HOW TO LIVE FOR FREE ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD: FIRST-HAND TIPS AND ADVICE BASED ON LIVING RENT-FREE FOR OVER A YEAR IN LONDON
■ text by Bartosz Och | photos from Pexels
To be free and to live a free life—that is the most beautiful thing there is. For almost six years I was stuck in a job I hated in order to pay rent for the flat I found based on the fact it was a short walk from work. I had always been stressed about my financial situation. I couldn’t see a way out of this misery, but I knew I wanted to travel the world. It was practically impossible for me to save any money even though I’ve never been a big spender. Eventually, the looming realisation that perhaps I was never going to fulfil my dreams of going away started to settle deeper and deeper into my head. Perhaps I was a failure, maybe not brave enough, or too lazy. At least I had a job and a roof over my head, right? Maybe that should be good enough, and maybe it’s greediness to ask for more. However, one day a decision was made for me. As I could no longer afford to pay the rent after an unexpected price rise, I was asked to move out. I became a minimalist more so because I had to and not because I wanted to, but that’s not to say I regret getting rid of most of my stuff, which, by the way, wasn’t easy but took a huge both physical and emotional baggage off of me. And here I am— one year later and still living in London, waiting patiently for my British passport to arrive so that I can finally leave! And guess what?! It is absolutely possible to live for free anywhere you want whether it’s one of the most expensive cities in Europe like London, exotic Bali, or hip Berlin … You take a pick! I am now going to tell you how I did it and how you can do it, too.
This is by far my favourite website that, in retrospective, saved my life. Before I came to know about it, I was living with a friend of mine. But the situation wasn’t ideal, and I really wanted to move out. I started doing some digging online when I stumbled upon Trusted Housesitters. It’s a shared economy website that connects pet owners with house/pet sitters. You may or not know that living your pets in a kennel is not only expensive, it also leaves them heavily distressed. So it’s usually better to leave your pets home with someone you can trust. I read good reviews about this website and, after weighing my options, I decided to pay the relatively small fee of £89 per year. I then created my professional-looking profile and within four days I found my first ‘job’. I met with the lovely couple at their house for a chat and they decided I was suited to stay with Frank, their miniature Schnauzer for three weeks while they were doing whatever people in their 60s do on holidays. When they came back, they were so impressed with me that they asked me to stay in their home permanently. And so I did and was given one of their many bedrooms. And I don’t want to give you ideas that this happens to everyone. Besides, I for once never took this generous offer for granted, because I was definitely quite desperate at the time. Also, I’ve remained very responsible, clean, and respectful! I usually take their dog out whether they are home or not, often share my cooking, and help out in the garden. Besides that, I have done long house-sittings in many other places and the experience was amazing every time. If you want to do this, you should definitely have a minimum amount of possessions, be friendly, responsible, good with animals, organised (to be able to fit in all of the ‘jobs’ in your schedule), and have some references to show on your profile page. And no, it’s usually unpaid; thought, you can ask for money if you want to, but it lowers your chances of getting that ‘job’ you are after because there are usually between 12-20 applicant per single listing. I really polished my profile so I tend to be quite busy playing with dogs and cats.
~ WORKAWAY ~
Another wonderful website you could try if you really don’t mind working for ‘free’ is Workaway. It’s a bit like volunteering, but you get a free accommodation and sometimes even meals in return. You will normally be asked to spare two or four hours a day of your time helping with a variety of tasks. You may be asked to help around in a house, with kids, cooking, cleaning, teaching, etc. You don’t need to be qualified for any of these jobs as far as I am aware and you have the option to choose where you would like to go. I found amazing English teaching opportunities in both Nepal and Japan. Again, you should work on that profile of yours to make it stand out, be respectful, polite, professional, and hard-working! You never know, maybe you can meet some generous people who will like to hire you for money or offer you to stay with them for longer and even permanently! It’s very possible!
~ COUCHSURFING ~
This is a good way to save some money while travelling and only wanting to crash on someone’s sofa for a brief moment—usualy no longer than two weeks. Again, you can offer anything you want in return for your host’s generosity. You can do the shopping, cook for them every other day, teach them English, or whatever else you are good at that they may be interested in learning. This is a very good website that I totally recommend. You will be amazed how many people are willing to help and even show you around. They are often genuinely interested in your story so make sure you are up for some long chats! Check their website!
I was very close to accepting a teaching job in China. It was very, very tempting. The hourly rate was pretty good and the agency was also paying for my flight, accommodation, and even my language course. They only reason why I didn’t go is because they don’t pay you as much if you don’t have a British, US, or Canadian citizenship. In other words, they will pay you more if your first language is English. They also want you to have a degree (bachelor’s or master’s) in any subject and a TEFL certificate. Once you are there, you are pretty much on a working contract for minimum a year. Teaching English can pay more than the majority of other jobs, and it’s a pretty easy anyway. It doesn’t leave you with much time to travel around, but you won’t be working more than 25 hours a week if you don’t want to, plus you are given a decently sized apartment! I can’t tell you exactly how living and working in China or anywhere else looks like because, like I said before, I haven’t actually taken the job, but I know a lot of people who did and so I am speaking on their behalf here.
~ WORK IN A HOSTEL ~
Sometimes it’s as simple as going in and asking if there are any jobs going around. Besides the usual pay, you will often be offered a bed or even a private room in the hostel of your interest. The jobs vary from anything like working at the reception to cleaning the rooms and working in a bar, etc. This may not be ideal if you are put in a room with other people, especially if you cherish your own space and privacy. But it’s better than sleeping rough, for sure! I personally love hostels and never had a bad experience while staying in one. On the contrary, actually—I made really good friends every time with whom I am still in touch to this day and hopefully onwards! I like this website for finding any job quickly.
If you have a place of your own or your agency doesn’t mind you subletting your accommodation, you may pretty much break-even on your rent/mortgage renting out one of your rooms. I had a two bedroom flat so I used to rent one of my rooms out for £300 per month. This was a huge benefit for me and really helped me a lot financially. I know a lot of people who use Airbnb and they make tonnes of money from renting out their spare/empty rooms. So much so their rent/mortgage is paid for every month and they have money left over to pay the bills, too. It’s a wonderful idea and works out a lot cheaper than a hotel so there is a lot of interest in it as long as you live in a fairly nice location and your flat is both tidy and friendly.