8 Legit Ways to Live Rent Free

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You might not know there are several different options for living in a home or apartment completely rent free and mortgage free.

Most people just assume that rent costs are a part of life, and don’t consider the methods below for reducing or eliminating those types of expenses.

The cool thing about living rent free? It leaves you with an abundance of surplus cash to fund your financial goals with, whether that be retiring early, saving to pay for a home in cash, getting out of debt or any other dream you can think of.

Does that sound appealing? I thought it would. And finding a way to live without a rent or mortgage payment can really help accelerate your path to having that financial dream cash balance in your bank account.

Read on to see if any of the ideas below for living rent free would work for you.

Depending on your situation, some solutions might work for you and some might not. But finding a way to live rent free might be worth the effort if it helps you achieve your goals.

You Might Be Able to Live Rent Free if You….

Below are eight different ideas for living rent free – or close to it depending on the situation. Could any of these ideas work for you?

1. List a Room With Airbnb

Whether you own your own home, townhome or condominium, or whether you rent your living space, finding guests on Airbnb can be a terrific way to cover your mortgage or rent payment.

Airbnb has helped people earn millions of dollars by listing their places for casual or business travelers.  Instead of booking hotel rooms, Airbnb travelers book rooms (or complete homes) from Airbnb hosts.

Travelers like Airbnb options as opposed to standard hotel stays because they usually cost a lot less and provide the comforts of home.

What kind of cash are you looking at and can listing your rooms through Airbnb really cover your rent or mortgage payment?

It’s not uncommon for an Airbnb host to get $50 a night for a room. In my hometown metropolitan city, the average Airbnb host earns $455 a week. That kind of cash could cover a rent or house payment of over $1800.

If you’ve got extra rooms in your house, consider making enough income to cover your rent or mortgage payment by listing them through Airbnb.

Know too that Airbnb is serious about security and screens both guests and hosts thoroughly. They work hard to make sure both hosts and guests are safe as they share living spaces.

Related Post: How to make Money with Airbnb

2. Get Enough Roommates to Cover Your Mortgage Payment

Another option for living rent free would be to get roommates to rent out extra bedrooms in your house or apartment.

Depending on how many extra bedrooms you have, you could earn enough cash each month to cover your rent or mortgage costs.

Let’s say your monthly rent or mortgage payment is $1200 and you live in or own a three-bedroom house. By renting out two bedrooms at $600 per month each, you’ve got your mortgage or rent payment covered and you are living for free.

The appeal to the potential roommates is reasonable rent costs, as there is very little chance they’ll be able to find a one-bedroom apartment in your area for what you are charging for rent.

Depending on the cost of living in your area, your mortgage (or rent) payment might be higher or lower, and the amount of cash you can get each month from renters might be higher or lower too.

Just be sure you are finding a balance between charging a reasonable and fair rent price to renters and covering your mortgage or rent payment too.

Also, be sure to have all tenants sign a contract that covers the rental amount, any damage deposit amount and the rules for living with you.

Standard rental agreements can be found online or at office stores such as Office Depot.

Background checks and employment verifications for tenants might be a good idea too if you don’t know the people who are asking to rent rooms from you.

3. House Sit for Others

House sitting can help you live rent free in a few different ways. You can bounce from house to house (or apartment to apartment), house sitting for people who are leaving for vacation or work travel and don’t want to leave their place unattended.

Or you could find a situation where somebody needs a long-term house sitter. Maybe they have a vacation home that they only visit once or twice a year, and they don’t like leaving it vacant so often.

Or it might be that they are leaving for long-term work travel. Years ago, friends of mine found out that the company the husband worked for asked him to leave is local job and work in Austria for a year as they were setting up a big project.

They didn’t like the idea of leaving their home alone for that long, so they advertised for someone to come and live at the place and do basic upkeep so that their home was tended to while they were away.

Situations like the ones mentioned above happen often, and if you keep your eyes and ears open (and check places like Craigslist for advertisements) you might be able to find such a situation for yourself.

I’ve also heard of people who offer for others to live on their house boats rent free. The boats are docked at a location near shore and the owners don’t like them being left unattended for fear of theft or vandalism.

Boat owners look for people willing to live on the boat free of rent so that it’s not left unattended. If you love being on the water, this might be a great way to live rent free, as opposed to house sitting for a traditional home or apartment.

If you choose to house sit for short-term clients, you’ll want to have a backup place to be able to stay at short-term in case you are without work for a period of time.

Your parents’ house or a good friend or close relative might be willing to house you through any house-sitting slow periods.

4. Find a Rent-for-Work Situation

Property owners such as farm owners or other people who own businesses on the site where their home is often look for people who will live rent free in exchange for a work program.

For instance, if you live on a farm rent free you might be responsible for mucking stalls (i.e. cleaning up animal doo-doo), milking cows, unloading bales of hay, or helping manage fruit or vegetable crops.

The number of hours you would work on the farm usually isn’t as much as a full-time job, so you’ll still have plenty of time to work at an income-earning job but the rent will be free.

There are some farms too that allow free live-in tenants for the specific reason of teaching them to be farmers.

World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF for short) connects people looking to learn how to live more self-sustainably with organic farmers looking for help on their farms.

Currently the site lists destinations for rent free living at dozens of organic farms all over the world.

If you love to travel and are interested in learning more about how to live a sustainable lifestyle, this could be a cool way for you to do that and live rent free at the same time.

Bonus: you might get to travel to cool places you’ve never been to as well.

5. Find Work as a Live-In Nanny or Pet Sitter

Parents and pet owners everywhere are seeking out quality child or pet care by someone who they can trust with their beloved children or pets.

A live-in child care provider can often earn not only free living quarters but extra pay as well. If you love being with and caring for children, and wouldn’t mind doing so as a part or full-time job, you could live rent free as a live-in nanny.

Many pet owners also like the idea of having a live-in pet sitter. They may be frequent travelers, whether for work or vacation, or they may not like the idea of having their pet home alone for eight to ten hours a day while they are at work.

To find work as a nanny, look at well-respected companies such as Care.com who work to partner quality child care sitters with parents looking for responsible nannies and might have an opening for a live-in nanny in your area.

Create your profile on Care.com and explain that you are looking for a live-in situation if living rent free is important to you.

Local ad sites such as Craigslist also advertise for people who need child care help or pet care help. Pet sitting is one of many side hustles that could turn into a profitable business for you and find you a place to live rent free as well.

6. Manage an Apartment Building

If you don’t mind being available for random phone calls and visits or facilitating repair requests, you could live rent free as an apartment building manager.

Apartment building managers are often given one of the apartments in the building as a place to live for free with the condition that they are available via phone to handle tenant problems such as needed repairs or conflict resolution.

You could probably work a full-time job when living rent free as an apartment manager, but you would need to be available by phone for tenants to contact even when you are at work.

Some apartment management companies require that you stay home as an apartment manager (and find someone to cover if you have to leave for an extended period of time). However, those types of rent-free living positions generally come with a paycheck in addition to the free apartment they provide.

Each apartment management company will have different sets of rules for apartment managers when it comes to when they need to be at their apartment and available for tenants, so be sure to check thoroughly to make sure the rules fit in with your lifestyle.

For instance, the 55+ apartment complex where my parents live is quite lenient with their apartment manager.

Her personal apartment is off-limits to tenants and considered her private space, and tenants are discouraged from knocking on her door with issues.

If she is in the rental office they are free to stop in, and tenants are also encouraged to leave messages on the rental office answering machine if she is not in the office.

The manager is given her choice as to when she feels it is needed to return calls as long as they are returned within a 24-hour period.

Other apartment complexes might not be so lenient with their apartment managers, however, so it’s important to know what is expected of you before signing up for this type of rent free living.

7. Live with a Relative and Do Chores for Rent

Do you have a family member that would be willing to let you live with them rent free in exchange for help around the house? Many people are able to live rent free by moving in with a relative that wants or needs help with a variety of things around the house.

You might have an elderly grandparent, aunt or uncle that is getting on in years and can’t quite care for their home as needed anymore.

They might need help with lawn care, snow removal or minor house maintenance and repair. Or they might need help managing their daily activities and necessities such as having help with when to take medications or getting to doctor appointments.

It could be that they are just not comfortable living alone any longer and want someone to be at home with them too.

Or you may have a sibling or other relative with young kids that could use readily available child care. Check with relatives and close friends about living with them rent free in exchange for help or companionship.

Again, it’s important to know up front what is expected of you before you agree to this type of a situation. Keeping the peace is vital when living with loved ones.

8. Move Back in With Your Parents

I know for many functional adults this may be a last resort option, but moving back in with your parents and taking advantage of rent free living might be a great way for you to be able to pay off student loans quickly or simply save money or pay off other debt.

If you do choose to move back in with your parents and live with them rent free, it might be a good idea to sit down with them beforehand and discuss expectations on both sides.

Find out what they expect from you as a grown adult child moving back in and explain how you would like things to be from your perspective.

By establishing rules and boundaries before you move back in with your parents you can be sure no one ends up feeling disappointed or taken advantage of.

Also, if you move back in with your parents it’s important to be just as gracious a housemate as you would if you were living with friends.

Clean up after yourself, contribute to household expenses when you can and help out around the house. Be respectful of their space and their property. Approach them calmly when a problem or situation arises that needs attention.

By working with your parents to have a mutually respectful live-in situation you can all benefit from the experience.

Other Things You Need to Know About Rent Free Living Options

When finding a rent-free living situation with parents or other relatives, one is usually pretty aware of what they are getting into.

However, when considering a rent-free living situation with a stranger, it’s important to use safety precautions such as background checks, etc. for your landlords. And if something feels not right, look for another option.

Also, when taking in boarders in order to live rent free, know that rental income is counted as taxable income. Keep track of what you are taking in from people who rent from you and put aside a portion of money each month to cover impending taxes.

Similarly, you can deduct some repair and maintenance costs as well if you house renters in your home. Keep receipts for what you spend on upkeep, repair and maintenance so you can reduce your taxable income where possible.

Renters insurance is an important purchase for those who are renting on someone else’s property.

Renters insurance will pay to cover replacement of your belongings in case the home or apartment you are renting suffers some type of property loss through burglary, storm or other damage.

When done right, rent free living can help you save a lot of cash to fund your financial dreams and goals.


15 responses to “8 Legit Ways to Live Rent Free”

  1. Suresh Patel says:

    Hey, this is quite an interesting article. The best part of your article is the point no. 8 makes – The most beautiful place on the earth – Stay with your parents and there is no other place where you can live free, eat free, and do whatever you want. Of course, we should contribute. But still, we can live free of cost without any worries. Thanks for sharing this beautiful article with us. Best wishes and regards.

  2. Owen @ PlanEasy says:

    These are great ideas. I love the idea of house hacking. I wish I had known/thought about these things when I was younger. Housing is such a large piece of your monthly expenses. It would be awesome to reduce or eliminate it completely.

  3. Derek @ MoneyAhoy says:

    These are nice tips on how to live rent free. Staying with your parents can be a great way to build up some extra cash before you go it alone. I wish more people would take advantage of this if it is an option for them. It can really help set up your finances for success for years or the rest of your life.

  4. Paul says:

    I made the mistake of helping out a mate down on his luck due to a long story. He asked, and I offered free rent till he got a job and back on his feet. This was four months ago. He still has no job. I’ve caught him gambling, sending money to his ex, going out for club dinners with his friends… I don’t want to go back on my word, but at the same time I don’t want to appear to be a bad mate. But, I need help in choosing the right way to discuss ongoing rental payments for the room he’s occupying without appearing a man of broken arrangements. By the way, he’s also receiving social security payments.
    Help please.

    • Deacon says:

      Keep in mind we are certainly not counselors here on Well Kept Wallet. However, it sounds like a frank conversation is overdue. Perhaps you could sit down with him and show him the comment you posted here. As hard as it may be to have the conversation, it sounds like he is taking advantage of you.

  5. J. Cali says:

    Renting to people to pay rent or mortgage is a great idea. However, in some states – at least in mine – it’s illegal if you are a renter to charge others more than what you pay. For a homeowner it’s different. You can charge whatever you want. A renter can’t.

    • Deacon says:

      You bring up a good point. It’s good to know the law and what you can and can’t do when subleasing to make sure you don’t land in hot water.

  6. Jim says:

    You can also live in a tent.

  7. Christene says:

    This is a very interesting and excellent article. Thank you! I’ve learned a lot.

  8. Hans says:

    I have lived free of housing payments for 6 months now! Also, I’ve had many more fun experiences! It’s mental. People don’t realize that they have no need for a house in this modern world of public amenities.

  9. Texas T says:

    Don’t let family move in. One comes then goes then another comes and then they go. You end up being nothing more then everyone’s free loader. I’ve done it 3 years straight and finally had enough. It cost me in so many ways financially, emotionally, etc. Now I’m emotionally bankrupt and broke too. My marriage is gone and now I need help and I stand alone! Take care of yourself and make them do the same. Life’s not free. It’s not easy. Never was never gonna be, but set boundaries and stand up to these heathens! At the end of the day, they don’t care and you’re left feeling broken.

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