You’re off to see the world! How exciting!
From now until you leave on your next adventure, you’re probably juggling a lot of things in your mind: the flight, packing, your itinerary, and saying goodbye to friends and loved ones. And if there’s one thing that many of us tend to put off thinking about, it’s figuring out how best to take care of our home while we’re away.
In this extended guide, we’re going to help you figure out all the details of how to best care for your home. We’ll talk about subletting. We’ll talk about your storage options. And we’ll talk about the best ways to make sure your home is safe and sound while you’re away.
At the end of this guide, you’ll find a helpful checklist so that you can make sure you don’t forget anything before you go!
Step One: Subletting
Finding a good subletting arrangement is a great option for your flat or house while you’re away. You’ll have someone around to make sure that everything is working properly, and this person will be your first alarm bell in the case of emergencies. Plus, because your home won’t look empty and abandoned, you’ll be less worried about break-ins.
Going through the process of subletting will take a bit of planning. If you’re in a flat with a landlord, you’ll need your landlord’s consent. And then there’s the search for the right subtenant. Finally, you’ll need to prepare your place for the subletter to come in – but more on that in the next section.
First things first, getting the landlord’s consent
If you’re living in a rented property, you’ll need to talk with your landlord to arrange the subletting agreement. Under no circumstances should you go ahead without this consent. Otherwise, you risk breaching the agreement of your contract, and you could face some serious consequences.
To start, you’ll want to talk to your landlord to get a sense of whether subletting would be possible. Make it clear that you would submit to them a copy of the subletting agreement and proof that the subletter has the financial means to cover the rent while you’re gone.
Your landlord will mostly likely say yes. However, there are a few things that might make them feel hesitant. On the one hand, they’ll want to know that you’ll be bringing in only the amount of people who would replace yourself. If you live alone in your apartment and you’re looking to sublet to a big family, for instance, your landlord might say no.
Your landlord might also require that your potential subletter doesn’t raise any red flags on tenancy databases. These types of screenings will let your landlord know that the subtenant doesn’t have a history of bad rental relationships, bankruptcy or court cases. Of course, you won’t have this information until you’ve actually found a potential subletter, but you should let your landlord know that you’ll be screening all potential subletters before signing any sublet agreements.
Next, find the right subletter
Alright, we’ll be honest. Sometimes, it can be tricky to find the perfect person to take over your lease or rent out your home while you’re away. After all, you’ll want someone with a similar timeline so that you can do a proper check-in and check-out. You want someone who will pass you landlord’s database search. And, you just want someone who will make you feel at ease – someone who will take care of your belongings while you’re gone.
Here are a few ways to start looking for the right subletter:
Option One: Look to your social circle
You know the people in your social circle. You know which one of your friends, loved ones, even acquaintances would take good care of your home while you’re away. So put the word out. Let your friends and family know when you’ll be leaving and that you’re looking for someone to take over your lease while you’re gone. You can even turn to your social media platforms to reach more people – remember to keep your posts public so they can be shared!
Let us also add a caveat to having a friend take over your lease – make sure that you can trust them 100%. It’s probably a bit awkward to have your loved ones give you a bond to help you pay for any damages, which means that you may not have protection if your items get broken while you’re away. And, if you’re not sure whether your subletter would be willing or able to help you pay for damages, well, then you might reconsider having them take over your lease. That may sound a bit negative, but it’s a good idea to think about how these kinds of things might complicate your relationships before you have them move into your space.
Option Two: Post your flat or house online
There are plenty of online platforms that will help you find a good subletter, no matter where you live in Australia. For instance Sublet.com, Roomster, Craigslist, and Roompik are all websites where you can post your flat or house and find plenty of potential subletters interested in taking over your lease while you’re gone.
You can also post on popular social media sites like Facebook to find a subletter. The Facebook group Shared flats, rooms, sublet, accomodation Sydney, for instance, has over 78,000 members, and has been linking subletters with potential flats and houses for more than 5 years. In Melbourne, there’s the Facebook group, Shared flats, rooms, sublet, accommodation Melbourne, where you can connect with over 19,000 other members throughout the city. And in Brisbane, you can find the Facebook group, Shared flats, rooms, sublet, accommodation Brisbane, with a membership of over 5,000 people.
Another great option is to post your flat or house on the Facebook group, Backpacker Jobs in Australia, or Australian Backpackers, to get connected with people living in Australia temporarily – either backpacking, enjoying a working holiday visa, or taking a gap year. This group is so perfect when you’re looking for a person to sublet your flat or apartment, because they only need temporary housing while they work and travel. The only thing to make sure of is that your potential subletter has a reliable income, whether it’s from savings or travel jobs.
It’s a good idea to post on as many different online platforms as you can. That way, you’ll have more potential subletters to choose from. That said, make sure you have enough time to check and respond to all of the requests that you get from the different sites. You don’t want to miss out on a potential subletter or start off on a negative note.
Vetting Potential Subletters
Before you say yes to any potential subletter, you’re going to want to ask them a few questions to make sure they’ll take care of your place while you’re gone. Here are some great conversation starters that will help you get a sense of whether a potential subletter is responsible and trustworthy:
Why are you looking for a sublet? If a potential renter tells you they’re just looking for a temporary place until they find a permanent housing option, make sure they’d be willing to sign a contract for a set time. You definitely don’t want someone leaving your flat halfway through your trip without any way to get another subletter in to take their place. On the other hand, if they’re traveling and plan on being in your house for the entirety of their stay, you can be reasonably sure they won’t bail on you.
Do you have proof of income? Ultimately, you’re going to be the one responsible for paying the rent, so you’ll want to make sure they have a way of paying. Maybe it’s proof that they’ll be working, maybe it’s a bank statement. Either way, make sure they won’t leave you with a bill at the end of their stay.
What are your hobbies? If someone is in a hard rock metal band, they might not get along so well with your elderly neighbours. These are good things to talk about when you’re getting to know a potential subletter. They’re not deal-breakers, by any means, but they’ll let you know whether you’ll need to set specific guidelines or expectations.
Do you consider yourself a clean person? This person is going to be living in your space, and it’s important that they can maintain a sense of cleanliness. This isn’t just to be nitpicky. An unclean flat or house can attract pests like cockroaches or mice, and you might be left dealing with an exterminator if the subletter doesn’t keep things clean.
Do you have pets? Maybe you’re fine with pets, but it’s still good to know exactly what you’re going to be having in your home. Does this person have one well-behaved dog? Or does this person have 5 territorial cats who are going to pee on the couch?
This conversation doesn’t have to be rigid or intense. You’re simply getting to know this person who will be living in your space. Remember to trust your gut. You’ll probably be able to tell if this person will care for your home.
You’ve got the subletter, time to tie it all together
Once you’ve done the hard work of finding a great subletter, here’s a list of the tasks you’ll need to complete with them before you leave:
Have the subletter sign a sublet contract
Collect a bond from the subletter
Set up a payment schedule and method so that your subletter can pay the rent to your or directly to the rental company
Make three copies of all documents – one for you, one for the subletter, and one for the property manager or owner
At this point, you’ve got all your ducks in a row, and you’re ready to get traveling. Really, the hard part is out of the way – you’ve found a great subletter, and you’ve done all the tedious tasks that go with transferring your lease.
Now, it’s time to get your home ready for you to leave.
How to Get Your Home Ready
Once you’ve arranged for a subletter, it’s time to start thinking about how to clear up your home and make it ready for your guests. Not only will this step make your home more comfortable for your subrenter, but it will also make sure that your items are well taken-care of. You don’t want to get back from your vacation realizing that the subletter broke fragile items or killed your plants or made some other unfortunate and avoidable mistake.
In this section, we’re going to talk about some simple ways that you can keep your home safe and your subletter happy.
Step Two: Make arrangements for plants and pets
If you’ve got plants and pets, this should be the first arrangement you make (while you’re looking for a subletter.) We say this because it can take some time to find the perfect caretaker for your plants and furbabies, and you definitely can’t leave town without finding someone to look after them.
If you think your subletter is a good option, you might run the idea past them and see if they’d be willing to take care of your precious plants or animals. You might even shave off a bit from the monthly rent in exchange for responsible, loving care. This can be an ideal arrangement for both plants and animals because it will allow them to stay in an environment where they thrive and feel comfortable.
But, if your subletter is hesitant, not a plant person, won’t be home consistently, etc., you’ll have to look to some other options. Loved ones and friends are a good place to start because they likely already know your pets and can be depended upon to take care of your plants. The ideal situation would be for them to come to your place, but that’s not always possible or reasonable, so here are a few tips to making sure the transition to their home is successful:
For plants, make sure that they’ll be placed in a location that has similar light as your home. You’ll also want to keep them at the same temperature. This will lower the risk for shock.
Changing locations can be stressful and confusing for pets, so make they have the comforts of home. In addition to the essentials, bring their dog or cat beds, favorite toys, food bowls, and anything else they love to snuggle or play with. Even if it’s your old shoe that they’ve torn to shreds, bring it along.
Share your feeding schedule with the temporary caretaker. It’s important for pets to have a consistent schedule to give them some predictability. This will help make the transition much easier for them.
If you’re at a loss to find someone to take care of your pets – after all, it’s harder to find someone willing to take in an animal than someone to put water on a plant – you might consider a professional caretaker. Mad Paws is a great option, with plenty of responsible dog and cat sitters right in your area.
Step Three: Organize
Once you’ve found a reliable pet sitter for your furry friends and someone to take care of your plants, the next step is going to be organize your home and put some items into storage.
There are two benefits to getting a storage unit or storage space while you’re gone. First, you’ll want to get rid of unnecessary clutter that will get in the way of your subletter. Second, you might have some fragile or valuable items that you want to protect from damage or even normal wear-and-tear while you’re traveling.
Let’s talk about clutter, first. You’ll want to make the following things available to your subletter:
Space for their clothes – Your Subletter should have ample closet space, storage drawers, and a place for them to keep their shoes. That means, you should go through these areas of your house and clear out the clothes that you won’t be taking with you on your vacation. Wash them, put them in a plastic storage bin, and put them in storage.
Storage space in the bathroom – It will be a bit frustrating for your subletter if you’ve got a bathroom full of hair products, creams, and supplies taking over all of the counter space. We’ve all got that mess of bottles under the sink, too, which can easily be cleaned out, consolidated and organized. If you’ve got some products that you don’t want to part with, simply put them in a plastic storage box and put them in storage. One thing to keep in mind is that if you’re going to be storing temperature sensitive items, you’ll need to find a temperature-regulated storage space.
Food storage – Now, you won’t necessarily want to store food in a storage unit, but you should still go through and organize your food pantry, refrigerator, and even your spice and seasoning cabinet. This is a great opportunity to ditch anything that is expired or will expire during your travels. And, if you have two or more of anything, see if you can consolidate them. For instance, if you have two bags of flour, one open and one unopened, you might pour them both into a sealable storage container that can easily be stacked. You might also check with your subletter to see if they would want any of the perishable items, like eggs, milk, etc, that you won’t finish before you go. If not, share them with neighbors or friends! No need to throw away perfectly good food items just because you’re making space for the subletter.
Now, how about other items that you might place in storage? Well, let’s say that you have an antique side table. Instead of worrying that you’ll come home to find water rings or other damage, you might wrap it up and place it in storage. That will lessen your anxiety while you travel and prevent any mishaps that both you and the subletter want to avoid.
Finding a storage option is probably the easiest part of this whole process. Spacer offers affordable storage solutions in your own neighbourhood so that you don’t have to drive too far to put your items into storage before your trip. And, when you come home, you’ll have easy access to them, which is key when you’re tired from traveling the world, and all.
No matter where you are in Australia, you’ll be able to find affordable storage units right in your neighbourhood. Here’s a sneak peak of how much you can expect to pay for storage in your city:
There are over 200 storage units available in Sydney, from Dulwich Hill to Potts Point to Victoria Cross and everything in between. You can find monthly storage unit rates starting at just $120.
Melbourne offers over 150 storage units to its residents as far north as Oak Park and as far south as Highett. The rates for storage units in Melbourne start at just $71 per month.
You can find over 100 storage units in Brisbane, for a low starting price of $110. Whether you’re in New Farm or CBD or Highgate Hill, you’ll be able to find an affordable storage unit.
When you’ve found the perfect storage unit, you’ll find that the booking and payment are both really easy. Simply put in a request to book, set up a time to drop off your items at the storage unit, and be on your way. All payment goes through the website automatically, so you don’t have to worry about remembering to pay your Host when you’ve got so many other things on your mind.
Spacer has storage units in many other parts of Australia, so make sure to take a minute to find a great storage solution for when you’re traveling.
Step Four: Clean
When you’re excitedly packing for a trip, the last thing you want to think about is cleaning your flat or house. But, there are plenty of reasons why you’ll want to do this. First, it will set up the expectation for your subletter that cleanliness is important. Your subletter will be more likely to keep the place clean and tidy during their stay and in preparation for your return. This will keep your items safer and more well-cared for while you’re gone.
And second, it’s simply a luxury to come back to a clean home after a long time away. There’s nothing like opening that front door and having your home smell fresh and familiar, just like you left it.
Here are a couple of words of advice on how to make sure your place is clean throughout your stay:
Give your home a deep clean before you go
You’ll want to spend a good hour in each room of your home, giving it a thorough cleaning. This should be a bit easier now that you’ve gone through and organized everything, so this will really be all about cleaning and sanitizing. Here’s a checklist of things you should clean before you go:
Linens and laundry
All dirty dishes
Kitchen appliances – inside of the microwave, fridge, etc.
Dusting, sweeping, mopping, vacuuming
Windows and mirrors
The bathroom – toilet, shower, sinks
All rubbish – it wouldn’t hurt to rinse out the insides of your bins with a little vinegar, as well
Basically, you’re going to want to clean as if you were going to be showing your house for sale or rent. The cleaner, the more satisfied you’ll feel that you left everything as it should be.
Hire a professional
We get it, the weeks and days leading up to a big trip are stressful. You’re packing, you’re arranging care for your pets, you’re following any travel notices, and you’re booking your transportation to the airport. You don’t have to put yourself through extra stress by cleaning the entire flat or house by yourself. Hiring a professional will ensure that your house is spotless when you leave, possibly even cleaner than you would have made it yourself.
Set some rules on cleanliness for your renter
It’s never fun to set guidelines for people, but it will help protect your home while you’re gone. With clear rules about cleanliness and tidiness, you’ll be able to come back to your flat or apartment without the fear of coming home to a disaster. After all, like we mentioned earlier, uncleanliness can lead to pests like cockroaches or mice, and you don’t want to have to spend the money to get an exterminator because you were too polite to ask the subletter to clean regularly.
Step Five: Be a Good Host
Earlier, we talked about leaving a cleaning guideline for subletters to know what you expect the house to look like when you return. But, you might also add some helpful information that will help the subletter feel at home.
For instance, if you have a finicky thermostat or your neighbour’s dog isn’t friendly or you know of some great grocery stores nearby, that is all helpful info for your guest. Here are some other great tips that you should share with your subletter:
Your contact information for where you’ll be
Wifi login information
When the rubbish bins will be collected
How to use the appliances
Parking information for themselves and any guests
If you’re feeling extra kind, you might also share the following useful wisdom:
Where they can get public transportation
Nearby shopping and restaurants
The best thing you can do for your subletter is make this information easy-to-find and easy-to-read. You might print it out and put it up on the fridge, or send it to them directly via email before they move in – that way, they can contact you with any questions.
And, hey, don’t be afraid to throw in some guidelines in there, as well. Just because a subletter paid a bond doesn’t mean that they get free reign of the home. You can request that they not throw parties, that they don’t have pets in the house, or that they don’t play loud music late at night. After all, they’re going to be living in this space for a temporary period of time. You’ll be coming back to live permanently.
Step Six: Consider Some Safety Measures
Even though you can rest a bit easier knowing that someone will be taking care of your flat while you’re away, you might also consider additional safety precautions as well. In this section, we’re going to talk about the creative ways that you can keep your house safe and sound while you’re away.
The technology behind security systems these days is amazing. You can keep an eye on your home with cameras connected to your phone. You can control the temperature and get faster-than-ever alerts about risks like fire or carbon monoxide. Your home will even alert you the moment there’s any unusual activity.
If you’ve ever thought about installing a home security system, or a smart system with security elements, the perfect time is before you’re about to leave on a big trip. Not only will it make you feel more relaxed about leaving, but it will actually be a selling point when you’re trying to find a subletter. Everybody wins.
Now, when you’re gone, it’s important to explain exactly how the security system works in your home to your subletter. You don’t want a frantic call in the middle of the night that the subletter tripped the alarm and the police are on their way. Also, you might realize that they don’t necessarily want you having video access to parts of the home while they’re there. Think about how you might feel if someone you barely knew was able to see inside of the house where you’re staying. There’s definitely a fair compromise to be made – maybe you have video surveillance of the outside of the house and entryways, but suspend surveillance of more intimate parts of the home.
It’s okay to lock off some parts of the home
Often, when people sublet their flat or house, they feel bad about locking off parts of the house. After all, they’re taking over the rent – they should have full range of the property right? Well, actually, no. It’s perfectly acceptable to keep your most valuable items safely stored in a storage closet, the attic, or an unused room of the house.
Of course, the key here is to be reasonable. You don’t want your subletter feeling like you’ve only opened up the hallway to their room to the bathroom, and the rest of the home is your locked-away territory. But a single cabinet? The under-the-stairs storage? An armoire filled with your clothes? It’s fine to lock that.
You’ll be less stressed that your items are at risk for damages when they’ve been safely locked up.
Secure your personal information
Ideally, you trust the person who will be taking over your lease. But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be responsible with your personal information.
If you have important documents in your home, make sure that they’re safe while you’re gone. For instance, you might invest in a lockable, fire-safe filing cabinet to hold and care for those personal documents. If there’s more than one key, you might bring one with you and leave the other one with a trusted family member.
On that same note, you should make sure that you’re logged out of all electronic devices in the home. Computers, smart technology, and anything connected to your credit card or bank account should be signed out so that there’s no risk of identity theft while you’re on your trip.
Just a couple more things
You are almost ready to take that big step into your next big adventure, but there are usually a couple of things that you might overlook in your excitement. Make sure you take a bit of time making these last-minute arrangements so that you can leave without anything hanging over your shoulder.
Step Seven: Take care of your garden
The first thing you’ll see when you get home is your garden, and it would be quite a disappointment to see it in disarray when you’re back from your long trip. A couple of days before you go, spend some time in the garden – weeding, cutting back dead foliage, trimming hedges, mowing the lawn, and raking for leaves. Maybe your work won’t last the entire time that you’re gone, but it will make a big difference.
You might also arrange for a professional to spruce up the garden once or a few times while you’re gone. After all, you don’t want to spend the next spring trying to revive a garden that was neglected while you were traveling.
Step Eight: Arrange for your mail to be taken care of
If you’re going to be receiving mail while you’re away, you might forward it to the home of a friend, neighbour or loved one. They’ll keep your mail safe and notify you if there’s anything that looks urgent.
Step Nine: Pay your bills, or set up automatic payments
Speaking of mail, make sure that any bills that might be coming your way in your absence are taken care of. It would be a real disappointment for your subletter to have to call you, urgently asking you to pay the electricity bill.
These days, it’s really easy to stay on top of bills and expenses. You might pay them online, set up automatic payments, or download an app that will give you reminders when it’s time to pay certain bills.
Dealing with this before you go will prevent any anxiety while you’re traveling – you know, the 2am jolt awake when you remember that you haven’t paid the water bill – and it will prevent you having to deal with a cranky subletter.
And you shouldn’t take care of your bills solely for the convenience for you and your subletter. Staying on top of your bills will make sure that your home is taken care of while you’re gone. No temperature damage because the electricity was turned off. No thrown out food items in the refrigerator. You see our point.
We’ve Covered A Lot! Let’s Sum It All Up!
Clearly, there are a lot of things to remember when you’re traveling, even if it’s for a relatively short time. You definitely don’t want to spend your time away wondering whether you tied up all your loose ends. So, here’s a useful checklist to help you get organized before you go:
Step One: Find your subletter
Get the landlord’s consent
Reach out to friends and family about a subletter
Post your flat or house on a sublet website or in a social media group
Respond to and vet all potential subletters
Handle all the technical stuff – contract, bond, payment, copies of all documents
Step Two: Make arrangements for pets and plants
Step Three: Organize your home
Clear out your clutter
Book a storage unit
Step Four: Clean your home
Clean room-by-room or hire a professional
Set some cleaning standards for your subletter
Step Five: Set your subletter up for success
Leave a list of important information:
Your contact information
Rubbish bin schedule
Directions for the appliances
Info about public transportation (optional)
Info about nearby shopping and restaurants
Step Six: Boost the safety of your home
Consider installing a security system
Lock off parts of the home that contain valuable property
Secure your personal information
Store sensitive documents
Log-out of all electronics that are linked to your personal information
Step Seven: Don’t forget to take care of the garden
Do some regular maintenance before you go
Consider hiring a professional to keep things happy if you’ll be gone for a long while
Step Eight: Forward your mail
Step Nine: Pay your bills
Pay your bills early
Set up automatic bill pay
Download an app to help you keep track of your bill schedule
In under ten steps, you can be ready to leave, whether it’s to another state or another country, without having to worry about anything at home. It’s so nice to get everything organized at home so that you can pack your bags and be on your way – with the peace of mind that your home and your belongings are well-cared for while you’re gone!