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.

How to Live Rent Free

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 Roommates

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. Become 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.

What You Need to Know About Rent Free Living

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.

Summary

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

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    Comments

    1. 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.

      • I’m so glad you liked it, Suresh! Yes, living with parents can be a wonderful thing!

    2. 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.

      • Yeah, me too, Owen!! Hindsight is 20/20, I guess, but we can do our best to make good decisions going forward.

    3. 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. 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.

      • 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. 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.

      • 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.

        • My grandson came to live with me rent free.
          I gave him some chores to do,
          Like cleaning the common areas.
          Clean the cat and dog toilet papers.
          When he was not doing any of this work and spending all his paycheck in bars, I asked him for 200.00 a month room rent. I cooked 3 times a week too. He soon moved out.

    6. You can also live in a tent.

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

      • Great! We’re glad to hear that!

    8. 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.

      • Good for you, Hans! I hope you have a lot more interesting and fun adventures and experiences!

    9. 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.

    10. These are great ideas and this is a good article. It’s plausible, although, speaking from experience and education, I’d like to say that sometimes, especially depending on locations and your own personal records, they can prove to be difficult to obtain and be pretty elusive finds. I agree with Texas T – no matter what, family and friends can let you down and are more likely to do so as they tend to feel that they either don’t need to worry about paying you or helping you as they think you’ll always care and be there anyway. If you end up finding yourself in one of theses family or friends arrangements, my best advice for you is to “say what you mean and mean what you say”! Set rules, time limits, and create a set of expectations and then STICK TO THEM STRICTLY! Provide no forgiveness, no exceptions, and no free rides!
      No matter what you decide to do, either rent free living or if you’re the one providing a home, if it’s at all possible, try to make sure you have some safeguards in place for when and if things don’t go as planned. Good luck and take care!

      • Yes, you’re right. If you are providing a place to live to a friend or family member, you do still need to have a rental agreement of some kind, regardless of whether or not actual rent money changes hands. It will protect both parties.

    11. These are good ideas. I would like to manage an apartment in exchange for free rent.

      • Of course, that won’t be the arrangement every apartment owner makes with their building manager. But, it’s a great idea. You just have to find the right one!

    12. Im 63 on disability but not useless. My wife is 60 & still working. We are finding much more difficult to cover all the bills each month. If we could find someone in our area that has separate living quarters for an older couple to watch over the rest of the place while the owners are gone would be a Great idea for older couples that like us that pay a pretty hefty mortgage each month this would be great. There are alot of senior couples that could help with pets also. Way a solid for some seniors to make things a bit easier for them & the home owner gets very responsible people to watch the place & care for pets when the are gone. How Would one find such a deal. The wife could do light childcare from time to time also. It would be like having your grandparents looking out for you! GREAT Idea!!! But finding the right situation may prove difficult depending on where you live. We are in Oklahoma City!

      • Check out some of the suggestion in the article for how you could make it work to live rent free!

    13. Texas T
      I have had the same experience. Owned a very nice home, but allowed family to take turns moving in and out. I too lost my home, marriage and nearly lost my mind. Starting over from scratch, and not one of the people who I helped is there to help me. Oh well I learned the hard way and will not repeat it.

    14. Which state would be a good choice to buy a house and then rent it out?

    15. I would love to see “Join an Intentional Community” added to the list. Being part of a community and contributing to sustaining the community that then takes care of the needs of all communities is an option and is often overlooked. Ic.org and ecovillage.org are great places to start. Also being a live-in caregiver or joining a community like Camphill is a very financially and socially sustainable option!

      • Oops takes care of all members**

    16. I lived rent free for 8 years. I got to love life so much more. You wouldn’t believe how much it frees your mind. Find an abandoned house that nobody wants. Ask the city or village if you can have it. They will usually give you stipulations like, you can have the house but you have to pay back taxes and fix it. It is your choice as to investing in the house and making it your own or just staying there as long as possible until you save enough money to pay cash for a better house. I was given a house in a suburbs of Chicago in 2012. I lived in it rent free until last year when I paid cash for a newer bigger house. Living free really did make other goals so much easier. I even took some road trips. I saw Niagara falls and much more. Even the house I paid for last year was only $1000. No rent or mortgage ever again and taxes are only $300 a year. Living rent free and sacrificing a little comfort made it possible for me to live rent free from now on. I recommend this to everyone. Instead of squatting, most of the time they actually will be happy to just give you the house. Worth the sacrifice for the piece of mind.

      • Aren’t most abandoned houses owned by banks? I rented next door to a beautiful home that was just overgrown and neglected. Who in the city helps in these situations?

      • I too, would like to know more about this.

      • I would love to live like that tell me how im older but love a challenge

    17. Hi Laurie.

      Very soon I will be moving to Canada. Your article is very helpful. Thanks a lot. Take care.

    18. How can for an international student who suffers from paying higher tuition cost, higher medical bills, and do not speak good English a place to live with rent free?

    Comments are closed.