Illawarra-born house and pet sitter Brett Souter has stayed on acreage through to apartments and cared for cats, dogs, birds, ducks, goats and even a bearded dragon and snake.
There are a series of house and pet sitting services available online.
Mindahome is a forum for home and pet owners to connect with house and pet sitters throughout the country.
Pet owners can register their positions on their website for free and house and pet sitters register for $49 per year, and can take up as many or as few house sitting positions as they like.
Once a home owner lists their position online, house and pet sitters can apply for the position directly through the website.
Mr Souter, 57, is single and has been house and pet sitting for more than a decade. Mr Souter is currently in his second year with Mindahome.
Born and raised in the Illawarra, he began house and pet sitting for friends and work colleagues in Sydney.
“I was quite often house sitting for them when they went away, and it benefited me because a lot of my work came from Sydney, so it saved the commute really.”
Changed life circumstances also led him to further embracing the lifestyle of a professional house sitter.
“I would buy a little cheap property, do it up and sell it.
“But then come 2008, the downturn happened and the banks weren't as liberal in lending me money.
“When that happened I was caught out a little, so I haven’t got back into the market since then.
“I also had a cancer scare in 2014, and I just thought before I go plunging into the market again, I’ll sit on the sidelines and wait until the next opportunity presents itself.”
His longest sit was four months, and when not house sitting, he rents a granny flat at Otford.
He’s rarely there though, as the promotional industry worker has many return house sit requests.
He has house and pet sat in places such as Otford, Unanderra, Dapto and Mount Kembla, as well as Double Bay (where he is currently based), Glebe, Brisbane, Oberon and Narrabri.
“The one at Narrabri was on like 1700 acres... That was something I’d never experienced before, it was absolutely unbelievable,” he said.
“You save on rent, you get a real look at how other people live, and you get some really good ideas.
“You get to enjoy other people’s pets, without the long-term responsibility of having to look after them.”
Potential option for young Aussies
Sue Coombs, co-founder of Mindahome said more people are realising that house and pet sitting presents a viable way to save money faster.
She said house and pet sitting could suit young Australians looking to enter the housing market.
“Not only do they get to save on rent, they also have the opportunity to stay in different suburbs, get a feel for an area; access to transport, shopping, leisure activities, etc, to see if it's really where they want to settle down before diving in and committing to a mortgage,” she told the Mercury.
“We also have members living in Wollongong who house and pet sit in and around Sydney so that they can reduce their commute to work every day. “
Ms Coombs said one of the main advantages of house and pet sitting is that you can truly get to “live like a local” while doing so.
“You stay in the home of a local resident and get to see some of the lesser-known attractions and features of different areas,” she said.
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