British couple reveal the easy way they live rent-free in Australia

The expats have found a way around the crippling cost of living in Australia by eschewing their own home.

Joey Anne (left) posing at the beach, and Joey Anne and her partner Theo (right).
Joey Anne and her partner Theo believe they've cracked the code to living in Australia's most expensive city. Source: TikTok/thewyldwoman

Making the move Down Under can be a costly venture. Between hostel or hotel costs and the challenging rental market, it can be tricky to find somewhere affordable — and suitable for long-term living.

But British woman Joey Anne and her partner Theo think they've cracked the code to living in Sydney — dubbed the country's most expensive city — stress-free without the financial burden. So much so, that they've been able to live rent-free for more than an entire year.

Wanting to try “something different” from the usual hostel or hotel stays, the couple, originally from Manchester, in the UK, decided to try house-sitting after seeing it online. As a result, they've been able to live rent-free in Egypt, Dubai Hong Kong, Thailand, and the Canary Islands in Spain, among others before moving to Australia a year ago.

"Our first one in Australia was three to four months. We grew really close to the family and have now spent seven months of the past year in their house taking care of their pets while they holiday abroad,” Joey told to Yahoo News Australia.

"In between, we’ll find another one to stay in before they leave again" — and it’s all completely free.

Joey Anne house sitting at Sydney property while looking after pet dog.
Joey and her partner have lived in the same Sydney house for a total of seven months, all completely rent free. Source: TikTok/thewyldwoman

The only cost to the couple is a $200 annual subscription fee to the Trusted House Sitters app which they use to find their stays. "Basically, once you've paid that, you can look for sits for the whole year all around the world as well," the 28-year-old said.

The only exchange is the expectation for Joey and Theo to look after family pets. And not just dogs, although that has been the case in Australia. In Dubai they were tasked with minding a tortoise.

Often they're asked to simply water plants while homeowners are away, and in exchange they get a spacious place to call home for free.

“The current owners wanted someone to be home most of the time and that worked for us, and this one really is pretty self-sufficient," she explained. "They have a gardener, they have a pool cleaner, they have a house cleaner that still comes while we're here [so we don't have to do much]."

While the idea was "daunting" at first, and never feeling settled can be challenging, the 28-year-old said "it's just such a cool way to travel". "It opened up a whole new world for us," she added.

Speaking to friends who've also made the move to Australia, she realises how difficult some have it with "so much of their monthly or weekly income going on rent" — particularly now with the pressure of the rising cost of living. "They're paying just ridiculous rent fees per week, it's such a huge worry. So housesitting has taken the pressure off us in that sense. It’s such a different experience to other people coming out here, but we love it so much," she said.

It's allowed them to live freely without extortionate costs of bills, which has been a "big win".

The median weekly rent has gone up by 30.4 per cent in just three years, averaging $601 per week (apartments and houses), with people paying $137 more a week on average now than in July 2020," Core Logic data shows

But one of the fastest-growing groups looking for affordable housing has been middle-to-older-aged women, according to data from advertisement site, the ABC reported. As a result, many, like Joey and Theo, have turned to house-sitting

Left: Joey washing pet dog with boyfriend Theo. Right: Joey packing up bags before leaving Sydney property.
The couple help look after pets for families who are away for an extended length of time. Source: TikTok/thewyldwoman

While the couple has loved their experience so far, they do have a strong desire to settle — which they plan on from March, after fulfilling or pre-planned stays.

"After being in Hong Kong for five years, it felt like something was missing. Whereas when we came here, we felt this is definitely our place," she said. "The lifestyle suits us so much, the weather has such a great impact on us. There's just a buzz around that is just amazing

"But we love this place. We can see us having a family out here for sure."

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