Joseph and Maureen Arnfield from Lancashire, both in their 80s, developed the travel bug when they were in their 60s and became holiday reps. After enjoying spending the summer seasons in France, Switzerland and Italy, they would look forward to returning to the UK in the winter to pet sit.
When the Arnfields started home sitting on Boxing Day back in 1999, they would spend up to nine months of the year looking after peoples’ home and pets and say it’s a great side hustle that also allows them to make savings on energy bills.
Today, the couple prefer to look after empty commercial properties, ensuring they are safe and secure.
Maureen said: “This Christmas we will have been home sitting for 23 years. We love it and in fact wish we had started sooner.
“We are passionate about travelling and love to explore different places. It also really helps us financially as we are on a basic pension.”
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The couple have stayed in lovely places in Dorset, Southport, Cheshire and more recently in Malvern in Worcestershire.
Maureen explained: “There we looked after a huge old property with 25 different rooms – we had to keep the place secure, regularly check the rooms, turn on the heating and run the showers to prevent legionnaires disease and to keep the place in good working order.”
The couple have also travelled all the way to Scotland as well as Welshpool in Wales where they stayed in an old mansion which was like a stately home.
They also did a fabulous assignment in Clapham Common in London which allowed them to sightsee in London in their free time, visiting places like Battersea Park.
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These days they prefer to take on caretaker roles rather than assignments involving pets.
She added: “We are caretakers, so our role involves regular walks around the property to check everything is secure, including the alarm systems.
“Some properties are huge, and they are a big responsibility. However, we also have free time to explore so we can get out and about in the local area and visit attractions including museums and cafes and restaurants.
“I love to write and keep a log about our work so it is easy for the next homesitter to pick up the job, but I also journal about great places to visit so when we handover to others they can enjoy our recommendations.”
Maureen said she and her husband are really enjoying their ‘retirement’ years and wish they had come across Homesitters sooner.
She said: “We don’t find home sitting hard work as we love to travel. In fact, for us it was harder during Covid as we had to be at home all the time and we’re delighted to be back on assignment again.
“I have given talks at the Women’s Institute (WI) on home sitting and would recommend it to anyone who loves to travel and do something different.
“You can also make savings on bills while you are on assignment and you get paid for doing it – for us, it’s a great way of life.”
While homesitters don’t make a fortune it can be a way to supplement one’s state pension and save money on home energy bills.
Homesitters typically earn around £170 as a couple for a two-week homesit, plus they get reimbursed for mileage at 45p per mile.
Former hotelier, 77-year-old John Charlick has been home and pet sitting for four years since retiring from the hospitality industry.
He recently told Express.co.uk: “It can be like going on a mini break. I often stay in great locations and very glamorous homes, with swimming pools and tennis courts.”