I’ve Explored Europe…Without Paying for Accommodation

As our stay in the South of France draws to a close, my husband Bill and I are soaking up the spring sunshine and taking in the views of the rolling farmland, which seem to flow like waves on an ocean. We will miss our temporary home but there is another one awaiting us in the south of England.

Traveling was something we always wanted to do, but my job as a social worker and Bill’s job in the financial sector prevented us from traveling on the scale that we wanted. So, in 2015 we retired, and using some savings we had set aside for travel for a full year, we began our journey.

Having sold our house, we were also now in a position to use our housing budget on long-stay vacation homes in areas we were interested in. That was great fun but when our year of roaming was over, our thirst for travel still hadn’t waned. But if we wanted to continue we needed a way to fund our adventures.

Then we discovered housesitting. We could stay wherever we wanted, without having to pay a dime. This discovery has taken us to the east and west coasts of the U.S., as well as across Europe and the U.K.—staying from six days to six months in each destination.

A free stay in a several hundred-year-old vicarage in the Yorkshire Dales of England satisfied our love of history, beautiful scenery, and the charms of English village life. We enjoyed fresh eggs every morning from the chickens and the antics of a tiny Yorkshire terrier. Not to mention the breathtaking walks straight from the door kept us in great shape.

Our six-month temporary home in France allowed us to experience the country as the locals do. Endless days of sunshine, excellent wine for $2 per bottle, and the slow café life of southern France aided our transition from busy, working Americans to retired expats enjoying the good life. Our villa was complete with a swimming pool, a tennis court, and acres of walking trails. We began to see why the retired Americans and Canadians we met there said they chose France as a retirement destination: cheap housing, good quality and affordable healthcare, fresh local food, and low crime rate.

In Edinburgh, Scotland a free luxury apartment that overlooked a palace and its stunning gardens gave us the opportunity to explore one of the great capitals of the world. Edinburgh’s friendly people with their thick Scottish brogue and dry humor were charming. Scotland is also a country steeped in tradition. We were lucky enough to witness a wedding in the palace gardens from our apartment window where full kilts were worn and live bagpipe music filled the air.

Edinburgh is a city of great beauty and when we were not out admiring the winding, cobbled streets and lovely architecture, we could enjoy the homely comfort of our centrally located apartment.

We plan to continue our housesitting lifestyle for the foreseeable future as it ticks every box on our wish list: overseas travel, comfortable accommodation, interesting people…all to be had on a budget.

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