Thursday, 29 October 2015

Addressing the challenges

London has got a scent of possibility in the air.

As soon as you leave the house, this aroma fills you with hope. It whispers in your ear: “Everything is going to be fine; you will have a wonderful day…” 

It’s good to be back here and be surrounded with the inspirational views, sounds and scents once again.

I am currently staying in London absolutely free. Yes, free! Living here for free is possible if you are housesitting – and that’s exactly what I’m doing right now. I am staying in a lovely two bedroom flat, quite close to Clissold Park in the Stoke Newington area of London. Yes, I have the flat to myself (not counting two furry animals I need to look after), located in the central London, and I don’t pay a penny to stay here.
How did I become a housesitter? First of all, I wasn’t even aware of this kind of possibility before I decided to go travelling. Only then I began reading blogs and tips by other travellers. One of the subjects I was particularly interested in was of course accommodation, especially when being on the budget. Housesitting turned out to be the most recommended solution when looking for a free place to stay. 

So what exactly is housesitting? It’s looking after the property (house, flat, farm) while the owners are away. They might be gone for a night, few days, or even a year. Quite often there are animals left behind that need attention – feeding, walking or giving medications. The owners cannot take their animals with them, so there’s a demand for a housesitter. This role is ideal for somebody who loves to travel, has a digital lifestyle (makes money online) and plans to visit few countries without the colossal budget.

I found plenty of house sitting opprtunities through this TrustedHousesitters site. 

Ok, so here are the plush sides, but what about the other, more trivial ones? After you choose to live a nomad’s lifestyle, you quickly come to notice the first obstacle – lack of a permanent address. I have never before speculated on the subject of a fixed address and the positive sides of having one. But, just as good health is only appreciated once it’s gone, the fixed address is something we usually take for granted.

Filling up the form in the bank, having a parcel delivered or obtaining the ‘proof of address’ is suddenly problematic. Yes, especially the ‘proof of address’ is vital in UK, as without it you cannot open a bank account or even go to a doctor. How do you get this “proof of address”? By having a letter or utility bill directed to you and delivered to your place. But, it cannot be just any letter. It has to come from a government institution, such as HMRC, local council, or establishment like bank or a solicitor.

This is something I am battling with at the moment. Fortunately, there is plenty of companies happy to ‘rent’ a mailbox for you, providing the official address, and not a PO Box (not acceptable by official institutions). Yes, you can get the letters delivered to their address and then redirected, for a fee, to the current address you’re staying at. Alternatively the letters can be opened by the mentioned company, scanned and emailed to you to save on posting it by the snail-mail. Perfect!

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