I’m writing this from an apartment in China, overlooking the sea toward Hong Kong. In a couple of hours I will set off for a 10 minute bus journey to work – a private English language school, here in Shenzhen where my partner Ian and I currently work as TEFL teachers.
Over the past two years, we’ve lived together in four different countries and visited eight. We’ve been the subject of a UK TV documentary in Panama with presenter Ben Fogle, lived in an RV in Texas, hiked back and forth across the Grand Canyon and generally followed our dream to live our lives filled with travel, adventure and new experiences!
We’re part of the new breed of long term travellers, sometimes known as global or digital nomads. We no longer have a fixed abode anywhere in the world. I’ve sold my property in the UK and Ian’s in the process of selling his home in Panama. We are now global citizens, finding ways to live an alternative life, free from most of the constraints of mainstream society.
We don’t live like this because we have lots of money. Our dwindling savings mean that we still have to find ways to work and earn money. That’s why we’re here in China for a year, working as English teachers. It’s a great place to top up funds – the salaries are good and the cost of living low. As a huge bonus we get to fulfil our desire to live in a totally different culture.
That is the amazing thing about living in this way – it’s on our own terms. Life is lived simply, but it’s richer because of the people we meet and the experiences we encounter.
That said, there isn’t any way that we could continue to live our lives with this amount of freedom if it wasn’t for house sitting.
Travel and house sitting
We came across the house sitting community while living in Panama, where there’s a large Expat community. Due to what we call “active recycling”, it became a necessity to have someone look after your home when away for extended periods. House sitting provided the essential service needed by home owners and we were fortunate to get experience from both sides of the fence. We used house sitters to care for the island and more increasingly, became house sitters ourselves.
When we later moved to the USA for six months of travel, we bought an old RV and combined this with even more house and pet sitting to reduce our travel costs. We spent an amazing two months in Austin, Texas where we were able to park the RV outside a house, while looking after ailing Tara. Her owner had to work away from home on a special project, and as Tara needed more and more care, we provided the perfect solution.
It was “win-win” for us both. This term is often used in house sitting and it’s so true. We got a free place to park our RV, and the home owner got somebody to look after and care for her beloved dog so she could continue to meet the demands of her job. We could use the house by day while we looked after Tara. Most weekends we were able to take off in the RV to explore Texas. This is a slightly unusual house sit, but it just shows how flexible it can be and how it can work in different situations.
When we left Austin, we continued to house sit in the US and then in the UK before arriving here in China. Sadly the concept hasn’t taken off here yet – but we’re trying hard to spread the word!
House sitting success in Australia with House Carers
We’ll be leaving here at the end of November, and thanks to House Carers we have just secured an amazing two month house sit in a luxury property in Victoria, Australia. We found the new members area of the House Carers website both efficient and very easy to use, something that’s very important if you are new to house sitting.
There were plenty of long term house sits available all over Australia and we only had to apply for five assignments before finding the ideal one for us. House Carers allows you to set up relevant email alerts, so we could respond quickly to new assignments as they popped up in our inbox. This is crucial if you want to be considered for the more popular house sits – you must respond promptly and professionally.
We can’t wait to spend time looking after the two beautiful rag doll cats that will be in our care. We’ve missed having pets around.
Making money as nomadic travellers
As part of our nomadic lifestyle we spend a fair amount of our time looking at ways to work and earn money online. We’ve just spent the best part of two months developing a new house sitting online course for Udemy. We wanted to share our knowledge and the passion we have for house sitting. It’s something we have a lot of experience with and so it seemed like the ideal topic to teach.
Our online course covers absolutely everything you need to know to get started as a house sitter, in short easy to watch videos. There are lots of downloadable resources too, and you’ll learn how to write a great profile, respond to and secure assignments and increase your house sitting skills so that you can apply to posts with more demanding criteria.
It was tough to do in China, the land of perpetual building noise – we had to create our videos late into the night, but we’ve been so pleased with the feedback from our first students and we’ve had great reviews, which makes it all very worthwhile.
We were even more chuffed when Nat and Jodie, the “house sitting gurus” of HouseSittingAcademy.com, very generously offered to watch and review the course.
Here’s what they had to say:
In fact we will shortly be teaming up with Nat and Jodie to offer their own Academy training as follow-on instruction to our course – this will be a must for committed and long term house sitters, but also really useful for anyone looking to improve their chances of getting their dream house sits. It’s getting more and more competitive as house sitting becomes a mainstream choice for an alternative vacation. Learning the tips of the trade can really improve your chances of getting a great assignment.
If you’d like to try our course, we’re currently offering it for an introductory price of only $19 (50% discount) with this coupon code – simply click the link:
We’ve also started a new house sitting forum on the Reddit website, where you’ll find lots of relevant blog links, useful information and house sitting resources.
We’d encourage anyone to give house sitting a try. You really have nothing to lose, and we’d like to think our course will help you shortcut some of the things we had to learn through trial and error.
We really do love our lifestyle. It has its challenges, but that all contributes to making life feel that much more vital, more meaningful and more fulfilling. If you’d like to read more about our travels, check out www.DivergingRoads.com and www.IanUsher.com