House-sitting is a genuine way to save thousands

Fancy taking care of someone else’s home? It could fast-track your savings.

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?

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    COMMENTS

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    Mollymoo
    7th Dec 2018
    10:30am
    I use a housesitter when I go away, its great to know my fur baby is looked after, the mail is brought in and the plants are watered. It is also nice that there is someone in my house while I am away, it deters burglary and theft. I only ever travel for a few weeks at a time and I don't charge my housesitter as they are doing me a service for free. When I retire I will take up house sitting so that I can visit other areas of Australia.
    Greg
    7th Dec 2018
    8:07pm
    We house sat for 18 months when building our house - had a fantastic time, caring for dogs, cat, chickens and goats. We managed to line up one after another with just the odd night in a motel to fill a gap.
    We made some great friends and still house sit when we visit family. Free accomodation, you can't beat it.
    musicveg
    31st Dec 2018
    10:04pm
    Which website it the best and most trusted to use in Australia?
    Greg
    1st Jan 2019
    12:09pm
    I use "https://mindahome.com.au/" and "https://www.aussiehousesitters.com.au/", both have a good selection of sits available. As the "sitter" you pay a yearly fee to be able to contact the home owner, $59 and $84 respectively, but you can browse the sits available for free. All the website is doing is getting people together, the home owners advertise on the site and sitters look at what homes are available to sit. Like I said if you pay the yearly fee you can contact the home owner and from there it's basically just between you and them. 99.9% of the time no money changes hands, you stay in the house, feed/care for the animals, water plants, bins, mail, keep house clean and in return you get free accommodation - electricity, gas, water, internet, pay TV, whatever is included. Occasionally you get the odd sit, usually for months at a time, where you're asked to help with those costs but that's rare, I've seen sits for over a year with no costs involved. When looking at the adds I like to see photos of the property and animals, some adds have no photos so I tend to stay away from them, I like to have some idea of what you maybe getting yourself into. Out of all the sits we have done there was probably only one that made us feel a little awkward or unhappy, was only a week so we made it through - house was a mess, bit of a hoarding issue going on and a jungle in the garden, they said we could do some gardening if we wanted, had no idea where to start, fortunately the weather wasn't the best.

    Once you select a sit you contact the owner through the website's email ad tell the owner something about yourself, why you want to sit for them and they'll email back or if you have given them your phone number they can call you. From there you both can chat, get to know each other and see if the sit would work out for the both of you. Keep in mind that you're both strangers, some owners are very careful with who they chose, may want to meet you first (we always tried to do that) but others are very blase. We had one sit, only 4 days, where we spoke on the phone for a minute or two and then she was going to leave the keys in a pot on the rear verandah, we'd turn up after she'd left and we would leave before she returned, hence not meet her at all! We actually insisted on going over to see her beforehand, bit of a drive, but wanted to see what the dog was like and the house.

    This house sitting is mainly about caring for animals, the owners either don't want to put them into kennels/cattery or the animals are too anxious to go, some of these animals, particularly dogs, are very needy, love company and a kennel really gets them down. So you really have to be prepared to not only look after the animals but care for them, walks, playing, just give them some time - obviously cats can be easier, out of our 4 regular sits we do now 3 are cats one of which is needy like a dog but the others don't really care if you are there or not, just feed them and clean their litter trays. My point is these owners really care for their animals so the animals have always been very good, obedient and not a pain in the ar**.

    We've never had animals but we do love them and this is a great way to get our animal "fix" without the ongoing caring needs, food, vets, etc.

    We moved from Sydney to the country 6 hours away and still have family in Sydney, we planned on visiting every 6 weeks or so - last year (2018) we completed 9 sits for 4 different people in Sydney ranging from a week to 3 weeks. Didn't have to pay once for accommodation in Sydney (which we planned to do in our budget), all these sits are "regulars" now and we have 3 lined up for the coming year already.

    We're currently looking at sits in Melbourne to find the right one for a week or so to do some shopping (garden stuff, selection in our town is rather slim), you could go around Australia doing this, in fact some of the "grey nomads" do some stints of sitting, the adds say "space to park caravans" as they have had them before.

    I could go on for hours, retired nothing else to do, but I've probably bored you enough now:) Any questions you have let me know and I'll give you my thoughts.
    musicveg
    1st Jan 2019
    1:41pm
    Thank you so much for your thorough comments, fantastic reading, not bored at all and yes I could listen for hours too. I am not ready to do house sit at the moment but will definitely start looking at the site. I love animals so that part is easy, I don't own pets and like you, like to get my fix, patting the neighbour's dogs and those on my walks. What a great way to travel, and live like a local in Australia. Wonderful you are able to get regular sits in the same houses,makes it a lot more comfortable. Thanks for all your wonderful tips, I am going to copy and paste it on my computer for future reference. Have a great new year.
    Greg
    1st Jan 2019
    5:12pm
    Thanks for the reply - yes the repeat ones are great, with one of them we actually have the keys to the house now, the owner can leave early morning, we arrive around midday and at the end of the sit go again early morning while the owner returns later in the day. Very easy.

    We really are more dog people then cat people, dogs love a good play and walk - we've cared for a Dachshund, Labradors, Smooth Collie, Border Collie, Cattle Dog, Labradoodles, Cavoodle, King Charles Cavalier, Mixed small dog - all have been wonderful and accept you as their "boss" within minutes.
    musicveg
    31st Dec 2018
    10:05pm
    I have always been curious about house sitting and love to hear more from those who have had experience doing it.