Life and living as a house/pet sitter

Hello and Happy New Year to all!

I’m interested to know how people (especially single house sitters) find purpose and meaning when living or traveling as a house sitter?

From day to day, of course, there are all the usual activities to keep us busy including meals, laundry, walking the dogs, making the beds, keeping up with family and friends and so on. But I am finding that I tend not to do much else - I read a lot of books, watch more TV than usual, take a few naps and so on. I am house sitting in the UK at present and apart from dog walks and the occasional day out sightseeing, my days feel really unproductive and lacking in purpose or meaning.

I’m curious as to how other single sitters cope with these aspects of life on a sit?
Cheers
Linda

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Hi Linda. I must admit that I do pretty much exactly what you do. Far too much social media, television, Netflix etc and far too much time mulling the meaning of life - mine. I have been sitting for nearly four years full-time now and think I have found myself in a rut. I just finished three months sitting in the UK and to be honest, I did not take full advantage of the beautiful places where I was because of this rut.

Reading your post has just brought it home to me that I need to try harder to get out of my own way and embrace the new surroundings I am in, whenever I change sits. We can become very complacent when all we need to do sometimes is simply walk out the door, who knows what we might find.

My New Years resolution is to change these bad habits and find something meaningful to do. Taking that first step is the hardest, we created this rut now we need to lose it. I am looking for a craft of some kind to do. If my mind is active, everything else falls into place.

Happy New Year to you and I wish you well, I totally understand where you are coming from, I’m there also :partying_face:

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@Elleann I quite often sit in the UK and love getting involved in any activities that might be going on in the village I’m sitting in - walking groups, morning coffees, attending church just to meet people and there’s often tea and a biscuit afterwards, village lunches, coffee at the local cafe/village store - anywhere that I’m likely to meet others. Sometimes it means stepping out of my comfort zone but it’s well worth it because of the friendship and hospitality that comes out of it.
If it’s a long sit, I know of other sitters who offer their services at one of the charity shops.
I also have a National Trust membership and make use of that by visiting any properties in the location, even if it’s just walking in the grounds.
Perhaps there is a free course online in relation to one of your interests you could do. I know I did several whilst in lockdown during 2020 which were great and stimulated my mind.
Just know you’re not alone in feeling this way.
Happy New Year to you!

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It’s all very personal and unique. I am sure you will get a variety of responses.
I spend most of my time in personal development. I read a lot on topics that interest me and improve my understanding of the world, people, science, health, food, plants, animals, travel, finances… you get the idea. My first two years pet sitting I did post graduate studies online. :rofl:
I make effort to integrate what I learn in everyday life. That’s the challenge that keeps me on my toes. Some days are meh and yeah I love movies but I don’t feel the need to “be productive”. I exist and life is good, very good. Doing the things I love have the highest priority right now. Sometimes that’s doing nothing.
That to me is very satisfying, and the hardest thing I had to learn.
I recommend sitting in self reflection, journaling and exploring what you would enjoy now.
What excites you? That’s the goal.

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I have only just joined this site, but it is good to read your experience and be able to plan for what my future might hold. I love the advice about getting out and joining the community and volunteering. I imagine I’ll be also crocheting and spending lots of time on Duolingo. It’s nice to think I could one day being learning the language of a country that I’m living in. I would also recommend trying a local Parkrun if there is one. I have been going to my local one for a few years. I still mostly walk, but enjoy the company of others while I’m there.

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Not too different than what others have described.
But I will make a plug for something US sitters can do that is a good thing!
When I’m in the US, I’m a platelet donor so when there is a convenient Red Cross donation center I set up an appointment. Platelets can be donated every 7 days, maximum 24 times a calendar year and the donation process - screening, donation, and post-donation snacks takes 2 to 3 hours.
The RC lets you know where your platelet donations get sent and mine have gone to North Carolina (home donation), South Carolina, No Calif, Maryland, DC, Virginia, Minnesota, Wisconsin, So Calif, Georgia, and Puerto Rico.
Already have donations scheduled in Mass and Oregon when I get back in Jan and Feb.
On my first Australian sit, I contacted the Australian Red Cross and you need to be in the country for a month or 6 weeks before donating platelets. But they will take whole blood sooner so I tried to make an appointment but was told I would need documentation from my doc on a medical condition, so that didn’t work.

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It’s so easy to learn a new language and free with apps. You can practice speaking to the animals to gain confidence. Then you can go on another housesit where they speak the language! The world is huge and open, you can do whatever you want. Local book clubs through the library if you are there for a month or more. Meetup.com for literally anything! Ask the HO about the local arts scene, use one of their cookbooks to try a new recipe. Or if you want to Netflix and chill, try watching documentaries. There are some great ones on cats/pets that will make you see your furry friend in a new way. Take photos of all the plants and use apps to look up their care and interesting facts. Literally so many ways to fill the time, but I usually end up watching the cats watch cat TV lol.

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@auderary Glad you mentioned MeetUp. In our listing, we mention that there are local MeetUp groups for everything from hiking to practicing your French. MeetUp can be an amazing resource for sitters.

And @TajMartin my husband follows Parkrun, too, and he attends that when we are traveling/pet sitting.

And of course, you can organize or attend a THS MeetUp and meet other sitters or HOs! We’ve done that once and hope to do so again.

There are so many ways, thanks to the internet, to connect with like-minded people while traveling.

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Hi Linda
I know what you mean but why must we feel we need to be productive or achieve something? Looking after someone else’s home and pets is pretty productive in my book. And, as for book, I read a lot too. As someone else here has mentioned, why not read something you wouldn’t normally read? If you tend to read fiction then drop some non fiction in. What about gradually reading the complete works of Charles Dickens, or any other prolific author, from the first book to the last. I’ve started getting a bit OCD with reading from the start, you can see how the author improves.
I don’t know what age you are but, if you haven’t heard of it, there’s a fabulous organisation called U3A. No minimum age limit to join, but it mainly attracts people over 50 who are retired or semi retired. I’m not a member yet, although must join. You can be sure that wherever you are there will be a group nearby.
I’m most happy when I’m out walking or cycling. Also, during the first lockdown in the UK I took up ‘Yoga with Adriene’ on YouTube - completely free. She’s brilliant! I drop in and out now. She has a lovely dog called Benji who’s always by her side.
There are lots of other ideas given here by members. Please don’t beat yourself up, and just enjoy life. We’re a long time dead :wink:

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Love this Lady. I have always been an avid reader, comes with my insatiable thirst to learn and discover :nerd_face:
I currently have a very long list of reading that I keep adding to and I have them grouped by authors and subjects. All are digital versions and some I reread when I find them to have significant value. When I do that I always capture something I didn’t before and it is so exciting when I do because I immediately incorporate it. I love to read.

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@Elleann @Amparo
I also try to read books by authors born in the country I happen to be travelling in. At the moment, New Zealand. I like to pop into local libraries too (they’re fabulous here!) and found a useful list of New Zealand authors. I’ve read some books by an authors beginning with C and D so far and haven’t been disappointed.
Is that something you could do? A good way of learning more about the country - assuming that they’re writing about the country - its people, culture and history.

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@TajMartin: Welcome! FYI, your forum link needs to be fixed. It links to the user’s profile, not yours. Instructions are here: How to add a listing or profile link to your FORUM profile

@Elleann: I frequently struggle with feelings of not being productive. But as hinted at by others, “productivity” means different things to different people. One personality test said I am a Producer, vs a Consumer. And my Love Language is “Acts of Service,” vs the other four (e.g., Receiving Gifts). Just to say that’s where I’m coming from.

For me, I can be productive by having a remote job. Like coding/programming. But actually there are many more options for remote work these days. Here’s a thread on that: Remote Work Ideas

Similarly, you can probably find remote volunteer work in many capacities, for many charities. Or you can help others on the TH forums; I know they’re always looking for highly engaged members! =)

You could write a novel. Or do something else portable (e.g., knitting).

You could also have a portable skill and deploy it wherever you land/sit, either paid or volunteer. Paint a house; walk dogs; be a busker; be a barista/restaurant worker.

And as others have noted, you can be in online school to learn any skills you don’t have yet. It’s amazing what you can learn on YouTube, too!

As you said, “my days feel really unproductive and lacking in purpose or meaning,” you could take that even further. I recently heard about a non-profit called “80,000 Hours” (https://80000hours.org). It’s basically about helping people find careers with the most impact. They have a ton of resources that can really make one think, and most or all of them are free. You could easily spend a lot of “productive” time there, trying to figure out how to make your days more “productive.”

Best of luck!

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As usual @geoff.hom you come up with some brilliant info!
Happy new year to you, a very productive person clearly! :sunglasses:

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We change places about every 2 weeks and usually have overlaps (so one person often already leaves earlier). Not much time to settle in and volunteer in person! But we sometimes have had last-minute cancellations and fill those with volunteering at animal sanctuaries. It does a bit of magic to help for free and care for animals, work outside and toss around tons of poo. But afterwards we’re also always super appreciative to have a clean place and shower that isn’t full of mud and dirt.

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Hey! Great question.

I just wrote a quick list of the things I have been doing. Maybe one or two will spark your interest?

But first, I must admit that so far I have been resting. SO MUCH REST! When you read my list below, you may not believe that I rest. But I have a very active mind and must keep it happy with many hobbies :slight_smile:

After a lifetime of being an overachiever, learning to actually deeply truly rest is proving to be quite a challenge.

Ok, here goes:
Self improvement is high on my list. I do little challenges, just to see if I can: a month of no caffeine, a month of yoga every day, a month of taking a 15 minute video of myself talking (learning how to "vlog), a week without TV (EEP!). Lots of little challenges to keep myself disciplined and sharp.

Next up is everything related to one of my biggest loves: FOOD. There is zero discipline involved here. And I am 100% ok with this.

When I land in a new place (and usually before I arrive), I have a great time hunting down stores for excellent ingredients: where is the best place to buy spices, teas, raw dairy, local organic farm fresh produce (farmers market schedule, etc). Where will I treat myself to the terribly expensive but totally worth it farm-to-table meal. Who sells local honey. I also take online courses for cooking. Currently in my second chef program for plant based cooking (it’s an interesting hobby but I am not a “vegan”). Locating the best locally raised and humanely slaughtered meat is beginning to be quite an adventure as well. The farmers are all such interesting individuals.

Next up is the local flora and fauna: botanical gardens & waterfalls & anywhere near large water. I avoid zoos and any tour involving animals because they make me cry. But there are loads of animal rescue places that have tours to raise funds. Super cute! I also learn immediately about whatever could be dangerous (I’m currently in Australia = relevant!).

Ok so food, flora, fauna… Oh yeah: can’t forget physical, mental, and financial learning. I walk daily, even if the pet I am sitting for isn’t a walker. And bring my camera and get super cool shots of the surrounding nature or city stuff. Whatever catches my eye. Makes for a slower walk though. For sure. If I’m near a beach, I aim to get sunrise and sunset photos. Because learning photography may help the travel blog I hope to create. But mostly because I am a nerd for capturing the perfect light.

I watch a lot of YouTube videos on various subjects. Listen to podcasts and Audible books. Often while I walk.

Financially I gotta set something up so I can keep traveling. So I’m currently learning about investing in DeFi, how I can harness the current capabilities of AI to work for me so I can work less (YAY!), and how best to outsource the building of my travel blog/create a brand/become a real “digital nomad.”

Then there’s keeping in touch with my family and my inner circle: weekly phones calls with some, hand written post cards and letters (people LOVE getting post cards!!!), hunting down weird candies and gifts for my kids and grandson. Putting together birthday boxes.

If I run out of things to do, I’ll go to the local health food store to check out their bulletin board. The very coolest and strangest activities are usually found on these boards.

Then there’s Duolingo, journaling, napping, a bit of self doubt occasionally, throw in a lil self loathing, add some regret, and of course wondering about the meaning of it all. Existential dread isn’t the same at mid-life as it was in high school, that much is certain!
All the dark stuff comes up when I turn off the dang TV… Which I just love because facing my shadows allows me to actually grow. Which quells the dread. Nice lil loop there. Ha!

Mmm… Here in Australia I looked on AirBnB Experiences… For the coolest tours, then went and drove to those places solo because being alone feels SO incredible these days.

Whew. Yeah. Maybe I need to go back to the drawing board and rethink how much I may not actually be “resting”… Ha ha.

The way I view it: basically this whole traveling thing gets (most) of us so far from our normal routine, that we get shaken a bit and get to see what we are really made of, what we are actually capable of, what we are willing (or no longer willing) to put up with (from anyone), what we like at this point in our lives (which gets kinda lost when raising a family), and basically what we are actually all about. It’s amazing!

I’m still obviously quite excited about being out here in the big world, so far from home. Maybe not everyone shares in this enthusiasm. But I’ve got a lil to spare :wink:

I say enjoy the heck outta trying something new… Something you never even considered, or maybe even something you’ve always wanted to try!

Hugs and hi fives from Faith!

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@faithlotus Well said, Faith, we could be sisters!!

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I try to keep my normal routine when not sitting as close to my routine while sitting … with the feeding/ pet walking added. So my routine is feed pets, watch news, walk dog, and then normal during-day activity. Playing pickleball (where it’s available), bike riding, hiking local trails, reading, emailing/calling friends and family, and then some tv in the evening after pets are cared for.

I think it’s important to take advantage of whatever the area offers from farmer’s markets to museums to cafes to local fairs. For me, that’s the motivation for sitting … experiencing new areas.

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Great question Elleann. I’m not a solo sister but apart from taking the pets for walks I lean towards being an extrovert whereas my hubby likes to stay at home during the house sits. My passion is Zumba and other fitness classes so I always check these out where I’m house sitting. I’ve gone to fitness classes in Ireland, Australia and Cambodia where fellow fitness enthusiasts have invited me for coffee, lunch and dinner after the classes. I usually check out dog friendly cafes and strike up conversation with the locals which really makes me feel like I’m living as a local when I’m on a house sit.

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What a great thread and enlightening topic. I’ve yet to travel and sit abroad so the travel part has yet to come intp play. Aside from the pet and house care I hike/walk go to local cafes and do some. Exploring. I’m solo and typically only sit in the winter since I still work seasonally 5 months out of the year. Sometimes I need to unwind from the world so down time is important for me. Currently I’m in Reno Nevada and it’s been snowing quite a bit. and they’re not plowing the roads well so i haven’t hiked much since they’re understaffed like so many places.

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I’m a homeowner but I found your question intriguing. I think I’d try to let the locale lead me. That is. Just like when I’m on a road trip, I try to find the unique and special things a place offers: Same with on a vacation. It’s special when you are house sitting be cause you are there for longer and have access to a full kitchen. But still, much could be the same? Think about the local Food. Flora/fauna. History. Museums. Language . Look for outings, classes, festivals, lectures, volunteer activities, -Call or visit local chamber of commerce (or visitor center though this might be aimed at tourists)., newspaper or online calendar of events.

Near the shore? Our extension service in Washington state offers Beach naturalist, salmon discern. Stream steward classes for really cheap (and scholarship $ available). There are guided walks. Annual events.

Near the desert? Seek out nature centers. Parks. Visitor centers. Trails.

Bird migration events. Or butterflies. Hiking trails or urban parks.

Language/culture/food classes, apps, events? Tours. Lectures. Learn to make regional bread. Or specialty desserts. Or soup.

Learn to forage: fish, identify local plants, Are there holidays celebrated uniquely in the area?

Keep a scrapbook/ journal of ur travels and adventures (digital is probably best for easiest mobility) and be sure to include memorabilia.

Hope some ideas strike you.

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