Five years ago Sue Prince had a Christmas she would rather forget — her mother had just died and her house had been repossessed by the bank, ABC News reports.
The house, which she shared with her husband Kevin, had been mortgaged for a loan for their son’s business, which had just gone bust.
“We had to sell our home to pay back the loan and then, we just bought a caravan not knowing what we were going to do.”
With their possessions in storage and the caravan parked out the front of her daughter-in-law’s parents’ house, Ms Prince started searching for options.
“I was just scrolling through the internet on my phone and I discovered house-sitting,” she said.
Five years on, Ms Prince is staring at the sprawling countryside from the balcony of a house in the small country town of Bridgetown, in Western Australia.
She and her husband do not own the house though; they are now professional house-sitters.
The couple has used house-sitting to travel to almost every state and territory in Australia and even to save costs on the occasional overseas holiday.
The house-sitting trend has grown over the years, with many online websites helping to connect sitters with potential homes.
While the lifestyle has turned Sue Prince’s life around, for some older women, house-sitting can become a necessity rather than a choice.
Liz Lennon returned to WA to care for a sick friend after a long stint living in Ireland and found herself with few housing options.
“I’ve spent nearly two years house-sitting and in those two years I have probably stayed in 12 or more different places,” Ms Lennon said.
“It’s exhausting, it’s a form of homelessness. You have a roof, but you don’t have a home.”
Jeff Fiedler from the Housing for the Aged Action Group (HAAG) said house-sitting had become more common for older women at risk of homelessness.
Mr Fielder is calling for governments to invest in more long-term social housing and other alternative housing options.