Sailing into new horizons: The Horsups’ homesitting lifestyle redefines retirement.

Many people approaching retirement, don’t want to stop work completely. According to Aviva, two in five 55-64 years olds plan to ease into semi-retirement before reaching state pension age[i].

One couple enjoying this new era of semi-retirement is Malcom and Sue Horsup, a former police officer and bookkeeper from Colchester in Essex, who became professional home and pet sitters through Homesitters when they retired early aged 50.  The couple are very active and wanted something to occupy them in the winter. They didn’t want to sit twiddling our thumbs and homesitting gives them the perfect balance.

The Horsups love to travel and have a boat moored in France. As homesitting is flexible, the couple can choose their assignments and fit them around their travel plans. They tend to spend six months of the year on their boat in France and the other six months on dry land.

Sue and Malcolm’s other great love is dogs. Whilst they have never owned a dog together and have always wanted to, they knew they couldn’t commit fully to owning a dog, so they opted for the next best thing – looking after other’s people’s dogs.

Sue explained: “Since becoming homesitters, we get our ‘dog fix’ every winter and all the assignments we do involve looking after dogs. We’ve looked after German Shepherds, Labradors and three Italian Spinoni, one of which who was a former show dog. We have also cared for some elderly and poorly dogs and on one sit, we were having to administer chemotherapy.”

The couple take on around 10 assignments per year and have many regular clients who request them time after time.

Sue says: “We have one client who won’t go on holiday unless she knows we are available to look after her dogs. We have stayed in some fantastic homes. These have included multi-million-pound mansions with swimming pools and gyms and Grade 1 listed houses dating back to the 12th century, as well as typical family homes.

Malcolm says the role is particularly suitable for retired police men and women because of the trust element that’s needed.

He says, “Being a policeman comes with a high degree of responsibility and trust and it’s the same job requirements needed for home and pet sitting. Clients trust their homes and beloved pets to you, and they need to have faith that you will look after both responsibly.”

Whilst Sue and Malcolm don’t homesit for financial reasons they have experienced some of the other monetary benefits which comes with home and pet sitting. Homesitters carrying out a week’s homesit with no pets, for one hour and 45 minutes of work a day would earn £87 per week. However, the pay rises with each pet.

Normally the average working time per day does not exceed 1.75 hours per day. The amount homesitters can earn will depend on the number of pets involved in the assignment and how long each assignment is. They are also given travel expenses and a weekly food allowance.

Sue says, “We love every aspect of the job which has made retirement life even more enjoyable and rewarding. We still get to travel as much as we like but also get to be around our favourite animals which allows other people to get away with real peace of mind that their pets are being well looked after.”

Ben Irvine, Director of Operations at Homesitters says: “Like Malcolm and Sue, our homesitters make the most of their assignments and enjoy the chance to stay in new places and explore new surroundings whilst caring for people’s homes, possessions, and pets. It’s a responsible but very enjoyable role that tends to suit people in retirement and boost their finances.”

As a homesitter, you have complete freedom to choose how many assignments you undertake and what type of sits you do. Homesitters receive a daily food allowance and travel expenses (both tax-free) and earn a modest remuneration to supplement your pension. Home and pet sitting also provides an opportunity to make considerable savings on your own household bills while you are away.

Homesitters are currently recruiting so if you’re interested in finding out more about life as a home and pet sitter please get in touch on 01296 630 730 or visit our

[i] Two in five 55-64 year olds plan to move into semi-retirement before reaching state pension age – Aviva plc