Housesitting is a great way to travel and save

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Re Jessica Rawnsley’s article (‘I’m a homeless guy looking after a palace!’ The housesitters escaping the cost of living crisis, 21 November), I recently came across a 75-year-old woman who lives in a campervan and had been doing it for 40 years. I retired nearly 10 years ago and, with itchy feet after a lifetime of touring theatre, I decided to take up housesitting.

At first, I signed up with an agency for contacts, but realised that it was making money off my back from the owners of properties. Setting myself up with public liability insurance – just in case I knock over a Ming vase or a pet sadly dies on my watch – and a criminal record check, I made it known that I was available.

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I have never looked back. The huge benefits – apart from visiting lovely homes – are the savings you can make. I have a small utilitarian flat, but save a fair amount while on my travels. At first, I sat for friends free of charge, or for small favours: a tab at the local pub, or a fridge full of food and a wine rack.

But then word passed around to their acquaintances and today I charge a modest per diem rate, and car running costs to and from the site. I tend to take any bookings longer than a week. One was for three months in a remote area of Scotland, looking after fish.
Gordon Cooper
Flackwell Heath, Buckinghamshire

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