It is really is possible to live rent-free. Find out how to live in any city without paying rent or a mortgage.
It’s bad enough that rent eats up most of your paycheck.
And it’s even worse that rent prices just keep going up and up.
But with a few smart hacks, many people manage to live completely rent-free. That means more money in your pocket, and more money to reach your future financial goals.
Below, check out the 14 best ways to live without a rent or mortgage payment. Plus, stick to the end to learn the top 5 tips to stay rent-free.
Have Others Pay Your Rent
Keeping a roof over your head doesn’t have to cost a thing. Check out 14 legit ways to live rent-free below.
1. Rent Out a Room on Airbnb
Many people can live rent-free in their living space, and some even use it to turn a profit. If you have a room to spare, you could make extra money by listing it on Airbnb. This is a great way to cover your rent payment.
Ideally, you can find a long-term tenant to cover the costs. But short-term leases could also work, especially if you live in an area popular with tourists.
Just remember to check your rental agreement before you put your place on Airbnb. Some places have restrictions on how you can share your home.
2. Sublet Your Apartment
If the apartment is under your name, you could try subletting it to make more money. By subletting it for more than you pay each month, you can offset rent costs.
Living with roommates can be a great financial decision for everyone involved. Splitting a 3-bedroom apartment or house is usually cheaper than renting a 1-bedroom apartment by yourself.
You could even expand this into a side hustle by renting out other properties that you’re not currently living in.
It’s a good idea to check rent prices around your area to make sure you’re charging a fair price. And don’t forget to check your rental agreement before you sublet. Some landlords have certain requirements for subletting, and some don’t allow it at all.
3. Manage a Property
Apartment property managers have a lot of responsibilities. They’re usually the go-to person for maintenance requests, complaints, or other questions.
In exchange, you may be able to stay in one of the apartments for free. And you’ll also receive a salary.
If you’re ready to be on-call for an entire apartment building, this could be a good way to live rent-free. Some buildings only offer discounted rent instead of free rent. But the income you receive from managing the property should cover the rest.
The next way to live rent-free requires a bit more upfront, but can be very lucrative in the long run.
4. House Hack Your Way to Free Rent
Becoming a homeowner is expensive. With house hacking, you could make extra money to cover your mortgage and then some.
House hacking involves buying a property, living in one part of it, and renting the rest of it out to offset the mortgage.
The first step is to buy a house. Conventionally, it’s a good idea to save 20% for a down payment for your home. But if you’re considering house hacking, a down payment of 5% or less through conventional, FHA, or VA loans is possible.
You also must be comfortable with taking on the responsibilities of a landlord. You’ll have to make sure everyone is on top of their rent payments, and maintain your property.
With a bit of work, this idea can be very lucrative if you live in a hot rental market.
There are lots of ways to live rent free if you’re willing to put in the work. These jobs can help you secure free housing.
5. Teach English Abroad
If you’ve got the travel bug, consider teaching abroad. You could get paid to teach English in countries all over the world.
Some countries, like China and South Korea, offer free housing and flights for English teachers. Many countries require you to find your own housing, but it’s still a lot cheaper than what you’d pay in the States.
In many countries, you don’t need to have a background in education to get started. In most cases, all you need is a college degree and a TESOL or TEFL certificate to teach English.
6. Volunteer With Peace Corps or AmeriCorps
For those with a passion for giving back, becoming a volunteer with Peace Corps or AmeriCorps can be very fulfilling. Take part in initiatives like fighting hunger, supporting education, and disaster response.
In return, the Peace Corps provides you with housing and a living stipend. After 2 years, you’ll also receive a sum of around $10,000.
AmeriCorps doesn’t always provide housing, but they do pay a stipend to help offset living costs.
Are you good with kids? Try the next tactic to travel and get free room and board.
7. Become an Au Pair
Au pairs provide live-in childcare for a host family. There are many opportunities in countries around the world. Plus, you get to stay in your host family’s home without paying rent.
Since you’ll be living with a host family abroad, it’s a great opportunity for cultural exchange. Some countries require basic knowledge of their language to be an au pair. If you’re interested in practicing a foreign language, you’ll learn much faster immersed in the culture.
Each country has its own requirements, including requirements for age. In general, au pairs are between ages 17 to 30. Au pairs usually stay with a family for a minimum of one year.
8. Trade Services for Free Rent
Are you a good cook? Can you tidy up a house, or offer up your car for your roommates to use? If so, you might be able to barter your way to free rent.
This works best with friends who trust you and vice versa. Instead of paying your roommates in money, you can pay in services they might need. This could be anything from cooking to taking care of their pets, and more.
Plus, you won’t have to worry about missing a rent payment.
9. Become a House Sitter
House-sitting can be a great side hustle to make some extra money and get free housing for a short period.
You can house sit for people going on vacation or a work trip. You could also find someone with a vacation home they don’t use very often.
Leaving a home empty for an extended period can be risky. As a house sitter, you can deter burglars and keep up with the overall maintenance of the house. In exchange for the free housing, you can offer groundskeeping services, water houseplants, do laundry, and more.
10. Become a Resident Assistant at Your College
Not all college students have to pay to live in the dorms. At many schools, RAs don’t have to pay for room and board.
As a broke college student, this is pretty great deal.
As your floor’s RA, you’ll help other students with any residence life issues. If you’re already super-busy, this might not be a good fit for you. But if you can make time for the extra responsibility, it can really help reduce the financial load of college.
11. Find a Job That Provides Housing
There are tons of job opportunities that offer free room and board, plus your regular salary:
- On-site security
- Travel nurse
- Flight attendant
- Seasonal jobs in tourism
- Park ranger
These jobs range from short-term gigs to long-term careers. Some jobs have more requirements and schooling than others. Travel nurses, for example, need to have an active RN license. But it also tends to pay better than the other jobs listed.
Any of these jobs can be a great way to travel and keep your work life exciting.
Other Rent-Free Options
Don’t want to get a new job or share your home with strangers? Check out these great solutions for low- or no-cost rent.
12. Get Free Money From the Government
The federal government has a housing program for very low-income families, people with disabilities, and the elderly.
If you need help to meet rent, try applying for the Housing Choice Voucher Program (also known as Section 8).
If you receive a voucher, you’ll be able to find the housing of your choice that fits the program’s requirements. Your local public housing agency will pay your landlord on your behalf.
These vouchers can cover part of your rent or all of it. It can be a huge help if you’re in a tough spot and can’t afford an apartment on your own.
13. Try Out #Vanlife
If you’re a free spirit who doesn’t need to be tied to one place, consider living in an RV, van, or another vehicle. #Vanlife has exploded in popularity, and it can offer a lot of freedom for those who work online jobs.
You’ll need the cash to buy and convert a vehicle into a functional home. But after that, you won’t need to make another rent payment to keep a roof over your head.
This big lifestyle change can be very rewarding, but it isn’t for everyone. Be prepared to live much more minimally in a much smaller space.
14. Move in With Your Parents
There’s no shame in moving back home to save money. In fact, it’s a great opportunity to reassess your budget and start saving more than you ever have.
Of course, you don’t want to take your parents for granted. Be sure to set expectations for how you’ll contribute around the house. In exchange for free or low rent, you can do chores, take care of younger siblings, or cook for your family.
If moving back home is out of the question, check out how the government can help you with housing costs.
How to Choose a Rent-Free Method
Before you choose your rent-free solution, consider the amount of effort and convenience of each option.
For example: if you have to get a new job to get free rent, that takes more effort than moving in with your parents. But, moving in with your parents is more convenient.
On a scale of 1 to 5, here’s how the previous 14 rent-free methods stack up:
Top 5 Tips to Live Rent-Free
- Read all your rental agreements. Twice. If you’re planning to sublet or list your rental on Airbnb, make sure to pay extra attention to the terms in your contract. Each place is different, and you don’t want to risk breaking your contract or the law.
- Put aside rental income to cover taxes. Rental income is considered taxable income. Make sure you save a portion of the money each month so you don’t run into any surprises come tax season.
- Make sure you have renters insurance. Renters insurance protects not just the apartment itself, but also your belongings in the apartment. In case your stuff gets damaged, renters insurance will cover the loss.
- Keep your rent prices reasonable. Try to charge a fair price for rent if you’re subletting or house hacking. No one likes to be ripped off, especially if you’re renting to friends and family.
- Pull background checks if necessary. If you’re renting to strangers, consider asking for a background check. This will reveal whether your potential tenant has ever been evicted, or if they’re lying about their identity.
There are plenty of ways to live rent-free. Some of these tactics can take a lot of work. But it’s worth it if it helps you save more in the long run and reach your financial goals.
What would you do with the extra rent money you’ll save?
Donna Tang is the head of purpose and audience at CreditDonkey, a personal finance comparison and reviews website. Write to Donna Tang at email@example.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.