How to create a lifestyle of freedom and happiness

2014 - Present Day

What does "freedom" mean to you?

If you've arrived directly at this page, or have missed other parts of this website, let me begin with a very quick introduction. My name is Ian Usher. I am originally from the UK, lived in Australia for 7 years, and Panama for 3, before becoming fully nomadic in 2014. I have no home base, and very few possessions. Along with my partner Vanessa, we have built an amazing lifestyle of global freedom.

We're free to choose which part of the world we spend time in. We work for ourselves, and have built our business online, so we can work pretty-much anywhere we can get an internet connection. We're able to work to our own schedule, with only occasional deadlines to meet. If the weather is good we'll take advantage and enjoy the outdoors. If the weather's not so nice, that's when we'll get some work done.

We're not rich, we're not retired, and we don't have a huge fund of savings behind us. We're a pretty normal couple, who have made some decisions that have taken us way outside the norm. We haven't done anything that most others couldn't decide to do, if they wished to follow in our footsteps.

So, if you're ready to find out how you can get started on designing your own freedom lifestyle, read on...

OK, so let's begin by pointing out that what we present on this website represents our own personal version of a "freedom lifestyle".

Options for building your own lifestyle are infinitely variable, and will depend on your own current situation, your goals, your skills, attitude and desire for change.

We just share our stories, our experiences and our plans here in the hope of inspiring others to break free.

It really isn't as hard as you think.

Our current lifestyle

Vanessa and I have spent more than six years developing and refining the current version of our freedom lifestyle. It is something that is always changing and growing, because we're living it. Our ideas, goals and plans change from time to time.

So we're always making adjustments to finesse or improve, or even change our approach, in order to build on new ideas, or to take advantage of new opportunities presented to us.

For example, our plans for the winter of 2019 / 2020 involved buying a van to convert to a camper-van, to allow for longer term travel mixed with house sitting all across Europe.

But an offer of a 3 week house sit in Brooklyn, New York, coupled with a return invite to spend two months on the beautiful Caribbean island of St. Vincent, convinced us to put our van plans on hold until much later in 2020.

This sort of flexibility is both key to building a lifestyle of freedom, as well as one of the huge benefits of such a lifestyle.

It is great to be able to accept such opportunities when they come our way. We don't have to worry about the mortgage, or getting time off work. We only have to consider the other commitments we have already made, and then figure out how we can fit things together.

So how does it all work for us?

We offer our services as pet and house sitters, in return for free accommodation. The model we use is a free exchange of value. No cash changes hands.

All three sides of the exchange - the home owners, the house sitters and the pets - are all big winners. We'll look at house sitting in more depth further down the page.

House sitting enables us to set up "home base" in any one of dozens of countries around the world.

Over the past six years we've done house sits in 11 different countries, and visited 12 other countries in-between our house sit assignments.

We also schedule our adventures around our house sit commitments. See the video clip of the two-week boat charter we enjoyed in the Caribbean in 2018, after we finished a 6 week house sit there.

The "milking stool stool of life"

This video is one of my talks from the first-ever House & Pet Sitting Conference, held in the UK in September 2019.

A milking stool has a very particular design feature for a very particular reason... watch to find out more.

You can find out more about the conference, organised by Vanessa and myself (in our role as publishers of House Sitting Magazine) by clicking here

Alternatively, if you want some great house sitting inspiration, House Sitting Magazine is a great FREE resource for the community.

Building a freedom lifestyle takes time and effort, but the results are so much better than you can possibly imagine. Vanessa and I have been working on this together since we left our island home in Panama in 2014.

Over the years we have put together a design for our lifestyle based on three simple concepts. But as in the milking stool analogy I used in the video above, things get out of balance if you remove any one of these key ideas. And as I discovered recently, things also become more challenging when you add more parts to the puzzle

There are three core parts to our freedom lifestyle that make it sustainable for the long term...


When Vanessa and I met in 2013 we were both coming to the end of relationships. We both had property we were planning to sell.

Vanessa's house sold first, and when the sale completed on my island in Panama in May 2014, we both cleared all our debts, and ended up with a modest sum of cash in the bank.

Having no debt whatsoever means we don't have to find a monster lump sum each month to pay off a mortgage, or pay down loans and credit cards.


While we lived in Panama together for a year, we used house sitters to look after our island whenever we went away.

We occasionally looked after neighbours' properties too, acting as house sitters ourselves. 

We could see that this was going to become a bigger part of our lives, as we enjoyed it so much.

House sitting has now become the cornerstone of our freedom lifestyle.


We're not rich, and we're not retired, so we do need to create an income to make this lifestyle sustainable.

Our income needs to be portable... something we can do from anywhere in the world.

We've tried many different options, including offering website services, selling products, and teaching online.

Most recently, we've become online magazine publishers, and have been sharing House Sitting Magazine with our community for almost 4 years now.

The gilded cage

Lifestyle in most developed countries tends to be built on huge mountains of debt. You're told you need a university degree, but you'll need to borrow to pay for the ever increasing tuition costs.

Next you'll need a home. Don't wait too long to get a foot on the property ladder. Get a mortgage as soon as you can.

Use loans, or one of your credit cards, to fill the house with the things you "need". Don't worry, you can pay it off over the years.

Kids come next, and perhaps you'll need to up-size to a bigger house. You better start putting away some funds for their college years too.

Now I'm not suggesting for a minute that you shouldn't aspire to have a nice home, or nurture a loving family. Life is all about choices.

What I am saying is that if you mire yourself in debt to achieve this, you reduce your choices in a very big way.

In 2015 I wrote a blog post called "The Keys to The World". I can't believe it's almost 5 years since I wrote it. You know what they say: "Time flies by when you're having fun." At the time Vanessa and I were living in Shenzhen in China, where we worked for a while as English teachers. We didn't realise it then, but we were putting in place one of the keystones of our freedom lifestyle.

As we left China, heading for a beautiful house sit high in the Victorian Alps in Australia, we were offered the opportunity to become online English teachers. For me that was a true light-bulb moment. I could see exactly how everything could fall into place now, as we'd be able to continue to earn a decent income, no matter where we based ourselves.

Well, the years since then have been an amazing journey for Vanessa and I, and we've lived a lifestyle of freedom I could never have imagined, even back then as I wrote that post.

In the article I talk in much more detail about the debt trap, and who benefits from it. I also mention a talk I did while in China, addressing the "The Chinese Dream". It's the same one as The American Dream, The Aussie Dream, or The British Dream. 

You can read the post by clicking this link, and you can watch the video by clicking the "Play" button.

An introduction to house sitting

Since late 2015, house sitting has become the major cornerstone of our current lifestyle. 

In return for looking after other people's pets and home, we are given free accommodation. Sits can be as short as a couple of days, or as long as several months. 

In December 2015, after spending a year in China as English teachers,  we took a two month house sit in Australia, just outside the small town of Myrtleford, high in the Victorian Alps.

We had a beautiful couple of months of southern summer. We cycled in the mountains, and lounged by the swimming pool. We drank fresh orange juice from the fruits collected daily from the garden, and we explored the beautiful area in which we now "lived".

This was the first sit of our new freedom lifestyle as full-time house sitters and as permanent global nomads.

Since then we've done house sits in 11 different countries.

Coupled with having no debt, and an online income, house sitting really is the key to our freedom lifestyle.

If you want to find out more about house sitting, take a look at this introductory article on our House Sitting Magazine website 

You'll find out exactly what house sitting is, and what it isn't. You'll also find a set of six blog posts which will take you step-by-step through a simple process you can follow to become a successful house sitter

Most recent "House Sitting" blog posts:

Money, money, money...

Between sits adventures

RV USA (2014)

Our first big adventure when we left the island in May 2014 was to buy an RV (Recreational Vehicle) in Texas. We spent six months driving around the south-western states of the USA, often visiting National or State Parks, and camping in some glorious places. You can see the blog posts from that adventure here:

End of the journey

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Here are some of the most frequently asked questions we get about or RV adventure (click to dropdown for the answer):

Isn't it expensive? How much did the RV cost, and how could you afford it?

What did you do about selling the RV?

What was the best thing about the RV lifestyle?

And what were the negatives?

Is it dangerous staying so close to the Mexican border?

Would you do it again?

Cuba (2017)

Content coming soon...

Outback road trip (2018)

Content coming soon...

Learning to sail (2018)

Content coming soon...

Online video courses

Content coming soon...

In the meantime, have a look at our "Courses" website:

House Sitting Courses

Something else coming soon

All "Freedom Lifestyle" blog posts

Masking the truth

Back in time

Choose life…

Ten years on…

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What next?