The pros and cons of house sitting

Written by view.com.au in Renting

A woman who is house sitting looks at a Husky dog

Ever felt an overwhelming desire to mix your love of puppies with a love for saving up to $25,000 a year, but just not known how? The answer is still a well-kept secret, but not for long. For those looking to save considerable money and even accelerate their entry into the property market, house sitting is now an easily achievable alternative to renting, and a great way to help you in finding financial freedom.

A 2010 General Social Survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed that only 1 per cent of those surveyed noted house sitting as a reason for not living in permanent accommodation, out of 4.6 million adults surveyed. However, as affordability continues to pose challenges for those wanting to enter the property market, and online portals continue to pop up offering a way for people to find houses that need sitters, house sitting will continue to increase in popularity.

With the median rent in Sydney climbing in early 2018 to $525 a week, house sitting offers the potential to save over $27,000 on rent, not to mention additional savings, such as wifi and bills.

How does house sitting work?

House sitting has never been easier due to a growing number of businesses that act as a digital platform on which homeowners can advertise their home, and house sitters can advertise their services. The most common sites in Australia are mindahome.com.au, aussiehousesitters.com.au and housesitters.com.au.

These work by simply providing a space for people to find each other. As a house sitter, you do not get paid to sit, nor does a homeowner get paid to have their house sat. In this way, these platforms are not liable for damages to a property, but only act to create a space where people can accrue a visible history or ‘resume’ of sitting experiences, as well as reviews, so that homeowners can feel assured that their home and pets will be looked after.

What are the benefits to house sitting?

  1. Most importantly: free rent! You have an opportunity to save tens of thousands of dollars per year if you can manage your house sitting consistently.
  2. Independence. Many first home buyers rely on living at home for longer with their parents. One or two years of house sitting allows people to help save for a deposit while maintaining an independent lifestyle.
  3. Low input. There is little maintenance expected of a house sitter, except to keep a home clean, potentially maintain some of its gardens, and take care of any pets.
  4. Freedom to explore. House sitting allows newcomers to a city, or even long-time residents to explore a city or other regions of a country. This can be beneficial for those who want to know what certain suburbs are like to live in before buying.
  5. No fees on utilities. Added to the potential thousands saved in rent, there are also savings to be made on utilities and other bills, such as wifi and digital subscriptions.

Considerations to make when housesitting

  1. Plan ahead. The biggest challenge of house sitting is being able to manage months of sitting in advance. This may put some people off, but for the naturally organised, using the above platforms will help in securing longer-term sits. Remember to apply quickly when you find a listing (and if a platform offers it, sign up to alerts for new properties). Even though house sitting is relatively secret in Australia, competition is still high for those who are in the know. Alongside applying quickly, make sure you apply well. Your application is much like a CV, so be honest, friendly, and speak to your experience as much as possible.A man sits on a couch with a laptop in front of his face and his bare feet sticking up
  2. You are locked to the house. House sitting means that you are not free to go away on a spontaneous holiday while taking care of someone’s house, especially if they have a pet. However, you can organise yourself to sit for a week in a holiday location, or organise your sits so that you have a week or two between in which you can go on holidays.
  3. Use multiple services. Consider using more than one website to find houses to sit. It is still a relatively small industry and being on more than one service will increase your chances of finding long-term accommodation.
  4. Build relationships. Online platforms are great for finding listings, but it is up to you to create future opportunities. Many house sitters build a strong reputation and rely on regular ‘repeat business’. For instance, a homeowner may consistently head away to Europe for two months of each year in March and April. These sorts of instances are where house sitters can find security in their living arrangement.
  5. Write a great profile. Make sure you use plenty of photos, and even a video (many platforms allow for a Youtube link), so that homeowners can get a real sense of who you are, and build trust in your capabilities and character.
  6. Get some wheels. While this is not a necessity, it helps to have a car when house sitting. You will need to keep your possessions low for the period in which you house sit, so having a car that you can easily pack every month or two will give you greater freedom to find listings in areas you may not have considered.
  7. Must love dogs. The majority of house sitting arrangements involve pet care. Make sure you are experienced and open to taking care of different animal types as well as multiple pets at one time.