This Is How I’m Still on My Yearlong Vacation…After 17 Years

I’m by no means rich, but in 2002 I went traveling the world for a year. During that time, I lived in Thailand, Laos, and Portugal. And the best part is, I’m still doing it to this day.

How was this even possible? Well, I discovered housesitting, and that changed everything.

Housesitting gave me the opportunity to try out new destinations for long stretches of time. If I liked them, I could find another housesit and continue to live there practically cost free. If it wasn’t for me, I could simply move to another place, safe in the knowledge that there is always another housesit waiting for me.

For example, for a while, I was considering a move from my base at the time in Thailand to Nicaragua. Through a housesitting website, I found a housesit in San Juan del Sur. And like that, I had a new place to call home. And I only had to pay for my flight to get there.

The house was right on the beach. Every morning I would take long walks along the sand with the homeowner’s dog, Bertie. But, I discovered, as beautiful as the country was, and all the lovely people I met along the way, Nicaragua just wasn’t for me. As much as I love beaches, I’m not a beach person at heart. I need more to stimulate me.

Another housesit was in Hong Kong. For five weeks, my partner, Jonathan, and I enjoyed one of the most fascinating cities in the world. We made many friends, and as a place to live, it ticked many boxes. There was so much to do, nature was always on our doorstep, there were plenty of beaches to visit, and the food was scrumptious. However, Hong Kong is expensive. We would never have been able to afford living there without housesitting, or working full time—and we didn’t want to do that.

Portugal was next on the list. From the outside, it too, ticked many boxes—lots of sunshine, affordable, great food, and low-cost healthcare. But we needed to try it out. Fortunately, an opportunity came up to housesit with two dogs and a cat in a traditional Portuguese house in a village near Sintra, close to Lisbon. It was fun having the opportunity to explore the local area, the sights of Lisbon, and of course, enjoy long clifftop walks with the dogs through Sintra National Park.

Fast forward two years, our dog Angel, and I now live in Portugal on the Silver Coast, about an hour north of Lisbon. After our sit near Lisbon and talking to other people who had started a new life here, we knew moving here would be the right move for us for now. However, we’re always thinking about where we’ll go next. We’re investigating a move to France, Sicily, Malta, Greece, Croatia, or maybe even South America in a few years’ time. And housesitting will be how we do it.

Housesitting has opened many doors. It’s an opportunity to explore new destinations, meet new people, enjoy pet cuddles, and live like a local. We are just back from New York, where we did two back-to-back cat sits. We have no plans to move to New York but loved the opportunity to see the sights of Manhattan.

Gorgeous cats, great homes, free accommodation; it’s a win-win all round.

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