How to rent a house for free. (Yes, really.)

The internet is a bittersweet addition to our modern lives.

Like, on one hand, we have Netflix. But on the other hand, we have Netflix. See what I mean?

But I’ve had one of those weeks that I’m actually feeling really pro-internet. Why? It’s helping me rent a house…for free.

So here’s the situation: the owner of our amazing apartment is a lovely chap who lives in London. Once a year, he returns to Australia for two to three months over summer for work. This means that come December, my partner and I need to vacate for eight weeks or so.

Yeah, sure! we said as we signed the tenancy agreement back in January, that’s totally fine! Easy! No worries! Cheerio! Toodle-oo!

But as the year rolls on, this break in our tenancy has loomed large – and I’m starting to think ‘no worries’ might have been a slight understatement.


I am a Type A Personality with a tendency to dramatise small situations; whilst my partner is a laissez-faire optimist who keeps smiling knowingly and saying that ‘it will sort itself out’.

Low and behold, we’re just two months out, and the immaculate conception solution has not yet fallen from the sky. So, I grabbed the reins and started to review our options.

We’ve got to vacate for two months. Not even quite two months. It’s a neither-here-nor-there time frame that is actually quite sticky to work with.

Over this period we have Christmas, New Year, and my father’s 70th, so we’ll be travelling a fair bit – so renting an Airbnb wasn’t a good idea, as we’ll be back and forth so much. Crashing at our parent’s respective houses wasn’t exactly a long-term solution either. So what were we meant to do for two months?

(At this point I would like to note that my partner suggested, in all seriousness, that we live either live on a boat or move to Thailand. Can you see what I’m up against?)

This is also an option.

We couldn't find a rental property because the time was too short, and we couldn't live my dream move into a hotel because it was too long. Again, I ask: what do you DO for two months?

Alas, my trusty frenemy, The Internet, saved the day. As it turns out, the modern world of house-hunting has changed a lot in recent years.

After doing a deep dive into alternative short-term rental options, I actually stumbled across some pretty amazing solutions. Many of which, unbelievable, are FREE.

Here are three actual-real-life options for short-term accommodation.

1) House sitting / Pet sitting

Like a giant online noticeboard, there are hundreds of websites that collate and curate local house sitting opportunities. Usually, these are people who do not want to list on AirbBnb because they have pets that need caring for, or a home they would rather rent to locals.

PROS: It's absolutely free. Sometimes, they'll even pay YOU to look after their pets.

CONS: The dates are super specific, because the owners are away on holiday and their pets need to be fed, like, every day. Oh, and most sites have a small membership fee to sign up.


Check out:

Aussie House Sitters.

Mind A Home Australia.

Happy House Sitters.

2) Facebook groups

Oh, the wonderful hidden world of private Facebook groups. Little did you know, that lurking beneath the surface of Facebook lies a whole array of localised groups selling furniture, trading clothes, and...renting out their houses!

PROS: The prices are going to be significantly cheaper than what you'll find on Airbnb, and you've got a good chance of negotiating a good rate, too.

CONS: You're going to need to know a local in the area who can add you to the group. Don't know where to start? Type in "Local rentals [Suburb name]" into Facebook search and see what comes up. Then message someone in the group and ask if you can be added.

Twenty somethings on buying property. (Post continues after video)

3) House swapping

So, you're going interstate or overseas on holiday, but want to save on accommodation? Sure, you can fill your home will Airbnb tenants, but you'll still have to fork out for somewhere to stay at your destination. House swapping means exactly that: find where you want to go, and swap houses for a short while!

PROS: It's free. Totally free.

CONS: You will need the stars to align to match dates/cities/suitable candidates for this plan to work. But oh boy, if it does work? You're in BUSINESS.

Check out:

Aussie House Swap.

House Swap Holidays.

Love Home Swap.

As September kicks off, we're still not quite sure what option we're going to take. But it's pretty cool to know that there are many options online aside from spending our life savings on an Airbnb apartment.

One last request? If you see me hanging out the washing on a boat bobbing around Sydney Harbour, please - make sure you give my boyfriend a kick in the bum from me.

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