New research by jobs search engine Adzuna[i] has revealed that pet sitter positions are among the most popular jobs in the UK after analysing more than 3.8 million job vacancies on their site.
Homesitters Ltd, one of the UK’s leading home and pet sitting companies says becoming a home and pet sitter is growing in popularity, especially amongst retired people in their 50s, 60s and 70s and they are actively seeking retired people to become homesitters.
Ben Irvine, Director of Business Operations at Homesitters Ltd says, “We’ve seen a flood of applications this year from active retirees keen to take on the role to spend time with pets, stay for free in gorgeous homes and boost their pension income. Becoming a professional home and pet sitter is a fantastic flexible role people can fit in around other commitments.
It pays a modest remuneration and is a way for retirees to keep busy and active, as well the chance to explore new places. For many the main attraction is looking after people’s pets. For those that love animals but don’t want the commitment of having a pet it can offer the ideal solution. People can enjoy spending time with pets but aren’t tied down, which suits people in their retirement.”
One couple who have been homesitters since 2004 after taking early retirement are Brian and Barbara Kennedy. Brian retired aged 52 in September 2003 and Barbara followed six months later, shortly after her 50th birthday. In a typical year (not during the pandemic) they do approximately 200 days of homesitting on around 20 assignments. The length of assignments varies from as little as two days upwards to their longest single assignment of seven weeks.
Brian explains, “I decided to retire early as I wanted a more relaxed way of life, free from the daily grind of commuting. We’d been mortgage-free for almost 10 years so the potential was there to think about doing something more interesting and my pension could be taken, albeit at a reduced rate due to my age. “We reviewed our finances and realised we would be OK. We didn’t need to contemplate downsizing to a smaller house or making any other lifestyle changes. At that stage we had no firm plans for what we might do to fill our time.”
The couple knew nothing about homesitting until they attended a pre-retirement course arranged by Brian’s employer and decided it looked like the ideal part-time flexible role for them post retirement.
Brian says, “We do the homesits because we enjoy them and in our breaks at home we catch up on jobs in the house and garden or helping our adult children, so we are never at a loss for things to do.”
The couple’s favourite thing is spending time with the pets which have included dogs, cats, chickens, geese, rabbits, sheep, goats, horses and Guinea fowl; exploring new surroundings and meeting new clients. They especially enjoy walking dogs.
Brian explains, “We like tending to the needs of the pets, making sure they are well cared for, fed the correct food and, in the case of dogs, that they have their walks. These regular walks provide us with welcome exercise and fresh air, and I think we are more fit and healthy as a result than we might otherwise.”
“We really enjoy the sense of responsibility and purpose we get when we are left in charge of someone’s home and pets, and the satisfaction in knowing we are doing a good job which enables the client to have a stress-free break.”
The couple have stayed in more than 80 different homes, some very modest like their own and others veering towards stately. They have cared for more than 140 different dogs of many breeds from Rottweilers to Chihuahuas, Labradors to working Cocker Spaniels.
Brian adds, “We have visited and stayed in more parts of the Home Counties in the past 19 years than we did in the previous 40 years. Homesitting is like having lots of small holidays; up to 20 times a year we pack our bags, load the car and set off on a new adventure.
“The payment we receive isn’t a strong motivation, but it is nice to have. It means we can enjoy occasional pub lunches during our stays while not putting a strain on the budget. An unexpected bonus has been the significant reduction in our home heating bill too.”
Homesitters Ltd is recruiting. All home and pet sitters taken on by Homesitters are employees and benefit from 24/7 support when on assignment, as well as being fully insured. While on assignment they receive a daily food allowance and travel expenses (both tax-free), plus earn a modest remuneration.
For more information about Homesitters Ltd and to apply please visit www.homesitters.co.uk