Relaxing in my local pub with a pint and my faithful dog at my side, I was beginning to get into the spirit of Friday night. Well…it wasn’t my pub—or my dog—exactly. I was housesitting with my husband, Bill, in the scenic Cotswolds area of southern England.
The pub was medieval, with a mysterious feel to it, and the locals were all friendly in the way that pub-life inspires. It felt as if we had taken over someone else’s life. And in fact, that’s precisely what Bill and I had done.
As housesitters, we had agreed to care for the owner’s home and dog for a month while she was vacationing in Australia. In return, we had her lovely little cottage in the heart of the village for our personal use. And best of all, with Old World English village life on our doorstep, a car was unnecessary. Shops and restaurants could be reached within a short walk—a walk we happily lingered on, taking in the dramatic views of the picturesque countryside, with its resplendent rolling hills and ancient forests.
We had been introduced to the pub and many of the locals by the homeowner, as part of our orientation. The orientation included, as many housesits do, a few free meals in the homeowner’s local hangout.
Housesitting is the perfect way to sample a life you would otherwise never have discovered on a traditional vacation. And in this case, with free accommodations and perks—which included a stocked fridge and wine cellar—we were truly living the dream.
We have been housesitting full-time since 2015. Our “alternate lives” have included caring for an estate in the south of France and watching over a luxury apartment with its own private park in Edinburgh, Scotland. Some of our sits include caring for dogs, cats, and occasionally more exotic animals. But this only enriches the experience, since we love pets, and miss having ones of our own.
Since we retired in 2015, we have been on the move, using housesitting as a way to reduce living expenses and to finance our travels. This has saved us thousands of dollars. And the reward isn’t just free lodging. We have stayed in luxury homes with pools and tennis courts. We have sampled expensive wines, been chauffeured to local points of interest off the tourist track, and supplied with the family car for sightseeing. In fact, cars are frequently provided when housesitting, eliminating rental costs.
Housesitting is a great way to save money while spending time in an area you’d like to explore. We spend very little on housing, since most of our time is spent at one housesit or another. We fill in the gaps between housesits by staying in short-term rentals such as those listed on Airbnb.
We plan on buying a house and settling down one day in a climate and area that appeals to us. That’s where housesitting serves another purpose. It provides the opportunity to try out different locations as possible retirement options. There’s nothing like living as a local for a season or two to help you decide if you want to settle in an area.
Our life after retirement has been one adventure after another. Housesitting has made that possible and taken us places that we never dreamed we would go.
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