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 free housing, you’re not alone.
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While it isn’t easy to get free housing, it’s not impossible either. We’ve come up with five ways to get free housing, and keep that extra 37% of your income.
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?
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.
Live-in Nanny or Caregiver: 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. 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.
Seasonal Hospitality Work: 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.
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You can find job listings for live-in superintendent and house staff positions by searching job sites like Indeed.com. Websites like Anywork Anywhere help people looking for tourism jobs that may provide housing.
Become a house sitter
Did you know that some people actually make a living out of house sitting? 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 pets, doing light housework and maintenance, or other tasks, and assignments can be found for both long and short-term arrangements.
Rent a room to tourists
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 doesn’t usually eliminate it entirely. 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! Air bnb 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 Air bnb 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 Air bnb. Their website has more information about the restrictions you may encounter.
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.
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.