Updated: Jan 28
Living a minimalist lifestyle, experiencing new places, maintaining a clean environment, embracing uncertainty & taking care of pets!
If you've ever wondered what it would be like to give up your old life to travel, embrace a minimalist lifestyle and meet all those cute cats and dogs you see on your Instagram, well, here's a behind the scenes snapshot of what it's like to be a F/T House & Pet Sitter.
I LOVE the pets and people I get to meet. So much so, I've decided to feature some of my lovely clients AND pull back the curtains on a what it's like to wave goodbye to the comfort of a permanent home and live out of a suitcase. I was transitioning between rentals at the time and temporarily living out of a suitcase with a friend of mine. I remember having this spontaneous idea to try house sitting while I wasn't tied down to lease. I thought, why not?
I'd grown up with my childhood bestie Tangles, a rescue Pomeranian who shared a lot of similar personality traits with me. It was uncanny. You know that saying "mans best friend"? Anyone who has a bond with their dog/s will understand this. She was there to celebrate the good times, and the kindest most compassionate little soul during some of the not so good times.
Since moving to Melbourne, most rental properties I stayed in didn't allow pets. When Tangles passed away, it was just me in the big city. I released how much I missed being around pets. There was always this urge inside me to explore different places. So, I took action on my idea. 28-months later, I find myself fully booked through the holiday period with dates 6-months in advance.
MY FIRST HOUSE SIT...
My first official gig began in early 2017 in West Melbourne (Australia) with a pooch called Brick. His owners were travelling to Europe for 3 weeks.
I was excited to hear the happy couple got engaged on their return. We all sat down for a welcome home dinner overlooking the Melbourne Star and I was asked back to house sit at their new place in St Kilda. This time, I accompanied Brick, dressed in his neat red bow tie, to their wedding in 2018.
NORTH MELBOURNE LOCAL DISCOVERIES & RECOMMENDATIONS
Roller Door Cafe do a fantastic Turmeric Latte and have a good lunch menu to choose from. They're only a short walk from North Melbourne Station!
Jo is a fantastic house sitter. She looked after our house for 3 weeks while we were overseas. Overall, we found her to be extremely attentive, considerate and trustworthy. We returned to find the house immaculately clean (cleaner than when we left it!). We would have no hesitation in using Jo again or recommending her to others seeking a house sitter. STEPHANIE (West Melbourne VIC, April 2017)
SO IT BEGAN...
Before I knew it, this initial house sit quickly led to meeting more people and pets in Melbourne and metropolitan Victoria, Australia. So, as you can see, I've decided to include some local discoveries and recommendations during my time there.
RICHMOND LOCAL DISCOVERIES & RECOMMENDATIONS
The Serotonin Eatery in Richmond have a delicious plant-based menu that is not only good for you, but tastes good too. They use fresh, organic, local and fair trade ingredients, and all their main meals are packed with tryptophan, an essential amino acid, which elevates your Serotonin levels to help stabilise your mood. It's a beautiful spot, with an outdoor area that features "swings" for seating. I also recommend checking out Friends Of Mine if you're in the area and up for a cafe-hop!
Jo was a fantastic house sitter! Our animals loved her and the house was in great condition when we got home. We would happily recommend her! KERRY (Richmond VIC, October 2017)
THE LIFESTYLE & MAJOR MILESTONES
The more places I went, the more I realised how much of Melbourne I'd been missing out on fully experiencing after living there for so many years. I got to experience and immerse myself into the culture of different suburbs and areas. I'd go for morning walks to have brekkie and coffee at the local hot spots.
Contrary to my initial expectations, house and pet sitting didn't take any time away from work, business or education. In fact, it inspired me to take more action, create content and think of new innovative ideas each place I went too. Each home, I'd set myself a goal to achieve before leaving.
Before I knew it, I started seeing major milestones in my life being accomplished. That business I always wanted to start - I started it. Those courses I always wanted to undertake - I completed them. That new catalogue of music I always wanted to write - I wrote it. Each home left an imprint upon different stages of my life. Imagine that wholesome nostalgic feeling of "HOME" across 20 different houses. This gifted me with one of the biggest life realisations I could have hoped for. More on that soon.
Lifestyle wise, it was refreshing to only need the essentials. A few outfits to swap between through the week, books, laptop and music things. I learned to cook plenty more nutritious meals, and get inspired with recipe ideas if I'd get to meet the owners beforehand for dinner.
It also pushed me outside my level of comfort to learn what I didn't yet know about what I thought I wanted out of life. I purposefully put myself under healthy acute stress to build my resilience to have better self-management and mastery over unhealthy chronic stress.
Jo looked after our house and cats on short notice for 9 weeks, and we are very pleased with how well she maintained the house and pusses. The house was immaculate when we returned, and the cats so satisfied with Jo's care that they looked upon us disdainfully when we got home and spent a couple of days sulking next door. Jo kept us posted with news, and rose to every challenge an old timber house could throw at her. We have no hesitation in recommending Jo as a competent and caring house and pet sitter. STEVE (Fairfield VIC, Sep 2017)
FAIRFIELD LOCAL DISCOVERIES & RECOMMENDATIONS
If you are ever in Fairfield, my recommendation is to go for a stroll down Station Street. There's a very "wholesome" community vibe with fruit and vegetable markets, bakeries, patisseries, cafes and restaurants. I practically lived off A1 Bakery deliveries from my neighbour when I was on crutches. I recommend Harvest, CH James and Fifteen Pounds Cafe for some solo, duo or group lunches with friends. Bliss Yoga and Wellbeing offer a range of classes for a refreshing start your day, rebalance over the weekend or wind down in the evenings. You can trial unlimited classes for only $35.00 over 14 days. If you'd like an outdoor adventure and there's good weather, head down to the Fairfield Boathouse and Tea Gardens. There's a trail if you're up for a walk or bike ride too. You won't be disappointed. This little suburb can easily be missed as a must-see spot. It definitely has a lot to offer.
THE TRIP UP NORTH TO REGIONAL VICTORIA
House Sitting eventually led me back to my hometown in Mildura, Victoria where I got to meet two of my favourite Ragdolls, Zibbi and Salem and their lovely owners. During this house sit, I finished business training in my Certificate IV in Small Business Management and made a decision to stay in Mildura to build my new small business. By this time, I was receiving more and more requests for more house and pet sitting between Mildura and Melbourne, so I continued to travel, which would line up perfectly with my work and projects. All the while, feeling noticeable changes with massive improvements to my Mental Health, ability to navigate some extreme challenges and clarity around discovering my genius zone and true passion in life.
MILDURA LOCAL DISCOVERIES & RECOMMENDATIONS
Things have certainly developed in Mildura over the last 10 years. I fell in love with the local hot spot Blk Mlk Speciality Coffee who were recently voted #1 for Sunraysia's Best Coffee. One of my favourite morning routines is meeting with friends here in mornings for coffee for some meaningful conversation or to discuss our goals and vision. The team (James, Melissa) are very welcoming and friendly too. If you are in Mildura, get down to the Murray River. My favourite spot is walking along the Mildura Wharf and watching the boats pull in. Prices start from $35.00 to board, or you can keep walking along the river and visit the Bobby + Me Espresso and Eatery who often have live music playing or Cafe 1906 which overlook the Murray River. If you're looking for some more entertainment, you can visit the The Mildura Arts Centre who often have plenty of performances and events.
Jo house sat and looked after our two spoilt cats for ten weeks. She kept us up to date with everything going on, and sent photos of the cats. On our return home, our house was clean, and our cats were happy and healthy. I would highly recommend Joanna to anyone needing a house sitter. We will certainly be asking her again. KAREN & GARRY (Mildura VIC, April 2018)
MORE MILDURA LOCAL DISCOVERIES & RECOMMENDATIONS
Nash Lane is my favourite spot to visit on my lunch break. It's only a short walk from Langtree Avenue. The team are wonderful (Ruby, Hannah, Erin) and make the overall cafe experience very enjoyable. It's quite an inspired space to sit in if you need a bit of ambience and city buzz - something I often miss about Melbourne! The local baristas (Jono, Callum) make a great coffee too which makes up for it. The local Farmers Markets also run every fortnight on a weekend down at Jaycee Park which are a fantastic opportunity to pick up some local produce.
Jo looked after our fur-baby and very pampered pooch Daisy-Duke for 2 weeks while we went on holidays. Jo was very professional ensuring she had met Daisy and received all information possible to care for her while we were away, before we left. Our home was well cared for and kept clean and tidy and pot plants catered to too. Daisy was not only well cared for, but seemed disappointed when we came home and it was time for Jo to go. I would most definitely recommend Jo for your pet and house sitting needs as she is kind, caring and extremely trustworthy. We were very reassured that our house and pet were in such good hands. We will most definitely be using her services again should we go away. SHARNA DUNCAN (Mildura VIC, Nov 2018)
MINIMALIST LIVING & THE LESSONS
Minimalist living has been on the rise. Truth be told, I didn't jump on the trend after watching a documentary or reading a book. I very much enjoyed my creature comforts. A place to call home with the added bonus of having a wardrobe to store my clothes, bookshelf and music equipment.
I often tell people, I kind of fell into house sitting. It wasn't part of my plan. I had initially shifted back into Melbourne with the new goal to start a new life there, rent a home and get a 9 to 5 job. Have some stability in my life and work on improving my Mental Health.
That 1x decision I made in that moment to do 1x house sit, changed the course of my life. We are making decisions every single day. Conscious or unconscious. We are choosing what and how we want to experience our lives.
The entire trajectory of your life has the potential to change by you making a decision like moving to a new state or new country. Or, working a new job. Or, going into business.
It's like one of those books or games where you start on Chapter 1, then it gives you an option to decide what choice you want to make, which leads you to one of two or more outcomes, which then gives you another choice to make...
I'm so happy that I made that decision. The qualities it's cultivated within me, have been invaluable in my life, business and for my personal growth.
I was able to: • Expand my comfort zone and try new things on the regular
• Be present and connect with people and learn about their stories
• Learn to be intrinsically happy without needing "stuff" to feel whole and complete
• Embrace and get comfortable with uncertainty and not knowing
• Be of service to others • Hopefully leave things a little better than how I found them
Travellers, you might know this one well: WHEREVER YOU GO, THERE YOU ARE. Home suddenly became less about my physical environments, and more about finding home within.
THE CLOSE + BIGGEST LESSON OF ALL
After 3+ years I've decided to close this chapter - having now met even more wonderful people and pets since I wrote this.
I've come full circle where I have built a business that I love that now needs my full attention, care and energy.
This decision comes from one of my signature strengths which is an Appreciation of Beauty & Excellence and the realisation that it is impossible to perform at your best when you say YES to everything - and to the things that aren't aligned with your main goals and vision.
Que the burnout, overwhelm, and empty bank account...
Behind the scenes when I was struggling financially, I would still say YES to filling my time with free work - which kept me stuck in the story.
I realised I was setting an expectation of premium and offering it at a free or low rate. Even as a hobby, this was a reflection of an old story around my self-worth and how I valued my time. Why? Because I set that standard for people. In the early days, I offered cleaning too - so you can imagine, I've walked into some interesting situations at times!
And, honestly, I have loved this journey.
It's simply time for me to step out of it now.
75% of it was exceptional and still is - but it's no longer a 100%.
This is my way of paying myself for these 3 years now by giving myself that time and energy.
Thank you to all the incredible people and pets I've met along the way.