I have been house sitting since before the pandemic and sitting takes me away from home for weeks (sometimes months) at a time. My landlord is going to be putting my rent up shortly, and I have been considering alternatives to renting. Things are so expensive now that paying rent for months I’m not home makes me cringe, though I understand this is necessary if I want a stable base to come back to.
I wondered if any of you have an alternative living situation that works well with house sitting, and allows you to save some money at the same time? I work from home so need a somewhat stable environment.
Edit: I should mention that subletting/ getting a lodger in my current situation isn’t possible for me, as I live in a small, self-contained unit behind my landlord’s house.
We’re full-time sitters and haven’t paid rent in over 3 years, but I suppose that’s not an option for you? You could also sub-rent your place when you’re away (if the landlord is OK with that).
This would be an ideal situation for me, but where I live in Scotland, I’m not sure it would be possible to sit full time. I have intended to do this in 2020 and the year was almost completely booked. Then, one by one, my sits were cancelled when the pandemic hit and I was without accommodation, hence I was relieved when I started renting my place last Feb.
Subletting unfortunately wouldn’t be possible, as I live on my landlord’s property so she wouldn’t be comfortable with that.
Our apartment is listed on Airbnb and other short let sites. You may run into a couple of problems. Your landlord may not like the fact you are making money from his property and it may not be situated in a desirable/touristy area. We bought in February 2021 with all this in mind and made sure it would work. Have you seen the pictures of Bournemouth beach this weekend?
Another option is a static caravan or mobile home. There are lots of places where the static caravan is rented out for you and you get the benefits as well as a place to call home. Problems, you need a secure locked area where your valuables can be kept. Long term planning is a must. How do you feel about strangers living in your private home?
The mobile home is our favourite idea. Yes, we have thought about the problem you are facing as well. Your home travels with you. And you can park it up with the minimum of fuss when you leave the country. Negatives, cost of fuel, space is limited and maintenance might be costly.
Interested to hear others ideas.
Thank you for your suggestions! Yes, letting out my place isn’t possible as I live behind my landlord’s house. I’ve wanted to buy my first house for a while, but the housing market has been very challenging recently! Hopefully it will settle down and this will become more of a possibility. I don’t mind strangers living in my home. Something like Airbnb would appeal to me: how has your experience with this been?
Once I got the correct person to do all the practical things, fantastic. It’s important to get someone who thinks like you, does it the way you want (not the way they think it should be done) and takes orders. I had a terrible first three months because I employed an agency who did it their way even though they agreed with all my “demands” before I signed the contract. Their words not mine.
Now I have a team who are fantastic.
This is great to read. I think you’ve got the ideal balance between house sitting, having a base and making/ saving money. While I love house sitting, I’m currently doing it at my own expense (i.e. paying rent when I’m not there) which is less than ideal when that amount is increasing!
We are full time sitters too, our own house is rented out in another country. We have a van we can sleep in at a push and then we do Airbnbs & Pansiyons for the gaps plus family and friends. Our “life” lives in two small lock ups in two different countries which isn’t ideal but hey ho. So far it would have been wasted money to have a flat somewhere. We’re a full year into THS & loving it and not spending anywhere near as much as we were
If you have a spare room you could get a lodger to help pay towards the rent.
This isn’t possible for me, unfortunately.
The other fill ins that can work to save or earn money in between house sits, if you don’t mind change, could be couch surfing, WWOOFING, nannying or au pairing and there’s more I’m sure.
Sorry, I should have mentioned I have a have a job working from home, I’m just not keen on paying rent when I’m not there for a lot of the time. Especially when I’m saving towards buying my own place, it feels like money down the drain, but seems to be the only viable option at the moment.
Yes, that also happened to us. We didn’t have a sit for 3 months and also started renting a flat for a short time. But I hope that 2020 will not repeat itself and this year the demand for pet sitters seems to be very high. If you want to stay mostly in one area of Scotland it might be more difficult to find enough sits than if you were looking around London or other population centers where there are lots and lots of sits. We hang around Zurich, Munich and Berlin a lot because the demand is high and we get recommended by HOs (we don’t really look for sits ourselves).
EDIT: It actually looks like the demand for sitters in Scotland is much higher than where we do sits. We also registered on about a dozen platforms during the pandemic when there wasn’t a single sit for weeks and even now it might be useful to use more than just THS if you want to do sits in a very specific area.
Thanks Timmy. Yes, 2020 is unlikely to repeat, thank goodness. I would prefer to stay within Scotland and northern England as I don’t want to venture too far from family, but it does seem that if I decided to house sit full time, I’d have to expand my horizons. The demand is high in Scotland, but they tend to be fairly short sits which would mean moving around a lot and it can be quite an upheaval. I guess there are positives and negatives to all options!
It depends what you consider a short sit, our average sit is perhaps 10-14 days long. Sits that are longer than 2-3 weeks area are quite rare in most areas but you only need to secure a few of those very long sits.
I’d consider a short sit around a week. I am happy to do them, but if it was on a full-time basis, I don’t know that I’d want to move about every week or two. This is probably why I’m more suited to having a base to come back to, rather than the kind of nomadic ‘on the road’ lifestyle that suits a lot of people!
We went full-time in 2019 to save for our first home deposit (in Australia). It went really well, until Covid struck, of course. Then we had to change our plans but it still worked in our favour in the end. We now have a home and renting it out while we do this.
Anyway, personally, I think your location in the UK is brilliant. There are so many UK housesits (apart from Scotland). If you have a car/van, I have no doubt that you’d hardly have any free nights during the year if you plan well and can easily travel between sits. If you have a van, you can even sleep in the van for 1-2 bridging nights. We do pay for Airbnb’s during bridging days, so for us, that is our ‘rent’. Depending on how much rent you pay, you might do better or worse with this, so set up a budget.
We are both nomad workers as well as being sitters, and although flexibility is needed for travel days, we try, where possible, to find sits with weekend starts/ends. You can even adapt your van to include a tiny desk should you need to work in there.
Once you take the plunge to sell up your things and be mobile, it is quite a lovely feeling. Initially scary when you get rid of your stuff, but afterwards, very rewarding that nothing is tying you down. And if you feel, after 6-12 months, that this lifestyle is not working for you, you can always start again!
Your situation sounds similar to mine in that I wanted to save for a house deposit in 2019 and all was going well until Covid. It’s great to read you have a house now. I had an offer accepted on a house back in March, but was unfortunately gazumped so it was back to the drawing board!
Yes, bridging with Airbnbs is a possibility but I’m not sure I would want to be without a base, and not sure how that would be with my paid employment. I have sold a lot of things and am ‘minimalist’ but I guess everyone varies on how mobile they can or would want to be. Vanlife is definitely a possibility, but as a solo female, the safety aspect is a concern. It seems like every option has a caveat!
I have often pondered this issue and one thing I have considered is the possibility of renting a room in somone’s house, for storing items I would wish to keep, and for the occasional sleep over.
I’m sure there are people who would like a small extra income but wouldn’t want a full time lodger.
Some advertising on social media, in specific groups, may have a result.
Yes, Jilly’s idea might be something to consider. We actually know a lady that we sit for sometimes and her “room mate” AKA “the ghost” is only there 1 night of the week, I doubt he pays the full Zurich rent.