Imagine getting paid to sit on someone else's sofa watching their television. Sounds dreamy, right? But that's exactly how one couple save £1,000 each month by getting paid to live in other people's houses.
Claire Goodall, 31, and Michael Ashfield, 36, are professional house and pet-sitters and claim to save a whopping £1,000 a month by staying in their clients' homes.
Five years ago, the couple ditched their nine to five jobs and arranged a long-term let on their flat in Surrey.
After two years of housesitting and travelling abroad, the jet-setting pair decided to return to the UK, but still wanted the freedom to travel the country and pack up at a moment's notice.
So they came upon the idea of setting up their own housesitting business, Staycation Sitters.
Since then, the duo have been travelling the length and breadth of the country providing a top-rated house and pet sitting service.
The couple charge a fee of £35 per night and their unique service has been such a hit, they travel from house to house full-time, never needing permanent accommodation of their own.
"We house sit full-time," Goodall explains. "We usually tend to spend a week in each place but occasionally we are somewhere for a longer term.
"Very rarely there is a gap of maybe two days where we have nowhere to stay and so then we just check into an Airbnb or something.
"In the three years we have been doing this, it's never really been an issue."
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As well as offering them the flexibility they were craving, the couple now only spend money on food, petrol and their social life and estimate they have saved a whopping £1,000 per month on bills in the last three years.
Before setting up their house-sitting business, Goodall worked in a hospital while Ashfield was employed in a timber yard.
Alongside house-sitting, Goodall now works part-time as a speech and language therapist – which she does remotely from whenever they are based at the time.
Describing how much flexibility it gives them, Goodall adds: "We love animals, we travel light and we are people that just adapt, so it's perfect for us.
"Sometimes it can take a little while to figure out where everything is. I might be looking for a colander or cheese grater for example but generally people are very kind and leave us instructions on where everything is and how to use the television and everything.
"The only real outgoings we have are the food we eat and our social lives.
"We have stayed in some wonderful places, spent time with some beautiful animals and have saved an absolute fortune.
"We enjoy every minute of it."
The rise of house sitting
When you think about house sitting, you probably only think of looking after your friends' or family’s homes when they go away on holiday, but as Goodall and Ashefield prove, you can actually earn quite a bit of money living in other people's houses.
Research from online local services marketplace, Bark.com, has revealed that there has been a 340% increase in the number of people hiring ‘professional house sitters’ since June 2017.
And turns out being a pro sitter for other people’s houses can actually be rather lucrative, with some sitters earning more than £200 a day.
“Housesitting tends to be something that relatives and friends do when someone’s on holiday," explains Kai Feller, co-founder of Bark.com.
"However, in recent years there’s been an upward trend in people looking elsewhere for the service, and for people without close family or friends, finding a house sitter can be extremely difficult."
If you're tempted to give it a go it is worth noting that people looking to become a ‘pro house witter’ will need to undergo comprehensive background checks and must not have any previous or unspent criminal convictions.
As Goodall and Ashfield explain, the job will involve travelling around the UK looking after peoples’ homes whilst they’re away, with responsibilities ranging from taking care of pets, and monitoring CCTV from security cameras, to cleaning.
Those looking to employ a house sitter will need to answer a number of questions relating to their location, length of leave, and talk about any special requirements.
“There are thousands of people in the UK who want to see more places and travel but don’t have the time or money," Feller adds. "Hopefully our [professional house fitting] service will help fix both of those problems.”
Additional reporting Caters.