As metropolitan house and rent prices continue to soar a growing number of young people are turning to an alternative lifestyle option: house sitting.
Sarah Baar and her partner, Richard Pratt, are among the mobile generation moving between properties as they save for their own home.
The couple has been house sitting at properties in Canberra and regional NSW for more than a year after moving from Melbourne to Canberra for work.
“The main benefit is we don’t have any accommodation expenses; we don’t pay rent and we don’t pay bills,” Ms Baar said.
The couple originally turned to house sitting after struggling to secure a rental.
Flying or driving between Melbourne and Canberra for regular inspections was adding up and parliamentary sitting weeks made snapping up short-term accommodation almost impossible.
Now, money otherwise spent on rent or bills is saved away to fulfil their dream of owning property.
“That’s why we’ve continued doing it,” Ms Barr said.
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“We do want to buy ourselves a house but we don’t want to rent anymore. We’ve rented in Sydney and Melbourne and it seemed like we were paying off someone else’s mortgage.”
House prices in Canberra continue to rise with the capital’s median surging past the $700,000-mark for the first time in March.
Weekly rent has also become more expensive.
Canberra is the third-most expensive capital city to rent behind Sydney and Darwin, with a weekly median rent of $500 for a house and $428 for a unit.
In Sydney it’s $550 for a house and $530 for a unit.
Co-founder of house sitting platform Your Home My Home, Mikaeli Loughrey, said she had noticed an increasing number of Generation Y adults taking up the flexible lifestyle since the online portal launched 18 months ago.
“When we first launched there was a lot of baby boomers who were travelling regularly,” she said.
“There’s been a huge shift to that 18 to 30-year-old market. About 75 per cent are those saving for their first home.”
Ms Loughrey said the increasing popularity of house sitting among young adults also reflected the growing share economy.
“It’s both a cost-saving measure but also, as a generation, they are very nimble and very open to the share economy,” she said.
“For the digital natives, its not an issue; they use Ubers, they use Airtasker. To find somewhere to stay on an online platform is no different to other activities in their lives.”
Ms Loughrey said other drawcards included greater independence than living with parents, as well as flexibility when exploring a new city or suburb.
Ms Barr and Mr Pratt plan to continue house sitting until the end of the year as they continue to save for their first home.
Ms Baar said there had been a couple of gaps between house sitting stints due to a prospective host’s changing circumstances, but nothing too serious.
“During that time we’ve just used Airbnb [or] have had the odd stay at a hotel as a treat,” she said. “We haven’t struggled finding anything.”