in quick succession. 

Then, there will be contrasting periods when there’s nothing I can or want to apply to for weeks at a time. That seems to happen at least a few times a year. 

FYI to other house sitters: Not a single homeowner has asked to see our background checks or asked for a deposit, or any type of payment, and we haven’t signed any contracts as such for a long time. Many house-sitting “tips” articles make much of those things. We wonder whether that is the norm.

We don’t disagree those are important, but we find it’s more like being prepared: have it available in case you need it and then, most likely, you won’t.

Who Have We Met?

We’ve been lucky enough to meet many wonderful people in our travels and house-sitting assignments and could fill pages with descriptions, photos, and stories. However, we never refer to them by name or give away any identifiable descriptions. Though our hosts, friends, and family, might recognize pictures and stories about their pets, that’s as far as we go.

It’s easy to make some generalizations though. Most hosts are Jim’s peers, in age and grand-parentage that is. All enjoy a lot of travel to all kinds of places near and far. Everyone has a lovely home full of cherished possessions and pets. Most have used house sitters before, but we still work with some new to that.

Another common trait we’ve found: without exception, these are trustworthy and trusting individuals, friendly neighbors and family members, folks you would love to have around in a pinch or at a party.

By a large margin, wine looks to be the preferred beverage, if the cupboards tell the truth, though beer and good scotch are contenders. Of course, that’s just how it looks to us. We don’t go snooping around, and we care little if at all about most of that: we just want good WiFi, friendly pets, and a comfortable bed. And that’s just what we find most of the time.

bunch of dark yellow daisies growing

It’s All About the Pets

We keep notes on all our house sits as you might imagine and they always include a bunch of stories that revolve around the pets. No surprise there: we spend a lot of time with animals! 

The tally for the number of cats and dogs under our care turned out to be 25 each. The largest cat was a whopping 25 pounds, and 125 for the biggest dog. One dog stood about 4 feet tall, still another just over 6 inches at the tip of the ear. Well trained, some training, never heard of a train: we’ve seen it all by now. We love this part of house-sitting – getting along with, taking care of and enjoying the pets, and it’s a good thing in our line of work!

bunch of unknown yellow flowers

A Significant Change

The biggest change during our second year of house sitting was starting a blog about our new life. What else would it be? It took many weeks of research to find out what a blog is, what it would take to get started, and what needs to happen behind the scenes.

We came to know there’s a lot involved, a lot more than writing, taking pictures and responding to all the comments people send in about their favorite posts, ha! In fact, there are dozens of things to research, decide on, and set up before getting anywhere near a keyboard or camera. Typical, right? Yes, but all new to us.

yellow pansies

More on the Blog

It’s been a lot of work and a lot of fun too. Mostly we’ve enjoyed going back and looking at our notes and pictures, sparking our memories, and trying to agree on what happened when, and where.

We are constantly amazed how different our recollections are of experiences we have in common: such as sitting three feet from one another in the car, going down the same road, or non-road, and retaining such differing impressions. It’s almost trippy to see that come up again and again.

about 50 yellow azaleas

The Three Time Zones

As we write these notes, in July 2017, about our second year which ended in December 2016, we just published our 100th blog post about events through September 2016. It sounds confusing, right. Well, we’re here to tell you it is!

It happens this way because our publishing schedule is quite a few months behind real time. That means we live in the present, we live in the time frame of the posts that are currently publishing, and we live in the time frame of the posts we’re currently writing! 

It’s a challenge keeping up with the time switch-a-roo this calls for, and we often get completely confused about what happened when. 

Of course, all of these are about things in the past for publication in the future. We also have to track our plans for actual house-sitting in the future, which, later, we’ll write about for future posts about the past. Whew! 

yellow crocus flowers blooming

Looking Ahead

We are determined to keep time open in our schedule to visit more National Parks!

We hope to make progress on obtaining a different vehicle – one that is more appropriate for our new life.

Last, but not least, I am still on the lookout for a house that includes a few goats!

bright yellow rhododendrons

Our Five Favorite Places!

When we thought about the year as a whole, we realized a few spectacular places stood out for us. If you visit them, you won’t be sorry –

The Oregon Coast 

Yosemite National Park

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Valley of Fire State Park

Port Townsend, Washington

What’s Next – A comical dog

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  1. Great to see you are enjoying your House Sitting experiences. Love your stats on the pets and sits you are doing we do the same. One day we may get to the US to sit as well. congrats on the two years 🙂

    • Cindy Birko on October 7, 2017 at 10:06 am
    • Reply

    All the yellow flowers! Nice job. So glad you’re enjoying your house sitting adventures. What a great way to see the USA!

    1. Yeah, white flowers for year one, yellow for year two. It is the best – at least for us!

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