The global pandemic of 2020 – 2022 has disturbed many of our plans for travel and especially housesitting. At Housesitmatch we heard all kinds of stories of plans cancelled last minute. We also heard of plans changing as fast as borders were closing or opening. Doubtless this has been a most disruptive time for global health and its impact on global travel. However, we are beginning to hear tales of some of our housesitters continue to pursue their love of pets and housesitting. Here is Jacqueline Lamb’s story of how she and Glenn her husband continued housesitting in Australia during Covid.
Housesitting in Australia during Covid 19
Firstly a quick recap.
On March 11, 2020 the World Health Organisation declared the Covid-19 outbreak a global pandemic.
Eight days later on March 19, 2020 the Australia PM announced that all Australians should return home to Australia and it’s border would be closed to all non-citizens.
Australia was also one of the few countries in the world that banned their citizens from leaving their own country – without an approved exemption.
It is worth noting that this ban was only lifted recently on Nov 1, 2021.
Fortunately, we were house sitting in Oz when the corona virus outbreak was unfolding.
So unlike others we didn’t need to make a mad dash to fly home.
Nonetheless, house sitting opportunities anywhere in the world were severely limited.
And the house sits we had ‘lined up’ for 2020 in other countries were naturally cancelled.
So we decided to use this ‘enforced’ stay in Australia as an opportunity to travel and house sit all over Australia – Plan B!
Plan B and rediscovering housesitting in Australia
Australia is a huge country consisting of 6 states and 2 territories. Unfortunately by late March, 2020 many of the State Premiers decided to shut their borders to non-residents of the State. Various restrictions of movement caused a severe slow down in movement and business and that closed non-essential businesses. They also limited the movement of people. Essentially, you could only travel/work within your own State unless you had an exemption and those exemptions were for very limited reasons. Crazy!!
The last time Australian States shut their borders was in 1919 due to the Spanish Flu outbreak. Hence ‘Plan B’ we put our plans to travel within Australia on hold. Then we initiated ’Plan C’. This found us taking on a short term 3 month holiday rental in Maroochydore, Queensland on the Sunshine Coast which was being offered at a reduced rate due to there being no ‘interstate holiday makers’ allowed into Queensland.
However, by July 2020, the Queensland Premier had relaxed many restrictions for people living in State. So now we could resume house sitting as there were plenty of home owners eager to get out and have a holiday. However, most home owners continued to travel within Queensland. This was mainly because border closures and ‘hot spots’ could greatly disrupt travel plans. Moreover, they could even get ‘locked out’ of their home State or have to pay for 14 days hotel quarantine at their own cost. It could all add up to be very expensive.
Housesitting in Queensland Australia
Regardless of these uncertain times there were plenty of opportunities for house sitters especially in Queensland. We are members of a few house sitting platforms including Housesitmatch. However, at this time we found the Australian based platforms were advertising the most sits that appealed. And after speaking with a few home owners (HO), there were still plenty of people looking and applying for house sits during Covid.
From July 2020 to November 2021 we completed 22 sits! And we spent the majority of our time house sitting continuously within Queensland. Due to the uncertainty around State borders it made sense to stay put. We decided not to travel interstate. It would be too easy to get ‘locked out’, or fall stranded between the border closures. Plus, the weather in Queensland is beautiful, especially in the winter time if you don’t like cold weather – which we don’t!
Changing housesitting plans in the pandemic
The way we chose our house sits also changed. For example, it largely depended on the uncertainty of when internal borders would open. And having had sits cancelled, we only applied for house sits in Queensland. In this way, we finally knew 100% that we could ‘do’ the sit. And as usual we also enquired about where the HO was planning to go for their holiday. With this information and to manage risk, we only agreed to sits where people travelled within the State of Queensland. And we saw that many home owners openly stated in their ads they wanted sitters located in the same State. We were seeing sits being advertised with the caveat “We are planning to go to NZ if the border is open”. We avoided applying for such sits as there was a high likelihood that they wouldn’t go ahead.
Here, in Australia, we noticed that the majority of house sits promoted were 7-14 day long. Some were longer term ie. 3 months+. People were either taking a short break or heading off in their caravans and exploring Australia. While house sitting and in FNQ (Far North Queensland) we saw caravanners and Caravan Parks showing “No Vacancy” signs.
Not so easy in some states
Whilst I’m painting a rosy picture of housesitting in Australia during Covid in Queensland, we were lucky. We heard many tough stories, especially related to the states of Victoria and NSW.
While much of Australia had ‘eliminated’ the virus and were living relatively ‘normal’ lives, Victoria and NSW were not as lucky. They still had more restrictions (and lockdowns) placed on them. Housesitting in Australia in Covid was proving a lengthy affair. Should Glenn and I have remained in Melbourne, Victoria and not travelled to Queensland before borders closed on March 25, 2020 our situation would have been very different.
Lockdown in Victoria
Victoria (Melbourne) earned the dubious title of being the World’s Most Locked Down City. It boasts a staggering number of 267 days in lockdown between March 2020 and October 2021. In fact, I believe to be caught up in Melbourne’s lockdown would have caused an extended break from house sitting. We could even have returned to our family home which is presently tenanted.
Back on the road
Now we’ve finished our housesitting in Australia during Covid we are looking forward to getting back on the road. Our plans are to resume our international house sitting life overseas in May 2021, but we will wait and see what happens with this virus over the next few months. The only thing for sure is that nothing in the future is certain!
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