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House & Pet Sitting Pros Tell All – Meet Bill & Susie Davidson
If you’ve ever wondered about house sitting as a way to see the world, here is a great example. I’m sure Susie and Bill will agree that you don’t need to wait for your retirement to experience the globe this way, though it’s how they got their start.
They share advice on the websites and techniques to use to find house sits and have a great time house sitting.
How the Pros Do It
Yes, “We Sleep Around”, and are very good at it. We are not spies or under any sort of witness protection program, but professional house and pet sitters moving from pet to pet and house to house. We have been traveling world-wide, full time since selling our San Diego County home in February 2002.
Most of our belongings are in our SUV: bins of clothes for hot and cold weather, computers, printer, GPS, and a fridge that plugs into the car lighter. We buy international health insurance through Blue Shield. We maintain a storage unit in California and have a UPS mail box in Florida that will forward our mail to us upon request. We have slept in 840+ beds since our GR8 Adventure began, and we describe ourselves as retired adventurers/nomads.
House/pet sitting is a type of employment for us as it employs our time, and we get to care for many two, four, and eight-legged critters while making new friends everywhere we go. Bill retired early after 32 years as a finance manager with years of savings and planning. Our dream was to live on the road, renting and living economically. Our first major stop was Fairbanks, Alaska.
It took us nearly four months and 4,000+ miles to drive, as there was so much to see along the way. While living in corporate housing, a distant cousin contacted us about living in their home in Boston, MA while they went to Germany for four months. That was the first house/pet sit for us and we decided to change our plan and become “professional” sitters. It doesn’t mean anything, but “professional” sounds good. Searching the internet, I registered with a house and pet sitting online listing service. HouseCarers.com is free for homeowners to “advertise” and costs us $50 annually. This is well worth it for us, and MUCH cheaper than rent, insurance, and utilities.
Through the website, word of mouth, and repeat “customers”, we are booked about 95% of the time. Often we are double booked and one of us must finish one job while the other goes ahead to the next. We try to stay locally when this happens, but we have occasionally had one of us fly to a new location and the other one then drives there later. We have sat a 24 year old tarantula, longhorn steer, horses, chickens, ducks, geese, chinchillas, and turtles but of course the majority of our animals are cats and dogs. We’ve even had four stray Brahma Bulls show up in our front yard once! We take the animal care very seriously; walking dogs, administering meds, and even giving shots. Now that we have been in business for 13+ years, we have many clients who check our availability prior to booking their vacations.
Once our household duties are taken care of, we get to know the area we are visiting. We enjoy meeting local people and discovering local markets, restaurants and hideaways off the beaten path. We have set goals, dictating the homes we care for. We want to see all the state capitals, visit all the major league baseball stadiums, tour presidential homes and libraries, and tour college/university campuses. We have made a point to visit the 9/11 sites at Shanksville PA, New York, and the Pentagon, on the September 11 anniversary. When we do not have a house/pet sit, some of our time is spent at Gonzaga Bay on the Sea of Cortez, Baja California, Mexico where we recently became part owners in a property on the bay.
We love the nomadic lifestyle, and consider retirement the best jobs of our lives. We do miss having our own pictures on the walls and being able to putter about in our own home. We also miss family though we see them as often as possible, booking sits near them. The animal good-byes are hard too though I keep in touch with a large percentage of the homeowners. We also miss living in a community where we know everyone and everyone knows us.
Will we ever settle permanently? We are looking for the right place to “grow up” and settle down, but we will always be open to house/pet sitting. Cabo San Lucas is the residence of our daughter, son-in-law, and two wonderful grand kids, is one of the contenders as well as the Las Vegas area where our son lives. Also we enjoy the beautiful Texas Hill Country, so those are the three choices we have narrowed to. We would definitely be open to sitting during the summers in cooler locations. I wonder if and when the wanderlust will leave us. God has made such a beautiful world and we want to see it all in the time He has allotted. Bill will continue filling in the small homeless gaps as I plan the sits until one day we wake up and say “enough”.
Read more about how to house sit and the websites to use in Bill & Susie’s book!
With so many people telling us we should write a book, “We Sleep Around, Homeless by Choice” was published in May 2015. It tells the story of our first 5+ years of travel. The book ends in 2007 when Bill heads to Baghdad, Iraq for a position at the U.S. Embassy leaving me “unemployed, homeless, and single!” Following is a short synopsis of our travels and book. Signed copies are available through our website www.SusieD1999.webs.com. We self published on this website or check it out on Amazon: We Sleep Around