In my series “Interviews with Housesitters”, I will be introducing you to various people who live life differently via slow travel.
Today, we head over to Asia to read about an impressive New Zealand couple, Linda and Scott, who have indeed gone off the beaten track to experience how the locals live in various parts of Asia. Their intrepid travels have intrigued me for a while, and I have enjoyed following them via Instagram, Facebook and their blog.
We’re Scotty and Linda and we’re Kiwis Flying the Coop.
We’re 50 something and this is our window of opportunity to restructure our lives, declutter, rent a storage unit and see as much of the world while we still can. We’re not millionaires, we haven’t sold a multi-million dollar business, we just decided that it was more important for us to have a passport full of stamps than a house full of stuff. We were wishing our week away, counting the days till Friday and those weeks passed alarmingly quick. We don’t want to be sitting in a Rest Home talking about the trips we should have or could have done. It has taken a lot of planning and sole searching and huge leap of confidence to do what we’re doing and not everyone is going to agree that we’ve made the right choice but it was ‘our’ choice.
What made you chose housesitting in Asia?
We had decided that we had had enough of the corporate treadmill and decided on taking early retirement to fulfil our passion for travelling – in particular around SE Asia. We are passionate about the people, culture, food. Travel and living expenses are cheaper than most places in the world which would enable us to travel for a more extended period of time. We sold most of our assets, booked a storage unit and left New Zealand set off for our first house sit assignment in Phuket. We initially thought of the idea of House Sitting to slot in between our travels – however it has worked out that travelling has slotted in between our house sits. Our assignments determine where we will travel to and explore next.
What was the process you went through to become a housesitter?
We first registered with TrustedHousesitters.
We only had some character references to offer and one house sit which was completed in New Zealand. We got police clearance and wrote up our bio. We did not know how we would get on securing our first assignment with no track record. Our personality and interests seem to fit the requirements of our first hosts in Phuket, and things just took off from there. We have also registered with Kiwi House Sitters and House Carers so to widen the search for sits.
How long have you been housesitting?
We have been house sitting for 18 months
For yourself, what are the positives and negatives to housesitting fulltime?
There have been many positives for us choosing this lifestyle.
It can be tiring being full-time travellers. House sitting gives us the chance to be normal for a while. It gives us time out to recharge our batteries, and we enjoy being given the responsibility of caring for someone’s prized possessions – their pets and home.
We love forming a close bond with the pets in our care. We choose to stay at home with them quite a lot of the time so that we can become firm friends before we venture too far away during the day. We save our exploring for before or after the assignment has finished. We stay local to embrace the area around us. This can sometimes mean we are the only westerners, eating at streetside stalls and communicating in very broken English. We have stayed in locations that we would never have had the chance (or even thought of) visiting.
In SE Asia, it has its own set of challenges when looking after pets and homes. Sometimes we have been in quite isolated places, and transport can be difficult when trying to get supplies. Sometimes just walking the dog can become a mission when there are stray dogs, so extra vigilance is required. There is also the added risk of diseases which you need to be aware of such as rabies, ticks etc. The extreme heat is also a factor to take into account during exercise periods. We have to be careful that dogs do not overheat.
Housesitting makes travelling very budget friendly.
We have created some great friendships with the homeowners. We message most of them for updates on the pets and what they are up to regularly. Getting invited back for resits is also very rewarding.
Makes us feel that we have done an excellent job.
What do you look for when choosing your next housesit?
Location is the first thing we look at.
We like to go somewhere different but have to take into account the cost of travel to that destination. The length of sit has to be worth the journey there (covered in the next question). It has to have good WiFi, air con due to us being at home a lot and using the internet to catch up on writing travel blogs and editing videos. We like to be close to shops or markets so that we can buy food and supplies. We like to see photos of the house to give us an idea of what it is like. At times we like to look at past reviews of the previous house sits if possible. Timing is everything – dates are probably the hardest part of coordinating. The housesits we would love never seem to fit into the time we have available!
Do you prefer long term or short term sits? The pros and cons are?
We seem to go for the shorter sits if we know we are already going to be in or near that country and we can tag it on to travel or another sit in the area. Otherwise, it is cost prohibitive to travel distances for a short period of time. We have to take into account our tourist visa requirements. In a lot of SE Asia we are only able to stay in some countries 30 days, or else we need to apply and pay extra for an extended visa.
Longer term sits are always the preferred option. Gives us time to settle and bond with the pets.
What website do you use to obtain housesits? Or have you developed your own?
TrustedHousesitters is our main one, and we also use Kiwi House Sitters and Housecarers. We have our own website Kiwisflythecoop.com. I don’t do too much of a write up about our sits on our blog and always ask for permission to post photos of their pets on social media to protect their privacy.
When not housesitting, what sort of accommodation do you mainly use? Or do you have your own home or motorhome to utilise in between housesits?
We’re pretty much homeless.
When we travel between sits, we prefer guest houses and home stays. We love to mix and mingle with the locals, and it is way cheaper too.
What’s one piece of advice you would share with someone who was contemplating their first housesit?
We don’t treat our house sits as a holiday base.
We almost tackle it like a job which comes with enormous responsibilities. The most critical part is excellent communication. Homeowners like to know what is going on in their absence. You certainly need to love animals. You have to be prepared to do exactly what the homeowner has requested you to do with regards to caring for their pets and to keep to the routine, i.e. walking times, routes, food, grooming and treats.
You need to be wholly independent, and it also helps to be techno-savvy.
The homeowner does not want to be bothered every other day with trivial questions on how to work something or how to call for a taxi. You need to be sure to cover this off at the handover.
Message from Suzanne:
Thanks very much, Linda and Scott for participating in my “Interview with Housesitters” posts. It has been a pleasure corresponding with you and reading about your travels.
I look forward to following the next part of your travel journey.
Check out the following links to read more about their incredible journey as housesitters in Asia.
If you would like to be included in my “Interviews with Housesitters”, please contact me via my Contact Page. I would love to hear from you.