When I tell people I'm flirting with 30, they tell me I look like I'm in college and I have the energy of a pre-adolescent. Well, that's good because did you know there are 195 countries in this world? My goal is to travel to as many countries as my age. My current count? 14. Yikes. Better get jetsettin'! Read More

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How We Live Rent Free While Traveling the World

October 5, 2016.happynfull.0 Likes.11 Comments

How We Live in Luxury Pads Rent-Free While Traveling the World

TrustedHousesitters | Save Thousands on HotelsWould you believe me if I told you we lived rent free in Portland, OR for 10 days in a 2-bedroom craftsman style home?

Whimsical, eclectic, colorful Portland living room.

Or spent 6 days in a centrally located 1-bedroom flat in Montreal?

Living room of our Montreal housesit - lovely apartment close to the underground station.

Or we lived in a modern 2-bedroom flat near Wimbledon Park in London for one week?

Trustedhousesitters Review

The modern 2-bedroom London flat we stayed in for 1 week near Wimbledon.

Or lived in a massive Nottingham home with 5 bathrooms and 2 living rooms for 18 days?

Trustedhousesitters Review

This house had 2 living rooms, a beautiful kitchen, a massive backyard, and I think at least 8 beds.

Or if right now, at the time of writing this, we’re living in a charming French countryside home with 2 kitchens and a swimming pool for the next 2 weeks?

Trustedhousesitters - How I Travel on a Budget Rent-Free

Experiencing the French countryside for 2 weeks

Believe me, sometimes when I arrive at my destination, I pinch myself, too, wondering if this is really happening. *pinch* Wow! Okay… this is really happening! Not only have I been able to save thousands of dollars in hotel/Airbnb costs, I’ve had a real opportunity to live like a local, to make friends across the world, and get a glimpse of what living in different regions and styles of homes is like.

When I book through Airbnb, I usually book a private room and consider myself lucky if I have my own private bathroom. But now I have entire homes and yards and fully-stocked kitchens to myself. And really gracious hosts who often cook me amazing meals or treat me to a dinner before they hand over their keys.

On the bus from Paris to Angouleme, France, I met a lady who is also living rent free while traveling, but on farms where she is doing manual labor and the conditions are bare. She told me a story of how once she used a bathroom and she found a live sloth in it. I am pretty sure I would have peed my pants right then and there. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about adventure, but living near civilization is more my speed and as a digital nomad I need reliable Wi-Fi! Admittedly, the homes I have stayed in have been quite excessive and often times even an upgrade from my normal living conditions back home. But I’m not complaining! =P

This is all possible thanks to Trustedhousesitters.

Trustedhousesitters is like Airbnb, but instead of paying the owner for each night, you stay rent-free in exchange for looking after the owner’s home and often times pets. I’ve learned Trustedhousesitters is headquartered in the UK so there are thousands of housesits available in England, but it’s quickly caught on in the US, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Singapore and spreading quickly around 150 other countries!

For someone like me, a huge dog lover, Trustedhousesitters is my number one source for housing as everytime I travel and see another dog, I wish that dog could be walking with me. Well, now I have dogs to walk, sometimes more than one! 🙂 Funny story, one of my Instagram followers asked if I was a crazy lady traveling with 50 dogs as he noticed all of my videos with different breeds overtime. 

If you are lucky enough to travel with your best friend, here are some wonderful tips to check out.

That all said, TrustedHousesitters is not for everyone, so here are some FAQ’s and tips to share to determine if it’s worthwhile for you.

How Much Does it Cost and How Does it Work?

An annual membership for US-based homeowners/housesitters is $119 or $149 for combined services (if you want to find housesitters and housesit for others). This gives you have access to creating a profile (similar to Airbnb) and the database of all open housesits across the world. There is a really great filtered search option in case you want to take care of no pets, or you feel most comfortable with dogs, cats, horses, reptiles, fish, cow, sheep, etc. I’ve seen assignments anywhere from 1 night to 1 weekend to 1 week to 6 months — even some up to a full year! Imagine that, living rent free for a year!

How I Live in Luxury Pads Rent-Free While Traveling the World

A screenshot of what our profile looks like – first impressions are everything!

You can set your locations and dates, and how long you want to visit for or if you are flexible on dates. The site will furnish matches based on your search criteria where you can then click through each listing, often reading through what the responsibilities are along with photos. If you feel confident you’re a match for the opportunity, you can message the owner and they will let you know if they are interested as well.

Trustedhousesitters will also email you new listings daily so you can see if anything interests you.

How I Live in Luxury Pads Rent-Free While Traveling the World

Screenshot of an email showing current listings that need applicants.

How Do You Choose Which Ones to Apply to Out of Thousands of Available Assignments?

Chris and I have been applying to and accepting only assignments with dogs and/or cats, and no more than 3 pets. For world travelers like ourselves, we’ve been letting our housesit assignments dictate where and when we need to go. Unless we are already going to be in the same country, we won’t entertain housesits that are shorter than a week as we have to pay our own transport.

In our initial message when we apply, we will offer to Skype with the owner to get an understanding of their needs (sometimes the owners just said, yes! please come on this date without Skyping). Our housesits have been fairly simple so far. For dogs, they need to be fed and taken out twice a day, which is great for us because we have the entire morning/afternoon to explore, and then can go back out at night. For cats, they have been even lower maintenance, often just needing to make sure their food and water bowl is filled and the litter cleaned. We once had a cat that required daily vitamins before bed, but that was simple enough.

Another time, we learned in the reply message that a dog needed to be let out 4 times a day in which we declined that housesit because realistically we didn’t think we’d be home for certain periods. The bottom line is, understand what the owner’s needs are and only accept the assignment if you know you can fulfill their requests.

What Happens if Something Happens to the Pet?

Luckily, we haven’t had to experience any major concerns yet as all pets have been healthy. Most owners will have a written document filled out with all of the behavioral issues, any specific feeding requirements, the emergency vet number if needed, etc. When we have an assignment, I like to text the owner status updates or send photos/videos of their pets. The owners we have come across have been really down to earth and all very understanding. As long as you are responsible, reliable, and honest, there shouldn’t be any issues.

So… Strangers Just Open their Homes to You?

Yeah, I’m quite private and guarded when it comes to strangers, but it’s amazing how many people in this world are so trusting. I guess this is why they call it Trusted Housesitters. I don’t know if it’s a dog lover thing, and if dog people are just really friendly overall, but everyone has been so kind! They often give us access to use anything around the house. All of the owners told us to eat anything in the fridge as their fresh produce was going to go bad anyways. We had others pick us up and drop us off from and to the airport or train station. Like Airbnb, confirmed housesits are able to leave reviews and the more positive reviews you are able to build up, the better your chances of securing housesits become.

Trustedhousesitters Review

Screenshot of the reviews on our profile where completed housesits can rate our sit.

Wait, So Rent-Free? What’s the Catch?

I know, it’s often hard to believe. People often say they wish they could travel the world but don’t have the money for it. What Chris and I are discovering is it’s actually cheaper to travel the world when all of our California mortgage, utility, internet, water, gas, electric, HOA fees, etc. are factored in.

I remember upon securing our first housesit assignment, I was so thankful. The owner (and now our friend) was equally thankful. She explained that in Portland, the dog hotel would cost about $50/night per dog. So with two dogs and being gone for 10 days, it would have probably cost her $1,000. With us visiting, the pets are able to live in the comforts of their own home, continue their same routine, and have personal interactions. It’s truly a win-win situation.

Trustedhousesitters - How I Save Thousands in Hotels while Traveling Internationally

Fresh flowers from a London farmer’s market. Another thing I love about Trustedhousesitters is it allows me to buy flowers and gifts while traveling – since I don’t have room in my luggage, I can at least leave a nice little token of appreciation behind.

Is It Worth it If I’m Not Traveling The World for a Full Year?

Absolutely! At $119/year that’s equivalent to one night of a hotel if you think about it. In the US, I’ve seen many weekend assignments in NYC, Los Angeles, Denver, Seattle, Miami, etc. Our Nottingham housesit was actually going to Miami to live on the beach for 2 weeks and look after 2 dogs. Imagine if you have vacation days and you can secure free rent and just had to pay for transportation!

Even when Chris and I return to the states, we’ll likely continue to apply to US housesits for short vacations. Once our housesits are confirmed, we’ll book airfare in advance. There are so many cool places to see and stay. Who knows, maybe we’ll confirm a 2-week housesit in Bali and take a trip on a whim!

Forever wanderlust.

Trustedhousesitters Review

Walking Scout on a housesit assignment in exchange for free rent. Photo credit: www.shotofglass.com (Chris)

How Do I Sign Up for Trustedhousesitters?

Great question! It’s easy to sign up and I would recommend doing it when you’re ready for travel as the one-year membership starts immediately after registering. Note: This is an affiliate link (which means if you purchase through this link the company will give me a referral percentage from the sale. I guess it will go towards my transportation costs as I continue to travel the world, not enough to get me first class though! =P). You’ll see these from time to time on my site for brands/services that I trust and use myself. 🙂

Please let me know if you have any other questions or comments you’d like to share!

Comments (11)

  • Sarah Yoder . October 5, 2016 . Reply

    I love this! I’ve wondered if there was something out there like this but always forgot to research it. Thanks for sharing!

    • (Author) happynfull . October 5, 2016 . Reply

      Haha you just did your research, Sarah! 🙂 thanks for swinging by… let me know if you have any questions along the way! It’s truly an amazing platform – hope you join the community!

  • vinneve . October 11, 2016 . Reply

    Wow! I learned a lot from your site. I heard and seen about this in a movie but didn’t know the facts on how to become a house sitter. Anyway… I cannot do it now… but good for younger and single or just a couple to do this as it is perfect to travel the World rent free indeed! 🙂

    • (Author) happynfull . October 12, 2016 . Reply

      We actually have met a lot of retired folks who are using this to see the world while taking care of companions. I hope when I’m 60+ I still have the energy and health to travel. 🙂

  • Noelle . October 11, 2016 . Reply

    This is a really cool concept, and awesome that it works out for you to stay rent free! I’m allergic to some animals (cats mostly) so the option to house sit without having to take care of pets is also beneficial.

    • (Author) happynfull . October 12, 2016 . Reply

      Aw I used to be allergic to cats, too! I guess I wasn’t used to their dandruff. But for free rent I could deal with itchy eyes and sneezing. Haha jk, at some point I think I was at my friend’s house a lot and got used to her cats. Hope you can find some good housesits with no pets! 😉

  • Brad . October 15, 2016 . Reply

    Thank you very much for this tip. An angle I didn’t know. Happy travels, from L.A. Thanks for visiting Under Western Skies.

    • (Author) happynfull . October 16, 2016 . Reply

      It’s a wonderful platform and service. Thanks for stopping by Brad! I’m missing LA from time to time… especially the weather as it’s 30 degrees at night where I’m at right now. 🙂

  • Elizabeth Carty . November 4, 2016 . Reply

    I came across this website a little while ago when I thought of staying rent-free in Paris for a week after new years. But the membership cost is a bit high when I factor in that most of the travelling I have planned this year involves a lot of hopping around and backpacking, so time is not a luxury I have.

    If my friend can’t room us in Paris, then maybe I’ll consider it, since it is still much cheaper than airbnb. But I don’t see myself using it too much due to being teachers and having limited travel time 😛 But I do love the idea of watching other people’s pooches! Since it’s so hard to have one of your own and travel around.

    Thanks for an inside look!

    • (Author) happynfull . November 5, 2016 . Reply

      Ah yes time is something you have to commit to if using trustedhousesitters! But there are some sits that are for just a day or weekend. Haha I agree with not being able to travel with pooches. I miss my dog terribly but happy to have companionship through others. Thanks for stopping by!!

  • Matt . November 5, 2016 . Reply

    Hey Emily,

    we are so keen to try out Housesitting, will for sure give it a try at some point. Thanks for the summary, it is really helpful to know!!

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