A tale of two sitters: housesitting in Sydney
We landed in Australia with limited funds and an ambitious goal: to save at least $20,000 between us over six months.
With Sydney rent prices comparable to London and our desire to make the most of city life, we came to the realisation that something had to give - and we really didn't want it to be our weekend budget.
That's where housesitting came in.
Housesitting was a new concept to us. It was suggested by a friend in London whose family in New Zealand frequently use housesitters when they travel abroad. We decided to do some research and see whether it was something we could do.
Fast forward six months, and we were on our way to our first housesit to look after one dog.
We managed to organise this housesit before we landed in Australia and were keen to make a good impression.
Despite the house actually being very dirty and messy, we were glad to have completed our first sit and we decided that where possible in the future, we would try and visit the house and meet the pets first.
Fortunately we received a great reference and this led to us being chosen by homeowners for future sits.
Housesitting is a great way to experience life in different suburbs. This can be an incredibly valuable experience, especially if you plan are looking for a place to settle down (even if it is only for a few months).
If it wasn't for housesitting, we would never have visited Northbridge.
This suburb on Sydney's Lower North Shore quickly became our favourite place to live. We enjoyed Christmastime in a large three bedroom house with a pool, spending time swimming in the local baths, taking Alfie the dog for long walks in Tunks Park and relaxing in the sunshine. It was the first house that we were genuinely very upset to leave!
There were a few times when we found ourselves stuck for somewhere to live.
We'd already stayed with friends and their parents a number of times in between housesits so we didn't want to put them out again. At one point, we ended up paying for two weeks in an Air BnB. Fortunately, the homeowner did us a deal, and we ended up paying just $320 a week between us for a room in an apartment in Woolloomooloo, within walking distance of our respective workplaces.
Another time, we called on the kindness of a previous homeowner we'd housesat for, and stayed in her spare room on a blow up bed for a week for $140 between us.
Although it was sometimes a pain, moving around so much saved us heaps of cash - who can argue with 6 months of living in Sydney for a mere $460?!
Once we had a few more references on our profile, people started to contact us directly.
This is how we met a lovely woman who allowed us to stay a few days before, and a few weeks after, our housesit for her. We enjoyed dinners around the table with a glass of wine, learning about her story, her travels. We became good friends and it was lovely to feel 'at home', instead of just feeling like a visitor, for the first time in a while!
Of course, not all housesits have been easy and it is a big responsibility to look after somebody else's home and pet(s).
We've experienced many a late night being woken by barking, needy dogs, we've found ourselves cleaning up 'mess' at silly o'clock, and we've even medicated a ferret twice a day for three weeks.
If we were staying in Sydney for longer than six months, we would definitely be thinking about signing a lease on a flat, as housesitting can be exhausting.
Nevertheless, we've loved our experience and would recommend housesitting to any animal-loving traveller (or local!) who wants to live cheaply. After all, you never know where it may take you.