“I’m saving for my first home by taking care of others'”

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Katie Hogan, 34, is living rent-free while she saves for her first home. But unlike other hopeful first-time buyers, she didn’t move in with mom and dad to make it happen.

Ms Hogan has tapped into a community of house and animal caretakers who look after properties and their four-legged residents in return for accommodation, with no money changing hands. Looking after other people’s homes and pets saves the animal lover, who works in podcast advertising, thousands of pounds in rent.

She said: “I started last August when my new job allowed me to work from home. I had just returned from Australia, where housesitting is very popular, and temporarily moved in with my parents, but wanted to be independent.

Since last August, Ms Hogan has been keeping house permanently, with a few weeks back home with her parents for the holidays, and is booked until October.

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The duration of the sessions can vary from a few days to several months and not all jobs require the animals to be cared for; some just need caretakers to water the garden and dust the house.

Ms Hogan said the seated position spared her the hassle of competing in the ‘Wild West’ of the rental market. Average asking rents jumped 11% in the first three months of this year from the same quarter in 2021 to £995 per month, according to property website Zoopla.

Bidding wars between tenants are commonplace and rental properties disappear within days of listing.

“House-sitting is definitely better than renting, as long as you don’t mind living out of a suitcase to some extent. I keep watching the rental market, but what’s the point when I can live in a much nicer place than I could ever afford for free? Mrs. Hogan said.

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Demand for house sitters has skyrocketed in the wake of the pandemic, with an explosion in pet ownership throughout the lockdown, leaving thousands more households in need of animal care over the holidays.

TrustedHousesitters, a website that connects pet owners with sitters, saw a fourfold increase in global listings.

Meanwhile, interest in sitting has increased amid a renewed appetite for staycations. Last year, the cost of summer vacations in the country was 40% higher than before the pandemic, and the lure of free accommodation has sparked interest among those looking for low-cost vacations. price.

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The average session lasts between one and two weeks, according to TrustedHousesitters.

The company’s Angela Laws said, “Because no money changes hands between them, custodians and owners build relationships based on reviews and star ratings.

“Members are of all ages. We get a real mix of young “digital nomads”, young couples and singles saving up for their first home. And then we have retired vets, health workers and teachers. There are many retirees who choose to sit because they love animals and travel, so they want to enjoy the company of pets without owning one.

A couple, Samantha Frewin, 44, and John Oxenham, 63, started housekeeping when he resigned as a pilot last year.

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