Make their home your castle

Age pensioners who are renting their homes are among the most financially strapped of Australians.

Paying for housing takes a huge chunk out of their fortnightly income, even if they qualify for rent assistance, leaving little spare change for anything but the basics.

However, if they are not too attached to a houseful of belongings, there is a way for them to save heaps on rent … by house-sitting.

For those who fancy the idea of looking after someone else’s pad for free, and maybe their pets and pot plants, but can’t stand to part with personal effects, there is the option of storage.

Although, if you have a large amount of belongings, such that you would need the equivalent of a couple of garages in which to store them, then it may not be as cost-effective as continuing to rent your own place.

Depending on how much you need to stash away, storage can cost between $116 and $2000 a month, according to spacer.com.au.

If the economics work for you and you fancy the idea of house-sitting, and perhaps even travelling around the state, the nation or even overseas, as you move from one post to another, consider these sites:

Generally, a house-sitter will need to take up a paid membership with the above platforms.

While house-sitters can nominate the areas they would like to move to and the periods during which they are available, the reality is that they are at the mercy of the market and will need to be very flexible.

Expect to have periods where your services are not required, in which case you have to plan for alternative accommodation until your next gig comes up.

The most successful house-sitters will have irresistible profiles. Check out the profiles of candidates listed on the above sites to work out which ones stand out. Collect your references, have a police check done and provide high quality pictures of yourself that show your caring and responsible nature.

For instance, photographs in which you are cuddling pets or active in the garden or even cleaning a pool will indicate to the viewer that these are activities you are used to performing.

Most house-sitting platforms recommend that a homeowner sign a contract with the sitter outlining who pays which costs and the list of duties expected to be performed during their absence.

If house-sitting appeals, before you sign a contract make sure that the homeowner’s insurance policy covers for accidental damage and your personal belongings.

Conversely, if you are a home owner and wish to relocate for a short stay at free accommodation, you can rent your house out and mind someone else’s. However, if you vacate your primary residence for more than a year, it could affect your Age Pension entitlements.

Would you ever consider house-sitting for someone else? Do you have any experience of house-sitting?

Related articles:
Beware of some savings sites
Keep spending on track
Budgeting in retirement

Written by Olga Galacho

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