House-sitting for profit and fun.

  • Got time on your hands?
  • Fancy a change of scenery?
  • Like animals? Are you reliable?

Then house-sitting could be for you. Paddy Christie tried it through one of the professional home sitting agencies and had a lot of new experiences -most of them fun.

A personal experience of house-sitting

House-sitting needs common sense - a lot of common sense - a sense of humour, especially when the incumbent dog has disappeared and the pedigree kitten has escaped into the garden - and you find you've locked yourself INSIDE the house - and the local police station thinks you're joking when you phone them to ask if they can let you out!

But I digress - facts first!

People leave home - usually temporarily - for all sorts of reasons. They go away on business, on holiday, there's a family emergency - whatever. They want to know that the house is secure and don't want to put pets - or any other animals - into kennels. So they contact one of the house sitting agencies to supply someone to look after all that while they are away. And that's where someone like me comes in.

Reputable agencies put a potential house sitter through a rigorous interview, get references, check you're a thoroughly reliable person, then if you fulfil all those criteria, put you on their books. And when there's a sitting vacancy in your area you're asked if you want to take it on - anything from a few days upwards. You get a daily subsistence allowance and extra for any animals which have to be looked after.

Let's get something straight - it's not going to make you rich but it's a chance to live somewhere new for a while at no cost to yourself and explore places you otherwise would never see.

My first house-sitting was on top of a hill in darkest Perthshire with the nearest house about a quarter of a mile away. A beautiful old house with a huge kitchen, an Aga and three big - very big - dogs. The oldest one had the run of the house - the other two - quite young and not quite fully trained, didn't.

Letting them loose in the kitchen was a mistake- I draw a veil over the resulting chaos- but it was all in order before the owners came home. The only other problem was my mother - panicking at the fact that I was alone in such an isolated place.

I told her that the oldest dog was the size of a small shetland pony and insisted on sleeping across my bedroom door so that even if someone tried to get in they'd very likely be torn to pieces.

The lost dog - another house sit - I was told, was very nervous and would sleep in no other place than in her basket in the kitchen. I searched the house for that dog for an hour in an increasing state of panic before I found her curled up under my bed in the spare bedroom where she slept every night until I left.

The pedigree kitten lived with two other cats and two dogs in another fairly isolated house with the most elaborate alarm system it has ever been my misfortune to come across. Every time I opened the back door he made a bid for freedom and had to be chased round the garden. Carefully I had taken the house keys outside with me - left them in the outside lock - managed to catch the damned cat and shot back inside with him, slamming the back door behind me in triumph. The keys however were still in the lock outside and without them the back door wouldn't open from the inside. Neither would any other door. Neither would the windows.

The local police were finally convinced I was trapped and sent two officers to get me out. It took some time - they were helpless with laughter but VERY impressed by the alarm system.

But it's good fun. I met some lovely animals , some very nice helpful neighbours - and police officers - and visited many bits of the country I would otherwise never have seen - and enjoyed!.

If you enjoyed house-sitting return to Money matters