How to Live Rent Free: 12 Tried and True Methods

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Renting a place can be one of the best options for people who can’t afford to buy a home or don’t have good enough credit to do so.

Renting a home or apartment allows you to pay a landlord monthly rather than taking out a mortgage against your credit and name.

But the truth is that renting can cost you a lot more money over time than having a mortgage.

Monthly rental prices tend to be significantly higher than monthly mortgage payments, mostly because you’re helping to cover the landlord’s mortgage and expenses.

For this reason, it’s natural to want to reduce the cost of your rent ASAP, especially if you’ve fallen on hard times and are finding it difficult to make ends meet.

Are there ways to live rent free?

There absolutely could be, and I’m going to outline them below.

Where Can I Live for Free? What’s the Cheapest Way to Live?

Living rent free isn’t something everyone will be able to achieve, but if you can fit one of the following tips into your life, then it’s totally possible.

Ask Family or Friends

The first suggestion is probably the most obvious, and this certainly won’t be plausible for everyone.

Not everyone wants someone living with them rent-free, nor does everyone want to ask their family or friends if they can take up residence for free.

But if you’ve found yourself in a tough position and can’t afford rent, then you might need to ask around.

Maybe someone you know has a spare bedroom or a finished basement that you can live in until you get back on your feet.

If you’re going to college or need a temporary place to stay while you relocate for work, you also have good reason to ask for a freebie.

The point is, don’t be afraid to ask just because people might say no.

You never know the result unless you try.

Become a House Sitter or Live-In Nanny

House sitters are like babysitters for homes.

As a house sitter, you can generally live in the home you’re taking care of for as long as you’re taking care of it (although some agreements aren’t as permanent).

If you can find steady gigs to keep you bouncing from home to home, then you’ll always have a place to stay, plus additional cash as your payment from the gig.

Live-in nannies also get paid for their work, but they’ll get to stay in the home as well.

Some nannies have a separate bedroom while others have their own quarters that includes a bathroom, kitchen, and living area in a separate area of the home.

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Become a Landlord

If you are able to buy a home but you’d rather continue renting one for yourself, maybe becoming a landlord could give you a shot at living rent-free.

You’ll need another home, of course, for your renters.

As a landlord, you can charge more from your renters than what you’re paying for your mortgage and home insurance, giving you money to cover your rental expenses too.

If you’re able to charge enough for rent, you might even be able to cover your monthly rent completely.

Just be sure to tuck away money for unexpected expenses and repairs for your rental home.

It’s the price you pay for being a landlord!

Exchange Services for Free Rent

Some landlords might be happy to let you live rent free if you perform other services for them that could help them personally or professionally.

Maybe you’re a caterer, for example.

Say your landlord owns a large business where catering lunches and events is often necessary.

You might be able to perform catering services for the business in exchange for free rent rather than getting paid.

Just make sure that whatever services you’re providing still allow you the time you need to work for cash, too, so that you can afford your other bills and expenses.

Some landlords also allow free rent if you fix up the house you’re living in, too.

So if you’re handy around the home, you could have rent paid for your hard work.

Get College Housing Paid For

If you’re in need of housing while you’re in college, you might be able to stay on campus rent-free.

Many colleges have financial aid opportunities through grants, scholarships, and work-study programs that can help you cover your rental costs for living on campus.

You could also take out a student loan to cover these fees, although you should be mindful that you’ll need to pay them back eventually.

Check with your school to see what type of financial aid it offers and what you might be eligible for to get help with your housing situation to attend college.

Travel Instead

Who needs a home when you can just travel the world?

Of course, this option will also cost you money — and possibly a lot more money than you’d pay for rent each month.

But if you don’t want to be tied down to one place, then you could find it an appealing alternative.

You can get a camper to stay in or find hotels or motels to stay in at each destination.

Teach in Another Country

If you teach English to other countries, you could end up living rent-free in those countries as part of your work package benefits.

You’ll need to look specifically for English teach abroad programs.

There are several that come up when you Google the phrase.

These programs offer teaching opportunities abroad and will help you secure housing and pay for it in exchange for your help teaching English to students.

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Other benefits, depending on the program, can include expense and equipment stipends, vacation time, and health insurance.

Find Housing Assistance

Another way to possibly get help with your rent is to search for housing assistance programs in your area.

These can be state or federal programs that go through welfare agencies or community development organizations in your area.

For example, there’s HUD, which comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The program helps low-income people and families find affordable housing.

The homes they want to rent must be HUD-approved, so there’s only a select number of houses that might be eligible.

But, depending on your income, HUD could pay for most or all of your rent.

Other programs could exist, so be sure to contact your local welfare office to see what’s available and how to apply.

Get Roommates

A roommate or two could offset the cost of your rent each month, although it might be difficult to convince roommates to pay the full cost of rent without you paying any.

But it’s still worth a try.

Maybe you can make the offer more enticing by offering to pay for all groceries or utilities if your roommate picks up the rent.

Or, perhaps there’s a service you could provide to your roommate in exchange for free rent, similar to the same option I mentioned with your landlord.

Whatever agreement you work out, be sure to get it in writing and signed to keep everyone on the same page.

Rent Part of Your Home on Airbnb

If you’re allowed to sublet part of your home per your rental agreement, then you could make enough money to cover your rent by renting out a portion of it (or all of it) on Airbnb.

The website is one people all over the world use to find renters for their spaces, and it’s totally possible for you to earn some decent money there by giving up your extra space.

But you could get into legal trouble if you do this without your landlord’s permission, so be sure to check first.

Swap a Home for a Vehicle

Don’t really need a home?

How about giving up your house for a live-in vehicle instead?

A camper or a large bus can make for a cozy space for an individual or small family, and you won’t have to deal with a lot of the similar costs as you would for a home or apartment.

You can take your “home” anywhere you want to go, too, like a campground, a state park, or wherever you feel like living for a while.

Get Work Reimbursements

If you have to relocate for work, you might be able to get some of your housing costs paid for by your employer.

And if it wasn’t offered to you yet, you should look into it as part of your relocation benefits.

For instance, some employers will pay for moving costs plus a month or two of rent until you get settled.

You might also be able to ask for three to six months of rent paid in lieu of paying for moving expenses if you think you can cover those comfortably.

Ways to Reduce the Price of Your Rent

Now, not everyone is going to be able to find a way to live rent free that works for them.

The ideas above are for specific situations that not everyone can meet.

But there are other ways that you might be able to reduce your rent to save money every month, and almost anyone can try them out.

One way is to simply ask your landlord.

If you’ve hit a rough patch, like you’ve lost your job or had a family emergency that was out of your control, you might be able to talk to your landlord about reduced rent for a few months until you get back on your feet.

This works especially well if you promise to make up the reduction later when you’re able to, even if you pay back your landlord over a few months.

You might also be able to convince your landlord to fix some things around your home on your own in exchange for reduced rent.

This works in favor of both of you; your landlord doesn’t have to spend more money repairing things, and you get reduced rent for your help.

Some landlords will also reduce your rent if you pay before your rent’s due date each month.

It might not be much, but even $25 or $50 can help.

Longer lease signings can also sometimes reduce rent, so ask the landlord before you sign your lease if signing for a longer period is an option in exchange for lower rent.

Most leases are for a year, so see if you can do 18 months or two years instead.

Some renters also try to reduce rental costs by paying for a few months ahead of time.

Your landlord might be happy to have a portion of your rent up front and may give you a small discount in exchange.

Another possibility is looking into community programs in your area that can help.

Some churches, organizations, and programs aid people with housing costs if they can’t afford to live safely in their community.

Reach out to your local department of job and family services, which can give you connections to people or organizations to call for more information.

How to Live Rent Free

The ideas above can actually help you achieve rent-free living.

They won’t work for everyone, but people who are capable of being in these situations may find them beneficial.

If not, try reducing your rent with one of the tips above.

Depending on your landlord, you could end up with lower rent each month just by having a conversation.

Good luck, and enjoy living without the high cost of rent!

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