5.5 MIN READ
Rent can take up a large portion of anyone’s budget. If you have a small income or have a lot of bills and can’t afford the rent, or just want to save up as much money as possible for retirement or other large goals, there are plenty of ways to live for free.
It seems impossible. How could you live rent-free? It takes a little thinking outside the box, but there are many ‘normal’ situations that allow you to live rent-free while still enjoying your own place to live.
Related Article | The Finance Dictionary: Learn the jargon your Finance friends speak!
Rent Out Rooms in Your House
If you own a home with multiple bedrooms, consider renting out the rooms you don’t use. While you’ll have to share your living space, you may earn enough money to cover the cost of your mortgage.
Find out the average rent charged in the area for one-bedroom homes or apartments and use it to determine how much rent you charge. If you have a couple of rooms, you may be able to collect enough rent so that you don’t have to pay anything out of pocket for your own living.
Make sure you’re clear about the common areas of the home and what use tenants do or don’t have with it. Keep everything in writing, so there aren’t any disagreements down the road.
List Your Home or Condo on Airbnb
If you’re ever not home or you own multiple homes, you can list your home on Airbnb and get paid for people to live in it temporarily. You may get guests for a few days or a few weeks, but you can keep renting it out whenever it’s vacant.
This works on primary residences too. If you’ll be going back home for a few weeks or months, you can rent out your property here. You may make enough to cover the cost of your mortgage for the remainder of the year just by renting it out on Airbnb since you can usually charge a premium. People renting an Airbnb are usually traveling and need a place to stay - as long as you’re charging less than the local hotels’ cost per night, you’ll be in business.
Ask Friends to Be Roommates
If you have friends you trust, ask them to be roommates. This works just like renting out the rooms in your house, but this time to friends.
The only downside to this method is you may not feel like you can charge as much since they’re your friends. Do the math and make sure it’s worth it to rent to your friends so that you’re living rent-free or at least paying as little as possible.
Just like when renting to a stranger, put everything in writing. It’s even more important when you’re renting to friends. You don’t want to feel taken advantage of, but you also want to make sure everyone is happy with the arrangements.
Related Article | Can A Foreigner Buy A House In the US?
Consider House Sitting
If you are okay with not living in the same place all the time, consider house sitting. There may be situations where you can find a place to live long-term and house sit. If you live in the home, that’s your payment, but living rent-free can be a great perk.
If you choose this option, try finding someone that needs a long-term house sitter, such as someone who travels abroad or is a ‘snow bird’ and leaves the state for 3 - 6 months at a time. The longer you can live in one house, the more flexibility you have. You may even find ‘regular’ clients who need you at the same time every year.
If you house sit for short-term situations, make sure you have multiple jobs lined up or a backup plan should you be without a place to house sit, aka live in between.
Work as a Nanny
Many families hire live-in nannies for the convenience of always having someone available. You will be in charge of the children (or possibly pets) around the clock, but you’ll have a free place to live (they’re usually pretty nice), and you’ll likely get paid for the job too.
You may be able to find part-time or full-time live-in nanny gigs. You may even find situations where pet owners pay someone to live with them full-time to take care of their pets.
Work for Rent
Some business owners hire people to work for them and let them work off their rent. This works well on farmland, but other business owners do it too. Sometimes the rent is the only payment you receive, and other times, you get free rent plus an income for working.
Most work for rent situations are only part-time (very part-time), leaving you enough time to work a full-time job and still have time to work to earn your free rent.
Related Article | Do I Need to Pay Taxes for My Nanny?
Live With a Friend and Barter
If you have a skill and your friend has a room that’s free, consider exchanging. This isn’t a situation of freeloading - you are asking your friend for free rent while you provide another benefit.
It’s a situation where you scratch your friend’s back, and he’ll scratch yours. While you have to put in some sweat equity, you don’t have to pay money for rent, which is a great way to live for free.
Find Seasonal Jobs
Seasonal jobs often come with a place to live, especially if you work at national parks or other government-sponsored venues. When you search for seasonal jobs, look for those that provide housing. Many jobs that take in temporary workers from all over the world automatically provide housing in order to bring in more talent.
Live With Your Family
It may not be what you want, but if you need to live for free for the time being, ask your relatives. Don’t consider it a ‘bad thing.’ Instead, look at it as an opportunity to save as much money as possible as you live rent-free.
When you save enough money, you can put money down on a nice home or maybe a multi-unit property where you can rent out the other units and use the rent to pay your mortgage, continuing your ability to live for free.
Related Article | How to Buy a House With No Money (8 Ways)
The Bottom Line
There are many ways to live for free today. Just get creative and be open-minded. You’ll find more opportunities when you think outside the box. Think about what you love to do, what you can offer someone who may offer you free rent, or think about how you can bring in a roommate or rent out a room to strangers to cover the cost of your rent so you can live for free.