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By Lisa Fox, co-founder of Open Shed.
When my partner Duncan and I decided to create Open Shed we went 'all in and quit our full time jobs so we could focus 100 per cent on building the best site possible. With not a lot of money saved we had to get creative about how to make what we did have stretch.
The solution... house sitting.
House sitting is a great marrying up of needs and wants. We need a space to live and work out of and homeowners want to know that their homes and pets are in good hands while they are away.
So since mid March 2011 Duncan and I have house sat in Hervey Bay, Sydney, Clare Valley and Melbourne, and dramatically reduced our living costs.
The one time I needed to travel last year and didn’t have friends or family to stay with I used AirBnB. I had been aware of AirBnB for a while and was really excited to finally have an opportunity to give it go while in Melbourne for a weekend conference. I only decided to go to the conference a week before it was on, so with less than a week to get organised I found myself sending off four AirBnB inquiries.
I had searched for places near the conference venue, that were within my price range and also had positive reviews. All four hosts responded to my inquiries quickly. Three of the places were no longer available for the coming weekend but luckily Walter’s place in Northcote was. A comfy room, with breakfast, close to the conference for just $50 a night (plus a $12 AirBnB fee) - perfect!
I really enjoyed my stay with Walter and Amanda. The room had everything I needed and they laid out breakfast supplies for me each evening so I could help myself before heading off to the conference. When I arrived on the Friday night they invited me to join them in their Friday night ritual - AFL, tea and chocolate! I didn’t feel any pressure to do so, but it was very nice to get to know them a little bit. The whole experience was fantastic and I’m looking forward to the next time I need to use AirBnB. Perhaps I’ll try a tree house!
The human connection element is what I think makes this type of living and travel really special and different. I recently spoke to an AirBnB host for an article was writing. She had first been attracted to AirBnB because of the extra money they could earn, which could help her family pay off their renovations faster. But after being hosts more than a year now, she also finds it a fun and enjoyable way to get to know lots of people from all around the world.
Have you ever house sat, house swapped, couch surfed or used AirBnB? We'd would love to hear your story! Email us at email@example.com, and if your letter is published in the magazine you'll win a great prize!