Has anyone ever tried to do any international house and/or pet sitting when they travel? I have seen sights that for a small fee (as low as $35 per year!) that will allow you to look for places to stay for free in exchange for you keeping an eye on the homeowners home and/or pets.
It seems like a pretty interesting concept!
We haven't done a sitting ourselves yet, but have looked into it quite a bit. We joined mindmyhouse last year (mainly because it was cheaper than the big player trustedhousesitters), to try to get a housesitter for our home for a fall Europe trip. We live in the middle of nowhere Alabama, a nice area, but definitely not a big area for tourism. We were floored when we received over a dozen applicants within the first week or so of listing. We chose the applicant that seemed to fit the best, and had the longest resume of house sits, and verifiable testimonials. The point is, that after talking more with the sitters we chose, and from reading, it seems that in general to get good places, let alone the great assignments (e.g. an apartment in Paris, a villa in Tuscany etc) there is a lot of competition and you must have a pretty solid resume to get them. We are planning on applying for some, but we are really in love with doing workaways, as you are able to meet and interact with locals more, and become a part of the local life. We think it might be easy to be isolated with a house sit, and not have as much freedom to see an area, due to obligations to be at the home most of the time for pets etc. It all depends on what you want. Whereas with a workaway, your afternoons and weekends are completely free. If you prefer a house sitting situation, besides the normal house sitting sites, do check out workaway, as there are a some listings for house and pet sittings spots there as well, just not as many as the main house sittings sites. All in all, we were very pleased with the mindmyhouse experience, and had great sitters. Would love to hear anyone else chime in that has experiences with house sits or workaways!
I am actually presently doing a house sit in Marseille. I went through mindmyhouse.com as well. I think it was $20 for the year for sitters and possibly free for hosts. I was not really expecting too much success so my girlfriend and I sent out about 15 requests the night we joined. As you can imagine, quite a few of them never responded, but withtin 24 hours we had three maybes, two requests for a phone call, and two offers, one of which we accepted. You have to make sure it is somewhere you want to be though. Depending on whether you are looking for a specific country, animals, environment (beach, mountains, farm, etc.) the opportunities vary. A lot of these posts are peoples second homes out in the country somewhere, we got one of the few that was actually in a city. Anyways, mindmyhouse is free to look around and see if there is something you like. You just pay the $20 when you want to contact someone. Good luck whatever you do.
One thing I thought I'd throw in here, is that I've recently did a bit more research into this sort of thing (workaway/house sitting) and found that "technically" it's illegal to work (even voluntarily if you are receiving room and board or in the case of house sitting- just room) in exchange for work - even if no money changes hands WITHOUT A WORK VISA. There's a lot of misinformation out there about this from non-official sources (e.g. blogs, comment threads) saying that since it's voluntary you don't need a work visa. From what I can tell, bajillions of people do it without work visas on normal tourist visas, but there are horror stories out there of people that if asked at immigration their purpose of visit, and if they don't know the drill, tell them "workaway" or "house sitting" and are refused entry and put on the next plane out of the country. The reason being that with high unemployment, you are putting a citizen out of work that would be glad to house sit or work for a decent place to live. Getting an official work visa is difficult bordering on impossible however. Just FYI.