High Budget Accommodation On a Low Budget Cost

Discover how you can travel the world like us and not pay anything for accommodation. No begging or squatting required!

In the past year, we’ve only had to pay for accommodation for 40 nights! And no, we haven’t been living on the streets, nor in youth hostels at all!

We’ve spent less than AUD$6,500 (USD$4,500) in accommodation in the past 18 months in some amazing locations in Asia and around Europe. We have lived in places that we couldn’t have afforded even if we wanted to, without having to pay a cent! To put it in context, our daily accommodation costs for 2 people have been less than USD$8.25 per night. This also includes travelling through London, Paris, Barcelona and Madrid for a few weeks with my 2 boys. You can’t even get a budget hostel in most countries for that, and instead we are living in the most fabulous houses. It’s not hard and you can do the same as us!

TL;DR – The answers are: 

We left Australia at the end of January 2018 to start our digital nomad adventure and headed straight to Malaysia which was amazing. When we left we had planned to spend quite a bit of time in Malaysia, but it became obvious soon enough from talking to people that their immigration control was getting stricter on repeat re-entry, or ‘visa-runs’ as they’re often known. We didn’t want to get stuck at an airport or something so looked for other options.

Our first week was in Kuala Lumpur: 

View from KL Hotel Room 1
The market near our hotel. Full of delicious street food and bits and pieces like clothes and household items

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – We initially spent 7 days in a great hotel that I had stayed at during a previous trip to Kuala Lumpur. It was out of the touristy area but close to free city buses plus the monorail. We had a wealth of delicious foods from all cultures such as Pakistani, Syrian, Chinese, Indian and of course Malaysian within walking distance. There were also local markets for fresh food and other goods just around the corner. While we liked what Kuala Lumpur had to offer for us, we had heard a lot about Penang Island, so we headed up there to check it out. After seeing it, we didn’t even consider heading back to KL!

Our next 6 months accommodation looked like this: 

Penang, Malaysia – We spent our first week staying in an Airbnb and what a great place we found with a circular pool and everything! While there we got our acts together to find a permanent apartment.

Well, we found an amazing 3 bedroom/ 2-bathroom condo on the 14th floor with views of Malacca Straits one way and the jungle the other and with a 6 month lease we were only paying 1500 RM a month… US$360 a month! 

Pool in Penang
One of the pool areas in our apartment block in Penang

Langkawi, Malaysia – We spent 2 nights in a wooden house in the middle of a rice paddy field for my birthday. It was awesome. We used Airbnb and because some people had used our code to get up to $55 discount for themselves, we also benefited! So our cost for this trip was heavily reduced.

Airbnb on a rice paddy on Langkawi Island, Malaysia
View from our Langkawi Airbnb in the middle of a rice paddy. Definitely one of our favourite Airbnb stays

Bangkok, Thailand – This is where we discovered house sitting and decided to take it seriously. We had to do a visa run as our 90 day social pass for Malaysia was up (Extending Your Malaysian Short Term Social Visit Visa) but we wanted to save money. We looked into house sitting and were lucky enough to get our first house sit for 11 days in a gated ‘village’ in Bangkok. It was quite posh and we had a blast. We were totally sold on house sitting.

We spent another 3 months in Malaysia but during that time increasingly getting worried about being trapped at the border with all our belongings still in our apartment, so we made the decision to move on. Seeing that there were so many house sits in Europe we decided that was the next area we wanted to see. We were in discussions with one host but it just didn’t feel right and we couldn’t commit. Then I found THE place, we applied and within a day we had been confirmed… we were off to Wales in early August!

Wales, UK – We spent 3 months in a house sit in a magical location with views of Snowdonia, villages, Anglesey and to Liverpool (on clear days). Our house that we were in was on the side of a headland and and sometimes has a room rented on Airbnb for over AUD$100 (USD$70) per night, and we got the whole house to ourselves. The owner even invited us to arrive early and stay late due to her amazing hospitality. Also, before she left us on our own, she let us take her car camping for a few days. So, what was meant to be 10 weeks ended up being almost 13 weeks of free accommodation, less 3 nights of camp site fees. Free Accommodation While Travelling? You Can’t be Serious!

Wales House Sitting
Rach and Spot checking our the morning view from the back wall in our Wales house sit

Porto, Portugal – Just a couple of days as we made our way to the next house sit. Again we used free Airbnb credits that we had received from others using our link (if you use this link with a new Airbnb account you can get a 15% discount too!) to reduce the costs. 

Oleiros, Portugal – Again more house sitting for 7 weeks on a 19 acre property that is run as a yoga retreat. People pay $500+ per person to stay here for a week in magical location in the mountains and again we got to stay for free. With arriving a little early plus staying a couple of extra days we ended up staying almost 8 weeks, plus were able to use their car!

Portugal House Sit
The pool in Olieros overlooking the hills of Portugal

Algarve, Portugal – We needed a holiday after 5 months of house sitting so spent a week in the Algarve. It was beautiful but everything is closed in the winter which was a shame, but at least it wasn’t busy. Again we used Airbnb to stay here and we got it at a heavily reduced rate as he was just starting out using Airbnb.

Wales, UK – We loved Wales so much that when the host offered for us to come back we jumped at the chance. We stayed for another 13 weeks and even had my two teenage kids stay with us for 2 weeks.

Now that we had the kids with us for 5 weeks we knew things were about to get a bit more expensive for our accommodation. Luckily we had spent so little over the previous year we knew it would be okay.

Liverpool, UK – One night in an Airbnb on our way to London 

London, UKAirbnb, one night 

London, UK – We were lucky enough to get a house sit even with the kids for our stay in London. As anyone who has travelled to London knows, it is super expensive even for the most basic accommodation so we were thrilled to get 4 days and 3 nights free accommodation so we could explore London.  

Paris, France – We spent 7 nights in Paris and saved over $1000 on our Airbnb costs. See how you can save money too on 5 Airbnb Hacks to Save You Money.  

Paris Patisserie
Rach checking out the delicious offerings of our local Patisserie in Paris

Barcelona, Spain – 3 nights in an Airbnb right next to La Rambla. It was identified as the penthouse and while it wasn’t as posh as the term conjures up in your mind it was pretty good. We had roof access with a BBQ up there. So, every night we went up for wine and cheese and surveyed ‘our’ domain. It was actually quite magnificent. And we again got a super deal using hacks #3 and #4.

Madrid, Spain – 3 nights in a hotel near the city centre as all the Airbnb‘s were taken for the Madrid marathon.

Benalmadena, Spain – Again we stayed in another lovely Airbnb with pool and views overlooking the Mediterranean near Malaga for 5 nights to recover from our holiday with the kids. We used hack #3 to get this at a special deal.  

Ronda, Spain – 2 1/2 weeks house sitting in another incredible home on 3 acres. We arrived early and they invited us to stay longer so we ended up staying 2 days less than 4 weeks. Use of their car was included.

House sitting Ronda 2
A vineyard for our drinking pleasure at our Ronda house sit.

Gibraltar – We booked 2 nights accommodation to go there so we could get married. Yay! Then like 5 days beforehand we got offered a house sit in Gibraltar, I mean what are the odds? So we had 1 night in the hotel before we got married then 3 nights on our own in a flash modern apartment just off Main Street. Score. 

House sitting Gibraltar 1
The view across the roof tops in Gibraltar

Alcala la Real, Spain – 8 day house sit, but the owner invited us to come early and stay late. We were on the side of a hill in a newly renovated old terrace house with views forever overlooking olive groves, hills and blue sky. 

Bucharest, Romania – This house sit was a long time in the planning! We organised it in December 2018 and it didn’t start until mid – June 2019! Where we are staying is incredible. We are in a beautiful 2 level apartment with a pool, across from the best park in Bucharest, that costs the hosts 1300 euro a month, and we get it for free! Use of their car included once again.

House sit Bucharest
Morning cup of tea with a view of the pool and the city park across the road

Into the future…

It is currently the end of July and we are all booked up until the end of October, except for 16 days. We recently got a house sit with friends of the hosts here in Bucharest, who are going back to Paris for 10 days which fits in perfectly for us. After that you will see us in Budapest, Sofia, rural Bulgaria and Varna.

As you can see we house sit a lot. It has extra bonuses apart from the free accommodation, including free utilities and fully equipped kitchens etc. We also have been able to cancel our Netflix subscription as everywhere we go has it. We don’t have to buy cleaning products, toilet paper etc. Also, I realised yesterday we haven’t purchased washing powder since before we left Australia!

Often home owners leave us a heap of food. In Alcala la Real the host filled the freezer with meat, fish and ice cream, and the fridge with beer, cheese and veges. In Ronda we got eggs from the chooks + wine from their vineyard. In Portugal we literally only had to buy fresh meat, veggies and beer, we didn’t even have to spend money on personal hygiene items as they begged us to use their stuff they use for their paying customers.  

We also get lots of free meals out at nice restaurants as the hosts often take us out once or twice for a meal. As mentioned before, we also get a lot of free transport. In five house sits we have been given free use of their car, plus in Thailand their neighbour lent us her scooter! We also often get picked up and dropped off from airports and bus stations which saves us time and money.  

Have you tried house sitting? You should definitely give it a go, even if you are just wanting a holiday. By signing up with Trusted Housesitters like we did you can get a 25% discount, making your travel even cheaper! Read our top tips for house sitting

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