March 24, 2018
“When I grew up and fell in love
I asked my lover, what lies ahead
Will we have rainbows
Day after day
Here’s what my lover said
Que será, será
Whatever will be, will be…”
Anyway, if you are anything like us (and Doris in the song) you’ve dreamed about your adulthood goals for a long time. And, as you get older, like us, perhaps you’ve realized that now is the time to do something about making your dreams a reality.
We found our “Que Sera” through housesitting, and here’s a few of the many reasons we love it:
Prior to becoming housesitters we had travelled separately and as a couple quite a bit. John was a medical equipment engineer and was on the road often for extended periods of time. When he was on a project, for more than 3 weeks, I often joined him. He normally had an apartment or extended stay accommodations, so I got to “play house” wherever he was. It was great practice for housesitting!
Being in a locale for a few days or a week or two is just not enough time to get to know the place and more importantly the people that live there. We look for housesits that last at least two months, and preferably longer. We like to experience each place from the perspective of the residents, rather than as tourists. We prefer to choose our own solo adventures, rather than being at the mercy of a tour guide or hotel concierge.
Not only do we like to “walk like an Egyptian”, but we try to talk like one too. We work at being somewhat conversant in the language of the place we’re housesitting, mainly out of respect for the people who live there. We’ve found that most locals are very receptive to folks that at least make an attempt to speak their language. Often, my strong Texas drawl evokes a lot of giggles from the folks in the neighborhoods, but hey, everyone smiles in the same language!
We do our homework before even applying for a housesit to check out the cost of living in the area. Obviously, we don’t have to pay for our accommodations, but if groceries and gasoline are extremely high in an area, we want to know about it before we get there.
We’ve found the site Numbeo to be invaluable for this.
For example, here’s a brief Numbeo comparison of costs here in San Ignacio, Belize vs. Dallas, Texas:
Maybe it’s our extreme sense of adventure, or maybe we’ve lived in too many big cities, but we seem to be attracted to places that don’t have street addresses. This makes my sister, Della (My Della Jane), crazy. After she led a massive internet search to make sure we were safe after Hurricane Maria, she’s wanted to know the exact address of where we are at all times. I really can’t blame her, but unfortunately we haven’t been able to give her the addresses, because…well, they just don’t exist for the places we’ve stayed!
We normally either don’t have cell reception or don’t use our cells, because of roaming charges, and because of this, we never accept a housesit that doesn’t have an Internet connection with a strong WiFi signal. Through phone apps like Skype, What’s App, Facebook Messenger and Viber, we’re able to stay in touch with our families to let them know we’re safe, secure and of course, very happy!
The first house that John and I bought together was beautiful. For me, it had gobs of built-ins and artsy interior features. For John there were 63 huge oak trees, a pool, a hot tub and decking with built in seating for fifty persons. We loved that house. We love to do home improvements and we dumped a lot of money and time into making the house worthy of an HGTV plug. We even went to pond school to learn how to make the perfect waterfall and pond in the back yard. We had a blast.
But, alas, it was an older home and the longer we lived there the fixer-up fun began to wear off and we felt a lot like Tom Hanks and Shelly Long in The Money Pit. (great movie!) The hot tub heating element frequently burned out and needed to be replaced, we had to resurface the pool as well as replace the roof, and the list went on and on…and on. It seemed like there was always something that needed to be fixed, replaced or restored. Sheesh!!!
With housesitting, we have the best of both worlds. We get to stay in and tend to beautiful homes. John gets to do home improvements that the owners very much appreciate, as well as, make recommendations for things that need to be done. But, we don’t have the long term responsibility or constant worry of home ownership. It’s liberating!
We love animals. A lot.
Housesitting has allowed us to meet and hang with amazing people, as well as, care for and love on some incredible critters. From Prince the proud stallion, Paddy the portly pig, and Sadie the Wonderdog, to our current furry charges, Mayhem Mango the cat (who thinks he’s a dog), and Monty the master salivater (who is a dog), we’ve adored and continue to love them all.
We may be eaten by a shark or fall off a cliff, but as housesitters, we will never die of boredom. Traveling as housesitters makes us humble, in that we realize daily what a tiny part of the world we’ve experienced. We are constantly reminded how much we don’t know and haven’t seen. Housesitting is the best thing we never knew we needed. It’s changed our lives.
I really love John. I know, I know, I’m getting sappy and maudlin here, but I don’t think either one of us would attempt housesitting flying solo. We met and married later in life and I honestly think that housesitting has allowed us to do all the cool things we would have done together as kids, teens, and young adults, had we known each other back then.
I’m a Jeopardy fanatic. Have been since I was in grade school. Being a contestant on Jeopardy is even on my bucket list. Since we’ve started housesitting Geography is no longer my WORST Jeopardy category. ‘Nuf said.
All people are different. Whether they be nutrition fanatics, political banner wavers, super religious, addicted to sports, messy, clean freaks or just normal (if there is such a thing), as housesitters, we’ve learned to have an open mind and adapt. We have been blessed to take care of the homes and pets of some extraordinary people. In fact, each of the home owners are folks that we respect and are people we’d want to hang around regardless of their housesitting needs. It’s been an honor to take care of their homes and pets, and give them peace of mind during much deserved time away.
So, there you have it. We’ve found our path, our Shangri-La, our “Que sera” through house sitting and we love it!
This is the first in a series of articles specific to our housesitting experiences. In the series we will tell all: how we have found housesits, what we did to prepare for house sitting, things we got right, as well as, things we botched. So stay tuned, folks!
Have a question about house sitting? Feel free to ask or leave your thoughts below!