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5 Ways To Get Free Housing

5 Ways To Get Free Housing

It’s no wonder why so many people are looking for free housing. Did you know that on average, Americans spend 37% of their income on housing? And many of us spend a lot more than that. If you’ve ever wondered if it’s really possible to get it free, you’re not alone. 

While it isn’t easy to get free housing, it’s not impossible either. We’ve come up with five ways to get complimentary shelter and keep that extra 37% of your income.

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Try a homeshare.

There are many seniors who are struggling to live independently in their homes, but they have extra rooms available. Home share programs match those seniors with roommates who can do chores and provide assistance in exchange for a more affordable place to live. It helps low income people afford safe and stable housing, and it also helps seniors maintain their independence. Everyone wins!

I recently read an article about Oregon Home Share. In it, Tess Fields said, “We did some research and learned that there’s 1.5 million owner occupied homes across the state of Oregon that have a spare bedroom and we felt that if just 2% of those homeowners decided to rent a spare bedroom, we could house 30,000 people affordably with no new infrastructure.”

That’s why Home Share programs are becoming so popular. It solves two needs with one solution. 

I can’t guarantee that you’ll find a free home share in your area. As far as I can tell, there are home share coordination services in many states but they allow the homeowner and renter to make their own arrangements. However, it’s definitely something worth looking into if you are willing to help someone out in exchange for some affordable housing. 

You can find home share opportunities at silvernest.com. You can also reach out to Home Share Oregon if you’re in Oregon. If you’re in Oahu, you can reach out to Homesharing Hawai’i. For other areas, I recommend reaching out to 211 or other nonprofits in your area that work with seniors or disabled people for referrals. 

Get a job that provides free housing

Finding a job that provides free housing is probably your best shot at reclaiming part of your income. So, what jobs come with a free apartment or house?

Become a building superintendent.

One of the most popular ways to get free housing is to become a building superintendent, otherwise known as a “super.”

In this role, you would live in an apartment building or multi-family home, and act as the first point of contact for other tenants when they need repairs. You may also be required to perform some light maintenance around the premises, like changing light bulbs and putting garbage out on the curb on trash day. Some supers also collect rent and show apartments to potential renters on behalf of the landlord.

While compensation for super roles vary, many live rent free in the building where they work. Even better? Some even earn a salary on top of the free housing. 

You can find job listings for live-in superintendent and house staff positions by searching job sites like Indeed.com.

Provide care in exchange for free housing.

Consider offering your services as a nanny, live-in caregiver or au pair. Many families with the means to do so hire live-in nannies to care for their children, and caregivers or home health aides to assist elderly or disabled relatives.

If you’d like to travel internationally, consider becoming an au pair. Au pairs usually serve internationally and commit to at least a year with a single family in exchange for the opportunity to travel and learn a new language.

The best part? Employers are usually required to pay a salary on top of the housing, so you may find that this is a way to achieve greater financial freedom. 

Work in the seasonal hospitality industry.

If you enjoy winter sports or have experience in the hospitality industry (as a server, cook, or back-of-house staff), you may be able to find seasonal work that comes with free, temporary housing.

Many people choose to spend their winters helping out at ski resorts in places like Tahoe and Aspen. Others spend their summers working in popular tourist destinations like The Hamptons, Cape Cod, or the Jersey Shore. Jobs at ski resorts are notoriously relaxed, so if you have additional remote work you can do on top of your assigned duties, you might find yourself pulling in a pretty decent income. 

Of course, you can also work on a ship crew to get free housing. American Cruise Lines pays $700-$900 per week for deckhands and servers, and you’ll be living aboard the vessel and traveling too!

Websites like Anywork Anywhere help people looking for tourism jobs that may provide housing. 

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House & Pet Sitting

Did you know that some people actually make a living out of house sitting and pet sitting? If you’re willing to move around a bit, this is a great way to get free housing.

Try these housesitting services.

You may have thought of house sitting as something that one does as a favor for a friend or relative, but there are now services like Trusted House Sitters and housecarers.com that help connect homeowners with potential house sitters.

Sometimes house sitting entails caring for the owner’s plants, doing light housework and maintenance, or other tasks, and assignments can be found for both long and short-term arrangements. 

Pet-sitters offer similar services.

If you love pets, you may prefer pet-sitting. While housesitters typically favor homes without animals, pet sitters provide care for the homeowners pets while the homeowner is out of town.

Usually, a pet sitter who enjoys free housing will also provide all the usual house-sitting services in addition to feeding, walking, and providing companionship to the household’s animals.

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Make money to offset your housing costs.

One common way to reduce housing costs is to rent out a room in your home or apartment to a long-term renter. While this is a good way to reduce your rent or mortgage, it usually doesn’t usually eliminate it entirely.

Find roommates.

If you sublet part of your apartment to roommates, you may be able to get them to cover the majority or even all of the rent.

However, before you do this, you need to read your lease very carefully. Some landlords will explicitly prohibit you from doing this and it can cost you a lot of money if the landlord finds out you’ve been breaking the lease in this way. So… proceed with caution, but it is something to consider if you can. 

Try Airbnb.

However, many people have found that if they rent a room out to tourists who are just passing through, they can charge much more. For example, say you have a two bedroom apartment where you pay $1,000/month in rent. If you were to rent one of the bedrooms out to tourists for $70/night for just two weeks per month, you would cover the rent entirely. Rent it a few extra days, and you’ll profit! Airbnb is the most popular site that connects renters and homeowners with tourists. 

Two things to watch out for: First, money earned by listing your home on Airbnb is taxable, so make sure to put aside part of your earnings so you aren’t caught off guard when it’s tax time. Secondly, each municipality – and even each landlord – has its own regulations surrounding short-term rentals. Make sure you know the laws in your city or town if you’re renting through Airbnb. Their website has more information about the restrictions you may encounter. 

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Serve your community, country, or the world

Joining a service organization like Americorps, the U.S. Military, or the Peace Corps may get you free housing, at least on a temporary basis. Each program requires a different level of commitment and ability, but for those looking for creative ways to find free housing, they are worth exploring. Americorps volunteers serve their local communities, or communities within the United States. The experience of serving in the military will be different, depending on which branch you are part of, and the Peace Corps offers a wide range of possibilities for service, and members are deployed all over the world for up to two years at a time. 

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Move to a new city

Feeling particularly adventurous? Some cities will actually pay you to move there. 

While it may not exactly be like living rent free, the $10,000 Tulsa, OK offers for relocation expenses and a monthly stipend is about enough to cover a year’s worth of rent. 

The city of Lincoln, KS offers free lots in a new subdivision for anyone wishing to build a new home. 

It’s worth noting that none of the options for free housing listed above are provided as a government benefit. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to obtain free housing from the government beyond the shelter system, which can be dangerous and restrictive to residents. Even Section 8 and public housing typically require residents to pay a percentage of their income toward the cost of rent. That said, it’s worth looking into Section 8 and public housing as possibilities if your income is very low or zero. 

Finding free housing is difficult, but with some luck, some of the options above may lead to a rent-free life.


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Catherine Hall, LMSW is a therapist at a small group practice in New York City. She earned her master of social work degree at New York University.

Trina

Wednesday 15th of September 2021

Hi guys, I'm looking for mortgage assistance. I have been looking at different site like the urban league but not much luck. Most sites seems to be help for renters. Maybe you have a video that I missed. If you know of any program etc. that would be Awesome. I live in New Jersey. Thank you for all that you doing for us. You give me Hope!

Isaac

Monday 13th of December 2021

Information on this should be in the article above. Chat with Lira, she might be able to help! https://lowincomerelief.com/chat/