Fancy packing it all in to enjoy a ‘permanent holiday’?
Think this is simply a pipe dream? Well, Perth-based Catherine Perkins and her partner Terry Simmonds are proof that it doesn’t have to be.
The pair have travelled the world and stayed in luxury homes – for free!
Catherine and Terry are house-sitters and over the last four years they’ve completed an amazing 46 stays.
‘We don’t have bills or rent. It is a permanent holiday,’ Catherine, 55, tells New Idea.
The pair’s house-sitting adventure started not long after they got together five years ago.
‘I’d split from my former husband and was still paying part of our mortgage,’ says Catherine, who runs her own corporate clothing business.
‘Terry had just migrated from England and was looking for work. We couldn’t afford rent and turned to house-sitting, thinking we’d do it until we were on our feet.’
Catherine, the mother of two adult sons, signed up with online site Trusted Housesitters.
At first, the couple were offered a six-week stint at a home nestled on a 15-acre fruit orchard in Pickering Brook, half an hour east of Perth.
‘Within a couple of hours of arriving, I was sitting on the deck overlooking the orchard with a glass of wine thinking
“I could get used to this!”’ Catherine laughs.
‘After that, one job flowed from the next. If there was a gap, we went on a holiday.’
The pair targeted luxury house-sits. ‘Once we’d proved our reliability, they were easy to get,’ Catherine explains.
‘One property had sweeping views of a golf course and another was on a ridge overlooking the city.
‘We stayed in beachfront homes, resort-like acreage properties as well as flash city apartments.
‘We got to stay in places we couldn’t afford to buy, and the owners knew their homes were secure and their pets were being well looked after.’
However, it soon became apparent that some pets were more challenging than others – such as a pig called George.
‘It was daunting,’ laughs Catherine remembering the experience. ‘But he was lovely.
He lived in an orchard, happily frolicking like a playful child.
‘Another property had a big aviary full of beautiful birds. The owner bred mealworms to feed them. I let Terry do that!’
The couple have scored stays from Albany on WA’s southern tip to Geraldton, over 400km north of Perth and even in New Zealand and the UK.
In England we stayed in a period property overlooking a river in Devon and also a thatched cottage in Somerset,’ says Catherine.
In the past four years she and Terry, 58, have saved a whopping $60,000 by not paying rent and with fewer bills.
‘Packing and moving is the only downside,’ she says. ‘But some house-sits do last months.’
Now the couple say they have no intention of settling down for another 10 years.
‘There’s much more of the world to see,’ says Catherine. ‘And we’ve got too used to luxury now!’
According to Trusted Housesitters, there are some things that will help you make the most of your house-sitting experience.
1 Pet lovers are in demand
While not all house-sits include a pet, most owners on the site are seeking someone to not only look after their homes but their furry friends too.
So, the greater your love of pets, the greater your chances of securing a house-sit.
2 First impressions count
The house-sitter profile you create when you register is the first thing that owners will see and so it needs to engage with the owners and their pets, straightaway.
3 Flexibility is key
New and exciting house-sitting opportunities are added to the site every day but the more flexible you can be with location and dates, the more sits you can find, the more applications you can send, and the more likely you are to secure a house-sit.