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Living For Free In Paradise

Throughout our journey we have stayed in a plethora of accommodations.

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In South America, we were fresh into our RTW trip and trying to embrace the “true backpacker lifestyle”.  To save a few extra bucks, we would cram ourselves into shared dorm rooms at hostels… But we soon realized that privacy was an amenity worth paying for as a couple.

In Europe we decided to shun all hostels and discovered the joy of traveling slow and renting apartments (for weeks at a time) through short-term rental companies. We also secured our first WWOOFing gig on an agroturismo in Tuscany, where we did volunteer work on the farm in exchange for food and accommodation.  We even leveraged some of my hotel points in the more expensive cities (i.e. Paris) and enjoyed the luxuries of some great five star hotels.

But it wasn’t until Asia that we discovered our favorite way to travel…

Housesitting

Shortly before arriving in Asia, we registered and created a profile with Trustedhousesitters.com.   After a few days of being a member on the site, I saw a listing on the website that was for a dog sitting and housesitting job in Koh Samui, Thailand that fit our travel schedule and immediately contacted the owner.

Being new to the site and new to housesitting, I was pretty sure my email would just get ignored… but we heard back from the British owners, Ian and Deb, within a few hours. We sent a couple of emails back and forth, setup a date to Skype, and secured the job in a matter of a week.

To say our first housesitting gig was too good to be true is an understatement.

Here were all the things that rocked about our first job housesitting:

The Job

Our main responsibility was to look after Ian and Deb’s two charming German Shepherds, Zeus and Zara.

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Besides general caring for the pups, we were tasked with walking and playing with them daily and making sure they felt comfortable and loved while their masters were away.  As much as Tony and I adore dogs (especially large ones), this was not what we considered a “job.”

Some other responsibilities included feeding the fish in the Koi pond, cleaning the pools & testing the chlorine levels, and checking the general flips and switches of the house – water pumps, etc.

Not too difficult, right?!

Location And home

For 4 weeks, we were housesitting on the beautiful Thai island of Koh Samui. The house itself was a luxury villa/mansion perched on top of a peninsula on the Northeast side of the island that boasted panoramic views of the Gulf of Thailand from every room in the house.

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Prior to the trip, Ian sent us the link to the property’s website, and I legit thought we were getting setup to be axe murdered.  Remember I said how we thought it was too good to be true?  Well, you had to see this place to believe it.

Not one but TWO swimming pools, a jacuzzi, a full gym, a media room, a Snooker room, a pool-side bar and entertainment system…. The list goes on! This place was over the top and we were so excited to be spending the month there!

Owners

Our “bosses” and owners of the home, Ian and Deb, were so nice and welcoming when we arrived.  They actually stayed on the property for 4 days prior to leaving for their trip to Europe, and during this time we had a great time over shared meals and drinks by the pool getting to know them and learning about their wonderful life together.

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During their time away from the home, Ian and Deb were also very relaxed and hands-off.  We now consider them good friends and look forward to hopefully seeing them again in the future.

Dogs

The dogs, Zeus and Zara, were the best part about our entire trip.  These giant German Shepherds were puppies at heart and were the most lovable creatures ever.

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After just a few days, Tony and I were able to create a great bond with them and for the rest of our time there, Zeus and Zara followed us around everywhere, played with us every morning at the beach, and snuggled up in bed with us at night.

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At the end of our stay, Tony and I were actually pretty darn sad to be parting ways with Zeus and Zara.  We always talk about how much we want to get a dog of our own, and looking after Zeus and Zara during our time on Koh Samui only intensified this desire… In fact, we are now talking about wanting TWO dogs!

Other Amenities

Deb and Ian gave us full access to their car, motorbikes, and mountain bikes.  During our stay, there was also a full-time staff of three.  Never having exposure to this before, Tony and I always felt weird having people clean up after us and wait on us, so we tried our best over the four weeks to keep their work around the property at a minimum.

Some other amenities included giant flat screen TVs in almost every room and access to 2,000 movies via WiFi.

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With a TV in the gym, Tony and I also cranked out some intense P-90X and Insanity workouts to keep us in proper shape to play with the dogs at the beach.

Conclusion

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that one should not consider our experience to be a “normal” housesitting experience.  Our situation being as wonderful as it was is not the norm.

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But I do believe that housesitting is an excellent way to travel the world, have a home away from home, live like a local, brush up on some responsibilities as a homeowner, and meet some fabulous people (and pets!) in the meantime.

Your Turn: Have you ever tried housesitting?  What experiences do you have? Please share your stories in the Comments section below!

 

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Tina October 12, 2012 at 8:13 am

This is just unreal!! That place is incredible. You guys are awesome. Way to find amazing opportunities and experiences. And those dogs are so sweet. I love the hammock picture.

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Meg October 13, 2012 at 1:22 am

Thanks Tina! It was a pretty sweet gig – The dogs were of course the best part! Gotta love a 50 kilo dog climbing up in a tiny hammock for a snuggle fest!

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Christina October 12, 2012 at 8:49 am

We SO agree that privacy as a couple is worth paying a little extra for. We are on a budget, but have not done the shared dorm thing in hostels in Europe, simply because we really value quiet and a good night’s sleep above saving a few dollars!

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Meg October 13, 2012 at 1:24 am

Yeah we bought really good earplugs but even with those, shared rooms are just a crappy nights sleep. Plus having to share bunk beds with Tony is not nearly as fun as cuddling in a double or king!

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Caroline @ Traveling 9 to 5 October 12, 2012 at 10:12 am

Next year we will join you when you house sit again on the islands!

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Meg October 13, 2012 at 1:26 am

Yes! We house sat with another couple and we would LOVE to have another shared gig with you and Josh next time around!

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Edna October 13, 2012 at 3:11 am

That sounds pretty excellent! Not a bad foray into the world of housesitting!

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Guest Post October 13, 2012 at 3:26 am

Yeah, I think we have been spoiled on our first gig… No way it get better than this!

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Stephanie - The Travel Chica October 14, 2012 at 3:04 pm

Please give them my contact information for the next time they need a housesitter. That place is amazing!

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Meg October 15, 2012 at 1:46 am

HAHA no way…. They are all ours! j/k :-)

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Cherina October 15, 2012 at 12:13 am

Okay, you totally win! This trumps my house sitting gig hands down ;)

So happy for you guys that it turned out to be as wonderful as it sounded. The location looks to die for and the house is gorgeous! Not a bad introduction into the world of house sitting at all!

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Meg October 15, 2012 at 1:47 am

Your gig in Australia sounded pretty nice as well! Speaking of, where are you these days? We head to Australia in a few weeks and would love to meetup if possible!

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D.J. - The World of Deej October 15, 2012 at 7:53 am

Have not tried our hand at housesitting, but WOW what an experience you had. I would have had a hard time leaving the dogs too!

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Meg October 16, 2012 at 2:54 am

The dogs were the best part… It definitely worth looking into if you’re a frequent traveler. Best of luck!

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Callie October 16, 2012 at 7:05 am

This is brilliant. I’m totally making a profile. Plus, getting a dog fix on the road is important, but not always easy!

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Meg October 17, 2012 at 10:25 pm

We loved having the dog fix with Housesitting. It made us feel like a little family! We saw a lot of dogs in Thailand, but they were all strays… Not what you really want to get your dog fix with! haha

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JR October 16, 2012 at 7:19 am

What a gig. You two deserved this. I think it is great that you have done a lot of different types of sleeping arrangments also. You got the full effect of the house sitting gig. This was fantastic.

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Meg October 17, 2012 at 10:27 pm

Thanks JR! I think as a backpacker, it’s always important to open yourself up to new and different accommodation styles… Gotta try them all! Although, housesitting was by far our favorite! Can you blame us?

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Mark Wiens October 16, 2012 at 12:06 pm

This is wonderful Meg, that view from the swimming pool is just about perfect, I think I wouldn’t even leave to go anywhere the entire 4 weeks! I’ve never done housesitting before, but looks another great option to combine with couchsurfing for non-hotel accommodation.

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Meg October 17, 2012 at 10:30 pm

Hi Mark! We never tried couchsurfing but we hear its sometime difficult to find a “couch” as a couple. And you’re right… When we were at that house for four weeks, we never wanted to leave. There even was a delivery place nearby that delivered AWESOME Thai Curry to our place… It was a deadly setup we had. We forced ourselves to go out exploring every now and then, but the place and dogs were the full package. Definitely give housesitting a try if you’re ever available!

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Dalene October 17, 2012 at 11:07 pm

I WANT THREE SERVANTS!!

My Gawd, did you guys ever SCORE with this one! Congrats!

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Meg October 18, 2012 at 12:04 am

Thanks Dalene!

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Vicky from acoupletravelers October 18, 2012 at 9:29 am

Wow this seriously sounds like a dream come true! We are SO SO jealous and need to sign up for housesitting asap!

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Meg October 18, 2012 at 10:33 pm

Do it!!!! I just wish we had signed up earlier into our trip! :-)

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Andrew S October 22, 2012 at 11:04 pm

This is absolutely incredible. Great work Meg!!

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Meg October 23, 2012 at 1:02 am

haha Thanks Andrew – It was quite the dream come true :-)

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Jon @ TantricTraveler October 30, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Great article you guys. Sounds like a dream. I have house sit in Australia for couple taking care of a big fat cat named Boris as well as house sitting in Phoenix taking care of a Cat and Dog. Both experiences were amazing! House sitting is the perfect addition to the “on the road” lifestyle. Planning on some house sitting down in Mexico and South America in 2013 which I will definitely video and write about on my travel site. Keep up the good work.
Cheers!
J~

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Meg October 31, 2012 at 1:12 am

Thanks Jon! It is such a great way to travel. We had a great first experience and we just lined up a housesitting job in a couple of weeks in the Sunshine Coast of Australia…. Fingers crossed that all goes well :-)

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Curious Nomad October 31, 2012 at 1:15 am

Thank you for reminding RTW trippers about house sitting. Amazing experience!

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Meg November 3, 2012 at 11:50 pm

Thanks! We are addicted now :-)

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Jon @ TantricTraveler November 2, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Hey Meg, the Sunshine coast is where I lived for a year. Coolum to be exact. It’s beautiful there. Good luck with the gig. :)

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Meg November 3, 2012 at 11:51 pm

Awesome! Any must-see places?!

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rtw traveler November 7, 2012 at 7:16 am

I don’t like pets so I couldn’t do this, but it’s an awesome option for people that do. I’m SO dreaming of Koh Samui at the moment!

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Meg November 18, 2012 at 5:10 pm

There are many housesitting jobs that don’t require looking after pets… Regardless, you should visit Koh Samui sometime. Its incredible!

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Clint November 18, 2012 at 12:06 pm

I somhow missed this post but I have always wanted to try this. I wonder if there are any housesitting horror stories out there (similar to those of Airbnb). I’m sure 99.9% of the experiences are great though.

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Meg November 18, 2012 at 5:12 pm

Thanks for commenting Clint. There definitely are horror stories, but they are more often with services like couchsurfing, where you are sharing accommodations with others. Airbnb we have had good luck with, but we usually rely on the reviews of a property before we make a booking with them. We actually thought this job in Thailand was too good to be true prior to arriving there, but we were proved wrong (luckily) and it was a wonderful stay.

Hope all is well!!

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