House/pet sitting is a great niche for making income!
Last Update: May 24, 2023
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.
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.
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.
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