As the old porch swing rocked gently in the summer breeze, the evening sun cast an amber glow over the rolling hills and vineyards below. Sipping a glass of wine, I spotted a white-tailed deer who came out to nibble on the vineyard’s fragrant fruits. With the heady scent of grapes filling the air, I swelled with happiness thinking of where my life had taken me.
Here I was in Tuscany, Italian wine country—a place many folks only dream about visiting. And I was living rent-free thanks to a little-known travel secret my husband, Clyde, and I had picked up: Housesitting.
For the duration of our stay, a 20-room restored farmhouse on a vineyard and olive grove was our home. Nearby, the hilltop village of Radda in Chianti overlooks the rustic Italian countryside. The medieval town is framed by a fortifying wall that sits in the shadow of a 10th-century castle. Complete with the original narrow, cobblestoned lanes, shops and a few churches, Radda is dripping with history and a thriving wine culture.
A few years back, my husband Clyde and I took our first ever trip to Europe and fell in love with the idea of travelling the world full-time. But then reality hit—we simply couldn’t afford such an extravagant lifestyle. That was until we discovered housesitting and realised we could travel the world and never once have to pay for rent.
Since then, our adventures have taken us all over. In Mexico, we stayed in a traditional colonial villa. Then it was on to Costa Rica where we walked on the beach every morning and spent the rest of the day relaxing by our pool. In the Ecuadorian Andes, our apartment boasted a sweeping view of a colossal volcano.
From Latin America we flew to Bangkok, Thailand. There we stayed in a large apartment which we shared with a small housecat. The modern interior of this home was contrasted by the ornate Buddhist temples covered in gold, just outside of our windows. In the morning, Buddhist monks sat crossed legged in their burnt-orange robes and sandals, chanting their ancient prayers.
And, of course, for three full months, we travelled through the old Italian countryside, living rent-free the whole time. We ate our way through Tuscany, enjoying fresh olive oil from the bountiful home gardens…sampled wine from private wine cellars…and ate far too many mouth-watering pizzas topped with fresh, home-grown vegetables.
Since we live rent-free, our only expenses are for travel, mobile phones, food and health insurance. We estimate we’ve made savings of around $20,000 over the past year by not paying for accommodation and we see no end in sight. Housesitting is a simple, yet powerful travel hack that allows us to travel the world, enjoy the comfort of luxury homes and save money while we do it.
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