We’ve been getting a lot of questions about house sitting in 2020, such as “should I start house sitting right now?”, “When will it be okay to house sit?” “What do you think is happening with house sitting?”
So in this episode, we’re going to talk about the current state of house sitting. We’ll discuss where we think house sitting is going in 2020, the immediate (and distant) future of house sitting, as well as what you can do now as a prospective house sitter.
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- Where we are and where we are house sitting right now
- What most house sitters are doing right now
- Whether you should be looking for house sits right now
- One super important thing to have before you start house sitting
- What we think house sitting is going to look like in 2020 (and beyond)
- What you can do as a prospective house sitter right now to prepare for successful future house sitting
Links and Resources Mentioned in the Episode:
- Episode 2: Locked Down While Traveling
- I will Teach You to Be Rich by Ramit Sethi
- The House Sitting Handbook
To improve accessibility, we’re trialing out including transcripts!
These transcripts have been automatically generated and then edited by us, so please excuse any typos, missed capitalization, weird phrasing, etc. Humans talk very differently than they write, as we’ve learned! There are just topics that just lend themselves better to conversations rather than blog posts, but we also want the podcast to be accessible to all.
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Sam: Hi and welcome back to the Alternative Travelers podcast. So this is gonna be kind of another lockdown update episode. We're gonna talk specifically about house sitting.
Though we had a lockdown update episode about what's going on with us, and of course we talked about how we've been impacted as house sitters and digital nomads, we've still been getting a lot of questions about house sitting, such as the state of house sitting in general.
So we wanted to talk specifically in a dedicated episode about the state of house sitting now, and where we think it's gonna be going in the near to near future/in 2020. Also, what you can do now as a house sitter or a perspective house sitter etc. So yeah, let's just get into it!
So very briefly, where are we Veren?
Veren: Right now we are still in Salt Lake City, not a bad place to be. Actually, it’s a very great place to be given our circumstances and the world at large.
We had originally been house sitting when the pandemic broke out right at the end of our house it. We arranged for a mutually beneficial situation where we stay in the vacant Airbnb below the property. Well, in the basement of the house that we were house sitting for. We're on very good terms with the homeowner, he's a great guy, very understanding, very considerate and we worked something out. We also had emergency funds in place, in the event that a house sit was cancelled, which is what happened - our first ever cancelled house sit.
Sam: yeah, so if you want to hear the full saga of how that all played out, you can go back and listen to episode two, which I'll link in the show notes. That's basically our lockdown update.
So like I said, we've just been getting a lot of questions about how sitting overall. What's the state of house sitting right now, Veren?
Veren: Current state of house sitting...what I'm going to call the “State of the House Sitting Community Address” that we're giving right now is - there's no house sits.
So no one's house sitting. You probably shouldn't be house sitting. It's as simple as that. It would help probably to look at your local restrictions in terms of travel and what's just going on statewide. It’s a global pandemic so even if one place is okay, ithings could get worse suddenly just as long as there's open borders in other countries and places.
You need to consult your state’s travel restrictions, status and what other public advisories are in place, to decide if you should even consider house sitting in the first place. Because even if there was something available, maybe shouldn't do it.
Sam: Yeah well so like to go back to what all the house sitters are doing right now because that's been a question a lot of people have been asking us like, “what are you doing?”
So yeah, we rented a place like Veren mentioned, and that's pretty much what all the house sitters we know are doing that don't have a home base to go back to. Like Veren said, we don't recommend trying to start house sitting right now because there are just no house sits.
We thought it kind of was self-explanatory, like no one's traveling, so there are no house sits, but again, we've just been getting a lot of questions about it so we just wanted to be super clear.
We're obviously in the States right now, so that's the situation we're speaking from, but no matter where you are, there's no one really traveling. The need for someone to have a house sitter is because they're traveling somewhere. So if no one's traveling, there basically are no house sits.
There have been some popping up here and there that we've seen, where maybe someone's stranded away from their house and they're realizing they don't want to leave it empty for so long. Or maybe they had a neighbor looking in on their pet but they really prefer to have someone be there while they're stranded away from home. But obviously those circumstances are few and far between, so we just can't recommend anyone to try to start house sitting right now because you're just putting yourself at a disadvantage. There are a lot of house sitters looking and few house sits. So it's just gonna be even more difficult than in the past to find a house sit.
Again, like Veren mentioned about travel restrictions, the whole thing is that you shouldn't really be traveling right now,. So unless for example, we're here in Salt Lake City and if there was a house sit that popped up here, we would consider it. But there’s also a risk of making any kinds of travel plans right now when everything's really up in the air.
We don't personally feel super good about agreeing to a house sit when it could be potentially canceled. Restrictions are coming and going and everything's changing on a daily basis, so we just want to really emphasize that point.
Veren: You might be fortunate enough to be in some of the other States who have been a bit more preemptive about the pandemic, so you might have heard or been in a place right now , like we are, where statewide they're gonna try to very gradually loosen restrictions. But it's very much a data driven approach. If all of a sudden, there was any kind of uptick in positive cases, they would reapply the prior restrictions.
So having that in mind, what we're dealing with right now in terms of the pandemic, while there might be ways to stabilize the situation, we're by no means out of the woods. At any point, anything that you commit to, something can happen. It's more likely that something can happen than a year or two from now for example.
So right now, I would say trying to house sit is like walking on thin ice. It's very possible that you're gonna put yourself out there and then be in a situation that you may regret because you have to get isolated or you can't travel.
Imagine if you got sick and needed to quarantine while you're in someone else's house and the time that you need to quarantine overlaps with the beginning and end of the house sit. Or when you're about to start one and you're leaving another situation, so you're just asking for more complications.
Now again, Sam said there's exceptions to that, but don't let the exceptions disprove the rule. You may find something, but just assume right now that you need to stay put and find a stable situation that you can stay in rather than look for a house sit.
Sam: yeah and I think everyone is at this point getting very antsy to go somewhere, to start house sitting again and to start traveling again, so that makes people be like, “oh can I start looking for house sits now?”
It's gonna be on a very countrywide basis, like Veren said, statewide or province wide, or wherever you are, on a more regional basis. So like for example, right now a lot of European countries are testing the waters on opening things up again. But there's just various stages around the world where places are opening up again.
So you just have to really gauge what things are like where you are and don't be booking any international house sits, for sure. Not that they even exist, but just don't even think about it because you don't want to be getting on a plane right now and potentially putting yourself in a situation that's going to make things more difficult for you.
So I wanted to talk about - Veren kind of mentioned it earlier - that we are renting a place now. We have savings in place to be like, “okay no worries like yeah, this is gonna be stretching our budget a bit, but we are totally are gonna be fine and we have savings for it,” as opposed to, “oh my gosh, I literally don’t have any money to rent a place right now.”
Unfortunately there's quite a number of house sitters or digital nomads that are in this position or have been in that position. I think at this point, everyone's kind of figured it out because things have been going on for a little while.
But when things started really coming to a head, I just saw so many panicked people online who had had their house sits cancelled and they were absolutely freaking out because they didn't have any money to put themselves up. So obviously I really feel for those people but at the same time I think it's a real lesson in always having a backup plan - always have savings.
If you're gonna be house sitting or trying to be a digital nomad or whatever, you should have savings. You should have savings regardless - everyone should have savings because I think we're seeing now that literally anything could happen. It’s been total upheaval. But especially if you don't have a home to go back to and just hunker down you just need to be able to pay for that.
And we feel super strongly about spreading awareness about that because it's become very apparent that this is not something that a lot of people are planning for. I mean, obviously no one expects a pandemic to happen, but you need to have a contingency plan no matter what.
Veren: Yeah, we understand that there's some people that will be like, “Oh well not all of us can afford to have savings or some of us live check to check,” and we understand that there's a vast spectrum of economic situations all over the world. We’re aware of that. But chances are if you're looking in the house sitting, you have some flexibility with your money.
If you have the money to travel, then you probably have some money that you can use, or reallocate, or maybe work on your budget a bit to figure out how to have a contingency plan. If you can't afford to travel via house sitting and have a backup plan, then you probably shouldn't be house sitting. It's as simple as that.
Sam: Yeah, definitely. I know we've talked about this before in other episodes, but house sitting is a way to save money and we certainly travel on a budget for sure. We're very conscious of how we spend money and you know, we're bootstrapping our own business as entrepreneurs. So we’re obviously not made of money, but at the same time, we have months worth of savings.
I just actually listened to a podcast interview with this guy Ramit Sethi, he's the guy who wrote this book, “I will teach you to be rich” which is all about money. It's a very popular personal finance book and he was just saying this in a recent interview, that you should have a year's worth of savings.
I know that sounds like super crazy to even think about. But that should potentially be the goal. At least three to six months. The good thing is that now, we're noticing we're spending a lot less money (even though we're paying for a place which normally we don't). We're spending less money on other things like entertainment, going out to the movies, stuff like that.
So it could be a good time to save right now. Obviously not everyone is in that position because a lot of people have lost their jobs and we totally understand that. But it’s just something to think about, if you are in the position to be putting away some money right now and if you're thinking about potentially house sitting in the future, or going back to house sitting or whatever.
So we want to again stress the importance of having a backup plan. A lot of digital nomads were able to go back and stay with friends or family. But obviously with a pandemic, that's not a situation for everyone because that would potentially mean flying somewhere. So staying put was literally the best course of action for most people.
Most of my family is in New York, so there's nowhere to stay. I know a lot of people might have friends or family who are like, “oh yeah, sure we have an extra like wing of our house,” or “we have an extra room, come stay as long as you need,” But with a large bulk of our community being in New York, no one has an extra room. That’s a literal joke.
So we totally understand not having people that you can fall back on, but that means even more that you gotta have savings. I know we're really driving this point home, but I just think it can't be stressed enough.
So that kind of brings us to talk about the future of house sitting. So how can you be preparing right now for the future? To just end things on a more positive note.
So what do you think the future of house sitting is, say in the immediate future, Veren?
Veren: Another way to say that: if you want to house sit and you haven't given up on it, you want to house sit in someday...
What can you do now as a house sitter or someone who potentially wants to house sit? That means considering the future of house sitting. Of course, house sitting isn't going to end. If I said to you, “hey, do you think we'll ever travel again?” Of course we will. Of course we're going to recover and get through this somehow.
It won't be the same normal but a new normal. People will travel again and if there's travel, people are absolutely gonna be looking for house sitters. So I think right now, what the future is going to be like for house sitter and house sitting?
I think it's gonna come back even more popular because a lot of people are gonna be antsy to travel and they're gonna have a lot less money than they did before. There's gonna be a big chunk of people who have a lot less money than they did before and they're gonna want to travel.
Another observation I've made, and it's been confirmed by news outlets, is that all these animal shelters are closing because they have no more animals to adopt. People are getting puppies left and right. I'm sure they're getting kittens too. You just tend to see puppies outside more. I know for a fact that when I go to the park, I see so many puppies.
So there's gonna be a lot more pets. People are getting a lot of pets to keep them company during these lockdown times. Inevitably, they're gonna want to travel again. Having a pet is not a necessary expense. If you're trying to survive in life, you don't necessarily get a dog or a cat.
So that being said, what can you do as a house sitter to prepare for the future of house sitting?
Sam: Like what we were already talking about, getting your contingency plan in place first. If you can start squirreling away some money now. I think also an important point to bring up is that if you have savings, it enables you to make more solid decisions about the house sits that you want to take. You don't ever want to be in the place where you have to take a house out of desperation.
So this goes for even non-pandemic times. We always try to make our decisions about the house sits that we agree to be the ones that we are excited about. Not because we have to take a house sit. So there's something very much to be said for having savings to get you through times when maybe you don't find a house sit in the place that you're looking, or one that doesn't suit your needs.
We’re gonna have more episodes on this topic but just throwing it out there. Savings are a kind of safety net. So you can say, “I don't feel like any of these house sits, the options that I'm seeing, they're not good for me, or they don't sound good. So, I'm just gonna decide to pay for a place.” So that's important to keep in mind.
Also, just learning as much as you can about how sitting. So that's kind of one of the reasons we started this podcast: to spread the word even more about house sitting.
We do believe that there's going to be a surge in house sitting in the future. I think what it's going to look like, is it's going to follow the patterns of travel opening up in general. So more domestic travel is going to be allowed first.
Looking for local house sits in your home country, or wherever you happen to be sheltering in place, will be the first course of action. This actually goes hand-in-hand with what we always recommend, which is to start local when you’re house sitting as opposed to flinging yourself across the globe with your first house sit somewhere totally foreign and unknown.
So that's one of our recommendations for building up your reviews, which goes hand in hand with how travelers restrictions are going to open up. I know it's not as glamorous as starting house sitting in Europe or Asia. But we've done a lot of house sitting in the US and it's been great. I mean, it's such a big country.
Obviously we know that not everyone listening to this podcast is from the US, but we know a lot of you guys are. There are a lot of house sits generally in North America, US and Canada, so if you're American or Canadian that is great news for you. As soon as stuff starts opening up there will be people traveling locally that have been going stir crazy. So there'll be more house sits.
So what can you do right now? Listen to this podcast, which you’re already doing, and we're gonna be having a lot more house sitting focused episodes so definitely send us your questions. We also have a ton of articles about house sitting on our blog already. We've been house sitting since 2016 and we've been writing about house sitting since then. We also have our book, The House Sitting Handbook, so that's like your one-stop shop for literally everything that you need to know about house sitting, and it comes with a workbook with templates like how to fill out your profile, how to write a application message, and all of that good stuff. It completely walks you through.
So you can really be doing a lot to set yourself up for future house sitting success right now while you're at home or while you're wherever you are sheltering in place. So you don't have to just be despairing, because there's a lot of positive to come and I think we're already starting to see the light a bit.
Veren: Yeah, it's important to understand that again house sitting isn't gonna go away. As long as there’s travel, there's gonna be people who need house sitters. What we've seen in terms of patterns of travel restrictions opening up: it starts domestically and then it spreads out internationally. It's important to recognize that. As long as there are countries that are not handling their pandemic situations well, these other countries are going to be closed off.
We've gotten an insight scoop on Spain probably not allowing any international travel until maybe the end of the year. So it's important to recognize the value and excitement still of being able to travel locally and more domestically.
If you’re still trying to wrap your head around some of the ideas that we’ve talked about, The House Sitting Handbook that we wrote is going to answer all of those questions. We have a lot of free materials online but they just don't dig as deep as the handbook does. They're useful and they're helpful, but a lot of people need something that goes way more in depth and explains the whole process to them. We don't just talk about how to house sit, we talk about how to become a great house sitter that gets all the house sits that they want. So if you're really interested in house sitting, you can't go wrong with that book and we strongly recommend it because...we wrote it 😉
Sam: You should see Veren’s face right now, he's got such a cheesy wink face on. But yeah, you know, so yeah that pretty much wraps it up for our house sitting update. We hope that kind of gave you a little more insight on what's going on in the house sitting world right now, where it’s going in the future, and what you can do right now while you’re sheltering in place.
Veren: yeah, just think of it as house sitting and travel on pause. It’s going to come back in some form or another. And what better way than to prepare in the meantime.