We all know the excitement that comes with planning a vacation overseas. Making itineraries and daydreaming about the local cuisine can be intoxicating. But when the time comes to book accommodation, exorbitant hotel prices can really take the wind out of your sails. What if you could stay in comfortable homes across the globe without giving up any of your precious savings? Well…that’s exactly what I’m doing.
Over the past two years, I’ve lived like a local in a total of seven countries, without spending a penny on accommodation. I’ve stayed for free in major tourist destinations like Amsterdam, Barcelona, and London. I’ve found free lodging in rural, off-the-beaten-track parts of Italy and England. And I’ve done it all by housesitting.
For me, it all started in a mountain village in Turkey. I spent a relaxing month in a lovely, 19th-century stone house nestled in unspoiled natural surroundings. I went on countless hikes along stunning trails and past forgotten Greek ruins. Friendly villagers sold me fresh eggs and vegetables. At night, I would enjoy a glass of local wine in front of a crackling fire and think, “How did life get so good?”
After that, I was hooked.
The average price for an apartment in Amsterdam listed on Airbnb is $143 per night. But I was able to spend two weeks in a centrally-located penthouse apartment for free. And I fell in love with this magical city. My typically mundane morning runs became extraordinary in the famous Vondelpark. After long days of sightseeing and wandering the canals, I would head home and relax into my new rent-free lodgings.
Housesitting enables me to stay in one place for a long period, without having to worry about costs. Vibrant London is the third most expensive city in the world. But I got to live rent-free in the swanky Chiswick neighborhood for three months. I spent countless hours getting to know the capital’s iconic markets, attractions, and neighborhoods. And whenever the bustling metropolis got to be too much, I could come home to a comfy three-bedroom house.
This life as a housesitter has also taken me to amazing places, which I never would have visited otherwise. I’m currently enjoying seven weeks of free housing in a tiny Italian hamlet. In the mornings, I roam the rolling Tuscan hills and vineyards, and some days I walk to a charming bakery and order a delicious biscotto al cioccolato (a small rectangular chocolate biscuit). And before bedtime, in the peace of the surrounding Italian countryside, I stare up at the undiluted blanket of stars and marvel at my wonderful fortune.
Having my own free house, through housesitting, means I also get a complete kitchen to myself, so I can cook at home using local ingredients—saving a fortune on food. Moreover, it comes with a level of privacy and comfort that you would never find in a hotel. Unwinding in a cozy living room is a lot nicer than trying to relax on starchy hotel sheets while the people in the next room are blasting their TV.
I’ve come to see my life as the perfect balance of routine and adventure. While I’m able to visit famous attractions in a foreign city, I also get to experience the area as a local would. Small things like running errands or taking a stroll through the nearby park become exciting cultural excursions.
My lifestyle has opened so many doors for me that I couldn’t have imagined. Beyond the financial benefits, it’s given me a chance to appreciate small details that are often missed during a whirlwind vacation…I couldn’t recommend it enough.
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