FI Lifestyle Personal Finance Travel

Want to Reduce Your Housing Costs to Zero and Travel for Less?

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Photo by cottonbro on Pexels

This guest post was written by Britt Sharman from The Travelling House Sitters. Britt and her partner Jayden are full-time, professional house and pet sitters. They love travelling and taking care of animals. So far, they’ve looked after over 90 pets in 14 countries!

How to completely reduce housing costs while travelling

If I asked you why you aren’t travelling around the world, the main reason would be the cost, right? But what if I let you in on a little hack that can completely reduce housing costs while travelling?

It’s house sitting—something not many people know about! I have house sat in New Zealand, Australia, Italy, France, Greece, Montenegro, Malaysia, Thailand, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the Caribbean (looking after a cat on a catamaran)!

House sitting has allowed me to reduce my housing costs to ZERO and let me explore the world without money worries weighing me down. Plus, I get to explore new cities, towns and villages with a furry friend by my side!

What is house sitting?

What if I said thousands of homeowners need someone to care for their homes and/or pets while they’re away? This is a win-win-win situation! 

  • The homeowner gets the peace of mind that their homes and animals are being looked after. 
  • The house sitter gets free accommodations, including all the amenities of a home rather than a hotel. The animals (if applicable) are well looked after in a familiar and comforting environment.

What are general house-sitting guidelines?

The general rule of thumb is to be respectful and treat the home like your own. In addition:

  • You live in the house like you would your own.
  • You have a list of guidelines for everyday tasks that need to be completed. 
  • You maintain open communication and reporting to the owners. 
  • You have basic respect for the owner’s  belongings.

Also, keep in mind that each home and each owner’s expectations will vary. In addition, the culture of different countries may dictate what is required or expected when living in the home.

Now you’re in the know and can see how house sitting can let you stay somewhere for practically free! You won’t have to worry about accommodation costs (which typically make up more than a third of your travel budget).

How house sitting reduces living costs

1. No rent or bills to pay

Contractual utilities such as electricity for warmth or rent for protection against the elements are things that we can’t live without. The high cost of these expenses could keep you from getting away and feeling the sand between your toes. 

In addition, these expenses are typically a large portion of our basic living costs. House sitting can eliminate these essential bill payments—you can still get a comfy bed and all the other basic life amenities for free! 

Since they’re included when you look after a house, you’ll have no more utility bills!

2. More comfort when travelling

When travelling, you still have to pay for accommodations to have necessities like clean water or a roof over your head. You may also sometimes have to forgo the standard of living that you are used to.

When house sitting, you live in an actual home, which could allow you to live much like you would at home. That means you won’t have to sacrifice a safe and comfortable environment when travelling!

3. Reduced food costs 

We all get hungry! Food is a staple expenditure regardless of the budget and whether or not you are travelling. As I usually would be forced to eat out or buy expensive fresh ingredients one meal at a time while travelling, I always used to worry if I’d budgeted enough for meals. 

Since eating out is typically more expensive, having a house to cook in will let you choose how much you spend. You also won’t be forced to buy costly meals because you have nowhere to cook.

You’ll still need to spend some money, but the freedom to cook your meals will dramatically reduce living costs. (I enjoy making fried brown rice and frozen veg for only $1.50 a serving!)

Unlike a hotel, when you house sit, you’ll have access to a refrigerator and/or freezer to keep food fresh until you are ready to eat. This can help you save money and time since you’ll need to shop less often.

A fridge or freezer can also allow you to make and store bulk meals to save extra money. Don’t forget to also shop sales in the local shops to save even more!

4. Access to transportation

Will you have to take taxis which might try and rip you off? Or will you have to navigate a convoluted public transport system? Transportation can be a big chunk of spending when travelling.

I have had a couple of house-sitting jobs where the owners let me use their car or bus pass. Not having to pay inflated and confusing transport costs when you want to explore is freeing—both literally and metaphorically. (Not to mention cheaper!)

5. No-cost pets

Who doesn’t love a dog’s warmth and commitment or a cat purring when you get the milk out from the fridge? Pets are amazing, but they can be bad for the bank account when considering their food, insurance, and random pet bills. 

You may have also put off getting one as you planned on travelling. If you are an animal lover but cannot afford the costs attributed to them, then house sitting is a great way to get in some time and experience with furry friends without the costs.

6. Local connections

The homeowners are part of a social community which means so are you! Of course, this is very subjective and will depend on things like culture and individual situations. Even so, I’m sure you can ask the local community for inside knowledge, where to meet friends, or about social events.

You can also speak to the homeowners about whether or not they recommend cheap or free things to do in the area. They might also have friends or be members of clubs that you can utilize as your own.

How to find house sitting gigs

To find house-sitting gigs, you should use a house-sitting platform. The platform you pick really depends on which location you’re planning to house sit in. See this breakdown of each house-sitting site and choose the one that works best for you. 

There is also the option of finding house sits on Facebook groups. However, you may not be covered by insurance, so using an established, reputable site is worth the small fee.

Closing thoughts

House sitting is a wonderful lifestyle because it really allows you to explore the world in depth and help you save BIG on expenses. If you’re ready to house sit, check out my easy steps to jump-start your house sitting career to get started!

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  • Reply
    September 14, 2022 at 11:03 am

    Awesome! We’re planning a gap/travel year in 2025 and this will be worked into the plan! Now just need to figure out what to do with OUR house back home. Do you think our own house-sitter would be better than, say, renting out for a year and generating some income? We’re torn…

    • Reply
      September 20, 2022 at 9:39 pm

      Hi Robert—sorry for the late reply! I didn’t get a notification for your comment.

      As far as I know, most people who use house sitters do so because they have pets, plants and/or a garden that they need someone to care for. If you don’t have pets, plants, or a garden, renting out your home for a year may be the better option!

      How exciting that you’re taking a gap year. I would have loved to do that when my kids were little, but they’re too busy now. 🙁

  • Reply
    September 20, 2022 at 5:28 pm

    We have house sat for my cousin and his wife in Hawaii Kai for many years and love doing that. I do not have to eat out since I love to cook and they know their home is being well taken care of. Hubby does all the maintenance (my cousin is not good at maintenance) and I sweep the driveway every morning at 6:30am, water the 30+ orchids and the veggie garden. The day before we leave, we clean the house thoroughly and cook up some dishes so my cousin has nice home cooked meal when they return. I will definitely look into the website you posted because I have been hesitant to house sit for anyone else or let anyone house sit for us – not knowing their standard of cleanliness. Thanks again Chrissy for imparting more knowledge so I can learn!

    • Reply
      September 20, 2022 at 9:48 pm

      Hi Mom—you’re ideal house sitters! I think most home owners would love to have people like you caring for their home. It’s a nice arrangement you have with your cousin. It’s a win-win all around!

      I’ve always been intrigued by house sitting and would love to try that and house swapping one day. They’re such great ways to live like locals and save big on travel costs. I’m glad to hear you learned some new things from Britt’s guest post!

  • Reply
    Baby Boomer Super Saver
    September 30, 2022 at 5:51 pm

    We joined Trusted Housesitters and started doing local sits to build up good references. When our daughter lived a state away from us, it was a great way for us to visit her without paying for expensive hotels or other lodging. Housesitting saves so much money! Often, home owners would tell us to help ourselves to the produce in the garden or the food in the fridge, which saved us even more money. We plan to do more house sitting in retirement, all over the world.

    • Reply
      October 1, 2022 at 10:52 pm

      Hi Kathy—I didn’t realize that you’ve been a house sitter! I would LOVE to try it myself one day. Your experiences sound lovely. What a great way to save a lot of money when visiting your daughter! Thank you so much for sharing. You’ve given me renewed motivation to try house sitting the next time we travel.

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