It’s no secret that rents in the UK are increasing rapidly. According to the Financial Times rents are currently increasing at the fastest rate in the 7 years. Not to mention, mortgage rates are skyrocketing due to interest rate hikes. All of this makes for an expensive living situation in the UK.
You be wondering, are there any ways to live rent-free in the UK? Today we’re going to take a look at some of the ways you can legally live rent-free in the UK or at a minimum, drastically reduce your living costs.
Ways To Live Rent Free In The UK
Below we have covered some of the best and unique ways for you to start living rent-free. Not all of them are sustainable for the long term but could be a great opportunity to save money ad put together a deposit on your first home. Let’s take a look at your options.
1. Move-In With Parents
This one is pretty obvious but for many people, it is one of the best ways to live rent free. If your parents are kind enough to let you live in their house without paying it’s a great opportunity to save for a deposit on your own house in the future.
It’s important to actually be disciplined and put away a large amount of your income while living at home rather than spending that extra money on unnecessary purchases.
If you do this from 18-23 while working full time you can put together a significant amount of money for a down payment on a house. If you’re studying at University you could even do this from 21-25 when you graduate. When you’re in your early 20’s there is no shame in living at home. In fact, it’s a wise decision if you want to get ahead financially.
2. Buy A House & Rent Spare Rooms
If you have the funds for a house deposit, consider buying a property and renting out its rooms. By doing this, if the rental income covers the mortgage, you could essentially live without paying rent. While you might still be responsible for utilities and maintenance, not only do you live ‘rent-free’, but you also build an asset over time.
This is commonly known as “House Hacking” and is a smart way to purchase your first house.
3. Rent A House And Sublet The Rooms
If your landlord permits, you might consider renting a property and then subletting its rooms. By doing this, you could cover the entire rental cost through the income from subletting.
For instance, if you rent a 3-bedroom apartment for £1,000 per month, you could sublet two of the rooms for £500 each. This allows you to live in the third room without essentially paying any rent. While you might still need to cover utility bills, this arrangement is considerably more cost-effective than living on your own.
4. Use Kindroom
Kindroom is a new platform similar to Airbnb, however rather than offering money in exchange for a place to stay, you offer your skills. For example, for some foreign students coming to the UK can be expensive. Some tenants are willing to provide accommodation in exchange for tutoring their kids in a specific language.
This may not be for everyone, but if you have a skill and don’t mind living with someone who could use that skill, it might be worth looking into.
5. Van Life
The “van life” trend is gaining momentum worldwide, and in the UK, it’s emerging as a compelling alternative to conventional housing. Attracted by the romance of a life on the move, van life allows individuals and couples to sidestep the usual costs of rent and mortgages.
Essentially, van life is a blend of minimalism, freedom, and a deep connection to nature. Those who adopt this lifestyle transform vans into fully-functional mobile homes, kitted out with essentials ranging from beds and storage to kitchens, and occasionally, bathrooms.
While this lifestyle has its ups and downs, it undoubtedly offers a chance to live without rent and explore the world at the same time.
6. Tiny House
Living in a tiny home is a viable route to a rent-free life. If you can save enough to construct your own tiny home, you’ll enjoy the benefits of a mortgage-free existence at just a fraction of the cost of conventional housing.
Tiny homes are gaining traction in the UK. Typically ranging between 80 to 400 sqft, these compact dwellings often come mounted on trailers or wheels for easy relocation. Despite their size, with clever design, they can accommodate a kitchen, living area, bedroom, bathroom, and necessary storage.
For those inclined towards minimalism, a tiny home offers an appealing way to sidestep rental costs.
7. Live On A Boat
Much like the Tiny House and Van Life trends, living on a boat offers an alternative lifestyle choice. In the UK, it’s estimated that over 15,000 people have chosen to live aboard boats, anchored in its rivers, canals, and coastal areas.
To embark on this aquatic lifestyle, you’ll first need to secure a suitable boat to reside in. Next, you’ll need to determine whether you wish to remain mobile, travelling from place to place, or opt for long-term or residential mooring, anchoring your boat in one spot for extended durations.
Although boat living incurs some costs, it offers a way to sidestep the financial commitments of mortgages and long-term leases.
8. Work In Tourism
Tourism offers a unique chance to both live and work across the globe without the burden of rent. One option is to work as a performer on a cruise ship, allowing you to earn while enjoying free accommodation on board. If you’re drawn to a nomadic lifestyle and are comfortable being away from home, this could be an ideal opportunity.
Moreover, the tourism sector presents a plethora of other roles like airline hostess, hotel entertainment and many more, all offering chances to combine work and travel.
9. Work In A Hotel or BnB
Several hotels and BnBs offer their employees the option to reside on the premises as part of their employment package. While some might charge a nominal rent, others provide this accommodation entirely free of charge.
I personally know two friends who managed a BnB. Their arrangement allowed them to live on the property and receive a monthly wage in return for their managerial services. Though the job can be demanding, it’s an effective way to secure a rent-free living situation.
10. Join The Army
Joining the army comes with the benefit of affordable accommodation. Although not entirely free, it’s significantly subsidised. A single rifleman, post-training, can anticipate paying between £30-80 monthly, which includes an en-suite room and three daily meals. For married riflemen, subsidised off-site housing is available. The cost varies between £80 and £370, contingent on the family size.
11. Become A Live In Carer
Taking on a role as a live-in carer for an elderly or unwell individual can be a fulfilling way to secure free accommodation. This position not only allows you to enhance someone’s quality of life but also offers a salary.
Though live-in care positions are typically full-time, the actual work might be concentrated during evenings or nights, leaving your days relatively free.
If you have elderly grandparents or relatives, there might be an opportunity to move in with them, should they be amenable. By providing care, handling household tasks, and offering companionship, you can live rent-free. While this wouldn’t come with a salary, the absence of rent could give you the flexibility to pursue work during daytime hours.
12. Work For A Wealthy Person
Affluent individuals often employ live-in staff for various roles, including chefs, drivers, nannies, and more. Living on the premises of a wealthy employer can come with perks: you’re likely to reside in a luxurious setting and enjoy quality meals. However, this arrangement also has its demands.
Being on-site usually means you must be available at short notice. The job can entail long working hours, possibly impacting your social life.
On the bright side, the compensation is often generous, coupled with the advantage of free accommodation. By working extended hours and incurring minimal living expenses, you have the opportunity to amass significant savings during your tenure.
13. Teach English Abroad
Teaching English overseas offers a fantastic opportunity for individuals to explore the world, and often, to live rent-free. Numerous schools, particularly in countries like China, Korea, Japan, and Chile, provide accommodations as part of their employment package for English teachers.
For those interested, there are numerous reputable teaching abroad programmes to consider. Do explore a curated list of the top programmes to find the best fit for you.
14. Become An Au-Pair
Being an au-pair offers a unique opportunity to live with a family, care for their children, and immerse oneself in a different culture, all while earning money and enjoying rent-free accommodation.
In the UK, au-pairs typically earn about £90 per week. However, in places like Australia, this remuneration can go up to $1,000 AUD (equivalent to approximately £514 GBP) monthly. It’s a popular choice for many, especially those on a gap year, who wish to experience a new culture and save on living expenses.
15. Teach At A Private School
Private schools in the UK offer accommodation to the teachers as well as the students. If you work in one, you may also have to live on-site, especially if the school is in a remote location. If you are looking for free rent this could be a potential option if you have teaching experience.
16. Become An Estate Manager
Becoming an apartment or estate manager can be a good way to live on-site. Large apartment buildings or estates regularly need something fixed, cleaned or maintained. Having someone on-site who can do this is valuable, so the owner may hire you and offer free on-site accommodation in exchange for your work.
If you think you could take on some manual labour in exchange for housing WWOOF could be a good option. They connect farmers with volunteers who work for free but also get free accommodation while working.
The program is worldwide, so if you plan on traveling and want free accommodation while doing it, this could be a good way to do it on a budget.
18. House Sitting
House sitting isn’t the best option for living rent-free but it does provide somewhere to live in for a short period of time. If someone is away on a long-term holiday they may hire a house sitter to look after the house while they are away.
You will be required to maintain the house, water plants, cut grass and potentially even look after pets if they have any. Pretty good gig if you ask me.
19. Get Government Assistance
If you are struggling to pay for housing, there are government assistance programs available in the UK. These are for people who have a legitimate reason for why they can’t pay for housing.
You may be able to claim housing benefits if:
- You have reached the state pension age
- You’re in supported, sheltered or temporary housing
Is Living Rent-Free Realistic?
Living rent-free for short periods of time is realistic. However, over the long term, you will likely eventually have to put down some roots or at least pay rent where you live. A lot of the opportunities are for younger people looking to travel and work in exchange for accommodation.
While there are positions that allow you to live rent free they aren’t widely available and may be hard to get into.
There are plenty of opportunities out there to live rent free. However, the most widely available options are also short-term. I you are still young, I would recommend living with your parents for as long as possible to save a deposit for your own house. You can then get on the property ladder and will potentially never have to pay rent.
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