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Your eyes haven’t betrayed you, IT IS snowing in Baja! We housesitting off-grid in the mountains of Baja California, Mexico and we received 6″ of snow in a 24 hour period. In this episode we walk you through some of the systems and planning that we use to be comfortable during a white out!

Is Off-Grid Living For You?

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Off-Grid Living Might Not Be For You If…

100% Off-Grid Home in Mexico

We have settled in to the off-grid lifestyle at a housesitting assignment in the remote mountain wilderness of the Sierra de San Pedro Mountains in Baja California, Mexico. We have spent 6 weeks living in a completely off-grid house 70 kilometers from civilization and have experienced record snowstorms, temperatures below freezing, as well as mechanical malfunctions and so much more in our short time here. After this article you should have a better idea if off-grid living is for you or if you should avoid moving to a cabin in the woods.


You Are High Maintenance

You might say, “I am not high-maintenance”, but how many showers have you had this week? Was your water really hot? Did each shower last longer than 5-10 minutes? If you take a shower every day, want your shower to be the same temp as the sun, and want to scald your flesh for 20 minutes or more, you are likely not ready to live on limited water in an off-grid home. That is not to say that you can’t enjoy a hot bath on occasion, but you have to plan ahead and insure that your bath isn’t going to deplete your drinking water supply for next week. 

Are you accustomed to modern HVAC and are used to having your living space at a comfortable 72.5 degrees? Unless you are using a very sophisticated solar setup, modern heat and air is an unrealistic comfort. Learning to be comfortable in an off-grid home is often a matter of planning ahead (see below) and layering up or down. If you are cold in the winter, grab a jacket or sweatshirt. Hot in the summer? Run down to the stream for a quick dip to lower your body temperature. Small adjustments like these are a major part of living off the grid. 

Driving in 3 Weeks Worth of Groceries


You Can’t Plan Ahead

The Boy Scouts of America motto has never been more relevant to us as it has while living off-grid. Being prepared for anything is vitally important when living away from the security of society in an off-grid home. You must make the most of your trips to town and make sure you are bringing back enough fuel, food, and supplies for anything that might happen before the next trip to town. 

We have developed a schedule of resupplying every 2-3 weeks. We could easily resupply once a month, but we really enjoy fresh produce and seeing the sights of Baja. On our last resupply trip we topped off fuel, visited the hardware store, fish market, electronics store, Walmart and two grocery stores in a matter of 24 hours. Lists and discipline go a long way when shopping for a month’s worth of groceries and the process was a real adjustment for us compared to keeping 4-5 days of food in our bus and literally camping in grocery store parking lots on occasion. 

You Need Instant Gratification 

If you need to exist in a world where you must have fast food, fast internet, and fast traffic, off-grid living might not be for you. Although this isn’t the case in all off-grid applications, in our case we are 70KM’s from a town (a small town at that) and over 2 hour’s drive from the nearest market. The closest McDonalds is over 200 kilometers away, a 4 hour drive! 

Your average work on an off-grid property will likely not be instantaneously rewarding either. Consider a garden, you will need to wait through an entire season of hard work and dedication before you ever see a reward from your labor. However, once you enjoy the spoils of fresh produce the work will be some of the most rewarding you have ever done. Parts for repairs are hard to come by in a timely manner, fuel is a long drive away and wood piles don’t cut down, split and stack themselves. At the ranch we are on, mail is delivered to Ensenada for pickup, near the closest Big Mac which you will remember is 4 hours of driving at minimum. Amazon 2-day shipping doesn’t apply here.

If you think there is a chance that you are going to have an urge at 2AM for a cheeseburger, hopefully you read there first point about being prepared and you have some ground beef in the freezer and cheese in the fridge and not have to rely on the minimum wage employee to greet you at a drive-thru window with your sustenance. 


You Aren’t Mechanically Inclined and Won’t Learn

Do you often break something in your house and immediately call a repair man or relative for help? Do you refuse to learn new skills and techniques to fix things yourself? If so, off-grid living might not be for you! Off-grid homes are built on systems, often times redundant systems so that if one fails, you aren’t out of water, electricity or heat. So what do you do if the nearest plumber is at least 2 hours away and you have a toilet that is running or a water filter that is clogged? You learn how to fix it yourself. Most things in life, on or off grid can be fixed with common sense and hard work. The same is true when living off the grid. 

In our limited time on the ranch we have replaced toilet fill valves, replaced PVC pipe, rebuilt a water sump pump, and have repaired a few roads and trails to avoid washouts from the seasonal rains. I had never repaired a sump pump before, but by following the owners manual and paying attention, I was able to restore our drinking water supply.

The Solar Panels Aren’t Going to Clean Themselves Off

You Are Afraid of Hard Work

Similarly to above, if you don’t like working hard and don’t want to learn how, off-grid living is likely not for you. Between managing a garden, livestock, firewood supplies, house and property repairs, vehicle repairs and more, the work of an off grid property can seem like an endless endeavor. If you are able to put in the hard work early and often, the work is manageable and satisfying. Similarly to life, if you procrastinate and let up, you are often the one suffering because of it. 

We have experienced a colder (and wetter) than normal winter in Baja,  and therefore we have needed more firewood than expected.  This means that instead of kicking back and binging Stranger Things on Netflix, I have to load up the chainsaw and tractor and bring back wood for the rest of the season. This is not an inconvenience if you plan ahead and work hard early in the season to maintain a large back stock of firewood, but if you let it get out of control, you can be left in a very cold house. 

Thank You for reading along on our travels and adventures. Hopefully you were entertained, enlightened, or otherwise felt like the last few minutes reading this post was a worthwhile investment of your time. If you enjoyed our content, there are a few ways that you can help promote what we do and keep us on the road a little longer:

  • Follow us on social media platforms likeYouTubeFacebook, and Instagram. The more viewers, subscribers, likes and comments, the better our pages rank. 
  • Share this article or our website with others that you think might enjoy it. 

Beach Camping in San Felipe, BC: Campo #1 Touristico

While traveling the Baja Peninsula, camping can be really easy to come by at times. Most seasoned travelers to the area have a “if the gate isn’t closed, it’s free game” mentality and that will serve you well for the more remote areas of Baja, but what if you want to see a city and camp close to it?

We took a weekend trip down the San Felipe for groceries, the beach, and to see a new town in Baja. San Felipe is a town dependent mostly on fishing and tourism and is know as the home to the last Vaquita Porpoises remaining on the planet. We wanted to camp close enough to town to walk to the main strip for tacos and not be required to pack up camp and drive each evening. We chose Campo #1 Touristico for a few reasons.

It is Secure-ish

Not that we are very worried about security in Baja, nearly everyone is happy and friendly, but having a gate locked overnight provides a peace of mind to some travelers. One thing to note is that being a beach that is so close to town, people can simply walk through camp from the beach any time of day, so the gate is only useful for vehicle travel.

Amenities Galore

One thing we got used to while traveling the Western US in our school bus conversion, was the lack of amenities at free campsites. In Baja, sometimes you can’t avoid paying for a campsite and sometimes you get your money’s worth with Wi-Fi, hot showers, and an on-site restaurant.

The Wi-Fi was not fast, but we were convinced that some of the snowbirds camping there for the winter were hogging some bandwidth. There was still plenty of signal to check and send e-mails for work and the LTE signal in San Felipe was fairly dependable too.

The showers were hot for about a minute, then they turned to lukewarm, which was still really nice after getting out of the Sea. The water in the showers and sinks outside were all freshwater and had good pressure. Some of the sites had electric connections for an RV, but our site at the very end of the row had no hook ups, which was fine by us.

We did not sample the food in the restaurant, but if the smells from the food-prep were any indication, the food was likely delicious.

Proximity to Town

We wanted to explore San Felipe properly and for us that means walking most everywhere. Being able to hike a bit from the campground to the main drag in town was very beneficial. It took us about 20 minutes to walk from the truck to row of taco stands waiting on the boardwalk. The walk can actually take you past the lighthouse, a now abandoned disco-tech the “The Boom Boom Room” and the National Shrine.

We spent both evenings of our weekend on the strip sampling fish and shrimp tacos and ceviche from the various culinary offerings across from the beach. Although the tacos weren’t better than the ones we had in Ensenada, they were still better than 99% of the fish tacos in the states.

Affordable Prices

We paid $30 for two nights at Campo #1 and felt like it was a fair deal. It is impossible to find a campsite in the US with electric, water, wi-fi, security, and showers on the beach for $30 per night, much less half that amount. The views were beautiful and listening to the ocean waves at night was a nice way to fall asleep.

It is rumored that if you wish to stay for a week or longer, the rate comes down significantly. This is the word of the men camped there for the winter, your mileage may vary.

All in all, if we find ourselves on that side of Baja and need a place to camp, we will likely stay here again. The staff was friendly, the prices were fair, and the nearby fish tacos were tasty!

As always, thank you for reading along on our travels and adventures. Hopefully you were entertained, enlightened, or otherwise felt like the last few minutes reading this post was a worthwhile investment of your time. If you enjoyed our content, there are a few ways that you can help promote what we do and keep us on the road a little longer:

  • Follow us on social media platforms likeYouTubeFacebook, and Instagram. The more viewers, subscribers, likes and comments, the better our pages rank. 
  • Share this article or our website with others that you think might enjoy it. 
Campo #1 Touristico- San Felipe, BC

Building a Roof Rack for a 1st Generation Toyota 4Runner

FULL DISCLOSURE: Rachael and I had about 0% to do with the construction of our 4Runner roof rack. Rachael’s dad Vic is the mastermind behind most things that are custom on our vehicles and he knocked this one out of the park. 

Before
As we bought the truck, NWOR rack barely holding on
After
New custom roof rack supporting our tent in Alamogordo, NM

In the article below we will walk you through the planning and design and the building of the roof rack that we use on our 1st Generation 4-Runner. The 1st Generation 4Runner is an iconic SUV, mostly because of its classic style and removable hard-top camper.

The topper section is fiberglass and slides off to allow us to still use our 4Runner as a truck when needed. The fiberglass topper presents its own set of challenges as the topper is not designed to support a lot of weight. Horror stories circulate the inter webs and 1st generation owners groups about cracking toppers from adding roof racks and additional storage up high. For these reasons, we designed a roof rack that avoids contact with the fiberglass and relies on the strength of the bed rails for its support.

The Design

We sought to imitate the mechanics of a contractor ladder rack with uprights that are bolted to the bed rails. The design involves 3 uprights from each side, following the lines of the topper to maintain some of the character from the classic sliding windows that are so recognizable on our truck. We had some conditions for our rack that we wanted to make sure the design addressed:

  • No contact with the topper- While cruising down a dirt road in Baja, the last thing we want to worry about is a fiberglass failure causing a leak or structural deterioration. The design needed to wrap around the topper in an upside down “U” shape with the only contact being the bed rail mounts. 
  • Strength- The rack had to be stable enough to hold our gear kinetically: roof top tent (100 lbs) and our rooftop gear box (50lbs). The rack also had to hold the weight of Rachael and I statically in the tent at night. 
  • Retain stock functionality- We wanted to still be able to remove the topper and retain our rack and still be able to access all of the stock functions of the topper such as the side windows, rear window, etc.

The Build

Vic set off with the idea in his head as we watched patiently, trying to remain helpful by holding metal or grinding cuts. Vic came up with the idea to retain the use of the middle section of the rack that was on the truck when we bought it. The rack was made by Northwest Off Road (NWOR) and although the gristly man that answered their customer service calls was really convincing when he said “It can hold tons of weight,…roof top tent no problem!” I doubted the structural integrity of rubber grommets inside 20-year old nutserts. The middle “H” section was completely stable and rather robust and made for a cheap and easy way to tie the two uprights together.

“H” Section remaining from the NWOR rack

The uprights were made in three sections: bases, posts, and tops. The tops were simple square tubing sections that provided a flat area for the H section to attach to.

The bases and posts were quite complex. The bases started as flat stock that was cut into skinnier sections then welded together at an offset to account for the ridge of the bed rails. Once those were cut and welded, the posts could be measured and tacked on to test fit the angles. Once the angles were confirmed, all of the pieces were tacked together to ensure fitment and function.

Everything looked good, so Vic went to work on welding the structures together for each side. After he was finished, Rachael and I made ourselves useful by grinding the welds and prepping for paint. After a coat of flat black, the rack looks like it was made by Toyota. 


Once painted, the uprights were slid under the topper and secured to the bed rails using the existing hardware. We made sure to drill a hole for the stock “pin” that sticks up from the bed rails and gives the topper a place to sit. The NWOR H section was bolted to the new uprights using some hardware laying around the shop and everything fit really well. We bolted the tent on and secured our roof top box for a winter full of adventure.

The Finished Product

The result is a fully functional and visually appealing rack that has served us well thus far down the road. It has endured rough roads, rock crawling and crazy winds and it still holds together and does its job. Due to the required flat bar needed for the topper to sit flush on the bed rails, the rack “racks” a little side to side. We have remedied this by installing pipe insulation on all 4-corners and it seems to have mitigated the tippiness quite a bit.We will likely add more pipe insulation to 2 other posts to further protect the top. 

An area that we might improve on later is adding some expanded metal to the area in front of our tent so we can stack firewood, camp chairs, or whatever else comes up. Other than that, we plan to really enjoy the functionality of a usable roof on our 1st Generation 4Runner. 

As always, thank you for reading along on our travels and adventures. Hopefully you were entertained, enlightened, or otherwise felt like the last few minutes reading this post was a worthwhile investment of your time. If you enjoyed our content, there are a few ways that you can help promote what we do and keep us on the road a little longer:

  • Follow us on social media platforms likeYouTubeFacebook, and Instagram. The more viewers, subscribers, likes and comments, the better our pages rank. 
  • Share this article or our website with others that you think might enjoy it. 

Travel Video: Montana from the Air

Check out our newest video showing some of our favorite places in Montana. Big Sky Country is a fascinating place with mountains, lakes, waterfalls and enough beautiful scenery to keep you busy for a long time. The views are so unique from the drone and we were fortunate to see all that we did in Montana.

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Although there was a ton of Montana that we didn’t get aerial footage of, we are okay with that because a lot of the state is protected by Wilderness Areas and National Parks. We have done our best to respect the laws and regulations related to flying our drone.

You can learn more about our travels and where we have been, here: https://www.okienomads.com.

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First Impressions of Full-Time Living in a Roof Top Tent

The nomadic lifestyle is so glamorous! Cruise Instagram for long enough and your feed will be flooded with mint condition $50,000 Land Rovers with $5000 tents on top and a half-naked woman seductively watching the sunset over a beautifully pristine landscape. Although there are some positive aspects of sleeping on the roof of your truck, if you travel full-time, a roof-top tent is likely not where you want to sleep more than a couple of weeks each year. We began living in our roof-top tent full time in December and these are our impressions early on.

Some Assembly Required

Most roof-top tent (RTT) manufacturers and YouTube reviews tout the simplicity and speed with which a standard RTT can be erected. While the construction is simple in design, setup can take 5-10 minutes depending on conditions. If it is cold, the tent cover and zipper can be much more difficult to open and take a considerable amount of time. If the wind is high, you will likely want to guy line your tent to keep the rain cover from flopping around in the breeze all night. If it is raining, it might not take any longer, but you will be wet and mad when you finally get inside. On the contrary, compared to most inexpensive ground tents, setting up a roof-top tent is very easy in most conditions.

86 4runner roof top tent
Windows down and closed to minimize setup time and exposure in near freezing temps

Some folks simply avoid popping up the windows and doors and minimize the time required to setup, but aren’t all of those breezy doors and windows why you wanted to camp on top of the truck in the first place? Also, most suggest a more expensive pop-up or clamshell style tent such as the James Baroud to minimize the amount of time involved in setup. But for the $4500 cost, you are halfway to a used hard-sided camper with a sink and a heater.


Roof Top Tents are Cool

 Everyone knows it, that’s why we buy RTT’s. Having your camping shelter attached to your vehicle not only saves on interior storage room, but looks really cool. Although we think vehicle based travel and “overlanding” should be about the journey, most travelers will tell you that it’s still really nice to drive a cool rig. What’s cooler than driving to a remote campsite and simply flipping open your tent and climbing in. It’s not always that simple (see above), but it is a really cool concept.

Want to see which RTT we chose to live out of full-time? Check out our video review here!


Fair-Weather Domicile

This point is fairly biased as we have only camped in our RTT between the months of November and January in the Southern US and Mexico, but if you encounter cold temperatures in your roof-top tent, prepare to be cold. You are not only cold in the tent, you are cold when you go to the bathroom, when you wake up in the morning, and you are cold when you cook your food. We are working on installing a separate annex room the attaches to the underside of our tent to block out some of the cold and wind, but so far we have absolutely frozen in our tent. 

Sleeping has been moderately comfortable as we carry our backpacking sleeping bags and several blankets. However, there is no cuddling in the RTT unless you have a 2-person sleeping bag. 

Rain slows us down, but our RTT keeps us dry inside

Rain is a tricky enemy of the roof-top tent and we have had approximately 20 nights of precipitation in the tent and it makes everything more difficult. Humid air creates condensation at an alarming rate in a RTT and even with windows and vents open, water on the walls is inevitable. Pack a towel and dry it daily as you will need it to wipe down the moisture inside your tent. Alternatively, after a rain, the outside of your tent is wet as well. A decision has to be made to stay put and wait for the tent to dry out or pack up a wet tent and open it as soon as possible to avoid mold and water damage. 
Snow is as likely as rain in the Western United States and snow will make closing your tent a challenge. We have found that carrying a window scraper with a brush (the telescoping kind made for truck drivers) and sweeping off as much snow as possible before trying to pack up makes a huge difference. Still, there will be residual snow that melts and causes the same paranoia as rain. 


Camp Setup and Selection is a Chore

This point is comparative, maybe unfairly to our time traveling in our school bus conversion, but setting up and tearing down a campsite is a pain. In a hard sided camper like our bus or a pop-up bed camper, you pull into a spot (sometimes in a sketchy location), block out the windows and you are in your kitchen, bedroom, and living room. With the RTT, Rachael and I both have our assignments when we arrive at a spot including setting up the tent, digging food out of the back, setting up chairs, making dinner, climbing into the tent to cook dinner, climbing out to do dishes, brush our teeth, and pee, and climbing in a final time to sleep. 

Selecting a campsite for a roof-top tent is much trickier than a hard sided vehicle or camper. In a hard-sided vehicle your site needs to be slightly level and only marginally incognito. With a roof top tent you must consider a level spot for your ladder, wind direction and speed, and probability of drawing attention to yourself. Also keep in mind that most urban camping areas (Wal-Mart Parking Lots anyone?) are not RTT friendly. We have seen some folks pop their tent in the parking lot, but it seems to be considered bad form in most areas. 


The Views are Fantastic 

Waking up with snow on the ground near Alamogordo, NM

The feeling and sight of being in a tent and off of the ground is a lot of fun. The feeling is similar to camping out in a treehouse as a kid. The views are great as you are approximately 6-8 feet higher than the area around you which makes for a great perspective in most campsites. While camping on the Pacific Coast of Baja we were treated to some great starry nights that were enhanced that much more by being able to law down in our tent with the doors and windows open and watch the stars shoot across the sky with the waves crashing below. It can be simply sublime.


Overall Impressions

After traveling across the US for Overland Expo EAST and driving from Oklahoma to Baja California, Mexico we are convinced that the Roof Top Tent is a practical, fun, and affordable way to travel. When you consider the relative ease of setup compared to a ground tent and the extreme difference in comfort compared to a ground tent, a roof top tent makes a lot of sense for a lot of people. 

We will likely be continuing our search for ways to integrate a hard sided pop up style camper such as a Four Wheel Camper into our 4Runner only because we spend a lot of time in our truck. If we were planning on traveling on vacation a couple of weeks per year and being a weekend warrior the rest of the time, a Roof Top Tent is PERFECT! For full time travel we really miss the warmth, comfort, and convenience of a fixed living space. 

Until that day comes, we will continue to enjoy the freedom, coolness, and simplicity of traveling with our roof top tent!

Housesitting 101

What is Housesitting?

Thousands of people around the world have purchased homes and at some point they find that they don’t want to live in their home but they aren’t quite ready to sell it and either aren’t able to rent it or don’t want to rent it. Some are retirees that spend six months of the year visiting warmer climates in an RV and the rest of their time is at their “home”. Most folks would rather have someone living in their home than board it up. Others have a home on the market to be sold and know that it has a much better chance of selling if someone is actively living in it and keeping up with the house.

Off grid Mexico estate
Our housesitting gig in early 2019: Off-Grid Ranch in Baja, Mexico

How Do I Find Housesitting Gigs?

Build Your Housesitting Portfolio

If you are serious about housesitting, the first step should be to build your portfolio of references from people that you have housesitted for in the past. Most strangers on the street aren’t going to let someone they don’t know into their home for any period of time. However, if you had a list of credible references, your chances of being selected to house sit increase tremendously.

Offer to housesit for family or close friends when they go on vacation. Do an excellent job, let them know that you would love to housesit for them again, and ask if you can use them as a reference for future housesitting gigs. Now you can maintain a “resume” of your housesitting experience and use it as a bargaining chip with potential clients.

Create an Online Presence

The next step is likely the most important, creating an online presence. This can be different depending on the part of the world you wish to housesit in, but at minimum you should create a profile on a housesitting websites such as Trusted House Sitters and/or Luxury House Sitting.

Similar to filling out a job application, create a profile that is inviting and appealing to the particular type of assignment that you are interested in. Your profile photo should be high-quality, up to date, and accurate to your appearance as well as inviting. Don’t use a mug-shot as your profile photo on a housesitting website. Have someone proofread your profile for grammatical errors and try to be as professional as possible.

Remember that in a digital age, your online footprint means as much as your reputation did in 1950’s small town America. As soon as a potential client sees your name as an interested house-sitter, they will likely scour your social media and web presence to help determine if you are a credible applicant. The obvious solution to this predicament is to maintain social media as a decent human being and don’t post hateful, rude, racist, or overly political content. A less obvious way to avoid missing out on houses because of your meme addiction is to set your social media accounts to private.

Insider Tip Perform a “web audit” of yourself every 6 months or so to insure that you have a spotless web identity. If you do find something negative or defamatory, make steps to have it removed. 

Provide a Quality Service

Like any industry, it doesn’t matter if you land the biggest client of your life if you can’t deliver a high-quality product. Once you get a housesitting gig, no matter the size, do the best job possible. Oftentimes going above and beyond your responsibilities as a house-sitter can yield glowing reviews online and excellent recommendations when someone calls. Similar to the rest of life, being excellent at what you do will net rewards continually over time.

Standard Duties of a House-sitter

The duties required in your housesitting agreement (yes, you need to sign a housesitting agreement) can vary depending on the geographic location of the house, the style of property (ranch, condo, apartment, etc.) and the reason that the owner requires a house-sitter. If the owner needs a house-sitter to make the home look inhabited, it’s probably best if you know how many hours per day you should be around the house.

In our 2019 housesitting agreement we signed on to live at an off-grid ranch in the remote mountains of Baja Norte, Mexico. We were interested in this assignment because it’s in Baja and because we are extremely interested in living off-grid someday and this was a perfect way to try that lifestyle without a huge commitment. Our duties at the ranch included the following:

  • Cleaning the main house and income property and preparing the income property with linens, supplies and a warm welcome if someone were staying.
  • Tending to the flower beds, gardens, and fruit trees on the property.
  • Feeding the dog, Pepita!
  • Monitoring the off-grid systems like satellite internet, solar power, and water.

Your responsibilities at a house might be very different and may include things like walking a dog or washing windows or dusting furniture. There is no right or wrong set of responsibilities as long as you are getting as much value out of the arrangement as the home owner. If you are staying in a 10’ x 10’ room with no windows and the owner of the house has you painting the exterior, reflooring the living room, and building on a garage, you have made a mistake. Remember that the home owner is seeking a housesitter for reason. 


A House-sitter signs a Housesitting Agreement

A written document agreed upon between the owner or manager of the home and the house-sitter is vital to a mutually beneficial arrangement. This document should be signed and dated by both parties and outline the term of the arrangement, responsibilities of the house-sitter, any compensation involved, and how to handle expenses paid out of pocket by the house-sitter. 
Final Tips for Housesitting
To sum up our experiences looking for housesitting jobs and apply for many, the golden rule applies as much to housesitting as it does to the rest of our lives. Treat other people’s homes how you would want someone to treat your home and be the applicant that you would hire if you were looking for a housesitter. Happy hunting and let us know if any of our tips helped you land a gig!

A written document agreed upon between the owner or manager of the home and the house-sitter is vital to a mutually beneficial arrangement. This document should be signed and dated by both parties and outline the term of the arrangement, responsibilities of the house-sitter, any compensation involved, and how to handle expenses paid out of pocket by the house-sitter. 

Final Tips for Housesitting

To sum up our experiences looking for housesitting jobs and apply for many, the golden rule applies as much to housesitting as it does to the rest of our lives. Treat other people’s homes how you would want someone to treat your home and be the applicant that you would hire if you were looking for a housesitter. Happy hunting and let us know if any of our tips helped you land a gig!

As always, thank you for reading along on our travels and adventures. Hopefully you were entertained, enlightened, or otherwise felt like the last few minutes reading this post was a worthwhile investment of your time. If you enjoyed our content, there are a few ways that you can help promote what we do and keep us on the road a little longer:

  • Follow us on social media platforms like YouTubeFacebook, and Instagram. The more viewers, subscribers, likes and comments, the better our pages rank. 
  • Share this article or our website with others that you think might enjoy it. 

New Travel Video: 4×4 Driveway to Our Housesitting Gig

Join us as we travel from the nearest paved road to the house that we will be house-sitting for the next 4 months. The road into the ranch is roughly 6 kilometers long and takes approximately 40 minutes to drive. In this video, our commute to civilization is sped up 8 times to give you the full experience of traveling into the remote interior of Baja Norte. 
Please subscribe to our YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRVDfzibhxyN1I-niylEiKg

We are traveling in our 1986 Toyota 4Runner 4×4 with a set of Old Man Emu leaf springs and Bilstein shocks. The ride is rough, but would be much worse without the suspension upgrades. Our tires are Bridgestone All Terrains that have plenty of grip for all of the sand, slick rock, and mud that we experience in Baja. The tires were aired down to roughly 70% of highway pressure for the road and will likely be aired down a bit more the next time we leave the house. 

You can learn more about our rig and the changes we have made to live out of it full-time here: https://www.okienomads.com/4runner/

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Baja Bound-Crossing A Turbulent Border into Mellow Mexico

If you are on social media or routinely turn on your TV, you have seen the news stories of crisis at the border between Mexico and the United States with armed military on one side and a mob of angry Mexicans on the other side hell-bent on crossing the border and ruining the American economy. For a lot of folks on the border and for us, this simply wasn’t the case when we crossed in the first week of January 2019. 

We crossed into Mexico at the Tecate border crossing mid-morning on a Saturday. The border area was small and only two lanes of traffic were open to incoming traffic. We were waived over, our rig was looked over and we were given permission to pass into Mexico. We parked our truck on the street near the town square and walked back to the border to complete paperwork for legal entry for the 4-months that we planned to be in Mexico. 

In the immigration office was a Mexican border agent that requested our FMM (tourist visa), FMM receipt showing payment, and our passports. Then it hit me, I neglected to print the Visa. I printed the receipt and never went back to my e-mail to print the actual Visa that I needed to stay in Mexico for the rest of the Winter. I explained that I didn’t have the Visa and he instructed us to walk back into town to the nearby copy shop, print the Visa, and bring it back to be stamped. So we did. The copy shop was right where he said it would be, the shopkeep was friendly and helpful, and the border agent stamped our Visa and Passport quickly and efficiently. Easy as pie! 

This would have been a perfect opportunity for the “ruthless savages” of Mexico as described on Fox News to take advantage of the gringos that aren’t familiar with the process, don’t speak much Spanish, and are clearly vulnerable. But that wasn’t what happened. Everyone was extremely helpful, gracious, and friendly.

Two Happy Americans After a Smooth Border Crossing into Mexico


Once we crossed into Tecate we pointed our rig West and headed for the coast, Ensenada specifically. We are housesitting at a home in the mountains of Baja Norte and we planned to meet the owners of the home in Ensenada the next day for Tacos de Pescador and instructions on the house. We explored a bit and found a sweet camping spot near the beach with excellent views of the city and the ocean.

The campsite at La Jolla Beach Camp was a little expensive, but it seemed to be the only beachside camping in Ensenada and it gave us a secure place to hunker down for the night. There were hot showers, bathrooms, and trash service.


We met with the home owners the next day, loaded up on as many groceries as we could fit in our 4Runner and drove South. Driving in Mexico is interesting as speed limits aren’t real. They are posted, but no one follows them. Most locals pull over and drive on the shoulder if you are traveling faster than they are. It takes some getting used to, but we feel like we have it down pretty well. 

We arrived at a campsite near our turn off for the house and drove the 15KM road down to the beach for a beautiful sunset and great shrimp tacos. Our first few days in Baja are turning out to be okay after all.

The next morning we drove the 70KM’s to the driveway and another 6KM up the drive way to get to the house. From when we turned off on the “driveway” to when we pulled in the gate at the house it took nearly 45 minutes. The road is gnarly and super vulnerable to the weather and nature. We are definitely looking forward to more trips down this thing in a couple of weeks.

Off grid Mexico estate
House Sitting Home for the Winter

We are so excited about this stage in our adventures and we hope you will follow along as we learn as much as we can about off-grid living, remote ranch living, and Baja in general. As always, thank you for reading along on our travels and adventures. Hopefully you were entertained, enlightened, or otherwise felt like the last few minutes reading this post was a worthwhile investment of your time. If you enjoyed our content, there are a few ways that you can help promote what we do and keep us on the road a little longer:

  • Follow us on social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. The more viewers, subscribers, likes and comments, the better our pages rank. 
  • Share this article or our website with others that you think might enjoy it. 

We are Quitting Buslife!

We are quitting #buslife and parking the bus! Our Skoolie has provided us thousands of miles of adventure and exploration through some of the coolest parts of the Western US. If you haven’t seen our bus, you can catch up by checking out our Bus Build Page!

Okienomad’s Skoolie Bus Build

Our Skoolie will stay around and will eventually tow our new adventure rig to future destinations. Until then we will be traveling in a new-to-us 1986 Toyota 4Runner! The 4×4 will allow us to see more of the backroads and off-road trails that the world has to offer. We loved traveling in the bus, but having a small, nimble, and capable truck will allow us flexibility to travel farther. Without delay, here is the new truck!

The ’86 will obviously need some work before we take off on the road again! Plans include a new paint job, new bumpers, suspension refresh, rear platform build out, and a roof top tent. The goal behind this build is to have a capable, reliable, and rugged off-road machine to explore deep into the wilderness.

Here are some of the ways you can follow along with our build:

We have worked tirelessly on the truck to make it as reliable, capable, and fun as we could on a limited budget. The result is a great truck to get us into the wilds of Baja. 

’86 4Runner South of Ensenada

Rachael and I will be spending the Winter in Baja housesitting at an off-grid ranch. We have always really enjoyed this lifestyle and hope to learn more about how we wish to setup our future off-grid home. We will be shifting a lot of our content to off-grid living topics like solar power, aspects of ranch life, and the realities of living in remote areas. We hope you enjoy the new content and we look forward to sharing the next leg of our adventures.

As always, thank you for reading along on our travels and adventures. Hopefully you were entertained, enlightened, or otherwise felt like the last few minutes reading this post was a worthwhile investment of your time. If you enjoyed our content, there are a few ways that you can help promote what we do and keep us on the road a little longer:

  • Follow us on social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. The more viewers, subscribers, likes and comments, the better our pages rank. 
  • Share this article or our website with others that you think might enjoy it. 


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