6 Reasons Why You’d Be a Stone Cold Fool NOT to House Sit

November 5, 2014 33 thoughts
Stunning view of shimmering waters from our front porch in Savusavu, Fiji.
Stunning view of shimmering waters from our front porch in Savusavu, Fiji.

Kelli and I just wrapped up a house sit.

In Savusavu, Fiji.

Yep, we had been house sitting in Fiji for 4 months, living rent free, in a house with a million dollar view, overlooking Savusavu Bay.

Our tasks? Watch a cat, plus 3 outside cats, and feed them. We also covered the electricity and water bills. For 4 months…and again, lived rent-free in Savusavu, Fiji. As you might imagine most folks’ eyes popped wide open when I told ‘em we were house sitting.

“Really? Wow….NOT a bad gig.”

We got that one a few times.

The house sitting gig is perfect for any digital nomad when you know where to look, and how to present yourself. We picked the right websites but more than that, we aligned with the sit. Here’s the scenario; after I was horribly ill in India, Kelli received a message from a house sitting site. A sit in Fiji opened up. Were were floored. Absolutely, positively, floored, because we knew how rare these sits where.

I mean, sits in Fiji, or Bali, or Tahiti, don’t come around daily. But here’s the deal; we know that everything in this world happens on an energetic level. So you either align with opportunities or you find yourself out of alignment with opportunities. It’s always on you. This is a wonderful truth because if you detach from a house sit you’ll naturally increase your chances of aligning with it. Of course, we increased our chances by detaching from the sit. We didn’t care about the hundreds of requests they must have received nor did we play any type of percentage game.

This whole life thing is an energy game. So naturally, if you’re playing the energy game right, and if you’re detaching from outcomes, you’ll have few issues creating some neat scenarios for yourself.

 

Blogging from Paradise and House Sitting

 

Kelli had set up profiles on house sitting sites.

Trusted House Sitters

House Carers

Mind My House

We sifted through opportunities for months. We wanted a match. This Fiji house sit popped up about a year ago, during our stay in Kovalam Beach, India. After an interview on Skype, we made their cut, or watch list, and after a second interview we were offered the gig during our Christmas trip in the USA.

We were elated! After crunching some numbers Kelli booked the flights. We had Thailand lined up already so we just added Fiji to the end of the trip.

 

Kelli overlooking Savusavu Bay.
Kelli overlooking Savusavu Bay.

Fast forward 10 months from when we accepted the job and I have to say; it’s the perfect fit for any digital nomad. House sitting in general but of course, landing a sit in Fiji.

You’d be a stone cold fool not to house sit. We only had to pay the electric bill, and the water bill never arrived during our 4 month stay. Other than that we watched and fed cute little kitties.

The upsides: living on perhaps the most gorgeous tropical island on earth, chilling somewhere with a lost cost of living, taking over a thousand pictures that certainly don’t hurt the Blogging from Paradise Brand, and inspiring you to join me.

My intent has always been to take you with me.

If I opened your eyes just a bit more with this post, maybe you’ll be on house sitting sites after reading, setting up profiles, and aligning yourself to retire to a life of island hopping through smart blogging, like Kelli and I.

On to the benefits.

 

Save Money

 

Kelli and I have rented serviced villas in Bali – not cheap, I might add – we’ve spent time in economy type spots…ok, a few borderline shitholes, but it was what it was, and have chilled in moderately priced digs. Most stops are super inexpensive, yet we’ve received max value for our rent paid.

So we need not take house sitting jobs to be able to afford the island hopping bit but it sure don’t hurt. Digital nomads, the obvious benefit of house sitting is saving money. You may pay for a few bills, and you’ll likely plunk down a security deposit, but other than that, you’re not paying rent.

In some places that rent costs a small fortune. In Savusavu we saved quite a bit of scratch by not paying rent for 4 months.

This one is a bit obvious methinks, so you get the picture. On to the next reason.

 

Be Around Pets

 

Most house sits involve watching pets. Pets lower your blood pressure. Pets make you feel good. Being around animals brightens your outlook on life.

We watched Hazy and Peggy Sue. One indoor cat, one outdoor car. We also watched outdoor cat Maddy before she was adopted. We fed these kitties and also fed Sofie and Tom. All cats rock.

Taking care of animals helps open up your heart. Animals are affectionate, demanding, cute, forceful, and they simply are what they are.

The kitties taught old digital nomad me a lesson in being persistent. Each day P Sue and Hazy would go mad meowing for their beloved liver and rice mix or mackerel and rice mix. At 5 AM, or 6 PM, or whenever. P Sue and Hazy also woke us at any hour – if you’ve noted my insomnia recently – to let ‘em in. 11 PM, 2 AM, 4 AM. I appreciate their single-mindedness!

What a rich experience, and so damn fun too. Most house sits involve caring lovingly for some furry friend so watching animals is an added bonus of watching a home.

 

Get to Know the Locals

 

You’ve seen them. So have I. The One Night Stand tourist crowd. In today gone tomorrow.

I watched a cruise ship filled with 3,000 bloated, sleep-walking tourists hustled in and out of Savusavu in about 6 hours, a month ago. What’s the point? To say you’ve seen Savusavu? Or, would you rather EXPERIENCE Savusavu?

I’ve made friends with:

  • Joyce
  • William
  • Olivia
  • The Tomato Lady
  • The Bakery Lady
  • The MH Ladies
  • Johnny our Gardener
  • Malcolm
  • A few more cool locals and expats

We smile, we chat, and hey, it’s impossible not to make friends if you’re somewhere for 4 months. This is an experience, not a stop, and we’re all after experiences we’ll remember forever.

Most house sits are 1, 2, 3 months or longer. Living somewhere for more than a minute lets you develop friendships with the locals, and you’ll also learn the lay of the land darn well too.

Get to know the locals. House sit. Stick around for more than a minute, would ya?

 

Minimal Work in Most Cases

 

My friends The Goats on the Road and Lash both did or are doing house sits recently and from what I’ve seen, each person had a minimal workload. Doing a bit of work – or almost none – opens up your schedule, to devote more time to seeing the local scene, to publishing kick butt blog posts, to writing eBooks (click click for my series), to doing whatever you want to do.

Another stunning Savusavu sunset.
Another stunning Savusavu sunset

In some cases you’ll be asked to garden or handle more tasks. You choose. Kelli and I don’t pursue any opps involving much labor as we have few around the home, handy skills. We prefer to watch animals, and build our online empires, thank you.

Some sits require bringing your own transport, and with others, you’ll be your own transport. Do your homework before hand, and in virtually all cases you’ll be made aware of special stipulations concerning a house sit.

 

Works Perfectly with the Digital Nomad Lifestyle

 

Really, how could this house sit fit any better? Look up and down my blog. See the Fiji pictures? See the branding? Digital nomads are on the road as is, so why not do the digital nomad bit and enjoy free lodging?

We travel, we work online, we prosper. If you can pick between paying rent and doing the rent-free bit I’d go with rent-free, if the house sit is a perfect match.

On to the next reason as this digital nomad-house sit match is too easy to see.

 

See an Area You’d Never Visit Otherwise

 

Kelli and I would never have visited Fiji if we didn’t have a house sit lined up. Or, we likely wouldn’t have visited Fiji unless we were house sitting. Even though we nailed down a sweet airfare deal we still had to pay a nice chunk of change to get here.

Factor in few homes or apartments for rent in this neck of Fiji – we love doing the long term bit – and there isn’t a huge range of options for us. We’re so blessed to have aligned with the opportunity, and we likely never would have visited Fiji for our customary month or longer trip if we didn’t peep this house sit.

 

House Sit Warnings: Pay Attention

 

OK, I am Mr. Positive. See me, Mr. Happy, Mr. Smiles? With that out of the way, I have to warn you; house sits beyond rock, but be aware of 2 things.

  • Some aspects of the sit may be glossed over when presenting the opportunity
  • Beware, beware, beware any hidden fees

Kelli and I look like walking marathon participants. That’d be because of the 5 miles we walk daily just to get food. We knew of the distance, and although bikes should have been provided, I can live with that.

We were completely unaware of the 50 meter high, 20% grade (means…”freaking steep!”) driveway we’d be hiking each day. I am in real shape, and I’ve become exhausted doing it. This was not mentioned in the house sit intro, and in truth, an overweight or out  of shape person simply would be stunned, and would have to turn down the sit, unless they wanted to pay hundreds and hundreds and heck, probably over a thousand bucks a month to rent a car.

Warning: demand to know everything possible about the sit, and even when you arrive, as a traveler, you know to expect the unexpected. Physically less than stout folks would have turned around and went home in an angry huff after seeing this Matterhorn of a driveway.

 

Warning #2

 

Kelli and I saw a house sit advertised on our same street. The person is requiring house sitters to pay $120 USD a week for gardening, electric, water and house cleaning. This is ludicrous because Kelli and I pay $17 USD a month for electric, and $12 to $24 per month for gardening. House cleaning would be $10 or so, if we had it done, but we handled it.

I snapped this postcard-type shot from our front yard in Savusavu, Fiji. Thank you, ferry. Perfect timing.
I snapped this postcard-type shot from our front yard in Savusavu, Fiji. Thank you, ferry. Perfect timing.

So the going rate for electric and gardening and house cleaning in Savusavu is $51 a month, and this joker wants $120 a week. A real ripoff, and a warning to you, not to take on any jobs where fees/bills are more than a handful of dollars. Even if the cost of living is high in a country – and it ain’t here in Fiji  – house sits should be money saving ventures.

Beware any fees which seem too high; the goal is to house sit, to save money, not to pay out of the nose while watching homes.

 

The Verdict

 

Try house sitting. Or, align yourself with some sweet house siting gigs. I’ve read more than a few comments both from this post and through social media channels indicating that people from a wide range of backgrounds had never seriously given house sitting a serious chance. Some don’t know where to look, to find awesome house sitting sites, and others feel the competition is too steep. That latter belief is a load of bunk. No competition exists in a Universe of abundance. Go for it.

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Ryan Biddulph

Ryan Biddulph is a blogger, author and world traveler who's been featured on Richard Branson's Virgin Blog, Forbes, Fox News, Entrepreneur Dot Com and Neil Patel Dot Com. He has written and self-published 126 bite-sized eBooks on Amazon to help you with your most painful blogging mistakes. If you're struggling with your blog and feel overwhelmed with blogging information overload, Ryan can help you increase your blog traffic, comments and online income with the 11 Fundamentals of Successful Blogging Audio Course.
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33 Comments

  1. I agree…you’d be a downright idiot, in fact, not to housesit. Oops I said it. We are currently housesitting at an equestrian property in New Zealand and get to sit in a hot tub every night drinking wine. Enough said. Awesome post and nice to meet you!

  2. Barry Moore Says:

    Bula

    Lucky you. I loooove Fiji. The people are so lovely.

    My wife Nikki and I honeymooned there at Vatulele, I’ll never forget it. Absolutely beautiful.

    She runs retreats there at Namotu three weeks a year. We love it.

    Cheers,
    Barry

    • Bula Vanaka Barry! I love Fiji too and am missing it much these days 😉 Vatulele…where is that relative to the 2 big islands? There are so many tiny islands and communities spread out among the entire country, it’s quite amazing. As for beauty I don’t know of any place on earth that quite compares, at least from the spots I’ve visited. Retreats? Wow, neat! I would look for any excuse to return and soak up the rays and beauty of Fiji, and also, to hang with the jolly locals. I remember someone from Fiji who’d always tell me to take it….EASY….lol….thanks Barry!

  3. Tim Soulo Says:

    wow.. house sits.. I didn’t even know this thing existed 🙂 huge thanks for sharing all your experiences and warning about the possible dangers.. I’m hoping to try this thing someday with my gf too 😉

    • Tim go for it! I too had little knowledge of sits until recently. I thought one needed to be lucky or know someone personally but the good old internet is a powerful tool to line these opportunities up. We have one set for NYC – only a week – in December, and maybe one next year too.

  4. Lash Says:

    Hey Ryan,

    Great write up, as usual. I like how you listed all the benefits of House Sitting.

    Another benefit I’d add, especially for digital nomads, writers or anyone who needs a chilled-out & steady place, is that you can stay in one spot – and with privacy – for a chunk of time. Say 1-2 months or more, like you & Kelli jsut did.

    It can be super helpful to just stay put in one home for a chunk of time if you’re working on a project like a book, online business or a series of eBooks (he he). It sure seemed to help you out staying in Fiji 4 months! Dag- kicked out 8 eBooks and got this entire website up & rolling.

    On another note, Ryan, cool we were all House Sitting in Fiji at the same time this year! Too bad I didn’t make it over to visit SavuSavu while there. Another time, another place we will meet up again!

    cheers, Lash

    • Lash that’s such a smart point. My effectiveness and productivity went through the roof in Fiji and I noted you were posting more frequently during your house sit in Fiji too. No finer way to do the long term travel bit. Oh yes, next time Lash. We’re both digital nomads, no doubt we’ll meet up down the road, just like that fateful day in Kathmandu 😉

  5. I signed up on a housesitting website a few months back and have yet to use it, but your post reminded me that I need to be doing a search soon for my 2015 travels.

    Awesome sit that you had and amazing view. You truly were blogging from paradise 😀

  6. Hey Ryan

    I suspected you guys were house-sitting. 🙂 Was it for expats or locals? There’s no shortage of nice looking homes around Savusavu!

    $120 a week – look, it’s steep, but I don’t think it sounds *entirely* unreasonable, depending on how often those guys like the hired help to be round. A standard rate for a housegirl (maid/cleaner/cook/etc) is $20-$30 per day, and many people have them round a few times a week, even every day. Gardeners tend to earn a little less, $10-$15 a day, and again, they tend to come round regularly. If the owners of the home are inefficient with the electricity, using the aircon a lot with the window open etc, it could be expensive. $120 could be the housegirl three times a week ($60), the gardener twice a week ($30), and some wriggle room for the electricity. It’s also reasonable I think that the owners would want the house sitters to keep paying the housegirl and gardener – how else will they support their families? But it does seem a bit steep. (And having hired help can be really awkward when you’re not used to it!!)

    With the housesitting, how did you go about getting a sit for the first time? I’ve looked into it half-heartedly a few times, and it always seems to be one of those catch-22 we won’t hire you til you have experience type situations.

    Martina 🙂

    • Really smart breakdown Martina, thanks for sharing the numbers. Expats actually and we simply kept looking for responses and matches on a few different sites.

  7. Katie Says:

    I have been wanting to do this, but have not yet actively pursued it! I was an avid housesitter at home before heading out on a backpacking trip. I moved out of my apartment and jumped around from place to place (in Vermont) watching dogs and cats and taking care of houses while families went on vacation. The benefit there was that I was getting paid! I’m thinking that after my current job ends, I will be in the market for some house sitting opportunities!

    • Wow Katie, what a sweet gig! Getting paid and doing the house sitting bit is a sweet combo, and all we usually do is watch cats and dogs as is. Def go after them as you vibe with the idea. Here’s to some awesome future house sits for you! Thanks for stopping by Katie 🙂

  8. Don Purdum Says:

    Hi Ryan,

    WOW! That is so cool. I didn’t know something like that even existed as an option? I have a friend who is building a REALLY nice house in Costa Rica who has been on us to come down with him and his wife to check out the area.

    He said Tom Brady has a home a mile away, lol… Just what he wants, a stupid fan around, lol…

    As I was reading your article I was wondering when the negatives would come. My common sense told me there has to be a lot of questions and give and take to make sure the deal is fair to everyone. How much time did you guys spend researching the costs so that you didn’t get taken like the $100+ week options you shared?

    Very enlightening Ryan. The more you share about your lifestyle the more options I learn for my own as my kids are getting older and the empty nest is coming. Options, I can’t wait!!!!

    Keep on sharing Ryan,

    ~ Don Purdum

    • Haha on the Tom Brady thing Don 😉 So many folks living in CR these days, especially US citizens. Doing homework is necessary and also connecting with people on trusted networks, like the ones that I shared. If people lied – on either the sitter or hiring side – negative reviews would destroy them. Thanks Don as always!

  9. Hi, Ryan,

    When you get back to the States, you can house sit here in Florida (near Disney and Universal!) and take care of my little dog and cat.

    I LOVE the house sit idea. I’ve browsed on the sites and drooled over some of the places I could be enjoying.

    You lite a fire in me! I’m finding a house sitting or house exchange in 2015 for a month!
    Sue

    • Sue Anne if we are in the Florida area that’d be awesome! Actually, Kelli’s mom is *obsessed* with Disney, so if she does an extended trip to there and we go with her, I could see a match 😉 Really, really neat way to stay in some pretty wild spots for sure. Thanks for sharing Sue Anne!

  10. Ryan Says:

    That’s awesome, Ryan! I hadn’t realized that you guys were doing a house sit out there. I’ve become really interested in doing that next year in Central America–and have been diligently following the Trusted House Sitters emails to get a feel for it. Been reading about too many awesome bloggers taking advantage of this opportunity…

    • Yep Ryan it was quite a stunning opportunity. So happy it opened up and availed itself, and you’re on the right track with both the site and those daily updates. Keep an eye out, keep on researching and I know a nice batch of opps will open up for you in Central America. Thanks Ryan!

  11. Tor Refsland Says:

    Hi Ryan,

    great tips about house sitting and how to get most bang for the bucks. Your lifestyle do seem to be inspired by The 4-hour work week, which is awesome.

    Thanks for showing the way and reminding us that a dream life style might be more realistic than we think 😉

    Tor

    P.S. Publishing 8 ebooks in 4 months? That is insane. You are a productivity beast! 😉

    • Tor oh yes, Tim Ferriss is one of my idols 😉 It certainly is something anybody with some drive, and a willingness to be free, can do….honest! Thanks so much again Tor for your comments, and eBook #10 is about out in a day 😉

  12. I have never searched for house sitting websites so that is so cool to know they actually exist. Just the traveling alone and getting to meet so many people from all walks of life would be enough reason for me to house sit. I also would love it because of the freedom it brings. There would be no reason to own your own home if you could house sit the majority of the months out of the year.

    I am glad you gave us some tips of what to look our for also. I would not know the right questions to ask when inquiring about house sitting but I surely have a better understanding now. Thanks for sharing.

    • Nathaniel, my pleasure. Asking the right questions and being super clear on any requirements – financial or otherwise – are 2 keys to do this properly. It’s really a blast, to meet folks, to see awesome spots and to do it, rent free. Thanks so much Nathaniel 🙂

  13. Was this your first house-sit? I’m so curious how you made it to the interview stage. I’ve found the really amazing sits (like Fiji) get filled within 24 hours, and there’s a huge amount of competition (for obvious reasons).

    • Hi Jessica, Yep it was 😉 I think we were aligned with the people, as they wanted a couple in our age range. We also detach from sits, meaning we don’t think too much about any one sit. We just let go, detach, and research other sits and I feel this energy helped us land Fiji. Thanks Jessica for stopping by!

  14. Dave Says:

    Tried to do a house sit last year but competition was stiff. Congrats to you for landing such a ridiculously awesome house sit in paradise, quite literally. When you leave you’re going to have to rebrand the blog lol!

    • Dave keep on keeping on! Sits will line up for you as you find the perfect matches. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  15. YourFriend Says:

    House sit in seems to be a fun thing. People who are 24/7 attached to their laptops must avail it. By the way, I don’t think it would be easy to win a House Sit in.

    You are from USA, so you guys got it easily. It would not be that easy for the person from Asia or Africa etc.

    There is another site couchsurfing dot org. It provides you with an opportunity to invite someone to your home or vice versa.

    Only the difference is, you will have to live with your hosts. Not alone like you did in Fiji xD

    So where are you going next?

    • Fun indeed YF! Yep couch surfing is another option, but Kelli and I dig the privacy bit 😉 We are in Bali now, and headed back to the USA for Christmas. Where are you? 😉

  16. I love the idea of house sits. You get to plug into the neighborhoods too. Thank you for sharing the three sites. I am going to have to check them out.

    • George it’s so much fun to travel and house sit. Fiji was a blast and we’re lining up new house sits in awesome locales for the future. Thanks!

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