By Kate Schneider - news.com.au
The newly-married couple had travelled around the world, tasted the offerings from top restaurants and had generally lived life ‘to the max’.
But it was time to think about the future. The 29-year-old duo from Tasmania wanted to keep travelling and eventually buy a home and start a family, but they were held back due to financial reasons.
Unsure of what to do next, they took a pretty big gamble and left their home.
“We packed up our lives and walked out the door of our rental in September 2014 and have not looked back, we have been house sitting full time ever since,” Rachel said. “We love it.”
The couple have been using house sitting sites like Your Home My Home which they say has opened many doors and allowed them to save a staggering amount.
That’s because the site allows you to live rent-free — with a catch. You need to pick up some responsibilities such as looking after the homeowner’s pet/s, taking care of the garden and collecting the mail.
And it’s not just rent you can save on, the couple also waved goodbye to bills for things like electricity, gas, phone and internet, and there were no more costs for cleaning items and pantry items too. All of this adds up.
“We work full time whilst doing it, we go from house to house in the Hobart and southern region areas, and pay no rent or living expenses,” Rachel said.
“We have managed to pay down debt, save over $52,000 and we have started our own business (an online company).
“It’s pretty much the best thing we have ever done in our lives ... it has really added so much to our lives and our marriage. The prospect of change and constant new experiences is truly rewarding.”
And now, they’re in demand — so far, they’ve house sat in 46 different properties, arranged either on house sitting sites or via word of mouth.
“We have been absolutely inundated with requests since we started.”
It has changed their lives.
OK, so what’s it really like to constantly move from place to place?
“The pros include obviously the financial gain and freedom, the ability to ‘live like a local’ in different communities, connect and build wider networks, enjoy the company of animals ... travel and experience more of our home state and potentially take this overseas.
“The homes we have done are amazing — from every end of the spectrum. We have been on farms, large properties to suburban homes near the beach, to having it right on our doorstep, premier locations in the city and outer expensive suburbs, many with incredible panoramic views, pools and spas.”
However, living rent free in someone else’s home isn’t all roses.
“There’s an added responsibility, we have had to alter plans and change our lifestyle so that animals, gardens and homes are maintained in their routine — not ours. You have to be very organised and meticulous also in communication with homeowners — even if we’re not house sitting, we are answering calls and responding to inquiries, we are never really ‘on holiday’.
“We also get so booked out in advance that we can’t take a holiday or weekend away. Also sometimes have very early starts if we are departing a home in the morning before work, or longer travelling times to work depending on where we are.
“Sometimes packing up can be draining but, we are the dream team when it comes to this, we have it all down-pat so not many cons in our eyes.”
YOUR HOME MY HOME
Your Home My Home crept into the market last year and so far membership has reached the 1000s.
“The concept is proving incredibly popular with would-be first homeowners, as well as travel lovers looking to explore different parts of the country, renovators who don’t want to pay rent or people who love animals and would like a free holiday,” spokeswoman Alice McKenzie said
“Since launching late last year, the site has offered hundreds of stays, included rural properties in the Hunter Valley and Barossa Valley, stays to mansions in Ascot (Brisbane), Centennial Park (Sydney) and Toorak (Melbourne), Noosa, through to humble beach shacks right across Australia’s coastlines.”
The company is in process of adding a ratings system for sitters, and homeowners are encouraged to conduct interviews with potential sitters.
“Currently our sitter profiles include police checks as well as personal information to build familiarity.”
For homeowners, it’s free to list their properties, for sitters it costs $8.95 a month.
My House Your House is one of many sites cashing in on the growing popularity of house and pet sitting in Australia.