Many retirees are looking to supplement their income, and there are various ways to do so, including the pursuit of what is commonly referred to as a “side hustle”. This is the case for Sue Cabrelli, a 69-year-old woman from Loughborough, who chose housesitting after retiring as a service administrator, and having undertaken this for 10 years so far.
Mrs Cabrelli exclusively told Express.co.uk: “The thought of retirement and sitting at home all day doing nothing motivated me to start homesitting.
“I happened to pick up a newspaper and I read about someone in Scotland who did housesitting for animals. I think it registered in my mind then that it was something I’d like to do, so when my retirement was coming up, I looked into it and saw what I could do and what it would involve.
“I love animals, but my husband and I don’t want them for ourselves, as we want to be able to travel at will. So I get my kick for looking after animals by going to homes to look after them.”
Mrs Cabrelli has completed over 100 homesits, which she usually undertakes alone, although her husband Mark sometimes accompanies her with her clients’ permission.
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She thoroughly recommended the endeavour for those who are looking for a new pursuit, and added: “I think it’s an excellent idea for retired people, especially those who love and care for animals.
“You can see parts of the UK you’d never think of. You find lovely walks and villages you would not have otherwise found if you were not doing home sitting in that area.
“Normally, we travel within 100 mile radius of where we live, and there is that flexibility – the journeys are never too strenuous, and we can make it work for us.”
The flexibility also extends to the jobs a person decides to take on, as home sitters can reject opportunities if they do not feel they are well suited to them.
Mrs Cabrelli’s new flexible career since her retirement has allowed her to look after a variety of animals, not just the traditional dogs and cats many would expect.
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She said: “I’ve looked after parrots, tortoises, guinea pigs, rabbits, all sorts. I haven’t looked after horses and bigger animals because I tend to do this on my own.
“Although I’m not sure I could look after more exotic animals like snakes! They might need a bit more looking after than I could provide.
“Some animals are more nervous and cautious, but it’s about letting them know that you’re their friend. I believe when the owners go on holiday, it is just as much a holiday for the pet, too.
“But there are always favourite experiences and times that you enjoy more than others. I looked after a home where I watered the garden and the dog I was looking after kept getting in the way of the hose.
“In the end, the dog and I had a water fight, and he was rolling about it the grass – we were both drenched by the end of it! It’s an experience that can provide a lot of fun, and a lot of love.”
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Mrs Cabrelli keeps herself busy by doing Pilates, cooking new recipes, and putting together large jigsaws, all of which she can do while homesitting.
As a result, it allows retirees such as herself to enjoy the pursuits of later life, while making money, with Mrs Cabrelli using hers to fund a summer holiday to Italy each year.
She concluded: “It’s something different for retirees. You see so many people who leave work and then just sit around all day. There’s only so much you can do in your own home every day all day.
“I think if you get away and see different things, it makes your life and your retirement more worthwhile.”
Mrs Cabrelli works with Homesitters Ltd, which offers a modest remuneration and food and travel allowances, although this is not the only organisation Britons can use.
Ben Irvine, Director of Operations at Homesitters, discussed the financial benefits of home sitting with Express.co.uk, and said: “The homesitter base rate for just caring for a residential home is £11.85 per day for one hour 45 minutes of activity.
“To this you can add various rates for pet care or extra responsibilities/time. An additional £9.20 per day food allowance, together with return travel costs at 45 pence per mile, is paid directly by the client to the homesitter.
“Furthermore, HMRC recognise the provision of accommodation homesitters have while on assignment and the statutory ‘accommodation offset’ currently £8.70 per day applies.
“Homesitters carrying out a week’s homesit for the care of a client’s home with no pets, involving one hour 45 minutes of work a day would equate to an earning of £82.95 per week. In addition, food allowance of £64.40 for the week, along with the homesitters travel allowance based on the mileage, would be paid directly by the client. Excluded is the accommodation offset the homesitters would be making from the savings made on their own household bills while you’re away on a homesit.
“If a homesitter was to do two months of homesitting a year caring for just residential properties without pets, they could earn £1,178.80.
“This involves one hour 45 minutes of duties a day and includes the homesitters daily food allowance, however excludes the homesitters travel allowance to and from the assignment and excludes the savings on their own home bills by being away (accommodation offset).”
The final price is dependent on the homesitter’s capabilities, preferences and location, as well as requirements.