An expansive brick farmhouse covered in greenery and vines in the town of Fordingbridge in the United Kingdom. A private beachside two-bedroom apartment with balconies in Australia's state of New South Wales. A house in a small Colorado mountain town half an hour outside Boulder.
What do these seemingly "storybook" residences have in common? They're all available to stay in — free of charge — if you agree to house-sit (and, oftentimes, pet-sit) while there.
Whether you're planning a budget-friendly vacation from work or looking to travel in retirement, house-sitting is a viable option for consumers aiming to cut travel costs. Not only do house-sitters not need to pay for accommodations, but sometimes they're allowed access to the homeowner's car to get around. (Note there isn't usually an exchange of money involved here — the free accommodation is the payment.)
The stipulations are different for each scenario but usually include taking care of pets, keeping everything clean and maybe some light gardening.
Although the housing itself is free, it's important to note that house-sitting sites do charge users membership fees to search opportunities. Options include TrustedHousesitters.com ($119/year), HouseCarers.com ($50/year, but you can get notified of house-sitting opportunities via email for free) and HouseSittersAmerica.com ($30/year and for the U.S. only).