A few weeks ago we stumbled upon the sellallyourstuff.com and met Al. Al and his wife Shelly’s minimalist journey started – like many – in an unexpected way: by taken care of a friend’s cat. 2 years later, both are now looking back on a unique adventure that took them all across The Americas and made them living in countless houses – for free. Meet Al and Shelly and learn more about professional house sitting .
Hi there, I have a quick question for you.
What would you say if I told you that you could stay practically anywhere in the world for free?
If you’re like many other people we’ve met, you’d likely say “yeah, what’s the catch? Do I have to survive in some Paranormal Activity-like haunted house”? Nope. Well, if you wanted to I’m sure that could be arranged. I mean that movie was filmed with like, $10 and a GoPro. But there’s another way. My wife, Shelly, and I have been enjoying free accommodations for the past 18 months in four amazing countries. And we’re not the only ones doing this.
How do we do it? This great little gig called House Sitting.
An Introduction to House Sitting
Please allow me a quick intro; my name is Al McCullough, and me and my wife, Shelly, now live a minimalist lifestyle as professional house sitters.
Back in 2014 we decided to go on a life-changing adventure. We sold all our stuff and moved from Canada to Panama (the country with the canal, not the city in Florida). Living in a small expat paradise in Panama had more benefits then just cheap beer and warm weather, we quickly realized. After just a few months living there some friends asked us to look after their cat while they travelled around Thailand for three months. Reluctant at first, we couldn’t turn up a chance at free rent. And thus began our illustrious careers as house sitters.
I wouldn’t have called us minimalists at the time. We sold all our stuff in Canada for ease of moving abroad. And we did have to make purchases when we arrived in Panama – mainly small kitchen appliances. But a funny thing happened during that first three month house sit. Word got out that there was a couple (us) that would watch your house and your pets while you went away – for FREE!
We weren’t the toast of the town, but we were in high demand. In turn, we sold or donated anything and everything we still owned so we could travel from house to house with less stuff. We needed to be lighter, and two medium duffels of clothing were more than enough for us.
House Sitting the Americas
For the next five months we bounced around Panama looking after the homes and pets of numerous expats. If we were between house sits we’d make it a convenient time to do a border run to Costa Rica or Columbia, renewing our tourist visas in the process.
When the Panama house sits dried up, we hit Nicaragua, the United States, and then Canada. And each time we packed up and moved houses we seemed to have less and less stuff then the previous house sit.
Our life adventure turned into something we never could have imagined. Not only did we become house sitters, we started living a minimalist lifestyle. It was just before the one year point when I started sellallyourstuff.com, a site to promote doing more stuff with less stuff (featuring our loveable Minimalist Stick Man). I’ve written four eBooks on the subject of selling all your stuff, and our blog details some of the fun life experiences we’ve – well – experienced since adopting this amazing way of life.
House Sitting in Canada
Because our life adventure “deadline” of two years was approaching, we had to giddy-up back to Canada. We had actually booked a house sit in Vancouver, but at the time we were enjoying some pretty sweet sunsets while house sitting on Lake Norman in Davidson, North Carolina. Hailing from the Toronto area, we decided to fly back, visit family, buy a used car, and then drive across our amazing country.
In that process we managed to score three more house sits to help with accommodation costs along the way, but more important, we were able to visit some Canadian cities we never would have even thought of visiting before. If you ever get a chance to spend a few nights in Saskatoon (Toon Town), go for it. What a cool city! Oh, and you can probably skip past Kamloops – nothing to see here folks…move along.
We’ve been living in the Vancouver area for over four months now – free of charge. A dollar doesn’t go nearly as far here as it did in Panama, so we’ll take it! In turn, all we have to do is feed ourselves and take care of other people’s pets.
Free Homes Worldwide
House sitting isn’t just a way of living on the cheap – quite the contrary. Looking after pets isn’t all shits and giggles. Sometimes it’s just shits. And our time spent exploring is limited to 8 hour outings or less. That being said, we’re likely going to rent something soon to stay in Vancouver, but now that we’ve discovered house sitting, there’s no reason we can’t do a weekend in California, a week in Hawaii, or a month in Australia.
If this sounds pretty cool to you, then you should know that house sitting gigs are available in many countries and major cities all over this big blue planet, you just need to know how to score house sits!
Meet the house sitting expert Al McCullough
Al McCullough is founder of sellallyourstuff.com. If he’s not writing with wit and sarcasm he’s probably enjoying a unique life experience like saltwater flotation, a zip-line course, or unique tour. If you’re interested in house sitting, you can check out his eBook, Sell all Your Stuff and Become a House Sitter, which details how to break into the glamourous world of house sitting. For more on their lifestyle, you can view their musings at…