A pensioner from Essex has been earning thousands of pounds a year by home and pet-sitting around the country.
Margaret Mackleworth, 81, has been doing the job for 20 years and says she “absolutely loves it”. To date, she’s completed over 200 home-sits, which suits her well as she “likes to keep busy”.
Ms Mackleworth, who also volunteers for the charity Age Concern, said: “I absolutely love homesitting, which is why I’ve done it for so many years. It slots in nicely around my voluntary work and commitments – I do as many assignments as I can.
Ms Mackleworth sources the home and pet-sitting opportunities through Homesitters.co.uk, a nationwide live-in home and pet-sitting company operating across England, Scotland and Wales.
According to Homesitters, one week’s home-sit with no pets for one hour and 45 minutes pays £87. However, the pay rises with each pet and people also get a food and travel allowance per day paid by the client.
The average working day doesn’t typically exceed one hour and 45 minutes, but the amount of money paid will vary depending on how long an assignment lasts.
Ms Mackleworth said she has already undertaken 94 days’ worth of assignments this year across nine bookings and has a further two coming up.
This will see Ms Mackleworth earn a minimum of £1,340 this year, in addition to a £1,062 food allowance, with travel expenses and accommodation costs offset due to savings on home utilities.
Ms Mackleworth said: “I usually take food with me for the start of the assignment, but then can just top it up with the food allowance I get on the assignment, meaning I can save a little here each time, plus the mileage is handy. It all adds up!”
Ms Mackleworth, who previously owned a Border collie and loves dogs, currently lives in accommodation that doesn’t allow pets, which means home-sitting has been offering what she says is the “next best thing”.
Most of Ms Mackleworth’s home-sits have involved looking after dogs or cats, although she’s looked after hamsters too. Some people use Homesitters to look after their home while they’re away for security reasons, but Ms Mackleworth said she prefers it when there are also pets to keep her occupied.
She said: “I love to visit new places and meet new people and I find that dog walking is very sociable! One of my favourite things is to go for long walks in the countryside, so I enjoy rural home-sits with dogs that I can take for a walk.
“I’m a fit and healthy 81-year-old and I’ve got itchy feet, so I like to be out and about exploring new places. I enjoy the variation, meeting new people and all the different pets I’ve looked after.
“I’m very lucky in that I have many regular clients, including one family I’ve known for over 10 years based in Hertfordshire. They have an older Border collie, and have recently just got a puppy.”
Ms Mackleworth said she usually home-sits for them every year for a month and has gotten to know the family and dog “really well”.
She added: “Next month I’m going to see a family in Rochester who have three dachshunds for the preliminary meeting, which I’m looking forward to meeting. I usually drive or travel by train if I go up to London.
“I’ve met some lovely people and pets over the years and stayed in some great properties. I have every intention of continuing home-sitting for as long as I can and highly recommend it as a role for retirees. If you like animals and travelling and want to earn a bit of money it’s fantastic.”