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How To Live Rent-Free (Or At A Major Discount)

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How To Live Rent-Free (Or At A Major Discount)

“Hello everyone! Today I have a great guest post from Mike Greig, who is a digital marketer by day, and a personal finance blogger by night at Ninja Budgeter. This is a post about living rent-free and 10 options to get there. Hope you’ll enjoy it!” – Vincent

If you’re anything like me, a little piece of you dies every time you pay your rent or mortgage. Nothing puts a damper on your mood quite like signing away a big chunk of your paycheck.

The reality is, rents have risen dramatically in many areas recently. In my town, home values have risen 20-25% in just the last 4 years. That translates to higher mortgage payments that many homeowners pass on to their renters, raising the area’s rental rates.

Imagine how much money you could save if you could eliminate the cost of rent for just one year? You could pay for school, save up a down payment for a home, or buy a car with cash. It could make a huge difference in your future net worth. Life changing stuff.

The reality is that there are lots of situations where you can negotiate free rent. The key is that you will have to offer something in return. I suppose that makes it ‘traded’ rent rather than free but the net effect on your bank account is the same.

You will probably have to hunt for these deals as they’re often not advertised.

Below are 10 options for living rent free.

1. Manage an Apartment Building

All apartment buildings must be managed. Those building managers are often compensated with in-house accommodation for free or at a reduced rate. If you don’t need too much space, you could potentially find a position managing a building and rent out your home.
Of course, it’s a job, and you might end up having to deal with midnight water leaks and other such things!

How to do it:

  • Check local classified ads
  • Call property management companies and ask about openings
  • Ask your social network if they know of any opportunities

2. Live With A Relative

You may not want to move home with your parents, but what about living with a different relative? What about moving in with a lonely aunt or grandparent? If you have a relative with space, you might be able to negotiate a free or cheap living arrangement in exchange for work, chores or just companionship.

How to do it:

  • Make sure that you find a relative that you get along with
  • Offer them housework, or something else in return
  • Set a certain length of time for the agreement so it’s not awkward when it’s time to leave

3. House-Sit In Exchange For Free-Rent

Many people want their home cared for when they’re on vacation.  Being a vacation caretaker might not work year-round, but it certainly could help bridge a gap where you need accommodations. It might be possible to find full-time accommodations in a guest-house or suite. You can also offer this as a service and get paid!

How to do it:

  • Ask friends and family for opportunities
  • Advertise your service on Craigslist & other relevant sites

4. Become A Caretaker for Pets

Pet owners don’t like leaving their pets alone when they travel. There is an opportunity here for you to pet-sit in-home while the owners are away. This is a service that you could advertise on Craigslist. As with everything, be careful who you get involved with.

How to do it:

  • Check sites that match pet caretakers with owners such as PetSitter and SitterCity
  • Make yourself a more attractive candidate by taking a pet first aid course
  • Get some relevant experience – consider volunteering at an animal shelter

5. Work In Exchange For Accommodation

You might find a work-for-accommodation arrangement on a farm or orchard or any other place that requires labor. You can also find work for accommodation through an organization such as WWOOF (Willing Workers On Organic Farms). My wife and I once tried out WWOOFing while backpacking in Australia. We met some great people that we’re still in touch with today.

How to do it:

  • Check with organizations that set up these arrangements such as WWOOF
  • Check local classifieds

6. Negotiate Accommodations or Living Expenses Into Your Wage

If you’re relocating for a job, why not negotiate your living expenses into the new salary? This will obviously be easier for those who have high-demand skills. It can’t hurt to ask! If you’re in high demand for a job that would require a major commute or would require you to relocate, propose that the company provide you with accommodations nearby.

How to do it:

  • Make yourself as attractive a candidate as possible in your industry
  • Find out how much extra it is going to cost you to rent in a new city
  • Negotiate like a boss

7. Become A Live-In Nanny

Naturally, this would be best-suited to somebody who likes kids. If you could find somebody who requires a nanny during hours when you’re available, this can be a great opportunity. Daycare is really expensive and can be cost-prohibitive if you have more than 2 children. Many parents are looking for alternatives

How to do it:

  • Obviously for this one you need to like children
  • Make yourself an attractive candidate by getting first aid and any other relevant training
  • Advertise your service on Craigslist

8. Couch Surfing

This may not suit everybody, but if you’re traveling or just adventurous, you can couch surf your way through the world. Check out CouchSurfing.com for places to stay. People on that site make their homes available to couch surfers with the idea that someday you might pay it forward to somebody else.

How to do it:

9. Work At A Hostel In Exchange For Accommodations

It’s common for hostel employees to be offered free accommodation in exchange for work. This can be a great deal for travelers or even students. In large cities, rent can be outrageous and working part-time at a hostel may be your ticket to a manageable budget.

How to do it:

  • Call hostels in the city you want to stay in and ask about opportunities
  • Connect with other travelers and find out where they’ve found free accommodations

Like most things in life worth doing, finding a free rent arrangement probably won’t be easy. It is fairly simple however, and there are always great opportunities out there for those who are willing to put in the work to find them.

Author Bio: Mike Greig is a digital marketer by day, and a personal finance blogger by night. A husband and father to 3 kids, he enjoys drinking his coffee while it’s still hot, stepping on lego in the night and writing about himself in the third person. You can find him at NinjaBudgeter.com or on Twitter @ninjabudgeter.
What about you readers? Have you ever lived rent free? How did you pull it off? Let us know in the comments!

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  • Avatar for Finance For Geek
    Mrs. Picky Pincher
    Jan 30, 2018 at 6:30 AM

    I love this! Hey, anything to make it work, right? We had a professor in college who rented out a garage apartment. Whoever lived there could get a certain amount off rent if they offered babysitting services. I think these could be awesome options, especially if you live in a city with high cost of living.

  • Avatar for Finance For Geek
    Norah @ Money Management IQ
    Feb 08, 2018 at 9:52 PM

    Great post FFG! One of my relatives has got a living place for free because near to his workplace there is a house owner who is staying abroad. He had in search of a caretaker for his house. He used to come twice a year to visit his house. On the reference of his office owner, he got that place easily.

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