Couple’s hack to saving $60k in two years
Do you fancy having no rent, no mortgage, no bills and total financial freedom?
Britt, 30, and Jay, 29, started house sitting in 2016 and now they have just that.
The couple haven't paid rent for the past two years and in doing so, managed to save more than $60,000 - not to mention travel the world.
"We have house sat in London, Dublin, Bangkok, Malaysia, New Zealand, Melbourne, France … we're currently in Rome, Italy," Britt told news.com.au.
She and her partner Jay first met in the Australian Alps in 2014. Despite travelling to 25 different countries in two years, the couple felt something was missing from their lives.
"While we were living in London, we had a friend who was house sitting," Britt explained. "We loved heading for walks with her and the groodle (golden retriever cross poodle) she was caring for. We didn't realise how much we missed interaction with animals."
After doing some research, they landed their first two-week house sitting gig just around the corner from where they were living. "From then on we were hooked. We slowly built up our references and began house sitting full-time once our working holiday visas expired in the UK," said Britt.
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They've been professional house sitting ever since. The couple land gigs using platforms like Aussie House Sitters but most clients come from their own website and Instagram. And even though they don't get paid, Britt and Jay are just happy to have a roof over their heads.
"Most of our sites are 3-5 weeks," said Britt. "We work for ourselves as web developers. So we can work from anywhere.
"Most homeowners love this because they know their home will be looked after and also have peace of mind that their pets will have someone around most of the day with them."
Despite saving enough for a down payment on a home, the couple have no plans to quit house sitting. "We didn't plan on doing this long term but we just love the lifestyle," said Britt. "We love the slow travel, exploring new places, meeting lovely homeowners and hanging out with amazing animals.
"We did spend 12 months house sitting around Melbourne. It helped us understand what sort of area we might want to buy in eventually, but that's not on the cards for the foreseeable future."
After 27 house sits, eight countries (not including the 20 others they've travelled to), 35 dogs, 17 cats, 10 fish, six chickens and one turtle, Britt and Jay can't imagine living any other way.
"We are always trying to talk our friends and family into this lifestyle. House sitting has changed the way we travel and see the world."
And they're not alone. The idea of a "no property, no problems" lifestyle has been more than a choice for some. For one woman, it was a life saver.
Back in 2015, Elli Phillips was at rock bottom. After splitting from her partner, the then 26-year-old found herself homeless and over $30k in debt.
"I had sold and gave away everything when I moved in with my ex," she told news.com.au. "I was drowning in debt (racked up from credit cards, personal loans, car loans, bank transfers, interest free promotions you name it).
"When I did the maths I had no idea how I was going to live away from this relationship. I didn't have any money … I was at a complete loss on what to do."
That was then. Now, Elli's living rent-free and enjoying the jetsetter's dream.
"In the last year, I've travelled to Fiji, Mexico, America and the Philippines," she said.
While she doesn't have a house of her own, she'll happily live in yours while you're on holidays - for a small fee. "I charge a flat fee of $30 per night in the metro areas and outside metro areas, I charge $50 to $75 per night," said the 30-year-old.
But when she first started, Elli didn't charge at all. "I was throwing every single cent I had at my debt and because I didn't have rent/bills I was able to put a lot more towards it. I spent the first year doing it for free as my main priority was having a place to live!
"To be honest, I really just started charging because prospective clients were very confused as to why I didn't and couldn't quite wrap their heads around the fact I was doing it for free."
After setting up a Facebook page and "hesitantly" putting the word out on social media, business started to boom. "Soon enough I had four months of bookings, then six, then a year," said Elli.
Three years and five months into her house sitting career, Elli has no plans of slowing down. "People find it hard to grasp the idea that I don't have a home of my own. It's more of a side hustle income than anything and helps pay for the website, my insurances for house sitting and the many Havaianas that are mistaken for chew toys," she says.
And she's about to hit a milestone. "I am just about to finish up on my 94th house sit and will crack the big 100 before 2020."
When she isn't house sitting, Elli works part time as an insurance claims consultant. She's also studying nursing and hopes to become a paramedic. "Since house sitting gives me so much freedom, I realised last year that I could go back to studying and make it work," she said.
"I still plan to house sit for a few more years, at least until my studies are completed.
"I just have no desire to live a traditional life in the same home. I get to live in so many amazing homes with amazing animals. I'm also currently single so I think that plays a big part in it. I'm sure if I met the right person then I would probably want to settle down in a home with them."
For Elli, house sitting is more than a means to an end: it's a way of life.
"I honestly feel like I'll always house sit," she admits. "Especially for my favourite clients."