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How one Kent couple sold their home and retired early to become home and pet sitters

Retiring early is primarily driven by “wanting to enjoy more freedom while still being physically fit and well enough to enjoy it” according to a recent study by Aviva[i], which found that nearly one in three people (32%) who have retired early or plan to do so gave this reason for embracing a new lifestyle.

68% reported an increase in overall happiness as a result of retiring early. This is certainly the case for Janet and Steve Groom from near Tunbridge Wells in Kent who decided to take early retirement in their 40s after being inspired to change their lifestyle and become home and pet sitters through Homesitters Ltd.

Home and pet sitters stay in people’s homes when they go away taking care of the home and any pets. Janet was drawn to the role after reading a magazine feature and thought it sounded interesting and varied. A few months later when Steve came home fed up with his work in the civil service where he had spent the last 32 years, so Janet suggested he resign and that they take up home and pet sitting together.

Still young, they didn’t want to stop working altogether as they wanted to keep busy and the variety and flexibility homesitting offers seemed the perfect solution. Steve handed in his notice the very next day and the couple became homesitters.

They still had ten years to go until they were due to take their pensions, so the couple financed their early retirement by downsizing to a one-bedroom flat. The equity released along with their homesitting earnings, funds their flexible lifestyle and the couple are happy to have the flat as their base, as their home sitting role means that they are often staying in large family homes.

The couple are thoroughly enjoying the home and pet sitting lifestyle. They stay in gorgeous properties and looking after animals has become a real highlight for them. While Steve had grown up with dogs, Janet didn’t have much experience with them but has discovered that she absolutely loves them.

Janet says, “We love being homesitters. The best thing about it is the animals, as they are so loving and we have lots of fun with them. It would be too restricting to have a dog of our own but through homesitting we have ‘part time’ pets with all of the love and none of the long-term responsibility, which suits us perfectly.”

The couple mainly look after dogs and cats but have looked after a goat, sheep and chickens. Janet says the animals were easy to look after as they just needed to be fed and put in their barn at night, the hardest thing was trying to eat all the eggs the chickens laid!

The couple have a regular assignment in Barnes in South West London, which they love. Living in the countryside themselves they enjoy being in a more urban environment and being able to walk to the shops to buy a newspaper every day without having to get in the car. They enjoy taking the dogs for walks in Richmond Park and there is a heated outdoor swimming pool they can use.

Janet adds, “We often have to pinch ourselves to believe some of the homes we stay in. How else would you get to experience living in such gorgeous houses with swimming pools and beautiful gardens? Home and pet sitting is an amazing experience, and we get so much out of it. We enjoy our regular assignments, but we also love the buzz of receiving a call offering us a new assignment.

“It’s exciting every time we go to a new home and get to look after new animals and explore new areas. The clients are so welcoming, and we find that they want us to enjoy their home and make use of all the facilities; it’s almost as if we’re on holiday too.”

Homesitters Ltd is recruiting. Unlike some other companies all home and pet sitters employed by Homesitters Ltd 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


[i] https://www.aviva.com/newsroom/news-releases/2021/12/sixty-the-most-popular-age-to-retire-early/