It came up in conversation recently that I had been living rent free for the past 2 years. The topic made its way back into conversation a few days later and I decided to put a date on when my nomadic lifestyle started. I took out a pen and paper and noted in date order all the places I’d visited starting from the present (January 2015), backtracking to Shanghai (January 2012) when I had my last rental agreement.
Now when I say rent free, I mean I haven’t been tied down to a rental agreement. I have however paid for accommodation on my travels to far off countries where I haven’t known anyone. Clearly I’m not great at maths because it turned out I have been living rent free for not 2, but 3 years! Quite an achievement for someone who hadn’t realised, nor planned it.
How did I manage it you’re asking. To tell you the truth, I’m not sure. Many one-way tickets were bought in 2012 post break-up with an ex-boyfriend, the want to explore the world, to visit friends and generally see how far my money could stretch. I spent the majority of the 3 years visiting people I know around the globe, thereby crashing in their spare rooms, on their couches, housesitting &/or animal sitting for them. (I’d like to take the opportunity to thank each and every one of you who welcomed me into your homes and saved me from many possible homeless nights).
I spent longer periods of time volunteering which included free food and board, I stayed with family in order to save for upcoming trips and I housesat and continue to do so purely by word of mouth. That is pretty much it! It does help to have handfuls of wonderful friends scattered around the world, who keep their door open at all times in case their gypsy friend decides to pop in.
In exchange for the kindness of a roof over my head, I would help around the house, cook, grocery shop, pay bills, walk the dogs, babysit or whatever needed to be done. Think how helpful this can be for people working full-time jobs, to come home and find dinner prepared or the shopping done or they’ve avoided hours spent lining up to pay bills. Who wouldn’t love having someone run their errands for them?!
Please note this style of travel is not for everyone. It means living out of a suitcase, making each room, couch or space your temporary home and not having much privacy and space. It also means you would need to run the errands so if errands aren’t your thing, this won’t be your ideal job. I’m sure you can find alternative ways to pay back your mates!
However, the pros weigh out the cons. You get to catch up with friends you haven’t seen in years and spend quality time with them, share responsibilities, see different countries and experience them by living locally instead of being the usual passer-by.
It’s also a great way to save money and spend what money you do have on seeing your new surroundings.
If you are living rent free too, I’d love to hear your story. Tell me why you choose to live this lifestyle, how you do it, what advice you have and anything else you want to share.
This is a great test for those who think travelling is expensive. Step outside your comfort zone and you might find that it’s actually cheaper than staying at home, and more fun.