Meet the Housesitters:

Bones & Homes

Welcome to the first installment of Meet the Housesitters. Every two weeks, we will talk to different housesitters we have met through our travels in real life and on social media. We will get to know what types of housesitters are out there and how the travel exchange concept has worked for them.

Our first housesitters are Jenna and Nik of Bones and Homes Pet and House Sitting. They left behind lives as a hairdresser and a baker in Australia and returned to the UK.

Photos in this post are by Bones and Homes.

Let’s Get to Know Jenna and Nik

Their profile caught my eye on Instagram, and when I checked out their website, I discovered that they had returned to the UK from Australia at the end of COVID-19 lockdown – much like we left New Zealand to start traveling again.

I sent them my questions. Here’s how it went:

Can you talk a little about how you came to house and pet? What prompted it and how long have you been doing it? Are you full-time or part-time?

“It was June 2022 and we were returning to the UK for 6 months as a tester before we committed to a permanent move and we were daunted by the prospect of staying with family and friends in Norfolk for the whole time. After Jenna had aired her thoughts with one of her clients she was told of THS [TrustedHousesitters] so we gave it a look and it appealed to us immediately. It would solve our accommodation worries and would also allow us to travel the country. Although we were in favour of coming “home” we really didn’t know where we wanted to settle so this would give us the opportunity to travel the country and explore our options. Being a dog-sitter would also solve our dog fix as we are both dog obsessed. It was on our second sit that we decided this was the life for us and after a couple of days with his head down Nik came up with our website which we launched in October 2022. We’d taken our first paid job within days and the rest is history. We returned to Australia on 6th January and 3 weeks later we were flying back with our first job starting the very next day. Since we turned professional we’ve had a further 14 sits and we are booked solid until the 1st November! We’re taking bookings for next year already and July 2024 is now all taken. So we are full time without a doubt!!”

What types of sits do you typically look for? Do you look for any types of sits in particular? Or do you look for homeowners to come to you? Do you prefer hustle and bustle or sits out in the country?

“We are open to any and every sit but we have to avoid cats as Jenna is highly allergic. We’ve had overnight stays and we’ve had month-long visits. We’ve sat in Scotland and also down on the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall. We’ve sat in beautiful countryside and we’ve also sat within view of Wembley. Distance is no problem and we never say no immediately. With all of our new customers we insist on a house visit first so we can all check each other out and make sure we’re all happy. Thus far we’ve only met lovely owners and pets, and most of our clients we consider as friends too.”

How do you finance your travels? There are still food expenses, travel expenses, and leisure expenses that have to be covered.

Interview with Nik from Bones and Homes
Nik from Bones and Homes

“Having this as our only occupier of time we have to make a charge for our time – we need to travel, have insurance etc and of course we have to eat. When we started Bones and Homes, our philosophy was to offer a service to people who didn’t want to put their dogs in kennels or with boarders, but also didn’t want the worry of having strangers coming into their homes. We wanted to offer a service where we literally replaced them as dog parents whilst they were away, so they could holiday without any worry and then slip back into their pets life’s once they were back. We price ourselves as competitively as we can but we also value the service we offer so price accordingly. We always sit together and we offer a professional service which all of our customers are aware of so they are happy to pay for us. We also offer other services which we can undertake whilst they’re away, like a laundry service, garden maintenance etc. which we make a small hourly charge for. We’re under no misconception that we’ll get financially rich doing what we do, but we consider ourselves wealthy beyond most people’s dreams – the positives far outweigh the negatives of house sitting and as long as we’re physically able to we cant see us ever tiring of this.”

Do you have any locations that are on your wishlist? Are there places you’d love to return to? Or places you’re still actively trying to find a sit for?

“Honestly, we are loving every place we go to. Sitting for pets really lets you live as a local and explore your surroundings. Although we’re going to lots of new places we consider the dogs to be our priority and everywhere we go its with the dogs so we don’t do too much exploring other than on dog walks, but we are discovering some beautiful countryside which we didn’t know existed. We’re also realistic to the fact that everywhere we go is much nicer when the sun shines!”

Jenna from Bones and Homes
Jenna hard at work

What do you prioritise when you look at applying for a sit? Feel free to list more than one thing.

“We don’t prioritise anything as such but we do have certain criteria that needs to be met.
We obviously need to be comfortable with the dogs and they with us, so a good rapport is a must. If a dog has serious separation anxiety we would have to do some groundwork first. All we want is a dog that is loved and open to love so we can shower them with our affection.When we sit we aren’t there to right any wrongs – we’re not behaviourists. We are literally there to continue what the dog parents do.  As far as locations go then we’re open to most things. Being professional and charging for our services we are a little more lenient than if we were doing it for nothing. But thankfully all of our jobs have been more than acceptable and a real pleasure. We do find with the larger houses we sit we tend to just stick to the kitchen, bathroom and the bedroom! All we ask for is somewhere to park our car, the usual necessities like ovens and washing machines, and the internet as we need to be able to respond to online queries – and kitchen scales for bread making of course!”

Read about how we at Tattle Tails try to string together our housesits to avoid paid accommodation.

We meet the housesitters, Bones and Homes. Here’s our next question:

Have you ever met up with other petsitters anywhere?

 I’m with a dog he housesits for
Nik housesitting

“We haven’t met in person with anyone yet but we do have contact with other sitters on our social media. We love the support and encouragement they give and we enjoy giving them the same too. We’re actually hoping to connect with a few later this year to see if we can set up a network so we can help other clients that we’ve had to turn down in the past. We’re aware that with only us we can only cover a certain client base and we’re turning down enquiries every week so if we have someone we can place on a sit then we can satisfy demand more.”

What are unexpected benefits of housesitting you have discovered?

“We’ve been bowled over by the generosity and kindness shown to us by our clients. We consider most of them as friends now and keep in regular contact with them all and they update us with any events in their dogs life. We treat everyone as we like to be treated ourselves and thus far we haven’t been disappointed. We’re also enjoying learning the different traits of breeds of dogs. As a dog owner you are rarely exposed to many other breeds but as a dog sitter you come across all types of dogs which is fun – most of the time! We’re also loving the fact that each and every home is different and we’re keeping scores of ovens, hobs, fridges etc for when/if we settle down. Nik also has a score sheet on showers for some reason!”

Have you ever left feedback less than 5 stars? (You can protect the innocent, of course). Do you have any thoughts about the review system and how effective it is?

“We’ve only done 4 THS sits but each one has been a 5 star review so no to that one! We always ask for a testimonial after our sits and each and every one of these has been glowing. It’s quite humbling how complimentary people have been to us and it only re-emphasises that what we are doing is the right thing. We’ve heard some real horror stories about sitters and also about sits. As with most things there are people who take advantage and abuse situations and we encourage any sitter or host to thoroughly do their homework and be realistic. If you’re a clean freak should you really be staying round some strangers house and if you’re precious about your house do you really want a stranger coming in to stay there? If possible get references too – and do your best to make sure they’re genuine.”

In this house sitter interview, we really want to know:

Have you ever had a pet emergency?

“Other than a trip to the vets in Scotland which ended to be a case of a hidden nipple, no! We are both qualified as pet first aiders so we would know what to do in an emergency and we always make sure the dogs we sit for are registered with a vet and we’re aware of any health issues. We do find that most owners do miss out some details about their dogs which can cause a little panic until you get to know the dog. We had an instance with a dog who kept gnawing his paws to the point where we thought he had something stuck in them but after contacting the owner we found that this was his usual nighttime routine.”

This is installment 1 of Meet the Housesitters. We’re “chatting” to Jenna and Nik of Bones and Homes to find out about their housesitting business and adventures.

Do you have a timeline for when you’ll go “back to normal”? Do you miss hairdressing or baking for a living?

Meet the housesitters Jenna of Bones and Homes
Jenna at a housesit

“Basically the answer to this is no, no and no!!!! We both turned 50 this year and we have friends who are talking of retirement and pensions which makes us do nothing but yawn! We love what we do and we love the lifestyle it allows us to – why would anyone retire from this? Nik loved his baking and still makes bread on our house sits but the baking industry is extremely hard and unrewarding so although he sometimes misses the satisfaction it gave him he doesn’t miss the early mornings or long hard days.”

Jenna and Nik then suggested I add two more questions to ask for Meet the Housesitters:

Do your family and friends understand the concept of pet sitting? Do they get why you are choosing to do this?

” “What?? You’ve not got your own house? What? You’re going to stay in other peoples homes? What will you do all day? When are you going to get a normal job?” (That’s been the best one) It’s been a real struggle getting friends and family to “get where we’re coming from”! It’s not your usual 9-5, Monday to Friday job and it’s certainly as far away from the lifestyle we’ve been raised in can be. Close ones have never really got to grips with the concept of what we do. Firstly we had the barrage of “Why do you want to come back to this country?” to get over and then when we made up our minds as to what we wanted to do we were (and still are) met with puzzling looks. We’ve grown to just smile and carry on. Our kids understand which is the only thing that matters. It seems nobody else can keep track of where we are, where we’re going and what we’re doing!”

Why do you think so many people are choosing this lifestyle?

Cost of living crisis! High utility bills! As a house and pet sitter we are riding the wave of avoidance in this current “crisis” that the world is having. Maybe we are being extremely naive and will get left very behind when it comes to returning to living the norm, (for the record we have no plans of doing that anytime soon). But we feel it has never been a better time to regroup, clear out “stuff!” downsize and simplify our lives. When our container returned to the Uk from Melbourne, we just looked at all this stuff we had and thought what on earth! We sold, gave and stored in a secure unit less than half of what we shipped over. For us, it was the perfect time to stay commitment free and pursue the lifestyle that was evolving before us.The pandemic reset a lot of people’s mindsets about their lives and direction they were going in. Never has there been a more nomadic van life, traveling community. Especially at 50 years of age plus !! Traveling was only for gap year backpackers right? 

Although society had changed a hell of a lot since we were young, there’s always been a real emphasis put on education, mortgages and finance, kids and pensions. This lifestyle doesn’t prioritise any of these. It’s all about health, happiness, travel and life experiences. As we have grown older we’ve had a real shift in what’s important to us. Obviously children are a major part in life but now our’s are older and independent this has in turn let us spread our wings somewhat. And that’s what a lot of people have been yearning to do – spread their wings. It’s also really satisfying knowing that you’re looking after someone’s pet who they treasure and allowing them to travel without the worry of leaving their pet behind. 

In a nutshell if you love animals and love to travel, can be organised, trustworthy and respectful whilst on a house sit then I’m sure you come across lots of opportunities to meet new people, make new friends for life and live every day differently this way of life isn’t for everyone, but it’s our way and we love it.

Contact Bones and Homes:

We cannot thank Jenna and Nik enough for taking the time to be interviewed for this installment of Meet the Housesitters. You can find out more about Jenna and Nik on their website and on their Instagram page.

Meet the housesitters Jenna and Nik of Bones and Homes
Jenna & Nik of Bones and Homes

Get to Know New Sitters Next Time

We return with another house sitting couple in 2 weeks. Subscribe to be notified when the next interview comes out.

You can read Meet the Housesitters 2, HERE.

We full-time travel around the world through travel exchange using platforms like TrustedHousesitters. This lets us arrange accommodation in exchange for pet and home care. You do not have to commit to full-time to enjoy this way of travel. Many sitters use the platform to arrange for their yearly vacation.

Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook for daily updates and pictures from our travels!

3 responses to “Meet the Housesitters:”

  1. I love Jenna and Nik’s story. They have done some fabulous sits. I also applaud them for leaving their life behind to do this gig full time. Seems scary to most at first but the freedom we experience as house sitters is beyond worth a little discomfort at times.


    • Hi Ryan,
      Thanks for your great comment. I liked hearing about how the family deals with it too. It takes bravery to do something friends and family don’t necessarily understand!

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