One of the truly great things about house sitting is meeting new people and making new friends. This happens not only in person but also over the internet as we connect through our blog to individuals with whom we share common interests. That's how we met Josie and Conrad, two fellow house sitters with lots of experience. They've been there, done that, and have the tee-shirt, so we were thrilled when Josie agreed to be our very first guest interview.
Thank you Josie!
|Josie & Conrad |
How did you get your start house sitting?
months after meeting my future husband Conrad, he asked me to go on a trip to
Australia with him. How could I say no? Australia! The trip not only cemented
our relationship but also revealed to us that we are extremely compatible
travelers. While staying at a lovely B&B in Alice Springs, we met a Romanian
woman who was house sitting in Australia. We were fascinated by the concept and
knew immediately house sitting was for us. I started researching right away,
then a year later, answered posts on house sitting websites. Two years after the
Australia trip, we were actively house sitting. “How
did we get so lucky?” That’s what we kept saying to each other with permanent
grins on our faces!
What has been your favorite
house sit so far?
That’s an impossible
question to answer. Every home and situation is so wildly different. How can you
compare a luxury home in Copenhagen to an off-the-grid mountainside cabin in
Spain? You can’t. I’m an experience
junkie. I’m going to immerse in whatever the situation has to offer, whether
it’s figuring out how to use all the fancy gadgets in the gourmet kitchen or how
to navigate around a craggy cliff to pick the ripe prickly pears from a cactus.
What was the length of your
shortest house sit and your longest house sit?
Shortest: 10 days in
Tuscany. The arrangement went like this – work for 3 days harvesting olives in
exchange for 10 free days in a private apartment attached to the grove owner’s
home. Longest: 1 ½ years in
Baltimore, Maryland. We were contracted, (yes, we have a contract for each house
sit. It’s important), for 11 months, but the homeowners were in a bind, so we
stayed longer to help them out. We like them. Felt a kindred spirit with them,
so our new found – and lifetime – friendship with them dictated the long stay. It
was too long, though. We got very itchy feet to be on the move again! On the positive side of
the long house sit, though, is that we got to reconnect and enjoy relatives that
live in the general Baltimore area. That’s why we took the long house sit to
begin with – and I recommend this as a perfect reason to house sit. Get an
assignment near relatives. How perfect! You get to spend extended time with
loved ones and have your own “home” to go back to each night.
|Tuscany House Sit|
What was your most unusual
house sitting experience?
The house sit in an
off-the-grid home in Southern Spain was not only the most unusual, but the one
we talk about the most. Everything about our 6 weeks there was foreign and
life-changing. Conrad and I lived through an experience there that only we can
understand – the good and bad. It bonded us, too. It was that kind of experience
that you know you’ll never repeat, and you can never quite explain fully to
others. I write about it a lot on my blog, but still, Conrad and I are the only
ones that fully get it. I think it’s why we talk about it the most of all our
house sits. We were changed there.
|Living "off-the-grid" in Spain|
What would you say makes a
house sit a "great" house sit vs. one that is just okay?
You must do your due
diligence up front. I can’t stress this enough, especially for us older folks.
Here’s what I mean – By ensuring all the features are good before you pack your
bags, the house sit will be a good one. Have your criteria mapped out before you
even start applying and then follow your criteria as you evaluate each possible
assignment. Do you feel comfortable with the homeowners? Is the home in the
right location? (some can be very remote, for instance) Will you need to rent a
car? Does the cost of living fit with my budget? (Copenhagen busted our butts!
It’s extremely expensive) Everyone’s criteria are
different. Write yours down – and don’t skip this step. A well-planned house sit
is a good one. A badly planned house sit is a huge waste of your time and money,
not to mention the missed opportunity to change your lives by traveling
When you are searching for a
house sit what are the key elements you look for in the ads?
I go by feel. That’s my
short answer. By the wording, the
types of things the homeowner chose to photograph, how analytical they are – all
these nuances speak to me. I know right away when I read a posting if it’s for
us. Right away. Having said that, there
are definite things that are a turn-off to me. Incorrect spelling or grammar,
(except by non-English speakers), apathy, unreasonable demands, (like I must
take care of three dogs plus pay the utilities), disorganization.
A question that we are often
asked is the one that begins with "what if..." What if the house is a mess, the
dogs difficult, what if it's not what you expected...any advice for those
Anyone who asks that
question is not a good candidate for house sitting.
What has been the most
difficult aspect of house sitting for you?
really are none. But
one thing I fantasize about is to bring all of our kids and grandkids to a house
sit with us – for maybe a week or two. We want to share the incredible
experience with them. We miss them while we’re away. Thank goodness for
What "sage advice" would you
give to the novice house sitter?
Don’t sweat the small
stuff. Leave behind the usual chatter that accompanies our daily lives – that
chatter that keeps us from thinking large. Open up to everything new.
What is the best part of your
lifestyle as a house sitter?
and I know it suits us perfectly. We’re both vagabonds at heart and don’t
require many of the standard cultural stuff that our friends and family find
necessary. (Actually, some of our family thing we’re downright nuts!) So when
we’re house sitting it’s like we’re free to explore everything. The burdens of
“rules” are not imposed on us anymore. We’re pioneers charting our own course.
We are avid political science junkies and can spend days discovering what makes
the townspeople tick, for instance. Or why poverty is defined differently in
different areas of the world. We look for the reasons and definitions of how
people live the way they do. House sitting allows us time to immerse.
Josie Schneider is a writer, blogger, and author of "The House Sitting Book". You can find out more from Josie at her blog here.