Port Angeles – The Places We Live

Our house sitting adventures continue in Port Angeles, Washington! Nestled at the northern tip of the Olympic Peninsula, this area is full of diverse ecological landscapes. We’ll be spending a little less than a week here watching over a lovely home and three dogs on the outskirts of town. The Olympic Peninsula is also home to one of the largest temperate rain forests in the US, with an emphasis on rain. It’s going to be hard to see everything we want to with such little time, but we’re sure gonna try!

Port Angeles, Washington

The State of Washington is located in the northwest corner of the contiguous states and borders British Columbia (Canada), Idaho, Oregon, and the Pacific Ocean. Washington is a powerhouse in the tech and engineering world, hosting the Boeing assembly plant, Microsoft’s headquarters, and Amazon’s headquarters. This is largely due to the lower cost of living in the Seattle area versus San Francisco, where the median housing prices are almost double.

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Port Angeles is located on the northwestern tip of Washington, on the Olympic Peninsula. Long a Native American homeland, the town now hosts a population of nearly 20,000 people with about 2% mix of native peoples. As the name suggests, Port Angeles is situated on the water, and neighbors the Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Even more, standing on the shore, one can look across the Strait to see Canada. The neighboring town of Forks, Washington was featured in the popular vampire series The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer.





Our Home

We are house sitting for three dogs in a beautiful home just outside of town. It has four bedrooms, three bathrooms, and is 2,700 square feet (250 m²) on 2.5 acres. There is a fully stocked kitchen, dining room, living room, laundry room, garage, and play area. The neighboring homes are ranging around $450k. Our home was very comfortable and well appointed, with lots of artwork created by the home owner, a professional artist.

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The nearest business is a family-owned bar. Of which, the owners and locals were quite the cast of characters, and we enjoyed hanging out and listening to their banter over a pint of local craft brew. A little farther afoot is downtown Port Angeles, hosting a small collection of shops, a harbor, and several parks. We walked around downtown a few times during our stay and sampled many of the local restaurants. Most noteworthy was La Belle Creperie, which served up some amazing sweet and savory crepes like the goat cheese, spinach, and raspberry one pictured above (which now lives very happily in my stomach).




Our Family

Our hosts are a family of four whom we met very briefly. Understandably, they were very excited to head out on their vacation to Disneyland. Therefore, we got quick rundown of the place and sent them on their way. They seemed like a wonderful family and based on the artwork throughout the house, we have to assume a very talented one as well.

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The pets for the week were three rescue dogs: (left to right) Snuggles, Lily, and Danny. Snuggles is a chihuahua mix breed and is the alpha in the house. He hated us for about the first three hours, then decided we might be one of the best friends he has ever had. Hence, Snuggles followed me everywhere and lived up to his name. Lily was a little bashful, but a bundle of love. She enjoyed licking our faces as often as humanly (dogly?) possible. In contrast, Danny was a bit of a loner, unless belly rubs were up for offer, or if Lily was available to play. They were all super cute, fun, and the perfect lap warmers during the cold evenings.



Our Lives

This house sit was very quiet and peaceful. We got a lot of work done, including publishing Josh’s short story collection, Finding My Voice. We were both nearly in tears with the excitement of this accomplishment. Josh is now a “Published Author”! It is so exciting!!!

Further, our non-work time was spent cuddling with the dogs, going for walks, exploring Port Angeles, and the neighboring Olympic National Park. The area is absolutely beautiful! As long as getting wet from the rain isn’t a concern, the nature adventure options are endless. I can’t wait to explore more and see what life is like in this new place we live.


 


The Places We Live: Melbourne, Australia

Our adventure around the world continues with another edition of The Places We Live: Melbourne, Australia! A seven hour, red-eye flight got us from Kuala Lumpur to Melbourne for about $150 each. We left one growing and bustling city simply to land in a new one. We were immediately struck by the familiar sounds of the English language, as well as the bitter chill that comes with the fall in May (?!)Read on to find out more about our first home sit in the land down under!

Read more about our week in Sepang, Malaysia before flying to Australia. ♥

Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne is the capital city of the state of Victoria, on the southern tip of Australia. With a population hovering around five million “Melbournians”, Melbourne ranks as the second most populous city in Australia, just behind Sydney. Thanks to its highly rated educational, cultural, and economic standing, Melbourne has been ranked as the World’s Most Livable City for the last seven years in a row!

Map of Australia with Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth labeled. There is a teal flag being used to highlight Melbourne

We are in Australia as a short reprieve from the more foreign lands of Asia to celebrate our six month nomad anniversary. I didn’t specifically pick Melbourne for any real reason except that it was the cheapest city to fly to. Once that was decided, we started looking for house sits and found two back-to-back that would last us through the entire month of May. That would leave us with just enough time to fly back to China for our scheduled sit in Chengdu this June.


I use Trusted Housesitters to pair me up with house sitting gigs. I would recommend it to both pet owners and potential house sitters. Please check out this affiliate link. If you join immediately after clicking on THIS link, I will receive a commission, but you will pay nothing extra. Thank you in advance for helping us to keep traveling! And you’re welcome for your awesome new freedoms with Trusted Housesitters.


Our New House

The front of a two story, brick, Victorian home in Melbourne, AusOur first home in Melbourne is only a few miles outside of the CBD (Australian for “downtown”). Using the trolley system (ranked as the largest in the world), we were able to get to and from town in about 20 minutes for $3 USD each. The trollies are very convenient, clean, and easy to navigate.

The house itself is a Victorian row house (look at me pretending to know what I’m talking about!). It is part of a very large duplex with a small front and back garden (Australian for yard). It didn’t look very large from the outside, but it was deep and had two levels, so it was actually quite spacious on the inside. There are three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a den, two living rooms, a dining room, a large kitchen, and a garage. The prices I saw for homes of similar size in the neighborhood were going for about $750k USD.

Our house looks very similar to the other homes in the neighborhood. We get the impression that indoor-outdoor space is important to the Melbournians. Like most of the neighboring homes, the first floor was covered in windows and doors to the outside. Despite the cold of the upcoming winter (that’s right, it is FALL here), our host had the majority of the doors and windows open.

Check out our lovely house sit in Kuala Lumpur. ♥

Our New Family

Our host, Ms. J, only recently moved into the home and works as a Vicar at the neighboring church. She has traveled quite a bit and has a lot of experience hosting house sitters in her home. She was super welcoming and made us feel very comfortable.

We were very excited about this sit because we would get to enjoy the company of two adult cats. They, unfortunately, we far less excited to meet us. We did eventually become friends, but it took a lot of pandering.


A large, brown cat with black striping sits on a bed with a pink blanket. It is labeled Marley The Places We LiveMarley

I know we’re not supposed to pick favorites, but Marley was my favorite. He was the ruler of the house and was not afraid to wave his authority over us. Marley was the first to wake us up each morning for breakfast, yelled at us when we left the wrong doors closed, etc. I wormed my way into Marley’s heart one night with an invitation onto my heated blanket. He slept with me each night after that.

Meet Jack, the cat we watched near the beach in Thailand. ♥


A Black cat with green eyes stands on carpet next to a banister. The image is labeled Betsy The Places We Live.Betsy

Betsy liked Josh right away. Although she would hide from me, I could usually find her cuddled on a chair as close to Josh as possible without actually touching him. She did warm up to me after a little bit and at least stopped hiding from me. She liked that I fed her minced kangaroo meat for dinner (a common pet food in Australia) and I loved her beeping mews.

Meet Lucy, our indifferent dog roommate in Chengdu, China. ♥


Living in Melbourne

As with all of the places we live, our budget in Australia is $200 USD per week. That affords us $38 Australian dollars per day, including housing, food, transportation, entertainment, visas, and tickets back out of the country. That is a pretty tight budget here, so we are very grateful for the free housing our house sits provide.

Shopping for groceries has proven to be fairly inexpensive, and although some of the names are unfamiliar, most of the food is recognizable. We were able to do quite well on our budget with our usual staples, plus some local microbrews and snacks. We have all of the kitchen appliances are we are used to and have been finding it easy to cook at home on a budget.

Some of the groceries we purchased in Melbourne, Australia. Uncle Tobys brand Honey Whole Grain Cherrios, Sunbites brand Grain Waves, SPC brand Aussie Made Baked Beans, Tim Tam, 4 Pines Pale Ale

The weather has been cold and very rainy since we arrived, so most of our days are spent working at the kitchen table. We have gotten in the habit of keeping our eye on the windows, ready to run outside for a walk during every break in the clouds. There are a lot of parks nearby and so many interesting birds and plants to look at.

Overall, we are liking Melbourne a lot. It has a hipster vibe very similar to Portland, Oregon but with the cleanliness and seriousness of Vancouver, Canada. We’re really excited to do more exploring in this amazing city and country!

This is an affiliate link that earns me commission at no extra cost to you. ♥


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Australian flag. Melbourne, Australia House Sitting  Melbourne Australia skyline in black and white with teal frame  The Places We Live - Melbourne Australia

 

 

 

 

Trusted Housesitters

Since we’ve been here, we estimate that we have saved around $200 on accommodations alone. But there are other perks as well. Not only do we have lovable Lucy to hang out with, but we have a bike to use ($5 savings) and a kitchen to cook in ($50 savings). In two weeks, we have saved over $250 by staying here with Lucy.

As mentioned in my Places We Live – Chengdu post, we are currently staying in an apartment in Chengdu, for free, in exchange for dog sitting. I learned about this type of exchange online and was able to get involved through Trusted Housesitters, a website that connects travelers with free house sitters.

We booked house sit a few months ago after sending messages back and forth with our host and doing a Skype interview. We had a lot in common and hit it off right away. She booked us a little after that, then a few months later, we showed up at her door. She introduced us to her wonderful dog Lucy, hosted us for dinner, and showed us the ins and outs of her apartment. Then she left for two weeks.

Since we’ve been house sitting here, we estimate that we have saved around $200 on accommodations alone. But there are other perks as well. Not only do we have lovable Lucy to hang out with, but we have a bike to use ($5 savings) and a kitchen to cook in ($50 savings). In two weeks, we have saved over $250 by house sitting in Chengdu with Lucy.

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With this is mind, I have been working diligently to get us more bookings. I sent out about a dozen house sitting applications last week and have finally booked three more sits! Next up, we’re heading to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to enjoy the company of an adorable pup named Molly.

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As you can see, we’re coming back to Chengdu too! I applied for a house sit in Chengdu thinking it would be a good layover on our way to Tibet or something later this summer. I told the woman I was currently in town and was able to meet up for a face-to-face interview if she wanted. Turns out, she is friends with my host and lives just down the block! She invited us over for a chat and also the next day for dinner. Her and her husband had lots of fun stories, a beautiful home, and about the sweetest kitten I have ever met. We can’t wait to come back for the sit.

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Maybe I am getting ahead of myself (this is only a our first house sit), but I think this is going to be a game changer. It has already shown to be a great way to save money, provide privacy to get our work done, and boost our social stimulation. Look out world, here we come!

Refer A Friend TrustedHousesitters com

 

 

The Places We Live – Chengdu

When I envisioned how this trip would go, I saw us living our normal lives, but with different scenery. It worked out great when we were staying with our parents in Florida and Idaho, but since we’ve been here, we have found ourselves living in hostels and hotels. And, as anyone who travels a lot for work can attest, that is not living. We have been having a great time, but I feel like a vacationer rather than a traveler or a roaming expat.

Thankfully, today is the day! We’ve temporarily moved into an apartment in Chengdu, and woke up today with our own space, breakfast at the table, and computer time on the couch. We could not be happier.

Chengdu is the capital city of Sichuan, China. There are between 7.8 and 14 million people living in this city, depending on who you ask, which makes it the 5th most populated city in China. It is the home of Sichuan spicy food, Giant Pandas, the largest building in the world (by floor area), and so much more. I can not wait to explore this city!

If you get the opportunity, check out Places Unknown with Anthony Bourdain, S8-E3 where he goes to Chengdu. It is a great representation of what we are living through.

We are living on the South end of town in an area popular among expats. How? With house sitting! That’s right. We are staying in someone’s house… for free… for two full weeks! Our host is an American teacher at an international school. She has taken off for the Spring Festival holiday and left us with her lovely home and her adorable dog, Lucy.

Jen with black dog, Lucy on couch. House sitters

Our home is in an area of town called American Village, which is a popular spot for expats. There are several other foreigners in the neighborhood, an American international school, and plenty of western restaurants. The apartment itself is on a mid-level floor in a high-rise building. It has two bedrooms, den, one large bathroom, large living room, small kitchen, and a Chinese-style laundry balcony.

The apartment was provided to our host by her work. She estimates the price to be around ¥400 ($64!) per month. It came lightly furnished in a Chinese style. During her 1.5 years here, she has added some Western flair and comforts of home (hence the coffee maker). It still has the feeling of almost right that many expats feel about the Chinese attempts at westernizing. Although the lighting and accent wall papering is elegant, the painted walls are still unevenly painted and cracked. The sinks have a nice faucet with working hot water, but the seams aren’t properly sealed, so it has a tendency to leak. There are two working elevators for the 20+ story building, but there is constant debate about turning one of them off. It has its quirks, but is overall pretty great.

The little perks of home have been wonderful. We bought some groceries and have been eating home-cooked meals. Lucy is very loving and has been keeping us entertained. We even have Netflix again. After a long day of walking and enjoying Chengdu, it was wonderful to sit and stretch on the couch in front of the TV.

We are already on our last week here in Chengdu and I don’t want to leave. I already put in an application for another house sit here for this summer. Chengdu is a very cool city and I can’t wait to explore some more. What’s on the list today? Maybe a trip to see the pandas, the opera, the wetlands, the giant buddha??? There are way too many options. One thing’s for sure, we definitely won’t be bored here in Chengdu.