One of the many sectors of the economy that has been revolutionized by the information age is accommodation. A market that only twenty years ago consisted of word of mouth and classified ads in the back of the Sunday newspaper has been invigorated with a full range of online resources. As with anything else in life it is now up to us to use our imagination along with these new resources to accomplish our goals.
When looking for a place to stay the first step is to examine what it is exactly that you are looking for. What your comfort level is, where you want to live and what are the absolute necessities that you will need. Once you have that nailed down you can start to look around and think creatively about ways to accomplish this. I don’t find it necessary or helpful to have a set in stone budget. Sitting, crashing, and trading are the three main ways that you can cut down on expenses and live the lifestyle that you want to live. By using these tactics you may find what you need for free or even BE PAID to live there.
Don’t believe me? In this article I will go over some of the options that there are today for those that want to travel or relocate, give you some out of the box ways to use these and some examples of how I have used some of them in my life to live in several beautiful houses throughout the world for free
One of the best ways to get free a great place to stay is by house or pet sitting. There are many problems with an empty house; necessary maintenance goes unnoticed, there is a higher chance of robbery, the plants/animals will not be taken care of correctly, etc. For these reasons many people want or would at least be willing to have someone stay in their house rent free. The only problem is that most people do not have someone that they trust enough to leave them with their house and personal belongings. There are some websites that have tackled this problem by offering house sitting exchanges for people that have gone through their vetting process. Mind My House and Trusted House Sitters are two of the most used housesitting serves available.
I used this strategy myself while going to university in Madrid. I was able to work it out through a personal relationship rather than a house sitting service. While attending college I became very good friends with a girl who had a beautiful penthouse apartment in the most prestigious neighborhood in the city. She frequently went out of town and had several plants and a beautiful boxer that needed looking after while she was gone. Since we were such good friends and hung out most of the time anyways she had no problem with me staying in the guest bedroom and would pay me 130 euros for every week that she was gone. I loved taking care of the dog so this arrangement was great for me and I stayed there for the entire time I lived in Madrid. This worked out by sheer luck but if you play your cards right and work with the contacts you have you never know. If you have a house to offer you can also do a house swap with someone in a comparable house. Home exchange international facilitates these types of arrangements.
Another way of getting a place to stay for free although only for a short time is by crashing. Of course everyone is familiar with crashing in the traditional sense but the internet has brought this idea to a whole new level. Couchsurfing.org has been around for years now and has turned into a kind of movement. Through the website couchsurfers can search the city that they are in for people that are willing to offer their couches or guest rooms to travelers passing through. The reaction most people have is the website must be full of creeps just waiting for you to invite them into your home. I am would certainly not say that it is impossible that there are undesirable people that use the service but the ratings and review feature on the website works well for weeding people out. I have personally used this service and have many friends that have as well and I have yet to hear of a bad experience. Normally a host will not only be willing to offer you a place to stay but will also show you around the city. If you are not in need of a place to stay couchsurfing can also allow you to meet people very quickly in the area that are friendly and love to meet new people. I used this service to drastically cut down on costs while I was backpacking through Europe and still use it to meet people when I arrive in a new town. Even though it is not advertised as such and many will staunchly deny it I can attest that it also used by many and does work as a matchmaking/hookup service.
Finally trading is the most popular way to help negotiate for a place to live. If I had the choice between earning the money and paying rent or working for the rent directly I would certainly choose the latter for a variety of reasons. We all have skills that we can offer which the owner may be in need of, and they might not even know it yet. Workaway is a great service where hosts offer room and board to those willing to help them with a few hours of work per day.
These types of deals are easy to find especially if you have marketable skills. Not too long ago I was looking at renting room in a bed and breakfast and as the conversation transpired I realized that the owner was also the administrator for the B&B and had a giant need for someone to help her with the advertising and managing the rooms. I offered to get her on several internet sites and schedule the rentals and she told me that I could stay for free. Another example is while I was managing a large hotel in Acapulco, included in the compensation was rent at an incredible beachside studio. This was not only warranted but necessary as I was on call 24 hours and had to respond to customer complaints as quickly as possible.
The most important thing to remember when looking for new accommodation is to not think too rigidly about it and if you find a place that you would love to stay, rather than giving up because you think you can’t afford it, think of some out of the box win/win negotiations that you can make so that you can. Things like being a proxy landlord or scouring the newspaper or online classifieds for underpriced deals are examples of this. The world is your oyster so hopefully by using sitting, crashing and trading you can find your own paradise that you can call home.