For one Auckland couple, permanently housesitting and not having to pay rent or mortgage is more a question of lifestyle than affordability.

Jonathan Lyon, 50, and Michelle Euinton, 37, have not lived in their own home for three and five years respectively - a choice that may have saved them up to $56,000 in the past year.

The couple, who both previously owned property, said housesitting is less about saving money and more about the freedom living without rental or mortgage obligations affords them.

Lyon, who works in marketing, said if they chose to they could afford to live in a house of their own, but it was not likely.

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"Our concept of value is not tied to owning a property ... our value is more on the experience. I don't think we would ever want to buy.

"It affords me the opportunity to do the things that I love, to not be constrained by convention. It is very possible to live very sustainably on small amounts of money."

The couple are on a combined income of $40,000 to $50,000 from their jobs alone - which they say is enough to fund their simple lifestyle.

Michelle Euinton and her partner, Jonathan Lyon, enjoy meeting new people and their pets. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Michelle Euinton and her partner, Jonathan Lyon, enjoy meeting new people and their pets. Photo / Jason Oxenham

They work full-time, but because a couple of their working projects are in their infancy they were working on building up their income - something housesitting has enabled them to do.

Because they are housesitting they don't have to fork out what could be $49,504 a year in rent - a figure that's based on the $950 Quotable Value (QV) says is the current median rental price for a three-bedroom Ponsonby home.

At the cheaper end of the market, it could still have saved them $26,780, based on the QV-estimated median rental of $515 for a three-bedroom house in Auckland's Central East.

It could also have saved them up to $1076.50 each week, or $55,978 in the past year, on mortgage repayments.

This was based on a loan of 80 per cent of the $1.05m average value of an Auckland home with an interest rate of 5.29 per cent.

While the couple say affordability is not a factor in their lifestyle choice, it is a factor in why others choose to housesit.

Lyn Strong is a customer services representative at The Housesitting Company, which links housesitters with homeowners.

"Renting is an issue and particularly in Auckland ... Housesitting is a viable option."

Strong said it wasn't just about affordability, she said there were a variety of reasons for people to choose housesitting.

"Sitters who are newlyweds, or in relationships who just want to save money on rent ... sitters who are perhaps building a new house, or waiting for a home to be renovated ... then we have our lovely retired couples who do it as a lifestyle."

In return, she says, homeowners get someone to look after their much-loved pet and their house.

Jonathan Lyon and his partner Michelle Euinton housesit all across Auckland and further afield. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Jonathan Lyon and his partner Michelle Euinton housesit all across Auckland and further afield. Photo / Jason Oxenham

Euinton, a freelance graphic designer, said being housesitters full-time gave the couple the ability to do what they want; travel, meet new people, and set up their own projects with a philanthropic twist.

"It's about not being tied down ... to have time to spend on passions and developing new aspects of your life and interests."

She's working on a project, Colour our story, that sees colouring books created by children for children to help provide school supplies for those in need.

Lyon has recently started a social insight company called Audience Insight Lab, a social media analytics company. He has also taught photography to clients at the Auckland City Mission.

Euinton was the first to give housesitting a go after her earlier marriage ended and she was diagnosed with a progressive condition that affects her vision.

"Housesitting provided adventure and opportunities to do amazing things and meet new people and animals."

Initially Euinton was linked up with an agency but has since then established her own profile on Facebook, has built up a repeat client base and through word of mouth often picks up new clients.

She became known as the girl with the blue suitcase as she went from house to house, mainly in Auckland.

Lyon joined her three years ago and since then the pair have housesit, mainly around Auckland, though they have gone as far afield as Melbourne.

They are generally booked up for a year in advance.

Jonathan Lyon and his partner Michelle Euinton have been house-sitting for the past few years saving on rent and mortgage payments. Lewis, the home owner's dog, is also pictured. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Jonathan Lyon and his partner Michelle Euinton have been house-sitting for the past few years saving on rent and mortgage payments. Lewis, the home owner's dog, is also pictured. Photo / Jason Oxenham

It has not been without its challenges; they miss growing their own fruit and vegetables, and eating healthily when constantly on the move can be a challenge.

But the couple said having fewer possessions fits in with their simple lifestyle.

"We carry all our worldly belongings in the car," said Lyon.

Neither plans on giving up the transient lifestyle any time soon, and the couple hope to start housesitting internationally too.

Eventually they plan to build a tiny house and set it up on a small patch of land.

"It's part of the bigger plan in the future ... living off the land, with a small carbon footprint."