When 22-year-old Adelaide teacher Eleni wanted to move out of home, she knew it would be costly.
But rather than waste money on rent, she had a better idea: house sitting.
“No one told me [to do it]; I just thought about it one day and Googled it,” Eleni told Yahoo Finance.
The first site she visited was Happy House Sitters, and then The House Sitters. She signed up to both, which cost her $70 in total.
And that’s been Eleni’s only housing expense since.
“I live rent free, bill free, and they [the homeowners] also buy me food,” she said.
“One couple will fill up the fridge before I house-sit, and I can have anything I want from there, the pantry and the laundry. Obviously I buy my own groceries when they’re gone.”
For a two-month stint in a beach-front home, Eleni was paid $500.
On top of some extra cash and free food, homeowners buy Eleni gifts as a thank you for her looking after their home.
“I get a lot of red wine,” she said.
What’s the house-sitting vetting process like?
“You don’t have to do anything,” she told Yahoo Finance.
“You really don’t – no points of ID. You just make a profile, put pictures up of yourself, and then it’s up to the owners to ask if they want certain clearances on anything.”
Looking at Happy House Sitter’s site, sitters aren’t required to provide police clearances. It works on a rating system, whereby each user starts with five stars, and those stars can be deducted if you fail to respond promptly to another user.
You can download a formal agreement from the site that allows users to make their own contract so there’s a little more responsibility placed on the parties.
Eleni had a phone interview with one homeowner, and a face-to-face with another, but she said there’s no complex or formal process. “Mostly it’s via email”.
How long can you stay there for?
Depending on the house, you can stay anywhere from two weeks to six months, or even more.
“Everyday there’s a new house posted, and you could easily be in a different house all year if you’re not fussed about where you’re going to go.”
She admits it’s good to have her own home as a base, as it makes the packing situation a little easier.
“I don’t mind carrying my belongings with me. I keep most of my stuff at home and only pack what I need.”
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