We’ve been in Australia for just over 15 weeks now; we’ve seen most of WA and have temporarily settled in Darwin (NT). Before we left we read heaps of blogs on the cheapest way to live and stay in Oz, with any money saving tips we could take in.
The most appealing idea we read about was being able to look after other people’s homes while they were on holiday. We’ve now made a free PDF guide on how you can start up too. Find it here.
There are loads of house-sitting websites out there and there’s even a good amount of choice when it comes to Australia. We settled for Aussie House Sitters and even though it comes with a small sign-up fee ($89) it’s only the cost of a couple of nights in a caravan park.
Out of the 15 weeks we’ve been here, nine of those we’ve spent in house-sits. That’s a lot of money saved when our hostel in Perth was $440 a week and even the cheaper caravan parks were $180 a week. So we will have saved (roughly) anywhere between $1600 – $4000, which has helped us travel further and see more incredible sights here!
Plus, it’s a win-win – the people who go away know that their home is in safe hands and their pets will be well looked after, fed, walked etc. We’ve been super lucky to look after a miniature schnauzer, three golden Labradors, one French bulldog puppy and two very fluffy rabbits. They’ve made our trip that little bit more special.
The houses here are also incredible. It’s been like living in five star accommodation (that comes with cute companions) for free! It’s just a bit of a shock when you go from living this dream life to going back to the van, but we survive (find out how, here!).
Here are our tips on getting your house-sitting journey started…
1 – Pick your site
As we said, there are heaps available. It all depends on which country you’re going to and whether you’re happy to pay the sign-up fee. We weren’t sure if we’d actually get any opportunities being backpackers in our mid-twenties but it was worth every penny. We highly recommend Aussie House Sitters, you can check it out here.
2 – Create your profile
This is the really important step; this is what potential families/couples/singles will see when picking you to live in their homes. You need to be friendly, approachable and above all genuine. It doesn’t matter if you feel a bit stupid writing about yourself, just make sure it’s all true and has a welcoming vibe. Also add smiling photos, maybe not your latest drunken night out shot or anything that would imply that you’re going to have a huge party in their house!
3 – Start searching
The fun part is looking for all the different house-sits available and all the different pets you could look after. Make sure you are definitely available for the days/weeks/months they need you for. Don’t bite off more than you can chew, there are full on farm stays which we knew we couldn’t handle, so pick something that suits you.
4 – The sit itself
From beginning to end the home-owner needs to feel comfortable with you being left alone, sometimes for a long period of time. We found that going to meet the host before the house-sit starts, makes everyone (including the animals) feel more comfortable. Asking questions and making sure you have everything you need means you won’t be left in the dark if something should go wrong. It’s also nice to start a Whatsapp group or chat so you can regularly check in and send updates. Touch wood, we’ve had nothing go drastically wrong (I nearly killed a tomato plant, sorry Stace) but that’s about as bad as it’s been… so far!
It’s also important that you replace anything you use while they’re away and make sure their home is as they left it (if not tidier!) for their return. A little present or fresh flowers for them to come home to also goes a long way.
5 – Ask for testimonials and recommendations
Most of the sites allow both the home-owner and the house-sitter to leave reviews of their time and experience. This has made quite a difference for us and it’s also a really nice way to thank those you sit for and help them find nice sitters in the future.
There are loads of perks as well, we’ve been able to borrow cars and bikes, as well as eaten some of the best homemade food! We’ve met some really lovely people along our journey and we’re grateful for each and every one of them and their hospitality. Thank you to everyone who has let us into their homes.
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