If I told you I’m currently living in one of Melbourne’s most hip and happening suburbs, you might shrug your shoulders and question why I think you’d give two hoots.
Perhaps I might be bragging that I can afford the obviously extortionate rent? Maybe I just like to show off?
What if I told you that I was living here RENT FREE?
In exchange for caring for the owner’s three gorgeous dogs, I have been invited to live in a two-story, inner-city home for free.
Moving in a few days before Christmas, I’ve enjoyed the festive season in the ‘world’s most liveable city.’
I had an Aussie Christmas complete with obligatory BBQ and beers. I saw in the New Year in the CBD and watched as an inordinate amount of fireworks lit up the night sky in a spectacle of colour and sound. I’ve even seen the best of the country’s summer weather in a city bursting with culture, food, fashion, and of course, miles of white sandy beaches!
Yet how is it that I’m living here rent free?
Well, I’m a house sitter. I travel the world continually, alternating between house sitting assignments and periods of slow-paced travel.
Three years ago I signed up to trustedhousesitters.com and secured my first assignment. Unfamiliar with the concept, I was a little weary at first, especially as my first gig was looking after a property in Costa Rica.
It all seemed a little bit too good to be true and I was worried it would turn out to be some sort of scam.
Despite my initial fears, my first assignment was a great success. The owners turned out to be just fabulous people who welcomed me with open arms and made me feel right at home as soon as I walked through their front door.
Since then I’ve looked after further properties in Costa Rica, experienced the frigid Canadian winter during an assignment on the outskirts of Vancouver, tried my hand at macadamia farming at a property in Australia, and learnt the basics of alpaca herding in New Zealand.
I’ve travelled half way across the globe and of the three years I’ve been away from home, I’ve paid for less than eight months of accommodation. Even less than that in fact, as when I’m not house sitting, I often purchase a campervan and take a road trip before selling the vehicle when I leave the country.
So how can you become a house sitter too, I hear your cry?
1. The first step is to register with an online service that will connect you with home and pet owners looking for property and pet care.
There are a number of them out there so take the time to do some research before signing up. Many are location-specific, which is great if you know you won’t be traveling far. However, if you’re considering utilizing house sitting as an alternative to renting a vacation property, you might want a service which offers international locations.
2. Create an engaging profile which details your skills and talents. Sell yourself and your wealth of qualities but be truthful in your descriptions. The aim is to secure the assignments which suit your requirements, so stick to the basics and be honest about yourself and what you’re looking for.
Ensure you fill out all aspects of the form and upload some recent photographs.
3. Apply for the assignments which tick all of your boxes and keep your fingers crossed!
For now I’m content to continue house sitting my way around the world.
While there are certain drawbacks to a life on the open road, the financial benefits far outweigh any fears of losing touch with friends or putting down roots.
Being a house sitter provides me with additional disposable income to explore the world, the chance to sample local life in off-the-beaten-path locations and the opportunity to meet local people from all walks of life.
What would you do with the money you’d save by becoming a house sitter?
Bio - Charli Moore is a house sitter and travel addict with a penchant for dark chocolate. In 2011, she and her other half Ben waved ‘Adios’ to the corporate world and jumped head first into a life of perpetual travel. You can follow the adventures of this writer/photographer team over at Wanderlusters or find them on Twitter and Instagram.