House sitting is a great way to travel full-time without having to invest virtually any money in starting this lifestyle. In fact, that’s the main reason Dan and I chose house sitting over other options!
Turns out, we ended up *saving* a boatload of money moving out of our townhouse in the Chicago suburbs to travel around the country house sitting!
Before we decided on which travel lifestyle we were going to pursue, we did a ton of research on what we’d need to start RVing, or how much money we’d need to save to take a year off and travel around the world.
We had just spent 2 years saving up to pay for our wedding and honeymoon in cash, paying off all of our consumer debt, and fully funding a 6 month emergency fund. So we were reluctant to take out loans to buy a rig and with all our student loans we still had to pay, were too impatient to save up all the money it would require us to take off a full year of work, travel the world, and still be able to afford those bills.
House sitting seemed like the perfect fit for us at that point in our lives. We already had what we needed to get started – a vehicle to get us from house sit to house sit! That’s it.
Of course, everyone’s expenses will look a bit differently. However, we want to dive into our ACTUAL expenses from our first year of full-time travel and show how the cost of full-time housesitting for one year compares to living stationary in our 2-bedroom, 2.5 bath townhouse in the Chicago suburbs.
Basic Costs of Full-Time House Sitting
Basic costs for house sitting will vary from person to person. For us, the absolute essentials we needed to pay for related to house sitting full-time around the country are as follows: gas, hotel stays for in between house sits, house sitting website memberships, insurance, and storage.
Total Fuel Cost for 2017: $2,936.27 (avg $244/month)
Since we were already car owners before traveling full-time, we already had a gas budget. We definitely had to increase the dollar amount for this category, though, since we were driving a lot more miles!
This dollar amount depends on how often we move and the location of our house sits. Our house sitting gigs were all over the country that year (Colorado, Arizona, Oregon, Texas, and Illinois), so we drove 20,000+ miles, meaning more gas money than if we only house sat in locations that were closer to each other.
Total Hotel/Airbnb Cost for 2017: $1694.58 (avg $142/month)
I know almost $1700 for hotel stays seems like a big number, but let me put this into perspective. When Dan and I were living in the Chicago suburbs, we were paying that amount PER MONTH for rent and utilities on our townhouse.
Here is the breakdown of where we spent our nights in between house sits (in case you’re interested):
Total number of nights we had in between house sitting gigs: 49
Number of nights we visited/stayed with friends and family: 31
-10 nights spent with friends throughout our time in Phoenix
-8 nights at the guest house in Durango (where we house sat earlier in the year)
-7 nights with my parents
-2 nights in WI visiting friends
-4 nights with Dan’s parents
Number of nights we stayed in a hotel or Airbnb: 18
Total Membership Cost for 2017: $130
Becoming a member to a house sitting website is the easiest way to find house sitting opportunities. There are many websites that you can use to find house sitting gigs. In fact, you can find memberships a lot cheaper than what we paid, but we went with the more popular and well-known site to start with. We felt with a more reputable site, we might have a better chance of landing a house sit. It paid off!
Total AAA Cost for 2017: $80
We added AAA Roadside Assistance that year after an incident in the mountains left our car stranded overnight! That’s right. We learned this one the hard way! Since we were driving so many miles, it’s more likely that we’ll need this. Well worth the $80.
Total Car Repairs and Regular Maintenance for 2017: $3,236.41
We actually had really bad luck with vehicles in 2017!!
First, our water pump needed to be replaced and they voided our warranty so we had to pay for the repairs out of pocket. Cha-Ching! Ugh. The other dilemma was when Dan hit a wild hog while we were in Texas…. yep, you heard that right. A wild hog.
These things may or may not have happened if we weren’t traveling full-time, but all the miles we put on our car probably didn’t help the water pump. And no, we probably wouldn’t have hit a wild hog at home in the Chicago suburbs, but we could’ve easily hit a deer and had the same outcome.
Nevertheless, it was part of our journey, so I put it on here. Traveling full-time around the country also requires more frequent oil changes and that’s included in this dollar amount as well.
Total Storage Costs for 2017: $2,160 ($180/month)
A lot of people decide to sell all their belongings when they decide to travel full-time, so this won’t be on everyone’s list of expenses.
However, Dan and I had JUST furnished our townhouse a year before we left for this adventure. Plus, we only planned to do house sitting for about 2 years, so we figured we’d pay for storage to keep our things instead of selling everything and then buying everything again when we were done.
Our grand total for 1 year of full-time house sitting for 2017 is….. $10,237.26!
Compare that to 1 year of living in our townhouse in the Chicago suburbs: $23,280!
Here’s what I included in the basic costs for living in our townhouse:
Gas: $1200 ($100/month)
Rent: $18,900 ($1575/month)
Utilities: $3180 ($265/month for internet, electric, gas, water/sewer, and renter’s insurance)
House sitting across the country costs us LESS money than living in the Chicago suburbs does.
Let me say that again.
Traveling full-time costs us LESS money than living in the Chicago suburbs does!!! By more than half.
Isn’t that crazy?! And awesome?!
A (MUCH!) lower cost of living allowed us to leave jobs we hate but paid good money.
It allowed us to start our own businesses without working a full-time job while they grow.
House sitting has enabled us to travel across the US at a fraction of the price it would’ve cost to do this during traditional vacations.
It opened our eyes to living simpler lives with much less “stuff” and a lot more quality time.
We’re so grateful for house sitting and all the changes and goals we’ve been able to accomplish with living this lifestyle. And of course, all of the adorable pets we’ve been able to cuddle and care for!
What questions do you have about house sitting expenses? Leave us a note in the comments.