Due to continual improvements in technology, the availability of remote jobs has increased substantially in recent years. Early 2020 was a pivotal time for location independent employment, as the COVID-19 pandemic caused many companies across the world to move their workforces off-site.
In this effort to reduce the spread of the virus, several employers were forced to realize that many of their job positions could be performed remotely in the long term, if necessary. While transitioning to a work-from-home environment in such a sudden way was extremely challenging for many, it opened up new opportunities as well.
Digital nomadism refers to the utilization of internet communication technologies to travel while earning an income. With remote jobs becoming so widely available, many people have used house sitting to become digital nomads. “Work from home” doesn’t mean you have to work from your home! Think about it - if you work remotely and house sit, you can make your usual income while living rent-free in an area you’d love to travel to. While this is a very appealing notion to many, there are several important things to consider before jumping into house sitting while doing location independent work.
Remote workers live and die by their WiFi connection, so it’s important to ask the homeowner if their internet provider is reliable, and if there are any situations in which the internet connection can go out (e.g., intense weather). Additionally, the speed of the internet connection can be very important to certain types of workers. If your daily work is primarily text-based (e.g., writing, emailing, creating spreadsheets), the speed of the internet connection will be less important to you. However, if your job requires high-fidelity graphical presentations and frequent large file transfers, high-speed internet may be a non-negotiable for you.
While rare, it is possible you could lose internet service for one or more days while at a house sit. Of course, this is possible while working from home as well. However, while at home, you likely have a routine set of troubleshooting steps and alternative work locations that you’re familiar with. Therefore, it’s important to consider the following questions before committing to a house sit:
Some remote workers are highly flexible and can perform their duties effectively in a noisy area with just a chair and a small surface to place their laptop on. However, others may require more space for their work equipment and need a quiet environment to focus well.
Be sure to consider what your needs and preferences are regarding space and environmental noise and communicate them clearly to the homeowner to ensure you’ll be able to work effectively and comfortably while doing the house sit.
If you frequently have calls with coworkers or clients, or if you do highly technical writing that requires deep, sustained focus, you’ll want to be sure to have a space where you can be uninterrupted by animals while doing a house sit that involves pet care. Noise-cancelling headphones and white noise machines can be helpful, but they only go so far!
There is a huge variance in the flexibility across remote jobs. On one end of the spectrum, you may work full time and have rigidly scheduled meetings, while needing to work synchronously with colleagues at specific times of the day. On the other end of the spectrum, you may work part time, and all your job responsibilities can be performed asynchronously and independently. If you’re on the more rigid end of the spectrum, be sure to chat thoroughly with the homeowner regarding any time-sensitive responsibilities of the house sit that may interrupt your job schedule and workflow.
Also, it’s important to consider how a time zone shift may impact you. For example, if you live on the East Coast and work for a company that revolves around Eastern Standard Time but want to do a house sit on the West Coast, you may be required to wake up very early once in Pacific Standard Time, which could create challenges in your ability to fulfill the house-sitting responsibilities and enjoy the area.
In my experience of house sitting while working remotely, I’ve been able to take advantage of my travels to connect in-person with other remote coworkers. Location independent work can feel isolating at times, so I recommend getting together with coworkers or colleagues when the opportunities arise. If you’ve planned a house sit, you may want to see if there are any work-related folks along your travel route, or at your destination!
Interested in becoming a house sitter with House Sitters America? Have a look at our current house sitting opportunities and register today.
I had a wonderful time house sitting in New York for Thanksgiving. The apartment was right in the heart of Chelsea and I loved living in the neighborhood. Oh Yeah, the cat was low maintenance. Would go again in a heartbeat. Carroll