Smart Renting had humble beginnings in 2011 when your authors, Steve and Rabea wanted to save energy in a rental house given that home ownership was (and still is) unaffordable for many would be first home buyers in Melbourne.

We had no idea how far this project would go or how much it would transform our lives for the better.

After we significantly reduced our home energy use, we went further by going car free, incorporating local produce into our diets and more recently have added home grown produce and composting to the mix.

We wanted to make changes that were cheap and easy to implement and could work in almost any rental property. We also tested these ideas in Germany for four years.

A funny thing happened along the way:

  • We tripled our yearly savings rate (which was already pretty healthy) making home ownership a reasonable prospect should we choose it
  • We learned to enjoy living in rental properties and to make them work for us
  • We were able to go from five days a week of working to four
  • We got healthier and more active
  • We have more time and energy for others and ourselves
  • We enjoy more reliable household services and transportation
  • Travel (a favourite pastime of ours) has become a deeper and more rewarding experience
  • We never felt that we were going without or making sacrifices, if anything, we feel richer than ever (and not just in the monetary sense)


Cyclist on empty road with hills in background
Less work and more of this.


Living a life that involves working together with our fellow human beings and environment is usually framed as a sacrifice.

Thinking this way is doomed to fail; if something is seen as a sacrifice, then it takes willpower to keep it up and one day willpower is going to run out.

We have no more willpower than most people; living on a smaller footprint just benefits us so much more. The Jones’s are now working hard to keep up with those of us who choose a simpler life.

We were pretty chuffed to find out that what is good for nature is good for all of us so we wanted to share what we have learnt with you to save you time if you are sick of the 9-5 until you’re 65 (or 70)/30+ year mortgage or renting for life and feeling inferior about it treadmill.

Smart Renting is partly our story but hopefully in time, it will also become part of your story.