With rent prices soaring, Charlie Green and her husband Daniel decided enough was enough.
After 10 years of enduring the daily grind and stressful city commute of life in London, they vowed to make a longed-for wish come true.
Their dream? To travel the world. ‘I was fed up of working long hours and not having any savings,’ Charlie tells New Idea.
The couple first met at university in 2002, and after graduating, Charlie and Daniel – who were then both in their early 20s – kick-started their careers together in marketing.
But after tying the knot in 2012 on Italy’s picturesque Amalfi Coast and scraping together the funds for a small investment property – which they then rented out – they both realised they yearned to explore the world in a much bigger way.
Daniel had travelled before he started university, visiting the east coast of Australia and attending Camp America. But Charlie had only ever been on a few holidays.
‘After our wedding we had no savings and our travelling dreams seemed out of reach,’ Charlie explains.
That was until she stumbled across an article about TrustedHousesitters.com – a free service that gave people the opportunity to live in a stranger’s house for free while either looking after their home, their pet or both.
‘People were travelling the world by pet and house-sitting while their owners were away,’ Charlie recalls. ‘And not only that, we’d have the adorable companionship of their pet wherever we chose to stay.’
Intrigued, the newlyweds signed up and stepped out of the rat race of daily work to travel the world. They purchased around-the-world plane tickets and mapped their travels based around the cheap or free accommodation they could find.
‘Just a few weeks later we found ourselves on a plane to Mumbai in February 2013, where our adventures began,’ Charlie says.
Unlike most other tourists, the couple were able to find authentic experiences in new communities, as most of the homes they visited weren’t in the normal tourist hotspots.
‘Mumbai was where our trip around the world started, but we didn’t actually have our first house-sit lined up until we got to Australia a few months later.
‘To have a roof over our heads in India and Southeast Asia, we hostel-hopped and bartered for board in return for work – so you can imagine how we felt when we arrived in Brisbane for our first house and pet-sit,’ she adds.
The couple’s home for more than a month was a five-bedroom house with a pool and cinema room.
‘Our job was to look after an adorable dog called Moby, a cat called Mr Binx and a horse named Prince,’ Daniel explains.
Over the next 12 months, Daniel and Charlie visited a staggering 12 countries – including Spain, India and South East Asia. They were having the time of their lives, experiencing the travelling life they’d always wanted. But by 2014, the couple were finally ready to return home to the UK.
‘My grandma was about to turn 90 and I wanted to celebrate with my family,’ Charlie explains.
While the pair embraced home, the pet-sitting didn’t stop.
The couple managed to line up more house and pet-sits back in London while they looked for permanent work.
‘After our round-the-world adventures, we spent three months in five different London properties,’ Charlie tells New Idea, explaining they saved a fortune in the process.
‘These were all fabulous homes in fantastic areas with adorable cats and dogs.’
Continuing to pet-sit while they settled into lucrative new jobs, by 2016 Daniel and Charlie decided to leave their city life behind. The thrifty couple had saved themselves $44,000 in rent and hotel costs – thanks to their stints at pet and house-sitting.
They used some savings to renovate their small investment property, before they sold it and then bought a five-bedroom house worth over a million dollars in picturesque Devon.
‘When travelling, pet-sitting saved us money, but at home it bought us time to find the very best jobs, which directly allowed us to fulfil our plans,’ Charlie says.
Having spent so much of their time looking after other people’s pets, the couple decided to buy a dog of their own – a labrador named Lola.
‘Pet and house-sitting is the best thing we ever did. Not only could we travel the world, but we were able to look after some adorable pets in the most amazing locations,’ Daniel adds.
‘And now we have our own amazing place on the beach and are looking for a trusted pet-sitter to look after our home.’