I woke up this morning and couldn’t figure out where I live!
I knew where I was – in my temporary bedroom in a beautiful seafront Georgian apartment in Worthing, England. But I couldn’t quite remember where I actually LIVE. Where my stuff is. My mind ran through the possibilities (Hawaii? Guatemala? Nice?) before the brain fog cleared and I remembered – Taiwan. That’s where my “stuff” is currently stored. It was a very weird feeling.
Although my stuff is in Taiwan, recently “home” is wherever I unpack my big, red backpack. I have chosen to be temporarily homeless, or “home free” in the words of my friend Trek Thunder Kelly. For the past few months, my backpack and I have been spending most of our time in England as I house sit my way through early 2017.
When I first began to explore the possibility of house sitting, I had fantasies of spending lazy days in a quiet cafe, an obedient dog lying at my feet, content to just hang out while I work on my first novel (haha!).
In another version of that fantasy, my sweet dog and I are skipping down the beach at sunset, waves lapping the shoreline as he looks up at me with love and adoration in his big brown eyes. We watch the sunset together and then trot home to a lovely dinner.
That was fantasy.
Here’s a glimpse into the real world of house sitting – the lazy days and some crazy dogs.
I’ve been trying out this house sitting lifestyle as an experiment, to see how long I can realistically stretch it. Fortunately, there are a LOT of “pros” for continuing down this path…
Relaxed Lifestyle – Picture this: wake up in the morning without an alarm. Drink coffee. Walk the dog. Then fill your day however you want. There’s plenty of time to read a book, binge-watch Netflix, or just sit at a cafe. Lazy days. Relaxing and very therapeutic.
Before I left Taiwan, I had been dealing with some serious sleep issues – chronic, persistent, annoying insomnia. Surprisingly, in the past few months, I’ve actually been sleeping better! My life is relaxed and stress-free and my mind is calm.
Travel Slowly – In my younger years, I tended to travel fast with a focus on seeing and doing as much as possible on each trip. After recently taking a break from teaching, I have time to travel more slowly, establish roots in an area and really get to know it. The house sitting lifestyle allows for travel at a much slower pace and is perfect for retired people or those just taking a break from the “real world”.
Traveling slowly and spending weeks (or months) in one place allows you the freedom to just sit at a pub, meet some of the local people, and really embrace the local culture.
Stretch Your Funds – One of the biggest bonuses of the house sitting lifestyle is obviously financial. Before I left Taiwan, I rented out my apartment and reduced my monthly bills to only about $24. (I’m fully embracing minimalism!) The only costs I currently have are food, transportation, and entertainment.
So, how much do I REALLY spend? I’ve been averaging less than 100 GBP per week – about $122 USD. I haven’t been penny-pinching or denying myself anything. And since I’m NOT much of a cook, I usually eat out or get take-out from a local deli. Obviously, I would probably spend a bit less if I cooked a bit more.
Also, I’ve managed to find house sit gigs located in the same geographical area which has reduced travel costs.
Meet Interesting People – The homeowners I’ve met on Trusted Housesitters have been interesting, welcoming, truly wonderful people. Although they’ve all been wonderful, I still find it a bit awkward showing up at a stranger’s house and making myself at home. I sometimes struggle with making small talk, but awkward small talk is a small price to pay to create that necessary “trust”. (It seems the topic of Trump tends to break the ice and gets the conversation flowing!) I’ve met a few artists, a politician, and retired CEOs, all with interesting and entertaining stories to tell.
Unfortunately, real life in the world of house sitting is NOT all sunshine and roses. Every rose has its thorns, even the idyllic lifestyle of doing nothing but walking the dog. Some of the thorns…
Lack of routine – While house sitting allows freedom and plenty of time for relaxation, too much of a good thing can become an issue if you’re an undisciplined person – like me. Personally, the lack of an exercise routine has been the biggest challenge. Long walks with the dog are a good start, but not enough for my body and mind, which are used to a more traditional, disciplined gym workout routine.
(Remember that scene in “Eat, Pray, Love” where Julia Roberts can’t button her jeans after gorging her way through Italy? Well, the struggle is real! I actually bought some bigger jeans last weekend!)
About a month into this new life, my back and hips were aching and I knew I needed to make a drastic change. So I bought a yoga mat and created space for a nightly yoga class using DoYogaWithMe.com. Yoga has made a huge difference, mentally and physically. I’m also trying to become more disciplined with my eating routine! (No more of those damn Cadbury Easter eggs that linger near the cash register, taunting me with their chocolaty goodness!)
A Sense of Isolation – Being a natural introvert, this lifestyle is a perfect fit for me. However, as much as I cherish my “alone time”, there can be a sense of isolation when the only actual conversation you have is with a dog. (Alfie and I got into some very deep discussions back in Bradford-on-Avon. He was a very good listener.)
For more extroverted personalities, this lack of human contact may drive you nuts! However, extroverts are more likely to pop into the local pub for a pint and strike up a conversation with a random stranger. (I haven’t done that…yet!)
Dogs with Demons – My original fantasy of skipping along the beach at sunset with my adoring pooch has not become a reality. The sad reality is – even dogs wrestle with demons. My first dog, Ben, had anger issues and demonstrated this by peeing on my bed. And then poor Alfie dealt with depression when he felt abandoned by his owners. (We talked it out and he bounced back after a few days.)
And now Dylan, sweet Teddy-Bear-Face Dylan – the sweet face of a lamb with the personality of a Pit Bull with PMS.
I’ve tried the doggie cafe with him but he tends to snap for no obvious reason – growling at invisible ghosts, men wearing black, children running with abandon, and most other dogs. I’m only with him for two weeks and there’s just no altering his unpredictable behavior so I’ve been doing my best to keep him away from any other life forms.
Sadly, there’s no skipping down the beach at sunset with this adorably crazy dog!
Thinking of trying house sitting? Check out Trusted Housesitters or send me a message with any questions! Enjoy the freedom of lazy days and the entertainment of crazy dogs!