Sensible flexibility is key when you’re retired. I’m currently spending a bunch of money on life bucket list item #6 (write a book). Cover designers and editors and such. I’m spending this money freely and happily, of course. You should spend money on your hobbies.
But it’s still an unusually excessive amount for me and I am still acutely aware of my charts and how much I’m “allowed” to spend.
I could have offset these book costs and hung out in a cheap country for a bit, somewhere in South America or Southeast Asia. You can rent a nice apartment for a few hundred dollars a month in certain parts of the world. I couldn’t get excited about that idea though and found myself yearning for a bit of stability. While sulking in Qatar, I made a list of a bunch of cities where I could see myself staying for the spring and summer. Here’s my list if you’re curious.
Possible new places to call home
- New York
- Washington D.C.
- San Diego
- San Francisco
- Los Angeles
Then I joined a house-sitting website and applied to any long-term house-sit (at least three weeks) that popped up in any of those cities. The first city where I had a confirmed house sit would be my homebase for a bit. Denver won. Excellent choice, Universe. Denver is great!
I landed a gig for eleven weeks in an awesome neighborhood in northwest Denver, biking distance from a lot of things and easy public transportation to everything else. The retired couple I sat for had two dogs, three chickens, a bunch of indoor fish and a koi pond. They visited Europe and I lived their life in Denver. I walked the dogs, ate the eggs the chickens laid and tested the ph levels in the koi pond. I checked the mail and watered the plants and made myself at home.
This arrangement is a mutually beneficial arrangement, a symbiotic relationship. The homeowners get peace of mind that their babies are being taking care of while they’re gone. They enjoy their vacation without worry and with regular updates. I get a place to stay and a chance to get to know some animals. Dogs are excellent cuddlers. Gathering fresh eggs each day is a special type of joy. The fish are…I don’t really get the appeal of fish, to be honest.
I joined a couple of other housesitting websites upon arriving in Denver and spent a few seconds every day scanning the new listings. Whenever I saw one in Denver, I applied, with the offer to meet for a drink beforehand so they could see I wasn’t a psycho. And it worked. Better than I could have imagined, it worked.
For five months in Denver, my only housing expenses will be the membership fees for the housesitting websites (about $200 total). For comparison’s sake, I looked at furnished sublets on Craigslist and if I had rented an apartment during that time instead, it easily would have cost me $7500 for worse places.
I also get to try on different neighborhoods to see which one looks best on me. Because this is Colorado, everyone has a bike I can use too. Some people will even leave cars for you.
And! I get to hang out with several cats, a few more dogs, two snakes and a chinchilla. I completely understand why people befriend and live with animals. A home feels a lot less empty with another soul inside it. Cuddles! Touch! Someone to talk at so you’re not a crazy person mumbling to herself!
I’m incredibly excited about all of this if you can’t tell.
Dedicated house sitting websites aren’t the only way to do this. I initiated Operation Enjoy the Crap Out of Denver and met so many souls while out interacting with the world. When people learned about my situation, quite often they would exclaim that they were also going on vacation soon and had pets and was I available?
Existing friends are a good resource too. I’ve pet-sat for friends in New York many times.
My friend Z, who I’ve mentioned before, put up ads on Craigslist offering her pet-sitting services in Maui so she could easily visit her sister when she popped out a nephew. And it worked. Think outside the box.
This one is ~$120/year. You go through identity verification and background checks and all that other fun stuff.
This one is only $30/year for house-sitters and free for homeowners listing their sit.
This one is $50/year.
There are more too. Lots more websites. There’s even one that will pay you to pet-sit. I haven’t tried that one because I love the mutually beneficial nature of the three I listed above. A situation where both parties feel like they’re getting the better end of the deal is the best type of situation.
A lot of people have pets. These people travel and need you to take care of their babies while they do. If you’re not super picky about where you housesit, you could, theoretically, never pay rent again.
*Affiliate link. Maybe. I’m not confident I set it up right.