I didn’t want to pay rent so I'm a professional sofa surfer, I've called mansions in Surrey & townhouses in London home | The Sun

STEPPING outside the enormous country pile in Surrey, Thiago Araujo takes in the glorious views of the rolling hills of Dorking.

Inside the movie-like mansion his wife Cleo is readying the Labrador puppy for a walk in the enormous forest that backs onto the property.

But the couple aren’t heirs to a family fortune or lottery winners, but travellers with no permanent home owning nothing but a backpack and a bike each.

And yet the husband and wife, originally from Brazil, have called some seriously valuable properties their home over the past three years in some of the UK’s most exclusive locations.

The couple, who work in various freelance positions, ditched their rental property in Liverpool in 2020, choosing to become professional sofa surfers and saving themselves thousands in the process.

Speaking exclusively to Fabulous, Cleo says: “When we arrived in the UK in 2020 we were stuck in Liverpool because of the pandemic.


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“We were desperate to leave behind our regular jobs and regular lives and so we started to research how we could travel around the UK for free.

“We didn’t have a big budget whatsoever and Airbnb was an obvious but not a viable option for us.

“After some research we came across the website TrustedHousesitters and that seemed like the perfect alternative.”

Members of TrustedHousesitters pay as little as £99 for an annual membership.

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The pair were sick of their regular lives so turned it upside down by sofa surfing across the UKCredit: Supplied
The couple on their wedding dayCredit: Supplied

From there pet owners and house sitters can communicate with each other to organise free house/ pet sitting for owners and accommodation for sitters.

“Our first property we ended up in London for two weeks – the owner left us with baskets full of food which was great,” Thiago says.

“It’s win-win really because they know their home is safe and pets are taken care of without having to pay a thing and we get to stay in some amazing places.

“After that our contract on our rental property back in Liverpool was up so we just began scheduling as many sitting jobs as we could

“We were lucky in that our jobs allowed us to work remotely so we could just pack up and leave whenever we chose.

“Gradually we started building up our profile so that we would be more and more attractive to people looking for the perfect house sitter.”

Cleo has taken the role of scheduling the couple’s sitting jobs, taking care to have accommodation sorted months in advance.

“We’re in August and we have sits booked until the end of September,” she says.

“I always try to make sure we have accommodation booked two months in advance.

“If we do find ourselves in a situation where we have a gap of a couple of days in between sits then we throw ourselves on the mercy of our hosts.

“I find that 99% of the time they are happy for us to arrive early so we can get to know what’s needed of us and most people have no problem with us staying on a few days either.

“We also make sure that we only accept sits that have a two week duration minimum as otherwise we’re just moving around too much.

“But this  is the lifestyle we chose and we were always prepared for it to be unsettled.”

While the pressure might be on to find accommodation on a rolling basis, there are some major perks when it comes to house sitting.

"Had we stayed in hostels over the past three years we would have spent in the region of £30,000."

Thiago says, “Most of the houses we stay in are comfortable family homes and ones that would be out of our price range were we renting.

“We have certainly never stayed in any bad houses but we have stayed in some truly incredible ones.

“We have stayed in mansions of the likes we had only ever seen on movie sets before.

“There was one in Dorking that had incredible views because it was on top of a hill and it was just breathtaking.

“They had a forest as their back garden.”

Of course another major plus about their living situation is that the pair has saved thousands on accommodation costs over the years.

“Had we stayed in hostels over the past three years we would have spent in the region of £30,000,” Cleo says.

“And let’s face it, staying in a mansion is far nicer than being in a hostel!”

While the uncertainty of Thiago and Cleo’s lifestyle might put some off, the couple have no plans to settle down any time soon.

“We’re planning on carrying on for the next five years,” Cleo says. 

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“We hope to visit all five continents, house-sitting our way across the globe but we are in no rush, we don’t mind how long it takes us to get to the places we want to see.”

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