Roaming About

A Life Less Ordinary

Completed House Sits: Santa Fe, New Mexico – August 18th to September 16th, 2017

As of this month, Mark and I have been house sitting full-time for two years. It all started with a wonderful dog named Zyla in Gloucester, Massachusetts, and the positive experiences of this new lifestyle continued ever-after, bringing us to our current sit in the mountains of Colorado. More about that later, as I have been trying to catch up on all the adventures we had in Santa Fe, New Mexico, finishing that period with a summary of our one-month house sit there.

Our adobe-style home for one month

A few weeks ago, I mentioned briefly how stressful our life as house and pet sitters can be. Besides not knowing where we will lay our heads to rest in the future, keeping a constant eye on new listings, communicating with home owners, arranging Skype interviews, and patiently waiting for the verdict, sometimes unexpected developments occur. Like when we left Northern California mid-August to undertake yet another long road trip of 1200 miles from Sebastopol, CA to Santa Fe, New Mexico for our next house sit. We had planned three days for this, to avoid repeating the craziness of driving Zesty back from Arkansas in July, having a restricted amount of time while needing to work along the way. Three days should do it, we figured: two long ones and then, on Friday, a shorter trip and catching up on work stuff before departure.

Our new neighborhood

On the morning of day two, however, the result of prior miscommunications had us awake with a start: the home owners expected us to arrive in Santa Fe that very day, at 5pm, instead of the following one. What??? We felt as bad as they were worried and did not want to disappoint. Plus, we think it is mutually beneficial to meet the owners before they take off. We were strangers to them, after all. There was only one viable solution: start driving until we got there. After 13 hours in our slow van (we don’t exceed 65mph) with as little stops as possible, we made it to our new home by 8pm. The owners were happy and relieved; we were exhausted and hungry. On hindsight, getting there a day earlier than planned was perfect, since both Mark and I had a heavy work load that Friday, which would have been impossible to deal with on the road.

And that’s how our otherwise fantastic house sit in Santa Fe started. Mark and I had never spent any time in New Mexico and we decided to make the most of our weekends. It was also our first and only house sit without pets, which – while we missed the furry company – had some advantages. Many of the National Parks we visited did not allow dogs and some of the hikes we chose, would have been too tough for doggy paws or too hot for doggy tongues, let alone being able to take a four-legged friend on a tram up a mountain!

The adobe house we stayed at was comfortable and cool – we never needed the air-conditioning – with nice views of the mountains. Taking care of the indoor plants and yard with a sprinkler system was relatively easy, adding up to about 20 minutes a day. We lucked out with the weather, not only allowing us some interesting excursions over the weekends, but also sufficient time to work on camper projects, almost daily.

In the previous blogs, I have reported on the day and weekend trips we took in the area. This meant that we did not really do the town, Santa Fe, justice. We drove through it often, en route to other places or to do our grocery shopping, but only visited once. One late afternoon, we strolled through town for an hour or two, to get a first impression of the sights and atmosphere. We never managed to return for a second impression.

Not having dogs to attend to was good and bad. Since we did not go for scheduled daily walks, we spent more time behind our computers. Productive, but we had little exercise during the week, besides picking up the mail at the end of the driveway, or going for a walk in the neighborhood. There were a few trails and a green space we ventured into once in a while. We never tired from high desert living, where the sunsets were spectacular every evening and the few thunder storms we observed packed a punch! We both hope to be back soon.

Best feature(s): Roomy, one floor adobe house with tiled floors, location, views, temperatures in the low 80s (upper 20s Celsius).

Sun-downers with a view of the mountains

Best gadget(s): Water cooker, coasters everywhere for our glasses of water and cups of tea, TV.

Surprise(s): Owners donate to NPR and therefore have a perk of getting 2 for 1 entrees at participating restaurants. They lent us the card, but because we were on a very tight budget during this particular house sit (the initial months of being camper van owners are expensive!), we only used it once for a tasty Mexican dinner out.

Beautiful sunsets in the desert

Downside(s): The house is located right next to a road creating traffic noise. The fresh water was very hard – no leathering with soap, a filter is needed for drinking water and the shower required wiping down after each use. The hot tub was shut off for the summer.

The owners’ review of us for this house sit can be read here.

41 Comments

  1. Sounds like a great house sit. The miraculous staircase is amazing – what a talented carpenter.

    • We debated visiting this staircase, because there was a $3 per person entrance fee, but we bit the bullet (and we had friends who recommended this site) and are glad we witnessed this masterpiece. Pretty amazing, indeed – structural and beautiful. And, mysterious. 🙂

  2. Dogs are definitely great for making sure you get exercise every day. Cats are easier – just feed and pet them regularly and they’re happy. You guys sure have lucked out with some amazing house sits in some pretty awesome locations.

    • How I wish Mark was not allergic to cats! I love their presence, but we can’t take any house sits with indoor kitties, unfortunately. The opportunities we have missed, because of it! 🙂 Luckily, we adore dogs, and there are still plenty of attractive sits requiring dog sitters. All that being said, we felt spoiled doing this Santa Fe sit, only having to care for plants. It did give us some extra amount of freedom. Maybe luck has something to do with it, or, the owners felt confident we would be the right candidates when doing the interviews. 🙂

  3. That sounds like a great housesit! I don’t think you missed much by not spending a lot of time in Santa Fe. They have some nice museums and galleries but it’s pretty touristy. Much better to get out and about like you did. If you want to return someday I’m sure you will… there is much to see.

    • We did realize, by just looking at a map and by browsing the National Parks in New Mexico brochure, that there is a lot to see in this state. We don’t regret not returning to Santa Fe for the reasons you mention. Nature here has so much more to offer. And, we might be back to combine a city tour with a grocery store visit. 🙂

  4. It looks wonderful – but what a horrible day of driving to get there! Still, you made it on time (ish).

    • It was a pretty crazy day to get there, but we were very happy that we had the means to change our plans and still drive there ourselves. If we would have needed to fly there (like many house sitters do), the issue would have been greater.

  5. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out the NPR reference and 2 for 1. In my mind, I kept registering that as a National Park and half off entrance fees. Lol. Tells you how much we eat out . . . and listen to NPR (my addiction is MSNBC). Cheers!

    • You know, if I wouldn’t have been in the States for as long as I have and if I wouldn’t have blogging friends who are NPR supporters, I would not have known what the abbreviation stands for either. I should change this in the blog! Thanks for pointing that out, Stephanie. I hate it when other writers/bloggers assume that all their readers are from the US and now, I am doing the same. Not that all the people in the US know what NPR stands for, of course. 🙂 Hope you are both doing alright up in Washington.

  6. Hi, Liesbet – Thank you for also including a link to the reviews that the home/pet owners completed for you and Mark. I knew that they would be 5-star all of the way. If we ever need a home/pet sitter I know who I will be calling! You should be very proud of the reviews – they really are first-rate!

    • Thanks, Donna. I figured a little bit of publicity wouldn’t hurt. 🙂 No, the real reason I included the page is to make readers understand that there is a review process in place and that it is all part of finding new “jobs” or having the reviews help home owners select the right candidates. Once we have a Skype interview about potential house sits, we also provide contact information of previous home owners, so they can call or email the references and have a private conversation with them. It is a great system and we are all about transparency.

  7. Love the house and the area. OMG I think you had more grass than we did in Portugal 🙂 Sounds like the water in the Mediterranean! Those screens you have just purchased are priceless we had them in our converted bus, brilliant for air flow and to obviously keep the bigger insects out!

    • We have heard other people comment about how green this area of New Mexico is. We were surprised as well, about the green scenery and about the fact that they have a “monsoon season” here over the summer!

      The screens are great. They are as old as the camper (13 years) and were in dire need of TLC. We took all five of them out of the camper – very carefully – took them apart, cleaned them, oiled them and patiently rolled them back on the spring and installed them in the camper. Yep. A big project and the first one (trial and error) took forever. But an important job, since I don’t think these kinds are widely available. Maybe in Europe…

  8. Looks like a pretty sweet house! You guys did a great job of seeing the area. I spent a few hours in Santa Fe once and thought it was cute for about that long – better to have wandered away a bit to see all that other stuff!

    • Santa Fe does seem like a cute town, but we are happy with the explorations we choose. And, there is even more to see, probably a bit further away from town, though. Part of us would like to actually do a house sit in town, so we can walk everywhere and enjoy the daily free summer concerts at the plaza.

  9. Hi Liesbet,
    Like Donna, I’m really glad you included a link to the reviews. I enjoyed reading all of them and seeing the confirmation of the across the board 5 star rating, just as I knew it would be.
    I hope you’re enjoying Colorado and look forward to hearing about that house sit in upcoming posts.
    Oh, and how cool that you spent a month in an adobe home. I’m not surprised that you stayed nice and cool. They’re such a perfect home for the hot, hot days in New Mexico.

    • I guess with everything you are passionate about, you usually do well and the dedication, care, responsibility level, communication skills, and love for the animals, in this case, luckily comes across. Thanks for believing in us as well, Karen. We do think this house and pet sitting lifestyle is a great match for us. For now. 🙂

      That was our first experience living in an adobe house (like you in the B&B probably) and we were very surprised about how it remained cool. Funny thing I forgot to mention, though, is that the roof (which we could not see from anywhere since it was recessed because of this style of building) constantly made funny noises, depending on the change in temperature.

      We are not having much luck with the weather in Colorado, unfortunately, so the three dog walks a day (in rain, mist and snow) happen in the neighborhood. We never expected winter to arrive so soon here, but, then again, we are living at 8000+ feet, higher than in Santa Fe. We truly hope next weekend (our last weekend here) provides the opportunity of some sightseeing in the mountains.

  10. We tried also to find house sitting and pet sitting opportunities, but never found anything although I’d be able to pet sit any kind of pet. Well, but your photos of Santa Fe are great, we lived there for many years, what a place!

    • We did lose our hearts a bit to this area, Cecilia, and we hope to be back. It looks like a wonderful and diverse place to live. Where did you move to? Persistence (and an attractive profile) will get you a house and pet sitting job in the future! 🙂

  11. Sounds like a life full of adventures. I’d love to see the desert and the sunsets – so dramatic.

    • It certainly is a life where adventures and daily necessities (like work, and writing :-)) can be combined. And that’s the part about house sitting we love best!

  12. I guess it’s what you’re used to but I don’t especially like the look of small American towns (best say that very quietly 🙁 ). Much better to be out and about. I’ve enjoyed looking around with you, Liesbet. 🙂 Agree with Anabel though- what a drive!

    • Thanks for the company, Jo! You of all people know that we prefer the outdoors to any town setting. 🙂 Unless one is located in said cute town (temporarily, of course), then it is nice to be able to walk “everywhere”. 🙂

      Nope, not a fan of those long drives (without the opportunity to sight see along the way), but we did know we would have one month in New Mexico and one month in Colorado after the effort and fuel consumption.

  13. Funny how schedule changes and surprises make things work out better! I’ve only driven through New Mexico in the southern part and still long to go there and explore. The whole Southwest appeals to me. Beautiful photos, give a great sense of how everything looks!

    • Terri, I really love it when things work out as they are “meant to be”. Wish it happened more often, sometimes. The Southwest has so many amazing national parks that one would need several years to visit them all extensively. Luckily for you, California has a lot of natural beauty to offer as well! 🙂 I’m sure the draw of the SW will get you and Hans here at some point.

  14. Really like the adobe house. Your photos bring back the charm of when I visited Santa Fe. Hopefully you will get to return to explore the city at some point, because it has got some fabulous artists’ studios, delicious restaurants, and a farmer’s market that goes until November.

    • Being in New Mexico almost felt like being on vacation, or in a different country. It is very different from other places we house sat and visited, which is why we liked it so much, I think. We did check out the Farmer’s Market, but it was on a Wednesday and not much was going on; a disappointment, really. Saturdays are reportedly better and livelier, but we were always away for the weekend then. Maybe next time…

  15. Hi Liesbet! How fun learning more about your experience as house-sitters. While I think the idea of it sounds completely romantic, as you say, there are always challenges to any experience. But it sounds like you are extremely flexible and accommodating and it is no wonder that you have such glowing reviews. I have been to Santa Fe for a short time and agree that the area around it is spectacular. Happy to hear that you had great weather and were able to enjoy the sit! ~Kathy

    • When the weather is good in one place, it isn’t in the next, apparently. But, no complaints. We do love this lifestyle still and enjoy all the different places, houses, pets and situations. I think being accommodating is a big part of “the job”, and having our camper now, offers more flexibility and security. Thank you for your kind words, Kathy.

  16. I am so sorry to hear of the stresses you’ve been experiencing over the past couple of months. But boy have you enjoyed some amazing locations. The Santa Fe house and surrounds were absolutely gorgeous. And now Colorado! But even though you are having all of these amazing adventures, I am still hopeful that you can find a long term house sit engagement so that you can reduce your stress and create your masterpiece.

    • New Mexico has been our favorite state to house sit so far, especially, because there is so much to see and do, and we had never been there. Colorado is beautiful. Mountains with snowy peaks and deep blue lakes. But… it is way too cold for us, unfortunately. More about that in future blogs.

      Guess what, Lisa? Our next house-sit is a three-month stint in San Diego over the winter! So, I am hopeful a lot of writing will get done. 🙂

      • OMG I love San Diego. And you will get to hang out with Janis! That will be fun. So glad that you get to stay put for awhile to focus on your book! Yay!

        • Yay, indeed. I am looking forward to it all: the city, meeting Janis again, being able to walk everywhere, the climate, the length of time. Mark and I are hoping to wrap some important things up while there as well.

  17. I still have lots of blog reading to catch up on seeing as we have been traveling in the States for six weeks visiting family.

    I can definitely relate to what you write about how having dogs to care for, gets you out every day exercising and enjoying fresh air no matter what the weather is, compared to not having them and then naturally spending more time working.

    Looks like a great house sit in Santa Fe, it is such a gorgeous region. You give a good and interesting description of the pros and cons of house sitting.

    Peta

    • I had noticed some quiet times on Green Global Trek, Peta. I hope you had an amazing time in the States visiting family. Did you do some sightseeing as well? Are you back in Sri Lanka now? I’m looking forward to reading about your experiences.

      Yes about the dog caring! We have one now for a month, and he needs a lot of exercise. We are not gaining any weight while we are in Colorado, despite our bodies needing some more fat reserves to deal with the icy weather. 🙂

  18. Wonderful recap of what seemed a beautiful time in New Mexico. Thanks for sharing your beautiful experiences. 🙂

  19. How cool that you got to stay in an adobe house! That is the perfect accommodation for New Mexico. It’s great that you will have a longer house sit coming up in San Diego. I love San Diego. I have been there a few times, but not for quite a few years. The last visit was a two week camping stay with my kids back in 2001.

    Jude

    • Wow, that has been a while since you were in San Diego, Jude! It probably has gotten much busier since then. We have enjoyed our short visits there as well, so we are really looking forward to spending some decent time there over the winter. And, not be cold anymore. 🙂

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