12 Ways House Sitting Retirees Benefit

28 Aug, 2023

12 Ways House Sitting Retirees Benefit

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Kelly Hayes-Raitt, an early house sitting retiree, shares her insider tips gleaned from 12 years of full-time global house sitting. Read this article if you are considering what to do next in retirement. House sitting opens the door for travel in retirement because it keeps you active, engaged and and it’s affordable. Perhaps consider joining one of HouseSit Match‘s merry band of house sitting retirees!

12 Ways House Sitting Retirees Benefit

While house sitting is a fantastic travel option for travelers of all ages – from families with young children to millennial digital nomads – it’s a particularly great option for retirees. Here’s why:

1. Medical Travel

house sitting retirees
My mom recovering from dental work with ChaCha. Who is pampering whom? Photo by Kelly Hayes-Raitt

Every year, 14 million people travel to a foreign country for medical and dental care, according to the American Medical Tourism Association. Instead of staying in a pricey hotel, house sitting retirees can enjoy a more relaxed and self-catering accommodation while caring for someone’s home, garden and pets.

My mother co-housesat with me for a few weeks in Mexico while saving thousands of dollars on dental care – and on accommodations. We were house sitting retirees together!

2. Slower-Paced Travel

House sitting retirees have an opportunity to savor a new location by traveling more slowly. Without the pressure of vacating a hotel room daily, retirees can relax in the home they are caring for and space out their sightseeing adventures. Many older travelers appreciate the more leisurely pace house sitting provides.

3. House Sitting Retirees Can Visit Their Grandchildren

House sitting is a practical, affordable, and often preferred (!) way for grandparents to visit their adult children and grandchildren without being underfoot. One couple in London for whom I regularly house sit travels to Perth for a month every year.

They escape London’s gloomy winter, enjoy a repeat house sit, and visit their daughter, son-in-law and granddaughters without the pressure and sometimes inconvenience of living under the same roof.

4. Retirees Can Travel Off-Season and Mid-Week

House sitting retirees are more able to take advantage of off-season and mid-week house sitting gigs than those who are still working full-time. This can open a variety of offbeat house sitting opportunities – especially when transportation costs are likely to be lower than during peak travel times.

5. Immersion Travel and Experiences

house sitting retiree
With new friend Anne, celebrating my birthday while house sitting in Reunion. Photo courtesy of Kelly Hayes-Raitt

House sitting retirees say that travel by housesitting offers a more immersive experience than staying in an impersonal hotel. Becoming part of a neighborhood by meeting neighbors, befriending the local barista or café owner, and hobnobbing with fellow dog owners at the dog park can enrich a holiday.

I’ve made many friends while house sitting – and have had adventures that I would never have found on my own.

For example, while house sitting in Reunion, a French island in the Indian Ocean, I befriended one of my homeowner’s good friends. Anne and I really hit it off.

We toured a sugar cane factory together, imbibed in a rum tasting, explored fabulous restaurants – and even snorkeled with migrating humpback whales! – an experience I would never have had as a tourist.

6. Research Ancestry

Traveling not only infuses new perspectives on our present and future lives, it can open doors to discovering our roots. A pre-pandemic study by AirBnB found that 50% of Americans have traveled to a country of their ancestry. During the worldwide lockdown, many people and indeed retiree house sitters “traveled” on-line to discover their roots.

Now that travel restrictions have eased, “heritage travel” continues to rise. House sits throughout Europe offer “heritage travelers” more time for less money to explore their ancestral villages and relatives.

7. Safer Travel

House sitting retirees enjoy safer and more secure accommodations than if they were staying in the more pickpocket-prone touristy areas – especially in larger cities. Private homes tend to be far more secure than hotel rooms, without housekeeping and other staff wandering in and out. Additionally, wifi and parking in private homes are far more secure than in public hotels.

Plus, you might have a four-legged alarm system!

8. Scout New Home

house sitting retiree
Lisbon is a blast! New Year’s Eve, taken from my new balcony. Photo by Kelly Hayes-Raitt

I house sat during my early retirement months to scout my new home. I chose Lisbon, Portugal! House sitting helped me decide which neighborhood to settle in, housed me while I found my new flat, helped me explore my new country, and housed me while I was securing my travel visa.

House sitting is the perfect way to experience life in a new community or country in ways that hotel-staying travelers can’t experience.

9. Longer Vacations

House sitting retirees find they can stretch their transportation budget by staying longer in one location – either by securing a longer-term house sit (which often isn’t an option for house sitters who are still in the workforce) or by stringing together multiple house sits in one location (such as London and its environs).

After all, the airfare costs are virtually the same whether you are staying one week or one month in your destination!

10. Repeat Assignments

House sitting retirees are more likely to have the flexibility to accept repeat assignments, which give them a great “home away from home”! For a decade, I had a repeat house sit in Ajijic, Mexico every spring and autumn for several months at a time.

Both the homeowners and I enjoyed the stability and consistency of our arrangement – and the dog reveled in having multiple pet-parents!

11. Augment Volunteer Vacations

A survivor of the atomic bombing in Hiroshima I met while house sitting in Japan. Photo courtesy of Kelly Hayes-Raitt

Seniors who volunteer live longer, reduce their physical limitations, and experience increased optimism and sense of purpose, according to a study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine.

House sitting, itself a valuable voluntary service to traveling pet owners, can allow volunteers to stay in their locations longer.

For example, a house sit in Osaka, Japan, allowed me to attend the 70th commemorations of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, during which I interviewed a hibakusha (bomb survivor), teenagers learning for the first time about the bombings, and a photographer who had photographed clothing that victims had worn when they died.

12. Affordable Travel

The #1 reason why house sitting retirees consider this a great way to travel – and indeed for any travelers – is the cost savings on accommodations, meals, parking, laundry, Wi-fi, cable and all the other ancillary costs associated with hotel stays.

Hotel costs have jumped 8% during the past year, according to the U.S. Consumer Price Index. But in cities like Los Angeles, rates have skyrocketed as much as 30% during the past year! House sitting definitely stretches travel budgets!

Tips for House Sitting Retirees

Be sure to know your limits. If your days of walking a large, untrained dog over uneven ground are behind you, consider your safety and the animal’s safety and forgo the assignment. If pushing a lawn mower is no longer the joyful exercise it once offered, pass on the sit that requires extensive lawn and garden care.

Ask about stairs, hills, uneven surfaces – anything that might pose a physical challenge.

Prioritize sitting assignments offered by other retirees. Those sits are more likely to be “senior friendly.”

Finally, recognize that your maturity and life experience make you the house sitting retirees, ideal house sitters, and enjoy all the benefits house sitting has to offer!


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Kelly Hayes-Raitt a retiree and an international house sitter, swears house sitting has kept her younger than her 62 years. By cultivating flexibility and humor, she has satiated her quest for adventure by house sitting throughout Europe, Africa, North America and Asia. She is the author of How to Become a Housesitter: Insider Tips from the Housesit Diva.

Join HouseSitMatch.com and discover the world of housesitting, please follow these links:

HOUSESITTERS – to find house and pet sits all over the world

Further reading on housesitting for housesitters and house sitting retirees

At HouseSitMatch.com we like to share useful blogs and practical advice about housesitters, housesitting and pet sitting. We hope you find this small selection of our blogs on house sitters and house sitting in London useful.

How to travel on a budget

Housesitting in retirement – Housesit Chat

Cat sitting tourist sees London for free

What a housesitter does – Top 10 responsibilities

What is House Sitting?


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Kelly Hayes-Raitt

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