From time to time we are fortunate to secure some press exposure for our housesitting service in the media. We are delighted to share this press interview with our housesitting retiree Bragi Jónsson who has been housesitting with us for some years now. Read on to capture the spirit of the article in our translation from the original Icelandic below.
PUBLISHED Sunday 4 December 2022 – This article first appeared in MBL.is (national newspaper in Iceland)
Housesitting retiree – Bragi lives in other people’s homes
Pet sitting as a lifestyle often comes with housekeeping, and Bragi a housesitting retiree knows it well, as he seems to enjoy building the trust of his companions as seen in the picture shown above. Photo/Submitted
“The last time I worked in Iceland was as a security guard for a few years. I was working for Securitas, but then I went out to “house-sit”. I had been trying to get into housesitting for quite some time,” says Bragi Jónsson in an interview with mbl.is. Bragi is a 66-year-old retired Icelander who simply lives in other people’s homes when they are away.
He made extensive searches on the internet to keep track of this industry. The nearest thing in Icelandic is to simply call it housekeeping. Bragi, on the other hand, only talks about “house-sit” as an insider in the business, and we’ll let that stand – albeit in quotation marks.
In good company in Marbella, Spain petsitting the house dog Rocky
In Marbella Spain Bragi is kept company by the house dog Rocky. Bragi is currently on this assignment for three months, while the residents are on a trip until January 5th, and in fact this same housesit was his very first project many years ago.
“I don’t think it’s been more than eight years since I started,” says Bragi from Marbella, Spain, where he now looks after houses for people who are travelling. But in fact, that’s exactly where he took his first housesitting job, for the same people.
Bragi has been working on this project for three months now, while the residents are on a trip until January 5th. In fact, this same house was his very first housesit. Photo/Sent
Evaluation of the housesitting websites
“I was trying to get my first housesit for a few months, then got a “house-sit” during the winter. I went on a holiday and then returned to Iceland in the spring,” recalls Bragi, who returned to working at Securitas as a security guard during the summers. “They were kind enough to employee me in during the summers. I stayed there for three summers,” continues Bragi, who also worked for more than a decade in Icelandic hotels.
“Then I took my pension in February of this year and stopped working. I then decided to jump on this and go all out for full time as a housesitting retiree,” said Bragi, and we could say that with that he killed two birds with one stone, got paid and in a position to travel around the world with a free roof over his head. On the websites that promote housekeepers or housesitters, there is a system of reviews showing the unique experience of the customers, and there the Icelander has reached the highest ratings.
Bragi has spent many years working as a night security guard, for example, he was a night guard at Hótel Sägu Heitinn for several years. Photo/Sent
“I started in Spain and stayed there for the first few years, except that in 2020 I went to Great Britain, where I got two “house-sits”. One of them was with a woman I had housesat for before and she booked me again and even paid for my flight from Iceland,” he says.
But how do these housesitting websites work?
“You just set up a profile [information about you] and then advertise yourself to house owners who need “house-sitters”. Most of the time, these are people with pets and animals, but sometimes there are no animals.
You just apply and then you compete with everyone else who is applying. At first, I only had a recommendation from an employer, but now I have 35 five-star recommendations,” says Bragi, and can therefore be considered an accomplished “house-sitter” on the international stage.
Three months in Marbella as a housesitting retiree
“I have housesat for the same people again and again. And now some homeowners have even tried to book me through next year on two occasions, one in April and for next summer,” says Bragi. He adds that the lengths of the housesitting assignments are different this year, he has just been offered many shorter housesit assignments. However, he is now on a long three-month project in Marbella.
Bragi travelled overland from Warsaw in Poland to Turkey and back. He then used the site couchsurfing.com to rest his head. Photo/Sent
“This couple that I’m housesitting for now are from Honduras and the United States and they go away once a year and visit their relatives in those countries. It’s a long trip with them three months away from home. I’ve been here twice before,” he says.
Does housesitting just consist of being there on the property?
“Of course, I’m a security guard here too. This is pet care but then you also have to take care of people’s homes. Here, for example, there were two cats and one dog, but now only one cat is left,” says Bragi, who has also taken care of four horses, three large dogs and five cats all at another housesit. Clearly from many angles he enjoys the company of the animals. This housesit with many pets was in Denmark.
But has he ever run into burglars or gotten into trouble in some other way?
“No,” replied Bragi. “It’s all been very calm. But over the years I became attached to some of the animals and I was sad when we lost one dog and one cat. The dog had become very old and it had to be euthanized. Of course it was all done only in consultation with the owner by their vet,” says the housesitting retiree who will be in Marbella until January 5. What will he do then?
Then he goes on a three-week project in the UK with a man he knows from previous housesits. But after that Bragi plans to take a vacation. “Then I’m going to the Philippines and Thailand and I’m not quite ready to decide if I’ll come back to Europe or if I’ll go to Australia,” says Bragi. Since the “house sitting” websites know no borders, those who choose such projects can expect to do them all over the world.
The housesitting benefit for the house owner is great
However, one thing must be stated, which is that the “house-sitting” tasks are unpaid. Whoever cares for them just lives there for free, and of course many people must consider the adorable animals as a bonus that come with them.
What about food then?
“It’s not always expensive, it is certainly cheaper than the cost of food in Iceland for me. So that is a benefit. And I often say that there are many benefits in this for the house owner too,” says Bragi. “They have complete security, and someone takes care of their animals. For example, I started paying 150 euros [almost 30,000 Icelandic kroner] just to get into the system,” he continues.
It probably paid off, however, as the couple in Marbella recommended him to their friends, from whom he got assignments. Bragi asks for travel expenses to be paid, and more often than not, people collaborate in this way.
“Now food is often left for you and beer as well. In one place here in Spain, the people left enough food for me and eighteen litres of beer for a few weeks of housesitting,” says Bragi Jónsson. You can enjoy your retirement years with comfortable indoor work, animal care and open doors all over the world.
Do you want to look after houses and animals out in the world? Check out Housesitmatch.com
FURTHER READING ABOUT HOUSESITTERS & HOUSESITTING
Here are some other recent press articles about housesitter stories that have appeared in the media to give you a flavour of the joys and benefits of housesitting.