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International House Sitting – A World of Opportunity [updated 2024]

We would like to introduce our Guest Writer Vanessa Anderson.  Vanessa with her partner Ian Usher,  are full-time international house sitters and publishers of House Sitting – The Ultimate Lifestyle Magazine. Vanessa and Ian have been travelling the world continuously since 2013. Having sold most of their possessions, they prefer the freedom to explore the world, living as locals for extended periods in different countries.

International House Sitting

International House Sitting
Vanessa house sitting in the U.K.

Why is it that we spend so much of our time, working hard to create a secure existence, and then crave those one or two-week vacations where we can escape? It seems that security is limiting, and “the escape” is when we feel free, relaxed and energized!

What a contradiction!

I know I spent much of my working life aspiring to “escape the rat race” so that I could travel the world, and experience different cultures and experiences.

But I never dreamed that I would be able to do this full-time before retirement, and work remotely to fund this adventure – without a win on the lottery!

So when I first discovered international house sitting, I couldn’t quite believe that this would be my ticket to a freedom lifestyle.

International House Sitting
Bocas del Toro in Panama

I’d already started the process of breaking ties by selling my house at the end of a long-term relationship. Then I gave up my job to go and live with my new partner Ian, on a small island in Panama. I hadn’t thought much beyond living on the proceeds of my property sale and had pushed into the background the reality that this money wouldn’t sustain me indefinitely.

It seemed I had escaped one trap but put myself in a new one. The only difference being that it was a much nicer environment- a small island in the Panamanian archipelago of Bocas del Toro. I guess I’d become an expat, but I still needed to find a way to create an income or to learn how to travel inexpensively.

This became more of a necessity after Ian and I decided we really wanted to travel the world while we were still young and fit enough to actually enjoy the experience.

House sitting enabled this to happen.

We’d used house sitters to look after the island home when we left on visa renewal runs, so the concept wasn’t new to us. It just took a while for us to realize the amazing opportunity it could offer us too if we used it as a way to travel less expensively.

Cutting out accommodation costs can really have a very positive effect on your travel budget! And it’s not just the lodgings, it’s the gas, electric, and wifi. I was surprised to discover that sometimes even a car is provided!

At this point, it’s important to say that the primary purpose of house sitting isn’t to get free accommodation!

We’d used house sitters to look after our home and our jungle dog, Campesino – who while being Head of Island Security, in reality, wouldn’t have been very effective at all! So we knew the benefits of using house sitters to oversee the property and pet care.

So we knew that house sitting came with responsibilities and we were prepared for that part of the exchange. We considered it a very fair swap and understood the win-win-win nature of this trust-based agreement. Great for the homeowners, ideal for us, and the best ever result for the pets!

We also thought it would be a wonderful way to help other homeowners trapped by their homes and pets. It would allow them to go off on their own travel adventures, while we got to live in their homes, with their pets (we needed our cuddles), experiencing the locality like a resident – essentially living like a local.

International House Sitting
Vanessa and Ian Hiking the Grand Canyon

So that’s how we started out. We became full-time international house sitters and worked out ways to minimize our travel costs by staying in one continent, or an area for a substantial length of time. In Central America for instance, we were able to visit 5 different countries, and house-sit in 3 of them, travelling inexpensively between locations by bus.

Our money now goes much further, and we’ve had the time and space to work on other ways of supplementing our income.

International House Sitting
International House Sitting
House Sitting in Australia

In four years we’ve travelled to the USA, China, India, Australia, Abu Dhabi, Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, Botswana and Barbados. We experienced our first extreme weather event, a devastating Cyclone in Fiji; we hiked back and forth across the Grand Canyon; and spent a month travelling around Cuba. We’ve dived with sharks, climbed numerous mountains, been to the Victoria Falls and experienced a once-in-a-lifetime mobile safari in the Okavango Delta.

Our lives are full of travel opportunities and experiences, and we don’t expect that to stop anytime soon. That’s because international house sitting is becoming more and more popular, with more homeowners in new and interesting locations, recognizing the benefits of using house and pet sitters to look after their homes.

International House Sitting
Mobile Safari Set up – Botswana

House sitting truly does open a world of possibility and opportunity. I would never have expected that for three months this year, we’d be house-sitting on the edge of a river in Botswana, watching hippos just a few meters away for our evening entertainment.

International House Sitting
Elephant watching in Botswana

We would never have been able to afford to travel to Botswana, the luxury safari capital of the world. But house-sitting made it possible!


More about Vanessa and Ian

As well as the magazine, Vanessa and Ian have created an online video course – Become a House Sitting Pro – which will take you through all the stages of becoming a successful house sitter, and provide valuable templates and checklists needed when applying for and managing sits.

They also work remotely as TEFL English teachers, helping others get started on a similar path.

Check out more here:

Download House Sitting Magazine:


35% Discount TEFL 120 Hour Course – use code HSM35:              https://housesittingmagazine.com/myTEFL


We thank Vanessa and Ian for a great article on House Sitting and the opportunities it can present for you to live an exciting life full of adventures.  Have you tried House Sitting?

Travel Insurance

We highly recommend that you take out travel insurance on all of your house-sitting adventures.


Thanks for stopping by and welcome to To Travel Too – Australia’s top Baby Boomer lifestyle and travel blog, with an international worldwide audience in mind, run by the married couple, freelance writers and full-time travellers Jane and Duncan Dempster-Smith. Come with us as we explore the world. Our two mantras that we live by are 'chase time not money' and 'age is no barrier when it comes to travel'.

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