I’m living for free in a 5-bedroom house in Surrey – it saves me £1,000 a month on rent, how you can do it too


WHEN Alex Walker was faced with monthly rent and bills of £1,000 before Christmas he knew he had to do something.

The editor and part-time student, then living in Camberwell, London, was coming to the end of his 12-month rental contract and the rate was going up.

Alex Walker is saving £1,000 a month housesitting

Alex moved into the home at the end of last year

But rather than forking out the extra cash, he decided to get online and find somewhere to housesit – staying in someone’s property while they are away.

Now, Alex is in a 5-bedroom home in Esher, Surrey, living totally rent-free.

He doesn’t have to spend a penny on household bills or council tax either.

The family who own the home are waiting for a sale to go through and are currently in Australia.

But they still need someone living in the property so they are covered by their home insurance.

Alex snapped up the temporary home after looking on housesitmatch.com.

It’s a website which connects potential housesitters with people looking for someone to stay in their property.

Alex just needs to keep the home clean and isn’t obliged to cover any extra costs.

If anything needs fixing by a tradesperson he just needs to let the family know. Any breakages are covered by home insurance.

The 28-year-old has already saved himself a whopping £1,000 on rent and bills in just one month.

Alex said moving into the property had been the “ideal situation”, as he’s currently paying for a postgraduate degree.

“I’m really lucky, the house is number one, the most comfortable house I’ve ever lived in, maybe ever seen.

“It’s turned into a bit of a holiday.”

Alex, who has done housesitting before while at university, doesn’t know exactly how long he will be in the current home, as it depends on when the sale goes through.

He said: “It is quite lucky, I’ve done house sits before, but it’s not been so long term – when they come along they are wonderful.

“If I’m here for three months, I’ll save about £3,000 in total.”

How to avoid paying rent by living in someone else’s house for free

The process you’ll have to go through to get a housesit property will vary depending on the website you use.

Alex found the Esher home through housesitmatch.com, where housesitters can join and show their interest in properties.

Owners then get to choose who stays in their home from a pool of interested people.

Home insurance policies usually stipulate that a property can’t be left unoccupied, which is often why they are looking for a sitter.

At the end of the process, each party can leave a review.

There’s no exchange of money between the matched sitter and owner, but if you want to housesit you have to pay a £69 per year fee to feature your profile on the website.

People wanting to put their property on the website also have to pay the same cost.

Both housesitters and homeowners can pay £89 for a premium account too, which includes a bigger profile and homeowners can post up to three adverts at the same time.

You also have to go through an in-depth ID check, involving taking a selfie and sharing your identity via online websites such as LinkedIn and Facebook.

Plus, you have to take a photo of an ID document and upload it – this could be a passport or driving licence.

Housesitmatch.com recommends you have an up to date DBS check too.

Alex had to sign a legal contract before moving in. This was provided to the homeowners from the website and is checked over by lawyers.

How long you can stay in a property will vary – housesitmatch.com’s average sit is three weeks, but you can stay in some for a year.

You can pick from homes across the world too, including the US and Spain.

In some cases, you might have to look after a homeowners pets as well as their property.

One current listing is for a one-week stay from March 16 at a home in Bedford, near London.

But it will involve you looking after the owner’s three dogs, making sure they are fed and walked daily.

Another listing is for a home stay in Haverhill, Suffolk, between June 30 and July 16, involving looking after three dogs.

Or, if you feel like pushing the boat out, you could stay at a home in Charleston, South Carolina, USA, for five days from mid April.

Again, you’ll have to take care of the owners’ dog.

You don’t have to use housesitmatch.com like Alex though – there are other websites out there.

One is housesittersuk.co.uk where you can find a housesit to stay from one week to two months or more.

The website has a useful tool too where you can refine your search to include properties with wheelchair access and where you can bring any pets.

Or you could try housesitters.co.uk which gives you access to a pool of house sitters who have all been vetted.

But remember to check the fees involved and any rules for sitters, or obligations.

Alex recommends using Trustpilot to check out any housesitting websites.

It’s a platform where you can see how customers have reviewed other websites and businesses.

You just have to enter the name of the housesitting website and it will bring up the reviews and offer a rating out of five, and comments from users, both positive and negative.

Do you have a money problem that needs sorting? Get in touch by emailing [email protected]