Make Believe - Live it Up for Zero Rent
Written by Alison Gallagher
Wednesday, 25 July 2012 14:03
Imagine reclining on your deck while you admire the view of your swimming pool. Later you swan indoors and enjoy your widescreen TV and surround sound as the sun sets. Later you will soak in your spa and sink into a king sized four poster bed...
What if you could live in an awesome house complete with white goods, furniture and even a DVD collection and not have to pay a cent? What if you could travel Australia or even the world, and not have to pay for your accommodation?
House Sitting is a new craze hitting Australia and it is an opportunity to live it up in a fancy house while avoiding rent. The way it works is this. If you own a fancy house, you don’t really want to leave it vacant while on holidays. You want to know your precious property will have the lights on at night and activity inside and out to not only keep the house and garden looked after, but also to deter the neighbourhood burglar. It is also a great way to know your pets will be taken care of while you travel the globe or work abroad.
So how do these homeowners find you?
To apply for and register to be a house sitter there heaps of sites online. You simply sign up (often there is a small fee) enter your desired house sitting situation (area, amount of time, when you’re available etc) and either search through the listed properties or wait for home owners to contact you.
There are definitely benefits to house sitting. You avoid paying rent while living somewhere you might not normally be able to afford. You get to explore different places and spaces and can have some really fun and interesting experiences. It is an opportunity to live outside of your comfort zone and try something new with opportunities available for as little as two nights to as long as two years. However, ultimately someone is giving you complete responsibility for their entire home, contents and often pet, so it isn’t always a walk in the park. You need to look after that property as if it were your own and treat the house and contents with respect and care.
There will be a number of tasks to do while house sitting so it is important you complete these to the best of your ability or risk being black listed or even being sued if you abuse your privileges.
Let's pretend we own this really nice house...
Find out the details of the homeowner’s trip. Arrival and departure times, their contact details for while they are away. Who to contact in the case of an emergency, (relatives? Neighbours?, Vet details etc. Have a clear list of all tasks you are required to complete while they are away. This is effectively your ‘contract’ to fulfil on their absence. Find out if there is anyone who has a spare key to the property in case you lock yourself out. And of course, you will need to leave the property in the condition you found it, or better.
Mail and Security
You will usually be required to collect any mail that comes for the home owner while they are away. Simply put them in a pile unopened, somewhere safe for their return. You will also be required to ensure the property is secure at all times. Whether you at the property or out. Find out their routine for keeping the property secure and ensure you know codes etc for alarms and have access to every key for padlocks and windows etc.
Garden and Indoor Plants
There will usually be a few pot plants, and often a garden, which you will need to care for while minding the house. Perhaps ask the home owner beforehand how often they water their plants and garden so you don’t over or under water the plants. You shouldn’t have to do pruning etc, but you may be asked to mow the lawn. This isn’t too unreasonable if you are living rent free in a mansion. If you really don’t want to do it yourself, you could always pay someone to do this for you with the oodles of cash you’ve saved on avoiding rent.
Often the main reason people want someone to take care of their property while they are away is because they can’t bare to leave their pets in a pound and don’t want to upset their animal’s routine too much. Pets can freak when their owners leave, so it helps if you are an animal person and OK to pat and reassure them especially the first few days their owner is away. The animal may avoid you and play up to show they are distressed about having a stranger around. This could result in nasty surprises and parcels in unexpected places. It’s not nice to have to deal with, but you need to be able to deal with it if it does occur. The upside is you have a furry companion to hang out with on lonely nights and in the case of a dog, an excuse to go for a daily walk and explore the neighbourhood.
Find Out More
The following websites offer housesitting opportunities to registered members.