An unusual technique that helped this couple save $20,000 a year

Brisbane-based couple Charles and Charlotte, like most Gen Ys, are out in the “real world” doing their best to future-proof themselves. As they save up to continue expanding their property portfolio, the couple took chances with an unusual side job called house-sitting – a venture that has helped them save $20,000 a year.

Charlotte Charles web

Through the income generated by their house-sitting, the couple are already looking into purchasing their second property by the end of the year.

They share their story with Smart Property Investment, proving that anyone can be successful in property investment with determination and a good amount of creativity and strategy. 

You’re house-sitting, so you don’t pay any rent?

Charles: No rent, no bills, nothing.

Charlotte: We’ve been living in Brisbane for five or six years, and then we went overseas and came back. Our options were, we were working, we go back and rent. We knew investing was probably a goal and we just looked at options. House-sitting came up, and we don’t have family in Brisbane, we don’t have ... I mean, weve got a friendship group, but no close family or anything. That was our option. There’s a couple of websites out there and you just make a profile and this person says, “I’m going away for six weeks...” You just go, “Yes, I’m available.” You kind of meet up for essentially like an interview, I guess, and then you go house-sit their house. Weve done it successfully enough that weve done it back-to-back. Weve been doing it for just on 12 months.

Walk us through the process of this venture.

Charlotte: I can work from home most of the time, which is a really big bonus for the house-sitting because we look after a lot of older pets with an older couple or the older generation that are going away. They like having someone at home. Charles gets up, goes to work everyday, and goes to the same place everyday. We just put a maximum 10, 12 kilometres around it, what were comfortable to commute around, and we pick the houses that come up in there. Luckily, he works close enough to the city that a lot of houses come off around. Weve house sat everywhere. Lots of different houses, lots of different places.

Why did you decide to start house-sitting?

Charlotte: We recognised that we are, at the moment, low-income owners. We also realised that were also child-free, pet-free. We havent got a lot of belongings so thats a great option for us. It takes a lot of boxes. Its not amazing all the time, but neither is renting, neither is any other situation.

How do you get clients?

Charlotte: References.

Charles: Yeah, you generate references and that sort of stuff. Then when you go for the bigger lengths of stay, so staying in places for two months, three months, four months, they obviously require references. Theyve got more people applying for it so theyve got more choice. We created a reference list and thats helped us to get the better ones. Now, its a lot easier to get them because when 80 applicants come in, they still come through to pick us because of the references.

Where do you stay when youre not house-sitting?

Charlotte: We only had a couple of days when we had to stay at a B&B. For two nights, we had to stay in a motel a couple of months ago for a couple of nights. Its all part of the journey. Its been really good.

How much do you save, considering you would have to shell out about $600 a week renting in Brisbane?

Charlotte: We did numbers. Again numbers, spreadsheets, everything. We did numbers, pretty detailed numbers and it saves us about $20,000 a year. Obviously that adds to whatever your savings.

Charles: All deposit money. Thats on top of what you would normally save if you were paying rent which is obviously a lot smaller. It generates a deposit for a home nearly every year, which is pretty good.

Arent you skimping to reach your goal of buying a second property in a few months?

Charles: No, definitely not. I mean, were going to Japan next year skiing, go on a few trips this year, that sort of stuff. Were definitely not skimping. We still get to live that lifestyle, but we get to save at the same time.

Charlotte: Best of both worlds. We track our expenses. Everything, from that two dollar coffee to everything on through on up, which just makes us accountable. I know how much is coming in, I know how much is going out. I know if someone is saying, “Oh, can you afford $100 extra a month because of this property?” I can go yes or no.

I know that there’s some really, really realistic expectations about how much we can save over the next 12 months because I know on average how much we spend. It just makes everything so much easier. Money then is not a scary thing if you just think about what you’re doing and accounting for what you’re doing. It’s your money. I think a lot of people kind of step back from that relationship with money and they are almost a bit in denial about what’s happening. We just remain transparent.

Tune in to Charles and Charlotte’s episode of The Smart Property Investment Show to find out more about why they believe property investment is possible for all millennials if they’re willing to make the choice to put the hard yards in.


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