Couple’s trick to live three years rent free
ONE couple has found a way to live rent and bill free for nearly three years while saving for a home of their own.
Layla Turner and Grant Caudwell, both 37, accomplished this with an unusual living arrangement where they have no permanent address and instead house-sit across multiple homes spread around the city.
By lining up one sitting job after the other they claim not only are they saving rental costs, they get to live in homes they couldn't afford as renters or buyers.
Homes they occupied as house sitters while the owners were away included properties in the Manly area, Darlinghurst, Kensington, Newtown and Randwick.
The property owners let them stay in the homes on the condition they looked after their pets, thus saving them expensive kennel fees and other pet caring costs.
Some owners also provided the couple with food and alcohol, explaining it would go off while they were away unless it was consumed.
Ms Turner said their arrangement was originally going to be a temporary one but they've since lined up so many jobs they "can't go back".
"We've been very lucky," she said. "It's really helping us save for a home. It will be difficult to stop knowing we'd have to pay rent again."
The couple, originally from the UK, started house sitting after arriving in the country following a stint in New Zealand and initially wanted to avoid staying in a hotel or Airbnb.
House sitting was a way for them to familiarise themselves with different parts of the city but as the months rolled by they realised they would save more than $20,000 a year sitting permanently.
"We got onto it almost by accident," Ms Turner said.
Most of their initial work was discovered through a house sitting agency but getting references and referrals from their first sitting stints helped them continue securing new work, she said.
The most they stayed at one address was seven weeks and some sitting jobs were finished in a week. "It's not a lifestyle for everyone," Ms Turner said. "Moving all the time can be stressful and you can't have much stuff.
"There is also a lot of competition in areas like the eastern suburbs. You've got to make yourself stand out. We take (applying) seriously, it's like a job."
Mindahome.com.au founder Susan Coombs said she knew of couples and singles who had been house sitting even longer than three years.
"I know of one guy who has been doing it seven years. There's others too," she said. "Sometimes they're nomad types, sometimes they're saving for a home.
"The key to making it work is you've got to love animals. It also pays to have a goal and be flexible with where you stay. The properties can be all over."
Ms Coombs' website has about 500-1000 sitting jobs depending on the week and said competition for properties was rising as more Sydneysiders identified it as a way to save on expensive renting bills. Registering for the site cost almost $60 per year.
Most homeowners usually expected their house sitters to sleep in their beds - particularly if they shared them with pets, Ms Coombs said.
"It's about making it as normal as possible for the pets while they're away."
Originally published as Couple's trick to live three years rent free