Since leaving our all-American life in 2013, with three kids in tow, my husband, Ron, and I have spent time in 28 countries and counting. More than half of our time wandering the globe has been rent free, which saves us an average of $2,500 a month…approximately what our home in Seattle, with utilities, cost monthly.
By housesitting all over the world we have been able to try living not just in different cultures, but varied lifestyles as well.
We know what life feels like on an organic farm in New Zealand. For the first time since we were kids, my husband and I happily woke up with the sun, to collect farm fresh eggs, feed the goats, and harvest the garden’s bounty. After a few cold showers, we learned the ratios between the amount of sunlight and how much hot water we would have each day and we adjusted our consumption accordingly.
We often talked about living off the grid in our life before this journey, but New Zealand gave us our first immersive experience and it was lifechanging. After a full day on the farm, we had no problem going to bed with the sun—once we made sure to turn the hazelnuts that were drying on the hearth.
We know what rural life is like in Southern Italy and we will never forget the cacophonous sound of the cowbells as the herders waved to us before descending into the river valley. On New Year’s Eve, our neighbor invited us over to make pancetta from scratch. We listened intently to his instructions as the smell of his wife’s bread, cooking in the wood-fired oven, warmed us on a cold winter’s night.
The first bite of buttery pancetta, on warm Italian bread, followed by a sip of earthy Sicilian red wine, was unforgettable. We somehow communicated for hours by the fire, with only a limited vocabulary of shared words between us.
We know what high-rise, glamorous living in Singapore feels like, and how to care for pets while living on the 76th floor. Every evening we would make our way to the rooftop garden terrace for sunset. Many people from all over the world lived in our building and had the same ritual. As the days turned into weeks, neighbors became friends, and our stories intertwined in a communal way.
Naturally, we would each bring a dish or drinks to share, and talk as the sun dropped into the Singapore Strait and city lights dominated the skyline. On particularly balmy evenings, after sunset, we would all move down to the pool for a quick dip before calling it a day.
We know how to prepare vineyards in Southern France for frost, just in case it happens in late spring, when the owners are taking a short respite from their labor of love and have entrusted us with next season’s vines. From bud break to harvest was a long stretch and keeping the vines safe felt like a big and wonderful task.
As we stood on our little piece of Provence, with the stars above us and the rich soil at our feet, we felt overwhelmed with appreciation for the diverse experiences travel has given us. We left Seattle to regain the freedom we lost in struggling to keep our American Dream alive. Through housesitting we’ve regained that freedom and more—traveling the world has given us insights into life that we never would have dreamed of if we had stayed where we were.