Kerryn Boogaard Kerryn Boogaard
Beverly Goldsmith Beverly Goldsmith
Zoe Bingley-Pullin Zoe Bingley-Pullin

Home away from home:

Do you want to stay in luxurious accommodation abroad for free?
Date: July 25 2012
Editor Rating:

Imagine this: staying in the south of France in a historical stone-house with an adjoining vineyard and giant swimming pool. 

Or this: three months in a funky two-bedroom artist's home in upstate New York.

If you had to pay for such accommodation your credit card would have a meltdown - but house sitters get this all for free in return for caring for the owner's home and sometimes pets.

And for homeowners, getting a house sitter to look after your home, garden and pets while your away means you don't have to worry about leaving your house unoccupied, nor paying for gardeners or dog kennels.

Queenslanders Allen and Linda Gaut recently took an early retirement and undertook a house sitting in Spain, Turkey and the UK.

"We had so many amazing experiences," Allen said.

"Our first house sit was in a beautiful home in Surrey, close to London, where we cared for a horse.

"Then we stayed in a traditional Turkish home and befriended the warm locals.

"We are currently looking forward to the next big housesitting adventure in the US."

Another couple, Rhonda and Duncan Braban from Brisbane, have just returned from a house-and-pet sit in the north of England.

"We spoke to the homeowners prior to confirmation, really liked them, and they us," Rhonda said.

"We had use of the car, had a cat and fish to look after but were able to fully explore the area, which was wonderful.

"We were also considered for a sit not far from Whistler, Canada. The people narrowed it down to two - we missed out but the people who were successful are from Australia."

That Australian couple are Glenn and Jacqui Cohen from Victoria.

The Cohens say they frequently use sitters and will be looking for people to care for their house for more for three months during the 2013 ski season.

All these couples found their house sitting opportunities via the matching making website Trustedhousesitters, established by Andy Peck, a screen writer and regular housesitter.

Peck says for people looking for affordable accommodation overseas, or for those visiting friends and family abroad, housesitting provides the "ideal recession-busting trip away".

He says house sitting is more flexible than house swapping and more and more Australians are finding it the perfect way to travel overseas.

So how does it work? Most house sitting websites charge a registration fee and then a further fee depending on length of membership.

Once registered homeowners can place listings and search for sitters, read reviews from other assignments, view references, photos and videos and even police-checks.

If interested in a match, registered homeowners and sitters can contact each other securely via the website. It is then suggested that they speak to each other over the phone or via Skype.

Homeowners should double-check the sitter's references and then ask for a copy of their passport and police-check.

Also before the house sitter arrives the homeowner should check their home insurance is up to date and that it will remain valid while the sitter is looking after their house.


Five other housesitting websites:

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