WE DID IT!
Today we are celebrating ONE YEAR as full-time travelers and becoming location independent! We left our 2-bedroom, 2.5 bath townhouse in the West suburbs of Chicago with only the things that would fit in our car and hopes of adventure.
When we hit the road last December, we had 2 house sitting gigs back-to-back that secured us for 7 months of full-time travel. We had no idea if we’d be able to continue booking sits to extend our stay.
But here we are, one year later! And we’ve been able to use house sitting as a means to travel around the country.
As we look back on our year, we feel incredibly fortunate to have experienced all that we have in 2017. It’s been a year of change for us, to align our hopes and dreams with our reality.
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Since full-time travel is fairly unique to our society as a whole, there are many misconceptions out there about living this lifestyle.
There are misconceptions that people who travel full-time must be rich, that the lifestyle is not realistic or attainable, that to travel is too expensive. We’ve also been told by people that it must be nice we don’t have kids to allow us to live this lifestyle.
Full-time travel is not for everyone, but if it’s something you really want to pursue, you can absolutely make it happen!
Sure, it may be easier without kids. But it’s not impossible to travel with children. We’ve actually discovered hundreds of people travelling full-time with their kids.
Full-time travel is hard. Just like anything that’s new in life, there are definitely adjustments and changes to adapt to.
It takes a lot of effort to get yourself into a position to make full-time travel possible. Finances, employment, and getting out of your current lease/mortgage are a few main things that come to mind that are necessary to figure out. It may take some time, but it’s possible. And worth it, if it’s something you really want to pursue!
Looking from the outside in, it may seem like traveling is expensive, but it doesn’t have to be.
In fact, I 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 this 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.
Total AAA Cost for 2017: $80
We added AAA Roadside Assistance this year after an incident in the mountains left our car stranded overnight! That’s right. We learned this one the hard way! Since we’re 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
If you’ve been following our journey for a while, you know we’ve had major bad luck with vehicles this year!!
You can read about our first major dilemma here, where 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’s been a part of our journey this year, 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 18-24 months, 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.
The 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?! Hah ;-D
A (MUCH!) lower cost of living has allowed us to leave jobs we hate but paid good money.
It’s 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’s 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.
During our first year of full-time travel, we’ve tried to be pretty transparent about our experiences. We wanted to share with you the amazing moments and not so great moments of this journey.
Our goal is to paint a very honest, clear, and transparent picture of this lifestyle. We hope this summary of our basic expenses relating to house sitting helps!
We love hearing how other people live and travel around the world. There are so many different ways to accomplish it, but we’re convinced house sitting is the best financially speaking.
But if you have an even cheaper way to live that still allows you to travel, we’d love to hear about it!! Feel free to connect with us!
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