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How to Live Rent Free: 14 Legitimate Options

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For most people, their biggest expense is rent or a mortgage, so it’s smart to figure out how to live rent free. When I was paying off my consumer debt, I managed to live rent free for an entire two months until I paid the last of my credit card debt off. It helped SO much.

Below, I’ll show you 14 legit options for living rent-free.

1. House hacking: Buy a home and have a tenant pay your mortgage

Okay, I’m not gonna pretend like this is something every Millennial is in a position to afford. Because while you may be able to live rent-free eventually…you still gotta buy a freaking house to begin with.

BUT, if you are thinking long-term, then house hacking is such a smart investment. And obviously, you don’t have to buy a house or duplex in cash. You can apply for a loan just like most Americans do. Then, you rent out one part of your duplex while renting out the other half to a tenant who essentially pays your mortgage for you.

2. Work exchange

I’ve done this through Workaway.info. I was able to live rent-free at a monastery in Italy for two weeks. In exchange for about four hours of helping in the kitchen or pulling weeds outside, they fed me three meals a day and gave me a private bedroom. It was lovely!

You can find work exchanges for much longer stints, of course, or you can keep hopping from exchange to exchange, thereby traveling the world for almost nothing.

3. House sit

When I was on my credit card debt payoff journey, I lived for two months rent-free in a two-bedroom house in Connecticut thanks to house sitting. That saved me at least $3,000 in rent.

My favorite house sitting website is TrustedHousesitters. You can browse house sit listings before committing to purchasing an annual membership. I think it’s well worth the small fee to live rent-free in other peoples’ houses and care for their cute pets!

4. Become a live-in nanny

If you want to learn how to live rent-free, this real-life story is so inspiring!

29-year-old Brieonna Johnson makes $175,000 a YEAR by being a full-time nanny for two families in two different states. Because she lives with these families and cares for their kids, she lives there RENT-FREE in addition to being paid for nannying. Check out her full story in the YouTube video below.

5. Move back in with your parents

Yes, it’s a privilege to be able to move back in with your parents. Not everyone can do it. But IF you can, this is a great way to live rent-free. You can even choose to help pay for the bills or cook and clean.

6. Crash on your friends’ couches

I met a guy in Croatia who lived rent-free for an entire YEAR by crashing on his friends’ couches. He worked from home, too. He had some really great friends!

7. Couchsurf

If your friends aren’t able to put you up for a month or so, then try couchsurfing. You’ll likely have to move around a LOT because few strangers are willing to host strangers for more than a few nights. But this is rent-free way to meet people and see the world.

8. Live in your vehicle

There’s a reason van life is taking off—it’s a way to live rent-free! Once you purchase the vehicle and convert it by adding sleeping, cooking, and washing areas, you can live rent-free in your car or van, and travel whenever you’d like.

9. Teach English abroad

More specifically, one job that includes housing is teaching English abroad. Many of these programs include housing or at least a housing stipend.

10. Get a government job that covers housing

Financial independence bloggers Amon and Christina Browning retired at age 40 by living rent free. One way they did this was by getting government jobs that INCLUDED housing as part of their benefits, so they were able to live rent-free in Japan and Spain.

11. Work on a cruise ship

Working on a cruise ship means you can live rent-free, but the living quarters are rather small and you’ll have roommates. The upside? You’ll get to travel the seas and meet all sorts of interesting people!

12. Work/volunteer at a hotel or hostel

I met an American in Croatia who was living rent-free by working at a hostel in Zagreb. In exchange, she got to stay in a hostel room for free. Not only was this a a great way to live rent-free, but it also was a great way to meet new people and experience local culture. She often coordinated events at the hostel, so it was a fun time for socializing!

13. Become a campground host

Campground hosts get a free place to stay or park their RVs in exchange for maintaining the campgrounds, checking people in and out, and being a point of contact for guests. This might be a great option if you choose to do van life too.

14. Sublet or Airbnb your place

Now, to do this, you need to have permission from your landlord. Many leases (in fact, every lease I’ve ever signed) say that you cannot sublet your rented place nor put it on Airbnb, so this is tough to find. I suggest if you find a place you want to rent, you negotiate with your landlord to have this privilege.

So, there you have it! Fourteen legitimate options to never have to pay a dime toward rent again. Do you have other tips on how to live rent-free? Leave them in the comments below!

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Advice for Millennials shares real-life advice from real-life millennials about all the things they wish they'd known—from finance to health to careers.

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