House Sitting - One Woman's Never Ending Story


Americans have specialized in alternative lifestyles that can be traced back to Thoreau’s call to step to the beat of a different drum.

California’s Kelly Hayes-Raitt has heeded a distinctive rhythm by financing a political activist’s life as a house sitter in Lake Chapala, London, Paris, Copenhagen and the outskirts of Amsterdam.

Her nomadic existence has offered the opportunity to write and edit about Iraqi and Palestinian refugees at and by blogging for Violating Sanctions.

Hayes-Raitt is a lifelong political activist and spokesperson for campaigns championing women's rights, environmental cleanup, consumers' rights and other social justice causes.

She has house sat in Chapala, Mexico since 2010, her away home from mid-September to mid-February and from April to June.

Setting Up House Sitting Arrangements

Hayes-Raitt, 52-years-old, has established a trusted relationship with an older retired couple. They cover all the expenses of the house, including a house keeper, a pool maintenance man, and gardeners. She’s responsible for making sure the house runs smoothly during their absence, including caring for their dog.

She rents out her house in Los Angeles – an ongoing source of rental income – incurs no housing expenses in Lake Chapala. With lower expenditures in Mexico, compared to California, she saves on income.

“It’s perfect,” said Hayes-Raitt. “I love the community.” She feels she has roots in Chapala because she’s lived there many seasons. “I enjoy the house and the dog and I’m friends with the neighbours.” has been an excellent web departure point for the roaming activist – and – where home owners with pets search for house sitters.

Maple Leaf

Retired people in Mexico often return to the USA or Canada for medical care or extended visits with families and grandchildren – or they’re seasonal retirees – half the year in Mexico – the other back home. A house sitter ensures safety and security, especially pet care.

The Role of the House Sitter

Flexibility and a spirit of adventure are the key house sitter traits. Every home has its quirks so they need to be comfortable with pets and all household routines – and be available on the house owner’s timetable – their departures and return dates. “It requires emotional, financial, and time flexibility.”

Hayes-Raitt's resourcefulness is supplemented by“a hell of a lot of faith.” She'll leave Chapala for Los Angeles in January 2014, then off to Europe for the summer months. But she’ll be unable to firm up her plans until April or May when summer house sitting season opens across the Atlantic.

Her run-down on house sitters types:

    1. Vacationers who want to spend several weeks or months without paying for accommodations
    2. Toe-tippers. People who want to check out retirement in foreign communities
    3. Entrepreneurial house sitters who create income from their rental property and pare down expenses while living in a foreign country
    4. Writers and artists – like Hayes-Raitt – who free up time for their passion
    5. A combination of the above

Whatever the aims for boomers and younger middle-aged house sitters, Hayes-Raitt advises that they know their goals and basic needs.