House Sitting in The Country ~

I am currently enjoying the best house sitting assignment ever – on a vineyard overlooking a beautiful valley right in the heart of Oregon wine (and farm) country.  On a clear day, you truly can see forever.

For ten days of chicken wrangling, bird feeding, garden watering and loving-up a grey-haired-handsome-boy-kitty named Winston, I am living la pura vida in the hills of Dundee.  I am also learning the ins and outs of rural living.  And, in case you were wondering, life is pretty good out here in the country.  And just a little bit different than this city gal is used to. Not a Starbucks in sight, but the wine is top notch!

The only downside so far?  The Green Acres theme song keeps playing in my head.

And now you are humming it too.  You’re welcome!

I don’t know if the country life is the life for me, but I am savoring every moment of my country adventure.  Here are a few snaps I took the other day.

You know you are in the country when…

Fashion takes on a whole new meaning.

Fashion takes on a whole new meaning.

Maybe they make shoes to go with the outfit?

Maybe they make shoes to go with the outfit?

Making hay while the sun shines.  You've gotta be quick in Oregon

Making hay while the sun shines. You’ve gotta be quick in Oregon

 

So, a gnome wanders into a vineyard...

So, a gnome wanders into a vineyard…

Never seen this in the city.

Never seen this in the city.

farmcountry5

Call now before the sign is covered in weeds.

Yes indeed!

Yes indeed!

And my personal favorite ~

Farmer humor

Farmer humor

Stay tuned for more adventures.

Cheers!

Create Your Roving Retirement – Part 2: Cheap Sleeps

Retirement travel doesn’t have to mean package tours, luxury cruises or high dollar hotels.  In fact, it’s my experience that if you live more like a local and less like a tourist, you can save a lot of money and have a much richer experience.  Here are a few great ways to stretch your travel dollar that I’ve mentioned before and are worth exploring.

Live Like a Local – Sleep Here

Somewhere in Spain...Nancy Slept Here

Somewhere in Spain…Nancy Slept Here

Housing will probably be your biggest travel expense.  These unique options will not only save a lot of money, but allow you to really connect with a location:

WWOOFING –   World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms.  Volunteers trade farm duties for room and board. Accommodations are simple and the work can be hard at times, but if the chance to harvest grapes in Italy, learn how to make goat cheese in France, or get your hands dirty on an organic herb garden in New Zealand appeals to you, then WWOOFING is the way to go.   A surprising number of people in their 50’s, 60‘s, and beyond are signing up.  www.wwoofusa.org

Chicken wrangling...how hard can it be?

Chicken wrangling…how hard can it be?

 

Hosteling –  If you were that backpacking twenty-something, you probably remember hostels as cheap, dorm-style rooms with bunk beds and rented sheets, a bath down the hall and a party-hardy crowd.  Not a gray hair in sight.  They weren’t called youth hostels for nothing.   Much has changed.  Today more than 15% of hostelers are over 50 and the number is growing.  Now offering private rooms with baths, online booking, fresh and free linens and more, today’s hostels are catering to the mature traveler on a budget. Two things about hosteling have not changed – they are still inexpensive and a wonderful way to meet other travelers.   www.hihostels.com

Workamping –  For some folks, hitting the road in a motorhome is at the top of their retirement wish list.  But, it’s not as cheap as you might think.  When you budget for gas and campground fees, you could pay more to park you RV than you would for a moderately priced hotel room.   One unique and fun way to make your RV travel more affordable is by becoming a workamper.  Through online sites like Workamper (www.workamper.com) and Camp Host (www.camphost.org), travelers can find and apply for thousands of seasonal and year round jobs.  Many RVers work during the summer season as camp hosts, collecting  fees from campers, directing them to available sites, answering questions and watching for problems.  In return they receive a free campsite and often a small stipend.

House Sitting – Short and long time house sitting opportunities are available worldwide through online sites like House Carers (www.housecarers.com) and Trusted House Sitters (www.trustedhousesitters.com).  Most house sitting jobs involve some form of pet care and modest home maintenance like watering the plants and bringing in the mail.  Homeowners feel secure that their home is occupied and taken care of in their absence.  You get a great place to stay for free and the chance to live like a local.  Win-Win.

Remember, your first gig doesn’t have to be half way around the world.  Dip your toes into the shallow water before you make the plunge by starting closer to home.   If “Green Acres is the place for you”, why not spend a weekend getting dirt under your fingernails and sore muscles on a local farm?  If you think professional house sitting might be the way to travel, then offer your services to friends and family in the U.S.   You’ll gain valuable references and get a chance to see how comfortable you really are sleeping in a strange bed and picking up Fido’s poop.

What’s your favorite way to travel on the cheap?  We’d love to share your ideas and experiences right here on the blog. Leave us a comment.

See you on the road!

Nancy

 

Create Your Roving Retirement … Five Fun Ways to Kickstart Your Dream

“Listen to the Musn’t’s child, Listen to the Don’t’s. Listen to the Shouldn’t’s, the Impossibles, the Won’t’s. Listen to the Never Haves, then Listen close to me. ANYthing can happen, child, ANYthing can Be.”
Shel Silverstein (1930-1999);Poet, Songwriter, Musician

Maybe you were one of those 20 year old free spirits who stuffed everything they could into an over-sized backpack and set out to see the world before you settled down.  Or maybe, like most of us, you only dreamed about that kind of travel and then stepped straight onto the well-worn path already laid out for you – work, marriage, kids.   Your travel dream was put on the shelf and after a few years, the backpack went to the Goodwill.  A big trip became a week at Disney World.   It’s funny how that happens.

But those dreams never fully go away do they?  Like long lost friends, they lurk quietly in the back of our minds only to pop up as fanciful daydreams while we’re slogging through a mind-numbing day in the office or waiting in the carpool line.

What I know for sure is that for many of us, somewhere around 50 is when those old dreams start to re-surface in earnest.  Gone for a while, but not forgotten.  That travel gypsy is still alive and well.  A little older, a lot wiser, and eager to explore the world.

Don’t worry, there’s still time.

A growing number of people are becoming vagabond retirees.  People in their 50’s, 60’s, 70’s are packing up their new, high-tech backpacks and heading out to become citizens of the world.

Want to join them?  It’s easy.  And it doesn’t have to blow your hard-earned retirement nest egg either.

Traveling on a retiree budget does require thinking outside the box, lots of research, some advance planning, a sense of adventure and a willingness to be flexible.

Don’t wait until you are officially retired to set your travel dreams in motion.  Include them in your planning now.  Here are a few simple ideas to get you started:

1.  Create a Travel Dream Board.  It might sound hokey, but it’s fun, it’s easy and it works!  Buy a large piece of posterboard, gather up lots of magazines, travel brochures, old photos, scissors and a glue stick.  It’s as simple as cutting out pictures and pasting them onto the board.  Don’t over-think this.  Cut out everything that catches your eye – beach sunsets, different cultures, village life, bustling cities, historical settings or mountain views.  Can you see yourself in the picture?  Then it belongs on your board.  I call this visual goal setting.

2.  Make a Wish List.   Use the images on your Dream Board to create a Wish List.  Here’s where you get more specific.  What are your must haves for a travel or retirement living destination?  Sleepy village or bustling city?  Beach or mountains?  Easy access or remote?  The options are endless, but honing this list to your top 5 or 6 must haves will give you a great jumping off point for your initial research.

3.  Do Your Research.  Whether you need resources for small hotels or hostels while backpacking through Central America, house swaps in France, or which visas are required for a trek across Tibet, it’s all available on the internet.  Find out where the best airports are, what ground transportation is cheap and easy, who speaks English, what the local currency is.

4.  Become an Arm Chair Traveler.  Read and use the country and city travel guides from Rick Steves and Lonely Planet.  Check out books from your local library.  Reading about the adventures of buying and fixing up a run down farm in Portugal, living the gypsy life on a boat in the Caribbean, or women walking all 500 miles of the Camino de Santiago, is very inspiring and educational.

5.  Get Connected.   Find and connect with the folks who are blazing the trail ahead of you.  Ask questions and get the scoop from people who have been there, done that.  It’s helpful to know the good, the bad, and the “never again” about a place before you go.  Start reading travel blogs.  Many are filled with first hand information, great personal stories and links to more resources.

I hope these ideas give you a good starting point.  I have LOTS more information and some great ideas and resources that I’ve learned from all my research that I’ll be sharing in future posts so stay tuned.  There is so much inspiration and adventure to be found in the planning process.  Let’s get going! bridge

See you on the road,

Nancy

Not Your Mother’s Retirement ~

Image

Last Fall I was invited to be a contributor in yet another book on retirement.  Goodness knows I’ve done enough research to call myself an expert on ways to retire and live La Vida Cheapo, but when the good folks at Seller’s Publishing came calling on this new book, Not Your Mother’s Retirement, they seemed to think maybe I was one too. They asked me to contribute an article called Just a Backpack and Rollie Retirement.  I loved their title, so of course I said yes.

Not Your Mother’s Retirement is a user-friendly collection of 20 essays by distinguished retirement experts, aimed at women in their 40s and 50s, to help them prepare for a successful retirement while they still have enough time to do so. It’s packed with valuable information on financial planning, housing, work, travel, health, volunteering, lifelong learning, caregiving, spirituality, being single, and staying active in retirement.

The impressive list of contributors includes Sally Abrahms, Marci Alboher, M. Cindy Hounsell, Julie Jason, Suzanne Braun Levine, Kali Lightfoot, Dorian Mintzer, and Shirley Sagawa, and ME.  Someday, I’ll be listed on the cover too.  Right now, I’m thrilled to have 1200 words on the inside.  I hope they inspire lots of women to go for the gusto now and in retirement.

This is the perfect book for anyone who wants to begin planning now to make the most of her later years! Check it out, it should be in a bookstore near you around March 1st.  My retirement would look a whole lot different if I had any kind of guidance or information like this twenty years ago.  That, I know for sure.

All contributors generously provided their essays on a pro-bono basis as all the royalties from the sale of the book will benefit cancer research and prevention.  The book was edited by Mark Chimsky.   I’m proud to be in such good company.

Cheers!

Nancy

 

 

Two For the Road ~ 5 traits that make a great travel partner

I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you ~

I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you ~

 Let the Adventure Begin.

The photo above accompanied by the caption “Let the Adventure Begin” was how hubs and I chose to announce our marriage in 2003.  I thought the couple in this photo looked like a perfect team – happy partners in crime and in life.

Whether you are a duo on the Road to Zanzibar or the Road of Life, traveling with a partner can be tricky business.  One of the things I love about my hubby is that we travel well together.  As we get closer to heading out on our own Two For the Road adventures I’ve been thinking quite a bit about what makes a really good team.  For me it comes down to a few very important traits.

Here are the top five on my list ~

Every great team needs…

1.  A Yes Man, a partner who says Hell Yes or Why Not to whatever crazy idea you come up with.  Someone who is all in for a good time or an adventure and doesn’t sweat the details.  When you say “Just shut up and get in the car.”  That’s exactly what they do.  They might even roll down the window and hang their head out to feel the breeze.  Oh, wait.  That’s the dog.

2.  A partner who is calm during your storm.  Like the time a few years ago when Amtrak cancelled our train with no warning – just taped up a hand printed paper sign “No Train Today”.  No train?  Really?  I’m on a five day vacation!  I need the train TODAY!   That’s when you need a partner who stands back calmly while you throw an earth-shattering-all out-but-still-lady-like-bitch fit after the Amtrak service person says, “Ok. So, do you want to cancel now or do you want to come back tomorrow?”  and, then said partner calmly steps up, takes your arm, and says “Let’s go find a Happy Hour and come back in the morning”.  Happy Hour?  Ok.  I love Happy Hour.

3.  The guy in the rose colored glasses.  On those days when one of you is less than your shining best – let’s just call it major-ass cranky-pants and your partner looks over and says  “Have I told you today how crazy I am about you?”  Whoa!  Hello Dolly! Just the right words at the right time.  Well, rightbackattcha Big Boy.

4.  A comedian and a straight man.  You know, like George and Gracie, Lucy and Ricky, Will and Grace.  Every great comedy duo has an instigator, the comedian with the cockeyed point of view and the straight man who makes it all seem funny.  They are a finely oiled machine.  They play off each other.  They give as good as they get.  They make each other laugh.

5.  And, finally, you’ve each gotta be a switch hitter.  A great partnership works when you can switch roles easily and as often as required.  When you’re at the end of your rope – he’s just getting his strength.  When he’s too pooped to participate, you slow your frantic pace and stop to smell the roses.  It’s a balancing act and it works best when each person is tuned in to the other, to the moment, to the goal at hand, and to the bigger picture.

And so, ten years later, I say – Let The Adventure Continue.  We’re two for the road and I cannot wait to see where the road will lead us.

“If ever there is a tomorrow when we’re not together… there is something we must always remember.  We are braver than we believe, stronger than we seem and smarter than we think.  But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… we’ll always be together.”  Christopher Robin

I originally published a version of this post back in 2012.  It seemed like a perfect post for Valentine’s Day so I dusted it off, prettied it up a bit and thought I’d share it again.

Cheers!

Nancy

What’s in a Word? Sometimes more than you thought.

This fun post is courtesy of my friends over at International Living

It made me smile because I could really relate.  I’ve been struggling to become conversant in Spanish for the past six months.  If you want to know about mi gato o mi familia o mi casa, you’re in luck, but try for anything more meaningful and tenemos un problema grande.

These Spanish Words Are Not Your Friends…
By Tara Lowry

The first time I went to a Spanish speaking country I figured that needing to know the language was over-rated. I jumped on a plane bound for Spain with an exaggerated sense of confidence, and a tiny phrase book that I assumed would cover everything I needed.

After landing in Madrid, I found my way to the train that would take me to my destination: the beautiful city of Seville in Andalusia.

Despite the jet lag, I was feeling pretty chipper until someone came to tell me that I was in the wrong seat. The number I had on the ticket matched where I was sitting so I couldn’t understand the problem or where I was supposed to be, if not there. It turns out I was in the wrong car and it took them half the trip to communicate it to me, much to their frustration and my bewilderment.

When the taxi that I took from the train station stopped outside of my new home in Seville, the driver said something to me and pointed at the door. I assumed he was in a hurry and wanted me to get out. After nearly being run over by a motorbike and being yelled at by both drivers, I realized that he was telling me to wait to open the door: “No abras la puerta.”

I enrolled in a Spanish language school the next day.

As soon as I started taking classes, I fell in love with El Español. I was delighted to realize how many Spanish words sounded similar to the English versions. My teacher called them cognates: artist—artista; tourist—turista; university—universidad; family—familia. It was so easy! (Or so I thought…) Whenever I didn’t know the Spanish word for something I just said it in English but made small adaptations to make it sound more Spanish.

That was until a couple of months later when I unintentionally made a big announcement at a dinner party hosted by my new Spanish beau’s parents. After accidentally spilling wine all over his mother, I attempted to apologize and convey my embarrassment. I told her (in front of everyone) that I was “embarazada.” I found out the hard way about false cognates and how to say the word “pregnant” in Spanish. It turns out that even though a word sounds similar in English and Spanish, the meanings can be very, very different.

This would not be my only encounter with false cognates or “false friends” as they are also known. I also discovered (to the great amusement of my Spanish friends) that:

Preservativos are not preservatives but rather condoms!

If someone asks you if you are “constipada,” they are asking if you have a cold or a stuffy nose.

If you want to say you are excited about something, say “emocionado/a” and not “excitado/a,” which means aroused.

“Molestar” is to bother or annoy. I learned this after a very confusing conversation where someone was telling me about his dislike of clowns…

“Ropa” is not rope. “Ropa” means “clothing”. I found this out when I attempted to ask a storekeeper to cut off a piece of string from a package I had just purchased. Not knowing the word for string I figured that “ropa” would be close enough. It wasn’t. I ended up asking him to cut off his clothes.

While it’s not necessary to be fluent when you live in a Spanish-speaking country, having a base sure helps. That little bit of grammar and vocabulary you learn will come in handy in unimaginable situations. Plus the more you learn, the richer your new life will become. Just remember: making a bit of a fool out of yourself is all part of the process (and, as I prove, can lead to some very funny stories). And watch out for those false friends! madridrestaurant I totally agree with Tara’s comment that the ability to converse makes your travel experience so much richer.  It’s scary to stumble through a conversation and nobody (me) enjoys playing the fool, but Tara’s experience inspires me.   Who knows, you might make a new friend and get to sample the delicious ceviche.

¡ Salud! Nos vemos en el camino

Nancy

Gracias International Living for allowing me to share this post.

Purpose, Passion & Reinventing Retirement ~

What are you doing for the next 20 years?

Retirement means very different things to each of us.   For some, it’s the old-style American Dream of what I call “I don’t do very much, and I do it slowly” where you work to a certain age, cash in your chips and take up a life of leisure.  No work.  No worries.  And certainly no responsibilities.

But, here’s the rub.  Here’s what’s missing in this picture for me, and apparently for a lot of other retirees and boomers who are just starting to think about what retirement might mean for them.   Purpose.  I’ve talked to so many women who’ve been retired one or two years and while they’ve enjoyed the freedom to toss out the alarm clock or sip coffee and read the paper when others are lining up like lemmings for the morning commute, these friends are starting to feel the itch to do something more.  Something meaningful.  Something that feeds the soul, or the creative spirit, or maybe even leaves a tiny reminder that we were here and it made a difference.

These days lots of people are re-inventing retirement.   Many are leaving old careers to create new ones.  On their own terms.  Remember when we told our kids “You can be anything you want to be.”?   Well, we said it but we didn’t always believe it, and many of us (me) didn’t actually do it ourselves either.   I had bills to pay and work, meaningful or not, was how I paid them.  Today’s retirement is our second chance to be anything we want to be and we’re going for it – by becoming senior entrepreneurs, re-claiming long lost passions like painting, fly-fishing, or running.   Some of us are exploring new creative outlets: cooking, travel blogging and anything else we can dream up.  Yes indeed, our generation is once again doing what we do best –  making waves and creating change.  We are turning that old-style retirement model upside down.  And why not?  We’ve got 20 or 30 good years ahead of us after we turn in our office card key and name badge.  Let’s make them the best damn years of our lives.  Lives full of passion, purpose and meaning.  Let’s be busier than ever creating joy and spreading inspiration.   Let’s make a difference and have fun while we’re doing it.

That’s  exactly what these recent winners of the Encore.org Purpose Prize are doing ~

A hearty High-5 to Ed Nicholson, the 71 year old founder of Project Healing Waters.   Ed, a retired military man, founded Healing Waters to help disabled soldiers and vets heal from the physical, mental & emotional toll of war through fly fishing.  Cast by cast, line by line, his organization is making a difference in lives across America.

Congratulations to Nancy Armitage who launched an encore career that combines her professional experience, creative joy and family history when she created Memories in the Making.   Supported by the Alzheimer’s Association, Nancy’s organization brings the power of expression to those who have lost their words due to Alzheimer’s.  Through Nancy’s inspiration, art becomes their voice.

And finally, a You Go Girl to Vicki Thomas, who, at 64, was a successful marketing and PR executive, but felt something was missing in her life.  When she saw a CNN news story about Dale Beatty and John Gallina, two injured Iraq vets who where changing lives, she knew immediately what she had been missing:  a higher purpose.  Vicki picked up the phone and cold-called them with an offer of help and a desire to make a difference by joining their Purple Heart Homes project where among their many services, they are adapting foreclosed homes for wounded soldiers.

This is not your grandmother’s retirement.   Our generation is living longer and stronger.  We’re taking up causes big and small.  We’re sharing our experience and our expertise. We’re going back to school.  We’re heading out to see the world.  We’re re-igniting our creative spark.  Just like the Raging Grannies, we’re making noise.  We won’t go quietly into the night.   We’re starting a Retirement Revolution and I want to be part of it.

How about you?  Rocking chair or revolution?  Or, maybe a bit of both?

Want to learn more about what’s going on at Encore.org? Click on over to their website Read the fascinating stories of all the 2013 Purpose Prize winners here.

Cheers!

Nancy

 

 

 

 

 

 

What began as an idea for a diverting day trip for soldiers has evolved into Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF), the organization Nicholson, 71, founded to help disabled soldiers and veterans heal from the physical, mental and emotional toll of war through fly fishing.

Cast by cast, line by line, it’s reshaping the lives of thousands of veterans across the U.S. Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing now has 158 programs in 48 states as well as affiliates in Australia and Canada. In 2012 alone, 2,300 volunteers invested 122,000 hours to work with 4,000 wounded warriors.

– See more at: http://www.encore.org/ed-nicholson-0#sthash.JHVCHQhs.dpuf

Top Places to Retire ~ 2014

 Where ya gonna go?  What ya gonna do when you get there?  And, bottom line… how  ya gonna pay for it?

No work, no money, no worries.

No work, no money, no worries.

Those are the questions a whole bunch of retirees and soon-to-be retirees are asking.   These days, options for retirement are growing as rapidly as the number of boomers crossing the employment finish line.

Just when you need it, here’s a little information, food for thought and a few links to click through to help you explore some of this year’s top retirement havens.

Every year the team at International Living, Kathleen Peddicord of Live and Invest Overseas publish their lists of the top places to retire outside of the United States.   Creating these lists requires a fair amount of boots on the ground research and data analysis.  In the case of International Living, they publish what they call a Global Retirement Index where they measure eight categories:  cost of living, real estate, infrastructure, climate, real estate, special retirement benefits, ease of integration, infrastructure, and entertainment and amenities.  While they do look at hard numbers like annual rainfall and senior discounts, the cost of utilities and housing, what they provide is mainly a “qualitative” assessment.   A lot of this information comes directly from people who have their boots on the ground or their flip-flops in the sand.  Then IL analyzes the data and creates a ranking based on a point system with 100 being somewhere close to perfect.   From this they determine the top countries.  Bear in mind, that they are generally looking at a few specific towns, cities and regions within those countries.   While Ecuador (2013’s winner) ranks high as a country, most people live in or near a few specific locations like Cuenca, Cotacochi, Quito or the coast.  A few brave souls are blazing trails and leaving the relative safety and comfort of the cities and setting up camp in small towns, but they are giving up some of the ranking benefits of reliable internet, readily available good healthcare, etc. that many retirees feel is essential.  These types of reports generally cater to the moderately adventurous newbie and provide a great place to start.

International Living’s Top Ten Retirement Destinations for 2014 are… (drum roll please)

1.  Panama – which ranked 100 in special benefits and 91.2 overall

2.  Ecuador – which ranked 99 in special benefits, 100 in climate and 91.1 overall

3. Malaysia – No 100’s here but was rated 88.5 overall and a 95 health rating.

4.  Costa Rica –  Still suffers from infrastructure problems (75) and climate (77).  Rated 86.8 overall indicating lots of people like the security and pura vida lifestyle.

5.  Spain –  This one surprised me, but they ranked in the 90’s for real estate, health, infrastructure and entertainment/amenities.  Perhaps these offset the exchange rate.  Overall – 85.8

Others in the Top Ten?  Colombia – 84.2, Mexico – 84.2, Malta – 84.1, Uruguay – 83.7 and Thailand at 83.5.

According to US News who published Kathleen Peddicord’s list of 2014 top cities/countries, the winners are ~

1.  Coronado, Panama

2.  Languedoc, France

3.  Ambergris Caye, Belize

4.  Cuenca, Ecuador

5.  Chiang Mai, Thailand

6.  Puerto Vallerta, Mexico

7.  Granada, Nicaragua

8.  Medellin, Columbia

If, like hubs and I, you are looking for a quality retirement lifestyle where your retirement budget stretches farther, perhaps some these places are worth a look and maybe a visit.  I’ll be doing more research and reporting back with details so stay tuned.

See you on the road!

Nancy

P.S.  If you are currently living or have lived in any of these locations, I’d love to hear from you.   Nothing beats actual experience.  Thanks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Tips for Becoming Successful House Sitters

Perhaps you’ve noticed…

I’ve become more than a wee bit obsessed with the idea of becoming traveling house sitters.  I saw this one yesterday.

4 year dog, Marzipan and 30’s era house need sitting Jan 24 to Feb 3

We are retired couple who like travel but our sweet 26 pound Corgi, Marzi, would rather stay home. She is well trained and very friendly.  Marzi needs walk in the park facing house housesit2 every day. Longer walks are appreciated every few days. Keep the house secure when you are gone. Water a few house plants. Keep the fur off the rugs with a Roomba.

House has high-speed wireless. We are walking distance to DC metro and surrounded by premier shopping, restaurants and services. Our house sits in civil war era neighborhood,very safe,facing community park and 45 mile paved trail for walking and bicycling. Ideal site for outdoor types, you can drive to countryside in 30 minutes to mountain trails and rivers. Ideal for city types, 15 minutes on metro to theaters, free museums like Smithsonian and city festivals, ethnic neighborhoods.

***********

At this point, hubs is quietly humoring me, but experience says he’ll climb enthusiastically on board, once I’ve done the homework and put a plan in place.   I’m working on it.  Here’s the plan so far.

How to Become a Successful House Sitter in 5 Easy (or not) Steps ~

1.  Do Your Research.  –   Hang out on the online sites like Trusted Housesitters, HouseCarers and Caretaker Gazette.  Read the House Sitter blogs.   A fellow-essayist in Mark Chimsky’s book 65 Things To Do When You Retire: Travel, is a house-sitting expert.  Teresa Roberts wrote a very informative book, Finding the Gypsy in Me – Tales of an International House Sitter.  I’ve read it twice and learned a great deal.

2.  Set Your Parameters. –  What are your must haves for a great house sitting destination?   France, England, Portugal, Italy, Ecuador, Argentina, Spain and Uruguay are at the top of my list.  I would be interested in both big cities and rural small towns as long as there is something fun, unique and interesting going on.  When we travel, hubs and I are looking for cultural events and activities, friendly people, good food, history and places to take great log walks.  Conveniently located to public transportation and airport/train station is a plus.  Weather?  Well, if life were perfect, I would always find house sits in warm destinations with brilliant blue skies and temps in the high 70’s, but I’ll flex on that one.

3.  Know Your Limitations. –  Everyone is different in their skills, experience and willingness to get their hands dirty.  Maybe a horse or two would be your dream, but you are allergic to cats.  Are you handy or do you need a written diagram to work the lights?  Hubs and I fall somewhere in the middle.  We’d be comfortable with cats and a dog or two.  Yes, even chickens.  Horses, cows, pigs, goats?  Not so much.  So the postings I’ve seen for “small holdings” probably aren’t for us.  And, trust me, nobody in this duo is going to be climbing on the roof or under the house if things go wrong.  We need homeowners who provide phone numbers and a who to call list.  Water the garden?  No problem!  Trim the trees or mow the back 40?  No way!

3.  Polish Your Profile. –  Once you have signed up with one (or more) of the house sitting sights, the first order of business is creating a killer profile.

Your online profile is your ticket to house sitting success.  There are lots of energetic, experienced 60-something retirees out there who want your perfect house sitting job too. Spend the time to create a profile that jumps off the screen, highlights your skills, experience, trustworthiness, and  Once again, it all comes down to marketing.  Check out the competition.  How are others selling themselves?  Check all the boxes – get the police clearance, provide lots of references, make the video, use your personal experience as a homeowner, successful business person, pet lover, parent and community activist.  They all count.   If you are serious, set up your own house sitting business website and link it to your profile.  That’s what Teresa did.  Check out her website housesit-pro for ideas.

4.  Be persistent.  Be Honest.  Be Flexible. –  Respond quickly.  It is a numbers game and it pays to be at the front of the line.  Sell yourself, your skills and why you are the best choice to walk Charley the Bulldog or Suzy the Smoodle.  People want to know (honestly) that you will love and care for their beloved pet almost as much as they do.  Anybody can bring in the mail.  And finally, be as flexible as possible.  You’ve always wanted to see Paris in the Springtime, but why not consider a two week house sit over Christmas?   The house sitting veterans will tell you that usually finding the first sit is the hardest, but hang in there.

What about you?  Does house sitting sound interesting?  Have you done any house sitting and have experiences to share?  Are you looking for a house sitter?  If so, I’d love to connect and share ideas.

See you on the road!  I just might be the one walking to two Great Danes with the big smile on my face.

Nancy

 

House Sitting ~ 5 reasons why it might just be the perfect retirement option

I know.  Technically speaking, house sitting is a job.  And if you are anything at all like my  husband – JOB is a four letter word.  He’s retired and he’s loving every minute of it.  Thank you very much.

No job.  No money.  No problem.

Yep, that’s his current philosophy.  And it’s been working out for him so far.  Of course, his other half is still bringing home the bacon, as they say.  And right now, his bacon is organic, peppered, and fresh from the farmers market.  But someday very soon all of that is going to change because this old girl is going to retire too, and then the cash flow is going to become a cash trickle.

And that’s why I see some kind of work in my retirement future.  And, truth be told, I’m really okay with that.  I’m not sure what I’d become if I didn’t have something going on to keep me busy most of the time.  Something that challenges both brain and body.  If I can get paid (in cash or in kind) for said work and if it’s interesting and on my terms.  Well, count me in.

That’s why house sitting makes perfect sense as a retirement option for traveling gypsy wannabe’s like hubs and I.

It would give us the ability to pack up our backpacks, grab our rollies, and travel the world – one house sitting job at a time.   And do it on a limited retirement budget.  And maybe we’d have enough money left over for some really good bacon every now and then.

I’ve been pondering this idea for a while now.  I  signed up on the Trusted Housesitter site as both “looking for a house sitter” and “looking for house sitting opportunities” back in August.  We were down to the wire on finding a sitter for our cat, Mr. Ricky.  I received several interesting offers, but found a wonderful sitter close to home.   Now, each morning I get the most enticing email from Andy Peck of Trusted HouseSitters with a list of the latest house sitting opportunities.  And yes, every morning I open this email and thoroughly read each house sitting offer – and I dream…

Here are a couple from this morning’s post ~

smoodle Pet sitter needed for my Schmoodle for three and a half weeks in Underwood, Australia

I am looking for a dog lover to mind Kobe my beautiful boy Schmoodle. I would prefer someone who loves dogs as he is my baby and someone that doesn’t have a problem with him sleeping on the end of the bed. He is a non-shedding dog.

All I ask is that you leave my house as you found it. Must love animals. My main priorty is for you to look after Kobe and throw his ball for him when he wants to play. Would prefer someone that does housesitting as their way of living.  I have a three bedroom house at Underwood close to shops and transport.

HouseSitFrance Pet sitter needed for lovely springer spaniel, fluffy cat and chickens in Fontaine-Chalendray, France

We are a family looking for someone to feed and walk Rollo once a day, and feed minky the cat. Both are really easy going. Rollo cannot be tired out and the walks are lovely here! He is patient though and will wait for his walk if you need a lie in or its raining! The chickens will also need feeding and watering, and of course you can collect and eat their lovely eggs.  wifi. lovely walks and bike rides direct from house, local swimming lake 10 mins. 1 hour to the sea. 40 minutes cognac.1 hr 20 La Rochelle. bikes and kayaks an be borrowed. huge woodland garden.

Sounds lovely doesn’t it?

So, if you are like us, and have been looking for ways to travel more in your retirement, and not break the bank to do it, you might want to look into house sitting.

I found this list on the Trusted HouseSitters website and I couldn’t agree more.

5 Reasons House Sitting Makes the Perfect Retirement

1.  You save money on accommodations.  The most obvious benefit of house sitting is the money you will same on hotel stays or holiday rentals.  For those on a fixed retirement income this can be a huge advantage.  

2.  Travel for longer –  As you no longer have to pay for somewhere to stay, you can spend more time exploring a new location and really get a feel for an area that you might have had to rush through otherwise.

3.  Discover new areas –  By being flexible with where you house sit, you can discover fantastic locations that you wouldn’t have though about visiting otherwise.

4.  Meet new people – Many house sitters say that they have made lifelong friends on their assignments as friends.  Walking the dog in a local park is a great way to meet people and make new friends.

5.  Live like a local –  House sitting allows you to really experience an area in a way that you might not when staying in a hotel.   Shopping in the corner market or the weekly farmer’s markets, using local transportation, meeting your neighbors at local gatherings.  All enrich your live like a local experience.

And, just in case you were wondering – I have chicken sitting experience from a home exchange we did last year.  Dog, cat, chickens, French countryside – I think I can handle that.

Let the house sitting adventures begin!

Nancy