Earning money is tough. The majority of people need to spend most of their days doing something to make money for a living. And then they spend nearly half of their income on rent.
Yes, this is true. The rent devours 45% of the income of an average American in their thirties. A bit frustrating, isn’t it?
Wouldn’t it be a good idea to live rent-free? Just think about it: depending on what you make per hour, up to seven months of your earnings a year is spent on rent. That’s heaps of money.
If you could save it instead, you could get out of debt, reach financial freedom, or retire early. How quickly you could save!
But isn’t rent-free living only a tale?
Is it possible to live rent-free?
The short answer is yes.
The longer answer? It is achievable for people of different ages, backgrounds, and different experiences. But it’s not always easy.
Let’s be honest: paying the rent is the easy way. Though each month you need to say goodbye to a huge part of your income, you have a place that you can call your own and a roof above your head secured for many years ahead in exchange.
But if you are ready to sometimes partly sacrifice this comfort, you are prone to live rent-free and commit the financial reserves for a better aim.
How To Live Rent Free
Let’s take a look at different options:
1. List Your Place with Airbnb
Do you know that Airbnb users have earned millions of dollars listing their rooms, apartments, and houses for rent?
To list your unit on Airbnb, you don’t have to be its owner. You can do it even if you rent your living space, as long as your rental agreement allows you to do so. Check it carefully for any restrictions on home-sharing.
Comparing to expensive hotels, Airbnbs can be really affordable. Guests enjoy a homely environment and extra options like the ability to use a kitchen.
Hotels are often located in the loud center of busy towns while Airbnb rentals can be found in more friendly surroundings. Many Airbnb guests appreciate the quiet suburbs of cities. It gives them the possibility to experience the real soul of the city instead of seeing only its tourist facade.
With not much effort and financial expenses, you can adjust your place to be able to charge a higher rate. Thanks to extras like a dedicated parking lot, a private fenced yard, faster WiFi, or basic breakfast you will be able to earn more on the same spot.
You should be aware that as a host, you will be screened thoroughly by Airbnb. They want to make sure the guests will be safe in your living space. Do your best to get reviews over 4,5 stars, as it will also allow you to increase the rate.
You should remember to save money for taxes, as Airbnb income is taxable. Another thing you’ll definitely want to have is renter’s insurance.
2. Buy A House And Have Roommates Pay The Mortgage
Are you going to live in the same place for a few years? If you already have some savings in your account and want to make an investment that is able to make your future finances strong, buy a house and rent out rooms.
Think about this. You save money for a 20% down payment and buy a house. Then your job is to find roommates who will pay your mortgage for you. In the end, you will be the owner of a paid-off house!
If you can charge more than your mortgage, you will not only live rent-free but also make some money. On top of that, you will have an investment in real estate.
It’s a good idea to look for multi-unit buildings or houses with mother-in-law units. These options give you huge flexibility when you want to rent out rooms.
3. Rent to Sublet
It’s an easy way to make money for your rent. You don’t have to own the apartment, take credit, or make heavy financial investments. Your job is only to find a nice apartment and sublet it for more than you pay.
It works especially well in areas where there are many students or big companies hiring a lot of workers.
The process will be easier if it’s an apartment that you are familiar with, maybe in the same building that you live in or somewhere in the neighborhood.
Be aware that not every landlord will allow this practice, but many are perfectly happy as long as they receive their rent check regularly.
Read your contract thoroughly to see if it has any restrictions on subletting the unit. Contracts usually contain conditions under which you can sublet, but in the vast majority of them, there are no restrictions on the rental rate for subletting.
4. Rent a House And Have Roommates Pay The Rent
Living with roommates can have its pros and its cons. If this type of lifestyle is for you, it can have one great benefit: the roommates can pay the rent for you.
The idea is simple: you find an apartment or house at an attractive price, choose one room for yourself, and rent out other rooms at an increased rate.
This way, each room in a 4-5 bedroom house can make you extra money monthly. You’ll be able to cover your own expense and live essentially rent-free.
Do your best to set a fair price that will allow you to pay your rent on the one hand, and be reasonable for your roommates on the other.
To make the lives of all of you easier, sign a contract with your tenants where the renting price and the general rules of living in the house will be stated. You should also think about taking a damage deposit.
If you don’t know much about the people who are going to live with you, check their background and make sure they can prove they do have a source of income to be able to pay the rent.
5. Live in an RV
Living like this might make you miss some luxuries from time to time. You won’t be able to stick a bathtub or a dishwasher in your RV. But you can lead an inexpensive lifestyle, full of adventures and debt-free.
You can choose to stay at campgrounds, as mostly they have reasonable monthly rates. If you have solar power and don’t have to pay for electricity, your rate will be even lower.
To decrease your expenses even more, you can post advertisements on Craigslist and find people who will be willing to let you park on their property for a monthly fee that will be cost-efficient for you.
Many landowners are usually eager to rent their spaces as for them it is an almost effortless way to have an extra monthly income. Living this way you can save a lot of money every month.
Another benefit of residing in an RV is that tiny living is a perfect cure for overspending. There’s a limited amount of space in an RV, which makes you always think twice before you buy something.
6. Take A Job That Provides Housing
In many jobs, living space comes as a free benefit. Some require specific experience, others can be done by anyone who is ready to work. Whether you want to travel abroad or stay in the country, you will find an option for yourself.
Here are some examples of such jobs:
After-hours security guard
After-hours security guards have to be physically present on the spot for a given number of hours. They usually don’t have many other duties than to have their ears and eyes open, making sure that there are no intruders.
Rangers patrol their parks, guide tours, and work to prevent wildfires.
It’s a full-time job, therefore it often comes with provided housing. You can expect quite rustic living conditions in a remote location, but that’s the charm of the job.
Basically, when you are a park ranger you can feel like being paid for hiking and exploring the park.
Any background in civil engineering? You can travel the world and get a decent paycheck without having to pay rent.
Many places in the world lack skilled civil engineers but they have the money to recruit them from countries like the UK, Canada, and the US. The demand is especially high in places like Dubai, Singapore, and Abu Dhabi.
Sounds like a good offer for you? Try services like GoAbroad to find a job as an international civil engineer.
Do you have more than two years’ experience in education? If you are willing to teach people and travel around the world, your life can be pretty marvelous.
International schools from Asia, the Middle East, Africa, South America, and Europe are hiring Western educators under very good conditions.
You may get an apartment with amenities like a pool, a gym, and even a steam room. Plus, a dedicated parking lot. Additional benefits may include things like complex health coverage and free flights home for the summer not only for you but your family members as well.
As a hospitality worker, you won’t get a fat paycheck. But such jobs aren’t usually very demanding so you can study and finish your degree while having a secured roof above your head for free plus a salary.
You can find a hotel in your country or somewhere abroad. Maybe you’d like to spend up to six months in a ski resort or on a lovely beach?
People open to adventure but also responsible and hardworking will easily find hospitality jobs.
If you have some special skills to share, like giving skiing or scuba diving lessons, you can count on a higher salary.
7. Live rent-free in exchange for work
Programs like World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) make it possible to live anywhere in the world rent-free.
In exchange for a roof above your head and board, you work a few hours a day. It can be around 20 hours per week, which still leaves you plenty of time to work elsewhere and earn income. Or just hike around, if you prefer.
Your daily chores on the farm may include things like unloading hay, cleaning up animal stalls, milking cows, etc.
You can learn a lot about sustainable farming, and gain experience and knowledge that may be useful in the future if you decide to live in such a way.
8. Become a House or Pet Sitter
If you are eager to travel around the country, house sitting might be something for you.
Some people who go on vacation or on work travel don’t want to leave their house unattended and they entrust it to house sitters.
As a house sitter, you may bounce from one house to another, so having a plan B like a friend’s couch, in case something doesn’t work out, is a good idea.
However, sometimes you will be able to stay at a given place longer. For instance, you may find an assignment where the host goes on long-term work travel (for a year or so).
Often these listings will also include looking after a pet. Many pet owners who travel frequently for work or vacation want to have a live-in pet sitter who will take care of their furry family member while they are away.
Pet owners are not always eager to leave their pets at borders. The familiar home environment lets the pet feel more secure and happy.
As a pet sitter, you will be required to feed the pets and provide fresh water for them, make sure they have enough play or exercise time, clean pet messes, and administer medications if necessary. You may be also requested to perform other tasks.
9. Become an Apartment Manager
Apartment managers usually get one unit in the building to live in without paying rent. In exchange, they have to be available for the tenants.
As an apartment manager, you will be expected to do some facilitating repairs, keep common areas clean and functional, or sometimes mediate in a conflict between neighbors.
In most cases, apartment managers are able to have a full-time job under the condition that they will be reachable by cell phone even when they are at work.
If there’s a requirement from apartment management companies that you have to stay at home, usually they will offer you a paycheck on top of the free apartment.
If you don’t mind receiving phone calls at odd hours and being somewhat restricted to one place (when you want to travel you’ll probably need someone to cover), being an apartment manager is a great way to live rent-free.
10. Be a Nanny
Wealthier families all over the world hire live-in nannies to take care of their children and they offer a free room or even a nearby apartment.
In addition to having free accommodation, you will be paid for your services. The salary of a live-in nanny can be slightly lower than a live-out nanny’s, as their presence in the home absorbs some board costs.
If you have at least two years of college education, your pay rate may be higher. Having prior experience as a nanny under your belt will also influence your salary.
Four to five years of experience will allow you to get over $3 per hour more. In any case, your salary can not be lower than the minimum wage.
How to find such an opportunity? The easiest way is to look for an agency, as it gives you quicker exposure, and having a contract with an agency protects both you and the family.
Things to consider when living for free
Don’t forget about taxes. If your rental income is more than $600 a year, it is taxable. Put away 25% of what you earn each month for taxes.
Keep in mind that maintenance and repair costs can be deducted from your taxable income, so always keep the receipts.
Some of the options above like a job or a lease will come with a contract. Make sure you read everything carefully and don’t hesitate to consult an attorney when in doubt. Your own safety is at stake.
Always have renter’s insurance. It’s not a great expense, and when something unpredictable happens, like burglary or damage from a storm, you won’t lose what you’ve earned living rent-free.
The Bottom Line
In many cases, when you live rent-free, you will be able to travel the world and gain priceless experience and memories.
Not to mention the fact that when you save the money you’d spend on rent, you will be more financially secure, and your future net-worth will increase. Maybe you’ll be even able to retire early?
So go ahead, choose the best option, and make your own plan to live rent-free.