A Totally Tropicali Adventure: House Sitting in South and Central America

By Susan Ripley | Travel

Looking for a more economical, more immersive way to travel? Love exploring off-the-beaten-path locations and spending time with happy pets?

Frugal adventurer Susan and her husband Justin (from Brooklyn, NY) recently started house sitting in South and Central America where they have the opportunity to indulge their love of the region's vibrant cultures while living like locals. Here Susan shares their story.


I didn’t grow up traveling. I didn’t even know it was something that was possible for me until a few years ago.

One of the first eye opening travel experiences I had involved me tagging along on a music festival tour with my sound engineer husband and the band he was working with. It was a rotating festival that hit three inland cities in Mexico - Guadalajara, Queretaro, and Puebla.

Taking part in the festivities

Initially, I was just happy to go along to spend time with my husband. What I didn’t expect was to get a good look into real Mexican culture and make connections with locals attending the shows.

I was seeing a side of Mexico I’d never been told about - far from the coastal tourist towns, and far from the dirty or scary Mexico we hear about on the news. I saw ancient ruins, colonial churches, hip restaurants, charming streets, and varied countryside as we traveled between cities.

I was soon hooked on this immersive style of travel!

The beautiful and remote crater lake in Nayarit we lived on for 3 months while house sitting

For the next couple years, I put all my energy into finding creative ways to use my short amount of vacation time and my limited resources to take more trips abroad - I managed to travel to Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and back to Mexico a few more times.

I was still beholden to a traditional job to pay for our life in Brooklyn, but I dreamed of becoming a longterm traveler and digital nomad. It just seemed so hard to get started.

That’s when housesitting changed everything.


On our daily hike with the dogs in the mountains outside of Oaxaca city

I had heard about house sitting a couple of years ago, but felt intimidated to actually give it a try myself. I questioned why anyone would say 'yes' to us when we didn’t have any previous experience actually securing sits through house sitting platforms like TrustedHousesitters (only having helped vacationing friends and coworkers in the past by caring for their pets when they traveled).

In the Fall of last year, my husband and I decided we’d plan a much longer trip, so I knew then it was time to give international housesitting a real try. I read blogs, listened to podcasts, and learned as much as I could about the process.

Then I created a thorough profile, made my husband stumble through an intro video with me, and picked out the best photos I could find. We serached daily and I started keeping an eye out for sits in Latin America. I sent out a few application letters, putting a lot of time and effort into creating personal and professional replies to the homeowners’ listings.

After only about a month, we confirmed our first sit!


Some of our amazing pets in Oaxaca

We’d secured a three month sit for an expat couple with a dog and cat in a small bungalow on a crater lake in Mexico. The area was remote but mountainous and beautiful, and somewhere we would have never known to visit otherwise!

Once we had that booked, we realized we were going to be able to travel for so much longer than we had expected. We settled on making plans for 6 months, and left our return date open.

Then, out of the blue we received another house sitting offer a couple months later. This sit was for a home and pets in Oaxaca, Mexico - one of our favorite cities in the world. We couldn’t say no!

We’re now ticking off an item on my bucket list - living on the beach - while house sitting in the Yucatan of Mexico. We’re at nine months of travel and counting, and I don’t think we’ll need to stop anytime soon!


Life's a beach in Mexico

We’re amazed at how house sitting has given us the gift of time.

Without having to worry about paying any accommodation or rent costs, we’re able to live on so little and stretch our time out much longer than we expected. We also have so much time during the sits to do work on our laptops, and explore the area slowly like a local.

We’ve made lasting friendships everywhere we’ve gone, and feel like each house has become a home to us. 

So the truth is any driven, responsible, and caring person can get started housesitting if they put some effort into it.

Find out more about frugal sitters Susan and Justin on their travel blog or over on their house sitter profile.

What to find your ideal house sitting stay?

      Got a question? Let's chat in the comments below!
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