Emma Higgins, 29, from Cheltenham explains how she pet-sits for a living...
Housemates. They can be a right pain! Eating your cereal, not flushing the loo…
But not mine!
Because I tend to share my homes with dogs.
In fact, to date, I’ve shared around 15 different houses with dogs as roomies since I began my unusual way of living in 2010.
It all began when I set up a travel website after graduating from Lincoln University with a degree in English and Media.
Wanting to be a writer, I decided to combine writing with my love of travel.
It was when I worked in Canada and Thailand – both times in digital marketing – that I realised people who were also away from home wanted someone to look after their pad.
Soon, I was registered with Trusted Housesitters. I set up a profile, and began getting jobs looking after people’s houses. It meant I could work on my writing and not worry about paying rent.
Free lodging in return for house-sitting? Perfect!
Often, places would have pets, and, come 2014, I’d had an idea…
I could house- and pet-sit! I thought.
I loved dogs, loved all animals.
So I began getting bookings from people who needed someone to look after their four-legged friends, as well as their homes.
Eventually, I went to Portugal, settling in a house on the Algarve for a few months, where I pet-sat for two cats, Luna and PJ.
There, in April last year, a neighbour introduced me to Mike Gallagher, now 31.
‘I love travel, too!’ he grinned.
Peas in a pod, we were soon a couple, and we’ve been house-sitting together since
I left Portugal.
Each time, instead of paying rent, we’ve found new places through the website.
It hasn’t always been easy. Sometimes we’ve had to stay in a tent while waiting for a new job.
And there was one time we had to stay in a place that could’ve featured in a hoarding show on TV!
But you could say pet-sitting’s in my blood…
My mum Sara, 58, also runs a pet-sitting business. Only, instead of taking in other people’s pooches, we let them put us up.
We’re back in the UK now, where I must’ve looked after around 25 dogs over the years. My favourite was back in 2015 in the Scottish Borders, where I minded dogs, cats…even a horse.
That wasn’t easy, as I’m not a horsewoman but, luckily, I didn’t have to muck out stables!
Right now, Mike and I are closer to home in Cheltenham with a dog called Lottie.
She’s a softie, and it’ll be hard to say goodbye to her.
But learning to move on is all part of the job. That’s why I called my travel website Gotta Keep Movin’.
We still love to travel, and might settle somewhere one day, but not yet.
We don’t get paid for house-sitting, but I make money from my writing.
In total, I must’ve saved up to £25,000 on rent. All while living a life I adore, with some furry easy-going housemates!
Don’t forget to take a look at Emma’s website.