“Falling in love again, never wanted to. What am I to do. Can’t help it.”  That old Marlene Dietrich ballad reflects the way I feel when I think about our recent housesitting experiences. We knew we liked pets. We just didn’t know we are complete saps for them. With every new housesit we find ourselves falling in love all over again. This week it’s with a rainbow of cats, two sharp Terriers and a fluffy, if willful, Bichon. It’s been fun to play with the dogs and cats and become acquainted with their unique personalities. While it is always sad to say goodbye, there will be another sweet furry face waiting for us at the next house. This suits us because, as young retirees, we can enjoy the company of pets without being housebound by our own.

Housesitting Gives Us a Sense of Purpose

Warm fuzzies are not limited to the animals in the house. Housesitting gives us purpose. It is gratifying to help a harried, working family enjoy a vacation. When they return home, it’s fun to welcome them back to a home that is clean, restocked, and has some nice surprises waiting to soften the return to ordinary life. Being older gives us a perspective beyond ‘what’s in it for me?’ and allows us to pay forward a feeling of mutual joy and giving. Plus, we secretly enjoy our new identities as the peripatetic Auntie and Uncle Poppins.

Every Housesit is an Adventure

Applying for a housesit it is like a game of ‘spin-the-travel-bottle.’ Our next destination is determined by who chooses us. Often we go to places we would never find in a guidebook. Regular people to talk to us because we live there. We come away with a deeper understanding of the culture and history of the places where we stay because we are instantly integrated into a community. And we can really enjoy the journey now that we get to travel slowly and stay awhile.

Housesitting Lets Us Live a Normal Life

Hotel rooms, no matter how nice, just never feel right. There’s an artificiality that keeps me sleeping with one eye open. Staying in a home, even if it’s not our own, just feels right. There’s nothing nicer than peering into a refrigerator when you want something to eat. You can sit and read in a comfortable chair. You can stay home to watch a movie and make a bowl of popcorn if you choose. That kind of comfort is something money can’t buy in a hotel. As we are not able to keep up the pace with the 20-somethings any longer, having a home to retire to at night is priceless.

We Save a Bundle by Housesitting

Saving money is the obvious reason why we chose to housesit but we were surprised to discover it’s not the most important reason. Even so, it is a reason worth mentioning. Our savings go beyond the cost of a hotel room. As a housesitter we have a place to store and prepare food, saving us from having to eat exclusively in restaurants. That’s good for both the wallet and the waistline. We don’t have to pay for a laundry service because we can wash clothes in the home. We don’t spend as much on communication and entertainment because there is usually internet and cable service included. Sometimes we are also given use of a car and that really cuts our transportation cost down a LOT. Living on a fixed income now, we really appreciate being able to have a great adventure and to do it within our means.

Bottom line for us is this: You can’t be a tourist all the time. It’s exhausting. You get tired of seeing yet another castle, cathedral or museum. Caring for pets and a family home gives us responsibilities and the opportunity to help somebody else; bonus benefits which are gratifying to long term travelers like us.