Young and coffee in varying degrees, Kat also says stuff @ThoroughlyMode
Published May 16th 2011
The cheapest way to put a roof over your head in this, one of the world's most expensive cities, is house sitting. This is an ingenuous relationship on both sides: the home owner gets someone looking after their house while they're away, and the house sitter gets free digs – or may even be paid just to live in someone else's home and feed their pet/s.
Wouldn't you rather live here? By Flickr user Martin Deutsch
The downside, and of course there is one – with house sitting there are really two - is that as the sitter you don't have a lot of control over how long you can stay in each property, and your accommodation may not always match up. So you could find yourself having to doss on a friend's couch every now and then. The other main downside is that you have to lug your gear across town more often than most of us would like to. But then that's just encouraging you to be more efficient with your purchases and to have a Zen attitude towards possessions.
You might think that this sort of lifestyle is only suitable for students and the young, but if you like pets and you don't have a pet of your own, are able to be relatively flexible about your arrival to and from work – or better still you work from home, and you're an easy going sort who finds it easy to fit in around other people then this could be a way for you to maximise your money while living above your means. In fact even being a property owner doesn't preclude you from being a house sitter – if you have a room to rent out that pays your mortgage then you can ensure you always have somewhere to come home to between gigs.
Sounds pretty enticing about now, doesn't it? And how do I get into this I now hear you asking? Well, the best way to get into house sitting is to apply to a sitting agency. People who are willing to leave a stranger with free, unadulterated roam of their house, are trusting souls already, but most of them want some piece of mind so will source a suitable sitter from a reputable agency.
There are many agencies out there to join, but the best ones will make sure that you're insured against any damage you may accidently do to someone's home while it's in your care. Safe Hands Sitters is an example of one of these, as is London Domestic. While this is a bonus, if you're not expecting to get paid, and are just looking for a house over your head, it might be that the homeowner's insurance may cover you.
If you sit through an agency they'll be able to help you build up and retain client references and recommendations, but when you're just getting started you'll need to provide plenty of proof that you're a really good sort as these are people's homes and beloved pets that you'll be charged with.
If your inspired by the idea of sitting, and you try it out around London you might want to consider assignments further afield and arrange a house sitting holiday as well. Why pay for accommodation when you can enjoy the creature comforts of someone else's 'home sweet home'?
Looks fantastic. Wouldnt it be lovely to be the lady of the manor for a time?!
By Jody Kimber - senior reviewer Thursday, 19th of May @ 05:24 am
Of course it's not all manor houses, Kensington mansions, old churches and uber modern penthouses, there are a lot of nice family homes that get registered with these sites as well. But the heating is probably better in the less impressive homes!
That sounds really interesting! A friend and I would like to relocate to London for one week or two. And i thought we could house sit there. Do you know any sitting agency where we could apply to? That would be very kind :)
By Anonymous Wednesday, 8th of June @ 03:38 pm
Great article! Sounds like such a good idea, I'm contemplating a short move to London but obviously the price of somewhere to live has been a real problem. I hadn't even thought of house sitting. If I do end up heading over there I'll definitely be checking out some of the agencies you recommended.