Mike Hopkins

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Staying Rent-Free on a Caribbean Island (You Could, Too)

My last 10 years in the workforce involved working and living outside the U.S., and I wanted to continue that traveling into retirement. I’m a man with a permanent place to call home and a wanderlust attitude. How do I satisfy both? Researching the Internet, I discovered housesitting—which has allowed me to live rent free all around the world. It’s simple: In return for free board, I perform some simple tasks for homeowners, ranging from watering the plants to managing some properties…something I did 45 miles off the coast of Nicaragua for three months in 2013.

A Rent-Free Way to Try Out Life on a Tropical Island

Have you ever thought about visiting or even living in a place that could be described as “rustic”? Where there are no traffic lights, and where you can buy fresh lobster at less than $7 per pound?It’s a place where horses roam the streets and kids walk home from school using the airport runway as their sidewalk. A tranquil piece of terra firma where you watch the sun rise out of and set into the Caribbean Sea…

House-sitting in Panama and Costa Rica

House-sitting in Costa Rica

The house I was sitting was just outside the town of Atenas in the mountains, about 30 minutes from the capital of San José. Atenas is home to expats from all over the world, and the locals welcome everyone with a friendly smile. The temperatures when I visited ranged from the low- to mid-80s F during the day and a comfortable low- to mid-60s F at night.

el-malecon-panama

House-sitting in Panama and Costa Rica

The house I was sitting was just outside the town of Atenas in the mountains, about 30 minutes from the capital of San José. Atenas is home to expats from all over the world, and the locals welcome everyone with a friendly smile. The temperatures when I visited ranged from the low- to mid-80s F during the day and a comfortable low- to mid-60s F at night.

House-Sitting-through-Cent

House-Sitting through Central America

When I retired in 2011, I wanted to continue my travels. I’d spent most of my adult life working outside the U.S. I enjoyed exploring, learning about new cultures, and meeting new people. But now, with only a pension as income, I had to figure a way to supplement my travels. Researching online, I ran across this thing called “house-sitting.” I’d helped friends out by watching their homes and pets while they went on vacation, and I realized that house-sitting is basically the same thing.

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