We were jealous when we read this piece by baby boomer Silvana Clark, who used to live in Bellingham, Washington, because she has left Bellingham for a while and it’s about the exciting life that she and her husband Allan are living right now. In fact, for author Silvana, it’s a life that many of us could live, and she tells us how.

Remember the days of rushed travel, when you had to efficiently utilize every day of your hard-earned vacation time?

Silvana Clark out for a ride in the Swiss countryside.

Now, if you’re lucky enough, you have the luxury of extended travel, which means the cost of long term accommodations can add up. So how does a free two week stay at a luxury apartment in France overlooking the Seine River sound? Or maybe you’d like a no-cost month-long stay in a chateau overlooking Lake Geneva in Switzerland. No, this is not a Time Share invitation. It is an invitation to the world of housesitting.

For the last several years, my husband and I have enjoyed housesitting our way around the world. We’ve watched over a huge manor house in England, lived in a converted 500-year-old barn in the vineyards of Switzerland, and had our own apartment in a remote Spanish village. Today we are living in an open, airy house close to the beach in Brisbane, Australia. Because when we started this lifestyle we rented out our house near Seattle, our living costs now are actually lower than staying home. By living in someone else’s house, we don’t pay mortgage, utilities, or internet. We don’t even pay for toilet paper! Sometimes we use air miles to get to our destination and save even more.

Silvana and her husband share a kiss on a quaint bridge in France.

Many homeowners want their pets and home cared for when they leave. That’s where websites such as www.trustedhousesitters.com and www.housecarers.com come into play. People looking for house sitters post their needs on the website. I admit, I am addicted to Trusted Housesitters and check it at least twice a day. Over 20 new housesitting possibilities are listed daily. Anyone can see the listings, although you do need to pay a reasonable yearly fee to get the contact information.

Silvana Clark knows she and her husband live a good life.

Reading the housesitting requests feels like searching for a golden Easter egg. Some want housesitters for a week and others look for people who will be available for four or five months. A typical ad might read like this one from England: “Looking for housesitters to watch my beloved elderly rescue dog. She needs one walk a day and the rest of the time you are free to enjoy the lovely hiking trails in our Cotswold Village. We live in a three-bedroom cottage with a thatched roof, close to pubs and stores. You can also use our car.” Don’t you just want to start packing? Or would you rather explore the US? It’s possible. We secured a month-long housesit in Washington DC to help our daughter when she moved to a new apartment.

The Clarks encountered snow during a stay in the Washington, DC, area.

After selecting a position, it’s up to you to write a compelling letter, explaining your qualifications. One housesit we applied for had 60 people respond (we were selected!) Describe any pets you’ve owned, or your experience in basic household repairs. It seldom matters if you are a single or a couple. While it may seem obvious, be sure to mention that you are not prone to throwing wild parties!

There’s charm and tranquility even on a rainy day in Switzerland.

At times, homeowners might want a short phone or Skype interview. Be open and friendly and you’ll probably hear, “We’d love you to be our housesitters in our London penthouse apartment!”

If you’re anything like us, you’d love it too.

Check out this link to Silvana’s book.

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