House/pet sitting is a great niche for making income!

Last Update: May 24, 2023

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We have been looking for an alternative way to derive income from our property back home in the UK. We live there full time, but are getting itchy feet and want to travel a bit more, so we started looking into what we could do. We know that affiliate marketing can be done from anywhere in the World, so we could continue with that but what would be the ideal way of doing it?.

We discovered house/pet sitting

This one popped into our browsers and it seemed a real possibility.

For those who don't know, the concept is that people who want to go away on holiday will book people to look after their house and pets for them whilst they are away. It saves the need for putting their dogs and cats in expensive kennels and catteries.

We started looking for websites, and ended up joining a site called Trusted House Sitters. This site basically matches owners with sitters, and is very good. There are already loads of listings on there, so it clearly works. We paid our fee (£100), uploaded a profile of our experience with pets and waited.

We soon started to get notifications in our chosen areas. Then it's just a matter of having a conversation to see it we're compatible. Zoom is normally the method of choice. It builds trust and makes it easy to talk face to face. This works very well for us.

What did we do with our own house?

The problem was always going to be our own house. We didn't want to sell it, but neither did we want to rent it to long term tenants, as that would bring in other complications and we wanted to return when we needed to.

We realised we needed to rent it out as a Furnished Holiday Let. Think of AirBnB. This seemed easy to do, but we had to ok it with our mortgage company and insurance company, as well as one or two others.

We also had to think about our furnishings and electrical appliances. We didn't need a big fridge/freezer for short term rentals, so swapped it for a small under-counter fridge.

Similarly, we didn't need a tumble dryer; people who book 3-5 day breaks just bring their supply of clothes to last for the stay. so don't usually wash them (although we still have a washing machine). We also started to de-personalise the photographs, replacing mugshots of the family with more generic ones of Durham City.

We researched management companies and came up with Host and Stay. This company manage the complete experience, including all staging, photographs, cleaning, bookings calendar, payment and insurance. We had to submit our property for approval, but knew it would pass.

Host and Stay's service allows them to post the listing to all of the major portals, such as Bookingdotcom, AirBnB, Trip Advisor, and many others, so maximum coverage is achieved.

Take a look at our Furnished Holiday Accommodation

Did that mean we were 'homeless'?

Well, yes and no. We basically scheduled up enough sits to be away from 'home' from May until September, and then intend going to Spain to visit our son in Alicante for 4-6 weeks, which would bring us to November.

We had to re-route our mail to a PO Box (we pick that up about once per month), but most things can be swapped to email, so no problem.

The booking system also allows us to block out sections of calendar to use the property ourselves, so we are 'home' from December to the following February (2024). Then we start again, and are already booked for 6 weeks starting in March 2024!

We don't know how long we'll be doing this for, and don't derive an income from the house sitting itself. We make money from renting our own home, but we could double up in the future by starting to charge for sitting. Charging for sitting requires a much more formalised system and we don't need that at the moment. Keeping it free generally means the hosts will allow use of food and their utilities.

We're staying in swanky houses!

The best bit about this pet sitting lark is that we get to stay in some lovely houses, in areas of the country we really like, with well-adjusted pets. Some of the houses are mansions. As I write this we're sitting a dog and two cats in a £600k house on a prestigeous estate in Northern England.

We have 5-6 more sits to do before September, including a 10-acre country pile with a swimming pond and 3 gun dogs, and earlier a Sausage Dog and a Husky in a Spa town in Yorkshire. There are so many options and combinations. If we sit for someone but don't want to be tied too tightly to the property, we sit for cats as they don't suffer the same separation anxiety that dogs do.

Conclusion

If you're looking to travel a bit, consider house sitting. It means you get free accommodation whilst you are away and you can rent out your own house, funding a much better lifestyle.

You can house/pet sit anywhere in the World, not just your own country. You retain your own asset until you want to return, and pretty much all you have to do is co-ordinate your own calendar of sits thereafter.

We find that we don't join up the dates of sits entirely and typically there are a couple of days in between, but we simply book a cheap stay in a Travelodge to fill the gap. Meanwhile, our own home is earning income for us, allowing us to go pretty much anywhere we like.

There is also a great opportunity to start a pet-sitting blog and aim it squarely and equally at sitters and hosts. The pet market is huge, and reliable deliveries of food and supplements, as well as all the other things to make our furry friends happy is a great place to start if you are struggling for a niche.

Dave

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Recent Comments

39

Great post, Dave! I’ve hosted housesitters many times over the years when I travel for my pets. It’s a great system indeed for both parties and wonderful when you find the right fit. What you’re doing sounds intriguing.

I’m actually surprised you don’t charge for your sits, as the service I used was very pricey. Unfortunately, the retired, vetted sitters all permanently left 2 yrs ago and now there is a real need going unfulfilled. Thanks for sharing your experience.

Susan

We don't charge because a) Trusted House Sitters don't allow it and b) We don't want a corporate business feel. If you formalise it, people become far more analytical and critical about the service. We like the free accommodation = free sitting deal. It works far better. Money would ruin the experience in our opinion.

Dave

I have actually considered doing this in recent times Dave... if one is an animal lover and loves to travel it is a very economical way of doing things!

I would always need to take my own pup with me though and I have read this is hardly possible in most places....

Have you had any experience about this my friend?

No we don't have our own pets, that's why we look after pets for others. You know you're doing it right when the pets start following you everywhere. :-)

On the subject of taking your own pup with you, it generally wouldn't work as pets see their own house as their territory and would regard an unknown dog as an "invader'. More trouble than it would be worth i'm afraid.

Dave

Absolutely my friend! :-)

I'm pretty sure that taking my own pup wouldn't work either Dave, that's why I chose not to investigate this endeavour any further!

All the very best buddy!

🐱🐶🐾

Sounds like a great plan, Dave.
I also love to travel as well. Thanks for this.

Myra 💜

No problem. It's an idea for anyone who loves animals to do a bit of travelling too.

Dave

Thanks so much, Dave. You've definitely given me food for thought as we love travelling, and it's usually the accommodation costs that kill you. Cheers, Jenni.

Hi Dave

My daughter and I started a house and pet-sitting business in 2016 - it's been a lot of fun, but loads of challenges (SA has regular power outages, commonly known as load shedding which affects the security gates, security alarm systems, and more - we are based in Johannesburg which is not the safest city either) and has literally saved our financial butts on more than one occasion. These days we have regular clients so their furbabies know us and we (more importantly) know what we're in for from a security perspective.

Sadly I am not permitted to Airbnb my townhouse, it's a breach of the body corporate rules. If I could, I would definitely be on the same path as you!

Enjoy!
Louise

PS Some time back I wrote an article here in WA along the lines of Try Pet Sitting they said, it'll be fun they said. Brace yourselves, your time is coming too haha!

Here are links to two articles I shared - you'll have a laugh, I promise :

Ha ha, thanks for that. The North East is a little bit safer that Joburg I think. We deliberately pick larger, nicer properties, not too far from amenities, and rarely suffer power cuts. The site we use (Trusted House Sitters) require their members to provide Welcome Packs for the sitters, so vet numbers and other contacts are always available in case of emergency. We also happily take on any medication required for the pets as per instructions.

What is really nice is seeing the different personalities of the dogs and cats. The current sit we are on have a very insecure, nervous dog, but he is a cutie and already follows me everywhere, even after 4 days. He spent the first day looking for the owners after they left, but then accepted us as his new family. The cats, of course, are plotting to kill us, but they were doing that with the owners too, so nothing to worry about.

Dave

Hahaha! Yeah ... cats ... always plotting something 😹

We've learned to ask all the questions and request that clients write everything down for us - that way nothing can get lost in translation, at least it shouldn't.

I am registered as an affiliate with Trusted House Sitters, need to check how active they are in SA pet-sitting gigs - I'd love a break from the city and spend a bit of time looking at the ocean ... or the bushveld 😊

Here's our Trusted House Sitters link

https://bit.ly/DebsAndDaveTrustedHouseSitters

Isn't it fun to find a different plan that fills your needs? What a great way to experience different parts of the country and world.

I loved traveling to other countries to visit my son (and his family) when he was working abroad. Being off the tourist trail, and actually living as an expat was educational and outright fun.

Congratulations on your success in finding what is working for you and your wife, and still having the stability of your home when you are ready for it.
Thanks for sharing your story,
Sami

Thanks Sami, it just seemed a dream to be able to travel with free accommodation and then to look after beautiful animals. Some are needier than others, but we find we always get on with the pets we are sitting and they like us too. It's very relaxing.

The owners just want to have someone reliable for them. Repeated sits are also very likely and the recommendation system works very well too. No-one tends to complain anyway because it's all free.

Dave

Sounds like a good plan for those who travel, Dave!

Jeff

Perfect for you then Jeffrey!

🤣🐪🐶🐱

Not at all, and you know that, Nick!

😎🐶😹🐪🐫

🤣🤣🐪🐪👍

😳😲🙀😹🐪🐫🐶🍺

Well, we haven't travelled as much as we should, now that life has given us the opportunity, but realised that this allows us to go wherever we want to, with just a little forward planning. Our own house is hands off now as we've done all the prep work and Host and Stay look after all the booking, cleaning and pricing for us.

Dave

That's awesome, Dave!

Jeff

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