Adventures in Housesitting

One half hour before our friends were due to pick us up for a barbeque – three of the four adorable/bratty dogs we are taking care of scaled the 7-foot fence and took off down the road in full stride to frolic in one of the neighborhood farms.

This has happened before and we usually just wait for them to return, but in light of our deadline, Pete took off in full pursuit. He ran two miles each way, and sent the culprits home in a staggered procession. Pete finally returned haggard, muddy, and cursing at another dog who had nipped at his ankle.

We left one hour late for our barbeque. The whole debacle had us thinking later about some of the crazy situations we’ve gotten into while housesitting. After approximately 450 days over the last three years spent taking care of other people’s property and fur-babies, we’ve definitely had some interesting and quirky adventures along the way…


1. We’ve had a black bear prowling around the deck of one house, knocking over the barbeque and garbage cans, looking for food just prior to hibernation.

2. Two houses we have taken care of have had no address! They have only been known by their color – the “yellow house” and the “green house“.

3. We once had to fix eight tire punctures in one week, courtesy of driving down the rough road to our house.

The-RoadThe infamous road


4. We were completely without running water for a couple of days once, when heavy rain caused landslides and a shift in the ground beneath the house, resulting in the water cistern breaking off.

Uh-ohNot good, the broken water cistern


5. A particularly adventurous kitty (appropriately named ‘Demon’) darted between Pete’s feet and outside while the door was momentarily open. Pete searched for a couple hours to no avail, and even slept on the couch, waiting to hear any meows in the night. Demon wandered in the next day nonchalantly, as cats do, completely unaware of the panic he caused. (When we later heard from the home owner, she said: “Don’t worry! He does that all the time!”)

DemonWould you trust a cat named Demon?


6. Some houses were without modern appliances – two houses without microwaves, and one without a shower. (Okay, so maybe this isn’t so adventurous, but it definitely required some adjustment.)

7. While in town one day, we got a stressed phone call from a neighbor we knew that our house alarm had gone off. Pete flew back home around windy roads and was panicked to find a van parked in front of the house, wary of what it was doing there. It thankfully turned out to only be one of the neighbors we hadn’t met yet! We never did find out what set the alarm off, but were happy to know we had people looking out for us and that everything was safe.

8. Pete has had to dispose of one dead chicken, a dead cat (courtesy of a dog we were taking care of), and a live mouse caught in a trap we set.

MousePoor fella, we did set him free though…


9. Two weeks into one of our favorite house sits in beautiful British Columbia, I tore my achilles tendon. Because of our remote location we had to drive 1 hour to the nearest clinic only to be told that we needed to turn around and drive to another town 3 hours away (including a ferry-ride) the next day. Needless to say, it was a painful night and 6 weeks thereafter.

Torn-AchillesThe pain drugs are responsible for that smile


So maybe things haven’t been all rainbows and ice-cream, but we consider it all just a part of the adventure! And these things could have happened anywhere, to anybody, at anytime – we might as well endure them when exploring a fabulous new location across the globe.

Especially when it gives us amazing moments in locations such as these…

Roatan-SunsetRoatΓ‘n at dusk


Ireland-house-sitOur house sit at an Irish 10th century manor

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49 Comments... Read them below or add one of your own
  • April 27 2012

    Another great post from inside the wonderful (mostly) world of housesitting. We’re hoping to do our first housesitting in Nicaragua soon. Fingers crossed!
    Trans-Americas Journey recently posted..Sailing Stones – The Racetrack, Death Valley National Park, California

    • April 28 2012

      Ooh – fingers crossed for you definitely! I hope it works out!

  • April 27 2012

    I don’t know what you’re talking about. These things never happen in Canada. You’re still famous as the only person to ever tear their Achilles on Canadian soil.
    Your trade-off pictures do make it seem like a worthwhile endeavor though.
    Steve recently posted..Angry Birds in New York

    • April 28 2012

      Haha! I’M FAMOUS??! First I heard of it. I hope it comes with a prize of Old Dutch Potato Chips and Canadian Club Whiskey delivered to me in Turkey. πŸ™‚

      Despite all of this, it is still our favorite way to travel. So yeah, I’d say it’s worthwhile. πŸ™‚

  • April 27 2012

    You two have had quite the adventures!! I love it. πŸ™‚

  • A Montrealer Abroad
    April 27 2012

    So, Pete is the appointed responsible for all dead things? πŸ˜‰ Works that way in my marriage too, haha!

    I guess housesitting isn’t that different from staying in your own home – these kinds of problems could’ve happened whether you were in Turkey or Canada!

    • April 28 2012

      It is written into our marriage contract (along with other important things in my favor)!

      It really isn’t that different at all, we’ve owned a home and vehicle, etc. before, and almost any of these things could have happened to us anywhere. We just happen to be in some new fascinating places when they happen, instead of our Canadian suburb. πŸ™‚

  • Bwahaha! I can’t believe 450 days… stating the obvious, that’s well over a year! Love those last two photos, btw.

    • April 28 2012

      I know, I couldn’t believe it when we added it up too! Well, half of a year was in one place so that helps. I’m sure you two have some good stories to share as well…

  • Joe W
    April 27 2012

    Quite the experiences these seem to had been. Just like you say at the end of the post, “it is part of the experience”.

    The great moments make up easily for most of the sour moments I guess.

    That last picture of the house in Ireland looks kind of scary, were there any ghosts in it? JK πŸ˜‰

    • April 28 2012

      The great moments OVERWHELM the sour ones. Like we said, this was over 450 days worth of housesitting, and most of these things could have happened to us in our old home too! (Except for maybe the bear. And we had an address and a shower. :))

      No ghosts that we knew of…but it WAS old enough (dated back to the 10th century), so I suppose it was possible!

  • Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)
    April 27 2012

    Well, you certainly have highlighted the hidden side of housesitting! I suppose a few dust-ups every now and then are a fair trade considering some of those views you have enjoyed.

    My husband and I are currently planning an upcoming RTW trip, and we’ve been thinking about throwing our hats into the housesitting ring. I’m off to check of your Housesitting 101 post for more details!

    • April 28 2012

      I’d still say it’s more than a fair trade, the majority of days are pretty easy going and the dust-ups are few…especially considering we’ve been at this for 450 days and counting!

      I hope it works out for you guys! Please let us know if you have any questions about it.

  • Margyle
    April 27 2012

    Sounds like you’ve had some wild times… I don’t know if I could handle that kind of responsibility:p

    • April 28 2012

      Some of them are easier then others, but yeah, the rare occasion does throw some interesting curveballs. It is a very different way to travel!

  • April 28 2012

    Doesn’t sound too bad to me, all things considered. Plus, what fun would it be without some adventures every now and then??
    Amanda recently posted..Postcards from New Zealand

    • April 28 2012

      Exactly. We don’t consider it “bad” at all, it’s just all a part of the housesitting package. It is still our preferred method, even if it means being tracked by bears or chasing dogs for miles. πŸ™‚

  • Abby
    April 27 2012

    This made me chuckle! (All except your Achilles heel ouch.) I loved not having an address — and roaming country dogs. But I draw the line at bears!

    • April 28 2012

      Damn but we wish we would have seen the bear! We just heard him, and went quickly down the stairs to see him but he was gone. πŸ™

  • Katrina
    April 27 2012

    I’m so glad you set the little mouse free. πŸ™‚

    • April 28 2012

      Yeah, poor little guy was so terrified. πŸ™

  • jan
    April 28 2012

    What I love about house sitting is trying out a different life. Ending up at some outlandish place and seeing what it is like to live there. You are pros at it!

    • April 29 2012

      That is our favorite part about it too – trying out a new way of living in a new place. Someday maybe we’ll find one where we change the locks and don’t let the home owners back in… πŸ™‚

  • April 28 2012

    At which tyre exactly did you start to think the tyre gods were against you? Personally I would have given up on driving after the second flat…
    Laurence recently posted..In Photos: Gaudi’s Barcelona

    • April 29 2012

      I actually thought the tire-fixer-guy was scamming us and not really fixing it, but each time he pulled out a new nail or something (there was construction on the road). Good thing it was only $3 to fix each time!

  • April 29 2012

    Ah, It is no fun getting injured. Especially when you are in a new place. Well you definitely were not bored during your travels.

    • April 30 2012

      There is never ever a dull moment, that is for sure!

  • April 29 2012

    Oh that manor is TOTALLY worth it.
    Sarah Somewhere recently posted..Travel Gear (Uncut)

    • April 30 2012

      Yeah, that was a pretty spectacular housesit, for so many reasons. πŸ™‚

  • jan
    April 29 2012

    Thank goodness the tyres only cost $3 to fix. In Australia they are about $25. I bet you wished the cat owner had warned you that Demon could escape and not to worry!

    • April 30 2012

      Yes, it would have been nice to know that! We always worry about these wiley pets getting into trouble, when we aren’t familiar with their particular habits.

  • April 29 2012

    Great post, guys! As our housesits are adding up, we should consider writing a similar post – there have been several ‘adventurous’ during all our housesits, including some… let’s say ‘mishaps’ that we don’t want the homeowners to find out about though πŸ˜‰
    Dani | Globetrottergirls recently posted..Polaroid of the week: Monks receiving their morning alms in Battambang, Cambodia

    • April 30 2012

      Haha, yes maybe best to keep those off of the blog post! And if we wrote about ALL our crazy adventures, we could probably make it into a five part series! πŸ™‚

  • Brooke vs. the World
    April 29 2012

    Haha, wow! So glad to see this post up as we had gotten the preview at TBU πŸ™‚ Crazy times, but something I wish to do.

    • April 30 2012

      Some have gone completely smoothly without issue at all, and then others can be a little crazy. I hope you get your own crazy adventures too! πŸ™‚

  • Laura @Travelocafe
    April 29 2012

    Yes, I would trust a cat named Demon… but I guess that’s because I am a crazy cat lover.

    • April 30 2012

      He lived up to his name, that is for sure! But we loved him just the same. πŸ™‚

  • April 30 2012

    OMG those certainly are some adventures! I really need to get on to trying housesitting some time… no shower would be OK as long as there was a nice hot bath πŸ™‚
    Jade – recently posted..Blog Roundup April 2012

    • May 1 2012

      There was a nice hot bath, but I was still DYING to take a shower after 3 weeks. Never thought that “not having a shower” was something I’d have to be worried about with a housesit!

  • April 30 2012

    First the dogs, then the Demon cat and then a rat (or mouse?) Definitely an adventure for you guys indeed! So sorry to hear about your tendon I know how much it sucks to be on crutches.
    Alexa Meisler recently posted..52 Tips for Responsible and Sustainable Tourism

    • May 1 2012

      The crutches weren’t the worst part unfortunately – over a year later and it still bothers me sometimes! I think I will never be rid of the problem πŸ™

  • Jeremy Branham
    April 30 2012

    Those are definitely some adventures. Pets have to be the one thing I would most enjoy and be concerned about. A lot of the other stuff could happen with traveling in general. However, I am sure all of this has been worth it!

    • May 1 2012

      Yes, the pets are a constant worry for us, especially at the start when we don’t know their quirky habits (and they ALL have something!) But we used to have pets when we were settled, and so we REALLY enjoy that about housesitting as well as we miss having them!

  • May 1 2012

    I will house sit soon, I think to get through the craziness I may have to do it with someone else.
    Ayngelina recently posted..Aloha Molokai

    • May 2 2012

      Some of them have been smooth sailing all the way, but yes, we’ve had a bit of adventure. And I am thankful to have Pete (especially for taking care of all the dead stuff).

  • May 3 2012

    I think what we will end up doing is putting together a photoshoot to make us look more wholesome (if it comes down to it).

    Those locales look amazing and it looks like is totally worth is.

    • May 4 2012

      Have you guys tried yet? It really is worth it.

  • Ali
    May 4 2012

    Ok so maybe I’m rethinking the idea of housesitting. Not sure I can handle all of that craziness. But maybe. Something to keep thinking about at least….

  • Wow, way to end your article on a high note with the sunset pic and Irish manor! As I was reading I was thinking, maybe house sitting isn’t for me and then I saw your last two photos – yeah, I’m game!
    Mary @ Green Global Travel recently posted..DESTINATIONS: Conquering 27 Waterfalls in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

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