15 Genius ways to live rent free

by | Jan 21, 2023

Renting a home can be a significant expense and living rent free an even bigger challenge. Hence, before you consider other options to live rent free, have a go at putting your personal information into a rent affordability calculator.

This will allow you to determine whether you can actually afford rent so you won’t have to go through this list.

Only then should you consider ways to live rent free as some of them can be quite risky and require you to be invested in property to begin with.

So, from house-sitting to the basic advice of trying to own your own home, this article will explore 15 genius ways to live rent-free in the UK. 

House showing how to live rent free

How to live rent free in the UK – 15 genius ways!

As you go through this list, make sure you consider which methods are able to be used by you effectively. For example, it may not be practical to change your career just to live rent free if you already are working.

However, you could be able to try something that doesn’t require you to change a lot about your life like moving back into a parent’s house for example.

Move back in with parents

Parents, most of the time, have your best interest at heart. This means you’re able to move into a property without issue and the need to sign an AST.

Even if you are paying parents to live at home, the rental payment is likely not to reflect market rents so you’ll have an easy time moving back in with them without having to spend a lot of money.

However, this is all dependent on whether the family you have are understanding of your situation and it is also important to understand that a parent still has no obligation to house you and can still evict you at a moment’s notice.

Work as a chef living rent free

If you are familiar with life as a chef, between cooking food, maintaining hygiene and making sure you’re able to take a break yourself causes those working in a kitchen to not have much time outside work.

A chef may therefore find themselves with living quarters away from the restaurant so they can efficiently manage their shifts. Sleeping during times when the restaurant is closed and being alert for opening hours.

A chef may therefore find it easier to stay overnight on the weekend for example when the restaurant is busiest and commute during the week when there is an earlier close.

Volunteer at a homeless shelter

Those involved in helping the homeless are often volunteering their time to help out for long hours and in a homeless shelter, there is likely spare accommodation anyway.

This means that for periods when there is a surplus of beds, those volunteering may be able to live rent free and stay at the shelter for periods of time.

However, if you are homeless and want to live rent free, getting aid from the government is the best way to do it rather than living in a homeless shelter which is often temporary. Guidance on this can be found here.

Become a live in Nanny

Nannies and babysitters who are involved with the long term care of a child are often part of a family’s living quarters. What’s appealing is that you may be able to become a live-in nanny in as little as two years.

You will need to undertake a two year childcare qualification like a CACHE (Level 3) in order to qualify and then begin building a relationship with those who require nanny services.

As a result of the intimate nature of the role, taking the time to really get to know the members of the household is mandatory. This includes forming a relationship with both children and parents.

Work in tourism

Tourism can involve a range of industries including working as part of guided tours, working as a flight attendant or working as part of a circus. For those working in tourism, travelling the world may seem ideal. However, there are still drawbacks to the role, for instance those working in this way often find it hard to form long term relationships due to not being in one location and experiencing a lot of instability.

For example, if you are a flight attendant, you may be able to visit your friends and family who live where you’re from, perhaps every month or so. Especially if you are working with a larger airline that regularly travels across the world.

If a role like this interests you because of your ability to stay in company funded hotels and sleep on flights as you travel with passengers while also travelling the world, this could be a good option.

A flight attendant living rent free in an aeroplane

Property guardianship

Property guardianship seen here is where a building that is usually a commercial building that has empty space or is out of use is converted into extremely cheap housing.

This accommodation is often shared with other people so you won’t be able to benefit from a private space a lot of the time. Nonetheless, property guardianship is a great way to gain independence to live alone without paying too much.

Become a house sitter

House sitting is someone who may or may not be paid, depending on the case, in order to stay in a house while making sure the property is occupied and everything is up to date with the property.

They may be an excluded tenant which is where the tenant doesn’t have exclusive access to anywhere in the house as the property is still predominantly occupied by the house owner.

This means the landlord can gain access to the bedroom or living quarters where the tenant is staying and also not allow them to access anywhere in the property they don’t want to.

This type of arrangement is common in properties where there is an elderly person who needs help conducting basic tasks to do with the house like cleaning and general chores.

The elderly person could offer subsidised rent or maybe a free room in order to have someone live in the property with them and provide help as they need it.

Become a property caretaker

Property caretakers are often the first people who are called in the event of an emergency at a building or in order to check on a property to maintain its safety.

Caretakers usually live very near to the property that they are caretaking in order to be close to hand. However, it could be the case that the landlord provides premises on site for a caretaker to live.

As an example, there could be an additional annexe for the caretaker to stay in beside a property or it could be a building nearby that is a few minute’s walk away.

Caretakers are common in buildings like universities, schools, hotels and churches where there is a large amount of 

Work with those who have guest houses

Guest houses are often owned by those with larger houses who have property with extra grounds. This means if you’re able to provide a service to those with a guest house they could offer you a place to stay.

For example, if you were working with an athlete to help with their training, for example as a coach or a nutritionist, you could stay on their property so you can provide a service whenever it is requested.

Roles like this are particularly hard to come by because of the small number of people who have guest houses but you may be able to find a role with this job benefit by simply searching online.

A house with an annexe with someone living rent free

Buy a house instead

Paying rent for a property could be seen as a waste of money which is why you seek out ways to live rent free. An effective way to stop paying rent is to instead gain access to the housing ladder and take out a mortgage.

This is great for an investment as switching to paying mortgage repayments rather than rental payments will allow the landlord to eventually own a property that they can rent out or sell for a profit.

Even if this isn’t done, the ownership of a home provides a certain peace of mind for the landlord as they cannot get evicted out of their home if the house is paid off.

Become a lodger landlord

Becoming a lodger landlord is similar to house hacking in the sense that there is a mortgage being paid on a property instead of rent. In this case, a landlord is able to rent the property they are paying a mortgage for to up to two lodgers.

Because of the rent a room scheme, a landlord is able to collect £7,500 completely tax free in one calendar year as long as they declare their income through HMRC here.

As a result, if the rental income a landlord collects throughout the year is more than the mortgage that is being paid on the property, they can live rent free by having lodgers.

Move into a mobile home

Once you have bought a mobile home there are very little expenses which is why you can effectively live rent free. For instance, the typical moving costs if you live in a mobile home are around £5 per mile.

Then, you will be expected to pay for the setting up of all the facilities in the mobile home and that is it. You won’t have to pay rent once all is set up and you can also benefit from not having to pay stamp duty like you would if you bought a house.

Seek government benefits

Signing up to things like discretionary housing payments are perfect for those who need some government help to pay rent is an option if you’re struggling to make ends meet.

However, this option is often temporary as the government will ask you to prove that you are still in a financial situation in which you are struggling to pay rent every so often.

Use house hacking

House hacking refers to renting out a subsection of a home you are paying rent in so you can offset the rental expense you have already.

For instance, if your rental payment is £800 and it is a three bedroom house, you can rent the other two bedrooms out for £400 each and effectively live rent free.

However, you’d have to gain permission from a landlord in order to do so as this may be against the terms of a tenancy agreement.

Adding to this, the right regulations will have to be followed like providing a tenant with a how to rent guide which is mandatory whenever a new tenancy is started in the UK.

Teach english in another country

English is one of the most popular languages in the world so it is with no doubt that countries all around the world will accommodate those who can teach English to schools and companies.

This is often targeted at students or those looking to travel and enjoy a life abroad all while not earning a lot of money.

It is common for those teaching English abroad to be paid a base salary that is just enough money to pay for basic essentials because they are living rent free in someone’s house or a shared accommodation.

As a result, a setup like this is not ideal for a lot of people and won’t last long term but it can be a great way to experience a different culture on a budget and gain some valuable experience early in a career.

Teacher teaching english so she can live rent free

In summary

In conclusion, living rent-free is hard to pull off but it is still an achievable goal if you’re able to get creative and find a method that works for you and the lifestyle you want to live.

Perhaps the easiest way to live rent free is to buy a house or to live in a mobile home instead of renting. However, these options require some startup capital and you may find methods that do not require money are better suited to you.

In cases like this, you may instead wish to invest time into changing your career so you can work somewhere that allows you to live rent free like working as a flight attendant.

Either way, take your time when finding ways to rent free as it can be a big life decision you have to make with consequences if you get something wrong.

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Donnell Bailey

Property expert

Donnell is a property expert focusing on the property market, he looks at a combination of legislation, information from property managers, letting agents and market trends to produce information to help landlords.


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