Property Guardianship

This perfectly nice person talks a lot of old shit, but burried in said jobbie lies an undigested diamond:

My niece told me about a friend who was a property guardian – someone who looks after an empty property in return for cheaper rent – and so I researched different organisations and used Dot Dot Dot, which offers affordable properties and in return asks guardians to commit to 16 hours of volunteering a month. I ended up with a little four-bedroom townhouse in Abbey Wood in London. It’s a lovely place with a garden, a balcony off the kitchen, a workshop and a music room. It costs £560 a month to live here. Bills are extra and come to about £200 a month. I really like the community aspect of being a property guardian. So far, I’ve run a mosaic course in a residential home and helped out with some gardening locally.

A £760 month with the potential to divide the cost by four? Sixteen hours a month of friendly volunteer work? Sounds like a gig for an Escapologist.

I first heard about property guardianship circa 2008 when someone suggested I move into the recently-abandoned BBC Scotland building (which lives on, quelle surprise, as luxury flats). It all seemed more trouble than it was worth. While my rent would have been just £200, I’d have to work as an unpaid night watchman.

I just couldn’t quite bring myself to pay money to live in a perpetual state of one-eye-on-the-door paranoid half-sleep, while also slipping around in the ectoplasm of Scottish Light Entertainment.

A decade on, however, there are arguably worse housing fates than this. Especially if it’s possible to find yourself in a “little” four-bedroom London townhouse.

Although it’s expected to be knocked down in the next couple of years, when I’m not working or volunteering, I spend my time doing the house up. […] I spend about £200 a month on materials and furniture for the house.

Just don’t enact this part of the plan and you’re golden.

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Robert Wringham is the editor of New Escapologist. He also writes books and articles. Read more at

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