Today, I have a great article from professional and trusted house sitters who have saved over $5,000 by house sitting. Enjoy!
We are Brittnay & Jayden, full time roaming enthusiasts from Australia and New Zealand, respectively. Find out how we managed to save over $5,000 in 3 months, in one of the most expensive cities in Europe.
We met in the Australian Alps and quickly discovered each other's passion for travel. We were eyeing off South America as our next trip. However, one snowy Sunday afternoon we came across flights to London for $300 AUD ($220 USD). The next thing we knew we were booked and were applying for our UK work visas.
Two wild and exciting years in London quickly followed. We had managed to visit over 21 countries in Europe and Africa in that time and not ready to stop. Our visa’s expiry date quickly approaching. We scrambled, not quite ready to head home, we put our heads together, Spain was an early thought and then a friend mentioned Dublin. It was close, easy for work visas for and similar climate to the UK.
However, after deciding on this move we found out that Dublin is known as one of the most expensive cities in Europe. When we looked into rental properties, we were shocked. It was a minimum of $1450 for a room in a share house. Our recent house sitting job came to mind- we could try that there. After lots of research and applying, we landed our first house sitting job via Skype.
Fast forward another four months and we have completed four housesits and saved ourselves over $5,000 in the process. We put together some of our favourite house sitting jobs below, and have outlined how we managed to save $5,000. We have also included some of our top tips on how to become a housesitter. We would love for everyone to see the great adventures, knowledge, and relationships you can gain from house sitting.
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How We Saved Over $5,000 by House Sitting
House sitting has allowed us to save a significant amount money. It has come about in many ways such as transport, bills, household goods and food. There were some areas in which we were able to cut costs we didn't expect. This came as a nice little surprise and helped a hefty amount to our savings accounts.
Rental expenses are where we managed to save the bulk of the amount. Over the course of three months, we were saving at least $1,450 per month. We were working full-time during this time so we were able to put a majority of our wages in savings. We are able to put that away for the purchase of a campervan in the upcoming summer.
An unexpected advantage was that we were given the opportunity to live in homes, we would have never been able to afford. We lived in three highly luxurious homes in the most upscale areas of Dublin.
Over the three months, we managed to save $4,350 in rental expenses.
During one of our house sits we were given access to a very smart yellow Mini. The owners were kind enough to put us on their insurance policy.
Having a car allowed us to drive to work together, which ended saving us time and money. We were both spending around $6 a day for public transport as well as spending an hour each way. A tank of gas would last two weeks and only cost $40. We were also able to park for free at Jay's workplace. The public transport in Dublin has been acknowledged as one of the most expensive in Europe. It is more costly than Brussels and Zurich, two notoriously expensive cities.
With a car, we were also able to explore areas of Dublin and the surrounding countryside that would have been inaccessible via public transport. We would have had to either pay for a tour or hire a car. Our favourite areas we explored was the coastal town of Wicklow and Glendalough, a beautiful lake surrounded by sheer cliffs.
Previously our transport costs were $144 per week. At $20 per week for fuel, we managed to save $124 per week, therefore saving around $496 that month.
After rental and transport costs, bills are the next biggest expense we were able to avoid. Always within reason, we could enjoy a nice warm shower and well-heated rooms, without monthly bills looming over us. We also didn't have to worry about the stress of phone bills or internet bills either.
With the average cost of our bills at our current rental property in Dublin being around $85 per month. We saved around $255 over the three months.
Most people don't see household goods as much of an expense, however, they can quickly add up. We were able to cut out the need to purchase items such as washing detergent, toilet cleaner, shower cleaner, paper towels and floor cleaner. They may seem like low-cost items, however, there was a noticeable difference in our previous shopping bills when we did have purchase these on a regular basis.
The majority of homes we stayed in had kitchens most chefs would be envious of. The homeowners were also very adamant that we consume the perishable items and help ourselves to any of the sundries. Being foodies, this was heaven for us. We were able to use appliances that we would never dream of using. This meant we were less likely to head out and spend money in restaurants or cafes.
With the average cost of household good in our shopping bills at $35 per month. We saved $105 over the three months.
Our Favourite House Sitting Jobs
The Housesit Overlooking Finsbury Park
Our very first house sit wasn't in another country or even in another city. We managed to land a housesit about 5 km from our current home in London. We would be spending Christmas and NYE looking after a gorgeous little kitten name Arya in an apartment overlooking Finsbury Park.
This apartment was lovely, we had endured years of being stuck in the typical English semi-detached house. We were used to lots of stairs, pokey little corners, and strange roommates. Now we had an open plan apartment to ourselves that was spacious and modern, we even had a kitchen that would even make a chef jealous. This wasn't even the best part, we had views from the bedroom, lounge and even the kitchen over the gorgeous Finsbury Park.
We even awoke on Christmas morning to what appeared a be a dusting of snow in the park. It turned out to just be a frost, nevertheless, it was beautiful. It was all going well however, Arya took a while to win over. For the first few days, she would spend her time watching us from behind the Christmas tree. After a few conversations with the owners, we realised we were pronouncing her name totally wrong. Neither of being us being Games of Thrones fans, we had never heard the unusual name before. After we corrected this we started to get a lot more attention.
After two weeks the owners were back, we weren't ready to leave our cosy new home, the views were so lovely, the tube was so close and we had a kitty to cuddle. However, that is nature of house sitting. We were addicted and on the computer to find the next.
Home in Country of Enfield
We had chosen to do some house sitting before immersing ourselves in Dublin. An hour west of the big city, down a quiet country lane, it where we found our next housesit. It was a complete change from the hustle and bustle of London, however, we were delighted. The Dutch couple had built themselves a stunning hidden cottage with no neighbours or busy roads for miles. It had a gorgeous Scandinavian aesthetic, sleek and modern yet snug.
We looked after their two Siamese cats, two Scottish terriers & two chickens. The dogs warmed to us right away and were happy to cuddle with us on the sofa for an evening. The cats took a day or two, however, once we realise that they loved to play fetch with a small toy rat, we were all best friends. Only being one week it was over too quickly and we were off to the big city for our next adventure.
House near the Bullocks Harbour
Our next house sit was in the most affluent suburb of Dublin. While we were still in London, we had a Skype conversation with an expat couple who were headed off to the of south France for a month. The couple needed someone to look after their eight-bedroom estate and their older lab Roxy. Roxy was a dream to look after, all she required was a daily walk to the end of the lane. At the end of the lane was a beautiful harbour full of wooden boats, pelican and seals.
Dalkey, an array of beautiful beaches, harbours and castles to admire. It was no surprise when we learnt that Bono and Enya chose to live there. What came as a bigger surprise was that Bono was actually just next door!
With only a week until our stay was over, we thought we better find a new home. After scouring our favourite house sit aggregators, we managed to score an interview with a homeowner just around the corner. After a quick glass of wine downtown in the beautiful tree-lined main street, we had locked in another month long sit.
The Home in Killiney
Even with two previous house sit done and dusted, we were still nervous. The home in Killiney was even more luxurious than the last. This house had been the winner of Ireland's most beautiful home the previous year.
Here we looked after two of loveliest two long-haired chihuahuas, Bruno & Lance. We also looked after her parent's dogs, Nori, a Chinese Hairless Crested and Luca an elderly Whippet. We were quite a sight on our daily walks with this quirky crew. The homeowner was even kind enough to put us on her insurance so we could drive her zippy little yellow Mini around town. The dogs loved a walk on the beach which was only 5 minutes away.
To date, this still prevails as our favourite house sit. We have remained great friends with the homeowner. We recently spent the evening out for her birthday. We also managed to squeeze in a cuddle with Bruno and Lance before we headed out for the night.
The Inner City Cats
From living amongst castles and mansion, we were a little apprehensive about moving into the inner city. We had gotten used to the leafy streets, beautiful harbours and coastal walks. Our next housesit sat in an interesting area. It straddled what had been described to us as one of the roughest spots in Dublin and the leafy northern suburb of Clontarf. To the left of our street, we had the coastal walkway, waterside coffee shops, and a yacht club. To the right of our street was the housing projects, home to some of the most notorious gangs and drug dealers.
Our change of scenery wasn't the only difference, the entire home was smaller than the entranceway to our last house. We had the task of looking after two very relaxed cats. Bobby had a very early stage of Parkinson's and Luc would just spend her days waiting in the kitchen for her next meal. The homeowners described Bobby as a cat in a dog's body. He had absolutely no common sense and would fall off couches, run into walls or try to engage you in a game fetch.
Surprisingly to us, we quickly adapted to our new surroundings and started to feel very content in our new home. With only a 20 minute walk from the centre of Dublin, we didn't even miss the train ride along the coast into town. Our three weeks went as quickly as the last and we were soon searching for another home.
We were beginning to learn so much about ourselves. After five moves we really had begun to minimise the things we valued necessary to have. We used to get attached to house and belongings, However, we have moved around so much, it wasn't feasible to have everything. We would just as happy without “the stuff”.
How You Can Become a House Sitter
Sign Up For House Sitting Sites
There are many sites out there to link up homeowners and house sitters. The two main ones that we use are listed below, both charges a yearly fee. We were a little apprehensive to pay at first and looked for alternatives. However, we found that these were the most popular with homeowners. We also found that it creates a more secure environment when both parties are financially invested. We also quickly realised that what we had spent paid for itself after one night in Dublin house sitting.
Much like a job, most people want to see positive references from previous homeowners. We struggled to get our first house sit without any. We managed to get one over Christmas and in our current city. We found due to supply and demand over the holiday period it is easier to find homeowners willing to hire without references. This can be a great way to get your foot in the door and start building some glowing references.
We recommend attending a pet first aid course. It can help to ensure you are prepared for any situations. Generally, they are a one day course and only cost around $50. It can also give you an edge when you are amongst 25 other applicants for that house sit at a beachfront villa in Bali.
Ensure you have an up to date & clean police record on hand. This could also push you towards the top of the pile and gives your homeowners some piece of mind.
Apply, apply, apply!
Once you have signed up, start applying for houses sits in your desired area. You need to be prompt and stand out with your applications. Don’t send a generic copy and paste application. Show the homeowner you have read their listing and you really understand their needs. You have to remember that depending on the location, some homeowners can get hundreds of applications. You want an applicant that is well thought out and personalised. Mention how you would love to take Frofro for his regular walks or snuggle up with Jinxy & Scotty in evenings.
We aren't going to sugar coat it, it can be competitive. We use to check all the sites religiously. First thing in the morning, a few sneaky times at work then once in the evening. It can become a little addictive.
Details, details, details
Much sure the homeowner lists out all the information about the animals and the house. No matter how small or irrelevant they might think they detail is.
Find out the little quirks of the house, from when the postman comes to the names and numbers of neighbours and close family. The last thing you want to be doing is sending irrelevant questions like “where are the doggy do bags kept?”
We cared for a cat that had a tendency to throw up in the lounge room at night. The owner had mentioned this to us only because it happened during the handover. Most owners become accustomed to some behaviours and may not pass on this critical information. Without knowing what this cats lounge room habits, we would have been in quite a panic.
We advise learning as much as you can about the process of house sitting if you're interested, as it can be quite competitive. Here is a guide on how to become a house sitter and believe that this can help anyone get started. Who knows, you could land one in a house sit at a beachfront villa in Bali or in a small village in Austria looking the snowy mountains from your quaint cottage balcony.
House sitting has helped us create lifelong friends and discover the generosity of people in the Ireland. We have the opportunity to discover places we would never otherwise see. We felt a sense of community straight away with helpful neighbours and homeowners. We would recommend it anyone who is looking for an adventure or would just love an animal to snuggle up with in the evenings.
Where to Next?
After six moves around Dublin, we finally signed a rental agreement. However, quicker than that we are heading back to the southern hemisphere. Jay’s sister is getting married in New Zealand and we were booking flights back home. We have decided to spend all of December 2017 and January 2018 in Thailand. From February 2018, we will have a campervan to explore the north and south islands of New Zealand. We have a house sit lined up in the Bay of Island for three weeks in March.
From there we will head over to Australia for another wedding in Port Douglas. This is a beautiful little tropical town on the coast of the Great Barrier Reef. We will spend time with the family in Melbourne before heading back over to Europe to explore Croatia, Greece & Turkey. We plan to buy a van and spend two weeks travelling and two-week house sitting each month. If you want to follow our adventures find us at The Travelling House Sitters or Instagram.
Author bio: Brittnay is an Aussie and one half of the Travelling House Sitters. She has been living in London for the past two years and recently moved to Dublin. She has visited over 21 countries in Europe and Africa in that time (including lots of cheese, wine & beaches). You can find all her adventures in housesitting and travels on The Travelling House Sitters.
Are you interested in becoming a professional and trusted house sitter? What do you think of house sitting?
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