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Why homesitting is the perfect flexible job for early retirees

In the summer analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies highlighted a big rise in the number of older workers choosing to retire early[i]. It found that there were almost half a million fewer people in paid work in the UK in the first quarter of 2022 than before the Covid-19 pandemic started.

Other figures this year from the Office for National Statistics[ii] pointed to a wave of resignations and early retirements as three in five over 50s left the workforce sooner than planned. Lifestyle changes were the reason behind why around a sixth of people had left the workforce.

Often people in their 50s and 60s who decide to take early retirement still want to keep busy and do something worthwhile. Many simply want a change of direction and to do something fresh and exciting. Taking on a part-time flexible role such as home and pet sitting can be just the solution.

Many of our homesitters are younger retirees who have taken early retirement and who want to try something new. They want to spend their time exploring more of the UK, meeting new people and being able to pick and choose when they work.

Homesitting can give them all of this. It’s a role that involves staying in people’s homes when they go away to look after the home and any pets they have. Assignments could take place anywhere in the UK and our homesitters enjoy the flexibility to choose which assignments they take on.

This means it can easily work around other commitments such as hobbies, spending time with family, volunteering or taking more holidays. For most the main attractions are exploring different parts of the UK, without the cost of hotels or B&Bs and spending time with pets.

Dogs and cats are the most common, but our homesitters have looked after most types of pets from rabbits, llamas and pot-bellied pigs to snakes, lizards and tortoises. Our homesitters can choose to only work with certain types of pets but many relish learning about different types of pets.

For our homesitters Paula and Gavin Rose from Dorset, who are both in their fifties, it was the ideal role for them when three years ago they decided they no longer needed to work full time and wanted to try something new.

Previously, Paula ran a swimming lessons business with her sister, while Gavin worked for a company that designed and installed interiors for boats.

Paula explained, “We wanted a lifestyle change – to live in different parts of the country and meet new people and we researched different ways to do this. We discovered Homesitters Ltd and it sounded perfect. We love animals and are keen walkers, and being a homesitter involves travel and the new experiences we were looking for.”

They take on around 12 assignments a year, varying in length from three or four days to a month at a time. They usually look after dogs and cats although they’ve also looked after chickens and a tortoise, and one of their assignments involved working at a hedgehog sanctuary.

The couple were asked by their client if they would help out at a hedgehog sanctuary while they looking after the client’s home and two dogs and a cat.  The job involved feeding rescued hedgehogs that were sick and injured and weighing them to check they were progressing well. Once the hedgehogs recovered they were reintroduced to their natural habitat.

“It was a really interesting homesit” said Paula, “we enjoyed learning to handle and care for the hedgehogs, it’s not often you get to see these little creatures close up and we took great pleasure in helping with their recovery.”

Whilst the couple live in a small bungalow, the places they stay are often far grander.

Paula and Gavin prefer to be in the country rather than a town and many of the homes they stay in are surrounded by land or woodlands where they enjoy walking. Sometimes, there are swimming pools and table football or pool tables, so there is always something to do whatever, the weather.

Paula recalled one of her favourite homes, “It was like staying in a National Trust property, the gardens were very well kept and beautifully laid out, there were ponds and statues. It was such a pleasure to stay in that beautiful setting.”

In their spare time on assignments the couple visit nearby towns, read, or research holidays on their computer.

They find it reassuring that Homesitters are there as a back-up should anything go wrong and that someone from the Head Office calls them regularly to check they are happy and comfortable. They also appreciate the fact Homesitters tries to match them to assignments in the countryside.

Paula concluded, “We speak to a lot of people about homesitting and how much we enjoy the role, we are always recommending it to other people.”

Homesitters is always looking for active, reliable and enthusiastic retirees to become homesitters. To find out more about the role and to apply click here.

[i] https://www.ft.com/content/8b7cd47a-68e9-4cf6-8a25-e6a3e5a8d378

[ii] https://www.standard.co.uk/business/3-in-5-over50s-left-work-early-during-the-pandemic-b987905.html