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Young Aussies' unique way to avoid $100,000 living costs: 'No bills, rent or insurance'

The cost-of-living crisis has left many Aussie struggling to afford a mortgage or rent, but not this couple.

Australia is in the throes of a rental crisis. Data shows rents have risen at the fastest rate since 2008 and the proportion of household incomes spent on rent reached all-time highs.

But one Aussie couple have found a way to hack the housing crisis, estimating that in three years they avoided around $100,000 in living costs.

South Australia-based couple Robyn and Sam told Yahoo Finance they scored free rent and living costs by house-sitting almost consistently for three years while studying for their Masters degrees.

Housesitting couple Robyn and Sam smiling side by side, the man with a short beard and scarf and woman with a blue and orange hooded jacket.
Robyn and Sam have avoided $100,000 in living expenses by house sitting. (Emma Edwards)

“We thought it would be a great way to travel,” explained Robyn, who began looking for house sitting jobs online in 2021 with her partner Sam.

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“To my surprise, there were so many people looking for house sitters, often for 2+ months at a time – and often in suburbs we otherwise couldn’t afford to live in.”

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House sitters generally look after people’s homes, pets and gardens while they are away for work or leisure, and sitting jobs can range from a few days to several months.

Some sitters are paid, others aren't but are able to reap the benefits of living for free without the burden of rent, bills and insurance.

“We saved on paying for three years worth of rent and household bills, insurance, etc,” Robyn said.

Their only expenses were their storage unit ($150 per month), annual memberships to house-sitting sites (around $100 per year), and occasional interim accommodation.

Unpaid placements, working reduced hours and plenty of travel

House sitting meant Robyn and Sam were able to manage the complexities of studying full time as adults and undertaking unpaid placements.

“[Our] Masters degrees required 1000 hours of unpaid placement each, and house sitting really took the pressure off of having to work consistently," she said.

“It also allowed me the choice to reduce hours at work when my mental health wasn't the best, which I am grateful for."

Despite having to move around a lot when first getting started, Robyn and Sam were able to build relationships with homeowners they had sat for before, and eventually ended up fully booked with house sits without having to apply.

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“People we house sat for would check our availability with us, and they would try to plan their trips around when we were free,” she said.

Minimal living costs also meant the travel-loving couple could get out and explore the world much more easily.

“Sam and I really value travel. Within the time of house sitting we were able to save for multiple interstate trips, as well as a couple of larger overseas trips. We also bought and paid off a van, which we use for our camping trips.”

The van was also a handy interim solution if they needed somewhere to sleep between house sits.

Downsides to housesitting: 'Worry intensifies'

Despite the raft of benefits to house sitting, Robyn admitted it “wouldn't be for everyone”.

“I quite like the sense of adventure while living in different places, but I did get a lot of people saying ‘I could never do that, I love having all of my things at home too much’.”

Taking responsibility for someone else’s home and pet is, too, no mean feat.

“Things like the worry of ‘did I leave the hair straightener on/did I lock the door properly?’ intensifies when it is someone else's house,” Robyn warned.

The pair also admit the admin of booking and confirming new housesitting jobs and managing a schedule was also challenging at times, even feeling “like an extra job in itself”.

Housesitting may have its downsides, but with the right goal, it presents an incredible opportunity to accelerate financial progress.

“Housesitting is a great option, particularly for those that don’t have the option of moving back in with family while looking to save for a big expense.”

Wedding and international trips to be bankrolled by housesitting

Recently engaged, Robyn and Sam plan to return to housesitting next year to save for their wedding, and further into the future, for a house deposit.

The couple also plan to save to live and work overseas for 6-12 months, and hope to find international house sits to help make their dream possible.

Websites like Aussie House Sitters and Mind a Home are common sites for connecting with homeowners looking for sitters.

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