A woman has revealed how, after her 23-year marriage ended, she quit her job and sold her £250,000 house to travel the world by staying in strangers’ homes.
Former graphic designer Angela Croft, 49, got rid of all of her possessions following her divorce in May 2016 to embark upon a global adventure, so far touring England, New Zealand and Australia.
Planning to keep travelling for as long as possible, Angela, from Birmingham, West Midlands, said: ‘The divorce was a difficult time, after 23 years together.
‘In the wake of all that, I wanted to do something meaningful with my life. I looked into travelling and volunteering.
‘As soon as I read about house-sitting, a lightbulb went off. I signed up within the hour.’
Splitting up from her ex-husband, who she does not wish to name, Angela’s life felt stagnant, so she decided to take action.
‘I’ve always been keen on travel. I emigrated from England to New Zealand’s North Island in 2003 – but wanted to see even more of the world,’ she said.
Angela’s daughter Maisie, 17, who was living with her, convinced her mum to go for it after they discovered TrustedHousesitters, a website connecting homeowners with people willing to care for their pets and property while they are away.
Angela continued: ‘I didn’t want her to feel like I was leaving her behind, but Maisie was adamant. She kept saying, “Mum, you have to go for it.”
‘So, she’s been staying with her Dad, his new wife and her family while I’ve been travelling. I really miss her, but this experience has been so fulfilling.’
At first, Angela did some house-sitting locally in New Zealand to find her feet and secure some good reviews on her website profile.
Then, in December 2016, she took the plunge and left for Australia.
Starting in Serpentine, south west of Perth, she spent Christmas and New Year at a property with a menagerie of animals.
After another month Down Under, she jetted across the globe to the UK, to be reunited with family she had not seen in years.
Retracing her childhood steps, she worked her way across the south coast, staying in Devon, Somerset and Cornwall.
‘Sadly, my dad Ken died of cancer aged 85 while I was in the UK,’ she said. ‘But the house sitting meant I could stay out as long as I needed, go to the funeral and be there for the family.’
Since then, Angela has been living entirely on back-to-back house sits, caring for all manner of animals, from bees and reptiles to horses and livestock.
She continued: ‘I have had a couple of mishaps. I managed to electrocute myself on the fridge light at one property and gave myself terrible food poisoning at another.
‘I’ve locked myself out a fair few times too.’
Heading to New Zealand in November 2017, Angela had a longed-for reunion with Maisie, before spending two months exploring the North Shore, near Auckland.
Currently, she’s staying at a property in Wanaka, a lakeside resort on the South Island surrounded by snow-capped mountains.
‘I’m managing an Air B&B for my friend at the moment just to build back up my money,’ she explained.
‘So far, I’ve just been relying on my savings to get by. I got half from the house sale, split between my ex husband and I.’
Angela has organised lots of other back-to-back stays, and will be exploring the rest of New Zealand until September, going back to the North Island where she’ll be reuinited with Maisie.
Then, she has no idea where she will visit next – but is adamant it will need to be by the sea.
As a thank you to the home owners, she has been using her skills as an artist to create intricate sketches of the pets she looks after, to give as keepsakes.
Each takes her between 20 and 25 hours, and she has also set up a website, hoping to secure commissions from people she has not met to help fund her travels.
Reflecting on her adventure, she said: ‘I’m not sure where I’ll head next. I love the ocean, so anywhere coastal would be great. Europe, Asia – I’m open to anywhere in the world.
‘I’d absolutely recommend house sitting to people. It’s a fantastic way to see the world, and you get to help somebody out in the process.
‘I’ve met loads of fantastic people, it’s been so fulfilling.’