Living or traveling rent-free!

Why You Might Want to Become a Housesitter

by Sue King

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The concept of housesitting has experienced incredible growth over the last couple of years. Taking into consideration how much money can be saved in rent, hotel bills or pet care, it is hardly surprising.

My partner and I have now carried out over one hundred housesits, both in our hometown and all over the world. We have stayed in all types of properties from a six million dollar house to a floating cabin bobbing around in a marina. Among a variety of international sits, we have looked after a hacienda in Mexico, a bungalow next to Lake Ontario in Toronto, and an apartment in Auckland, New Zealand.

The most important qualification to have in the housesitting game is a love of animals, as the majority of housesits involves the care of a beloved pet. Occasionally, a housesitter is required solely for security purposes, but these type of housesits are in the minority.

From the perspective of both the property owner and the housesitter, the arrangement makes perfect financial sense. Instead of having to pay for kennels or catteries, pet owners have someone to care for their pet free of charge. Additionally, the pet remains in the security and comfort of its own home. Many cats and dogs find being sent away extremely traumatic and having someone move into their home eliminates this common problem.

The benefits to the housesitter are numerous. Between travels, my partner and I have housesat to avoid paying rent and utilities. If you are based in a major city as we are, it is likely that after a little time, you will be able to build up your clientele and housesit consistently. Over the course of a year, we have saved approximately $18,000 in rent and bills! That is a huge amount of savings.

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Housesitting has allowed us to travel and visit places that we would not normally be able to experience due to the cost involved. We avoid hefty hotel bills, especially in the more expensive destinations of the world. Having access to a kitchen means that we can also save money on food.

In addition to the financial advantages, becoming part of the community and "living like a local" is far more preferable to staying in a featureless hotel. You have all the comforts and amenities of home. An added bonus for us is being able to enjoy the company of a dog or cat for the duration of the stay.

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All kinds of people housesit. Some, like ourselves, are digital nomads, working from wherever we happen to be in the world. Many retired people housesit, taking extended vacations and saving money on accommodations. Others choose to housesit for a week or two, using it as an opportunity to experience somewhere different. Finally, there are those who base themselves in one particular area and take advantage of a rent-free lifestyle.

There are many housesitting websites, including TrustedHousesitters, MindMyHouse, and House Carers. CEO and founder of TrustedHousesitters, Andy Peck, says "A phenomenon that has swiftly evolved into a recognized low-cost vacation option for pet lovers who travel, housesitting is helping people realize their dream retirement and solo travelers enjoy the companionship of pets. It is also making sure families are able to enjoy an affordable break and helping to fill a pet-shaped hole for those that cannot have or may have lost their own."

Housesits primarily involve looking after a cat or dog, but we have also come across llamas, donkeys, rabbits, snakes, rats, and even an ocelot requiring care! Obviously, it is up to you to choose the pets that you take care of based on a combination of your experience and preference.

Occasionally, especially on long-term housesits, a request will be made towards the payment of bills. Of all the sits that we have carried out, we have only chosen to contribute towards bills once and that was because it was a particularly attractive housesit.

It is no wonder the concept of housesitting is becoming so popular. Whether you choose to housesit for a cost effective vacation or a long-term commitment, it can open up a whole world of possibilities and simultaneously save you a substantial amount of cash.

Reviewed January 2018

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