Why becoming homesitters and home sitting all over the world, is helping us make the most out of early retirement by Karen and Neil Oddy …
New research has found that over half of Britons long to change their job and turn their hobby into a career. Other research from Workfront has found that four out of five office workers in the UK is feeling ‘burnt out’ so it’s no surprise that more people want to slow down or take earlier retirement to achieve a greater work/life balance.
This is exactly what we decided to do. We are a couple in our 50s from Sidcup in Kent who took early retirement from our long and successful careers in the City of London’s financial sector. One of our wishes was to travel more and achieve a relaxed lifestyle.
We have also taken up new roles and have been home and pet sitting for the past 18 months, which is a sharp contrast to our former lives. This flexible job is immensely rewarding and ideal for people like us who want to keep busy in retirement, albeit at a more tranquil pace.
What’s the Appeal of Home Sitting?
What is the appeal? Well for us the main attraction is that it enables us to spend time with animals and to explore different areas of the UK, staying in fabulous homes in the countryside. We’ve visited places that we’ve never been to before. We’ve always lived in the city, so spending time in the countryside always makes us feel like we are on holiday.
We are both animal lovers and while we would love to have our own pet, we felt this was impractical as we have a holiday home in Portugal which we like to visit regularly. Looking after other people’s pets therefore gives us our animal fix, without the commitment of having a pet full-time.
We also love the flexibility. Picking and choosing how many assignments we do means we can spend time in Portugal but come back in the busy summer and Christmas holidays for UK assignments. We receive a small income from home and pet sitting too which supplements our pension.
As an energetic and sporty couple, we love to spend time outdoors and walking dogs is a great way to get out and about exploring the countryside and enjoying nature. Sometimes if we are on an assignment without a dog we get the chance to play a round of golf. Some of the homes we’ve stayed in have even had tennis courts and gyms we can use.
Quality Time Together
Another bonus for us is spending time together. Recent research by national home sitting company, Homesitters Ltd suggests three-quarters of homesitters who carry out assignments with a partner say that home and pet sitting means they spend more quality time together.
We agree. We find we have plenty of free time to relax and really enjoy quality time together when on assignments doing things such as learning Portuguese or catching up on films. It’s such a contrast to when we had young children and worked full time and had to schedule a date night to spend time together.
We have stayed in some amazing properties such as a huge period house on a 50 acre estate with beautiful views over the Kent countryside and an ultra-modern house in Surrey with high spec appliances and a cinema room. Our favourite though to date was an old farmhouse near Epping Forest where we looked after two French Bulldogs.
We have returned three times now and enjoy the peaceful setting and spending time with the dogs. The home has a large farmhouse kitchen and we spend a lot of time in there chatting while cooking on the Aga. We also thoroughly enjoy watching the deer and pheasants that visit the garden.
Live like Lord and Lady of The Manor!
Our advice for anyone thinking about home sitting and being a pet sitter is to make sure you do it through a reputable and professional company. They should always carry out a face to face interview with you at the start before taking you on and offer proper support.
The organisation we work through employs us directly, ensures we have preliminary meetings with the clients before any assignment and offers 24/7 support whilst we are on assignment. They also have all the necessary insurances, which is crucial.
Home Sitting has really helped us make the most out of our early retirement and we relish every minute – exploring, walking around local villages and enjoying pub lunches. At first, we were worried we might be restless in the evenings, but the time flies and sitting with a dog on your lap in the evening is heaven.
We stay in such beautiful large homes that we often feel like Lord and Lady of the Manor for the week!
Karen and Neil Oddy home and pet sit through Homesitters Ltd