Opportunities grow for house sitters

Roseville resident Julie Honeycutt left the real estate loan business two years ago for a lower-stress occupation: house-sitting. While homeowners are on vacation, she waters the plants and brings in the mail, walks the dogs and feeds the cats.

"I haven't yet had a client who wanted me to stay in their house," said Honeycutt, 55. "But I will. And I have no problem with that."

Sue Berney's version of house-sitting is more hard-core. As caretaker, she lives full time on a 5-acre farm in the foothills outside Grass Valley, and her duties include tending 17 goats, 12 sheep, several dozen chickens and a large organic garden.

"It's a win-win," said Berney, 58, a retired hospital worker from suburban Detroit. "There's no money exchanged, but I live in a trailer on the property.

"My goal is to sell my house back in Michigan and be free to move around."

Honeycutt and Berney are part of a growing trend. Across the country, house-sitting and caretaking have become a versatile new profession for people who want alternatives to the rat race — or who have been cut loose from it by retirement or the economic downturn.

Read the complete story at