So I've been living "rent-free" for the past month now. I've achieved the goal that I've so long wanted to achieve. I mean I used to live rent-free when I was living with my parents, but this is on another level. I'm 25 y/o, and I don't have to worry about covering that montly rent. This gives me a liberating feeling, and less stress about needing to make money.
But is it completely free? Well I have to exchange a bit of work every week, but it's not much. For "rent-free" living, I have to work approximitely 24 hours per week, but 'actual' work is about 3 - 7 hours per week, the rest of the hours I just do what I want. And it's mainly because of the Pandemic.
I live and work at a Hostel in Portugal, I get a private room, and I'm sorounded by nature, beatiful views, and friendly people. Every day I wake up and I just feel free. No responsibilities, no bullshit stress, just chilling and doing what I want to do. And the best part is obviously not having to pay for rent. Because I exchange a bit of work, I get provided with a private room, access to a kitchen, bathroom, and a bit of free food, and obviously the incredible location of the place.
The only expenses that I do pay for are food, transportation and any bills I might have, like phone/ spotify of course and ya that's that.
I've been doing this for a while to be honest, it's called a work exchange, it's where you find someone who needs help with something specific, in my case it's reception, and a bit of cleaning. But there are many different work exchanges out there, and some even pay you a bit of money + accomodation and food.
Why am I living like this though?
I realised not too long ago that living in big cities and renting places is all bullsh*t. You work your ass off so that you can pay for your four wall "sleep" box, over-priced groceries, and unnecessary and expensive bills. And all of this makes life really stressful, you're unable to enjoy your days because money is low, your job is probably not the one you want - but… you gotta pay the bills somehow right? And of course the craziness of big cities can drive you insane. But why deal with all of that when there are alternatives? So I searched for alternatives and eventually I found them. And work exchanges are just one of the alternatives, but they are currently one of my favourites.
Why? Because they offer really eye opening experiences, they teach you about other ways of living, and you get to meet really genuine people who become a part of your life.
There is one more reason though. But it will get it's own paragraph. Work exchanges give you the opportunity to take your life in the direction you want to take it. If you want to learn about something specific, you can probobly find a work exchange that will fit that aim. Maybe you want to learn about gardening, there's a work exchage for that, want to learn to do Yoga? There's definitely a work exchange for that. Want to learn Hospitality? You got it! Work exchanges are like a University of life. And look, if you just want to travel a bit, and escape the "rent, bills, work" trap, then you can also do that through work exchange programs.
But just some things to keep in mind…
Work exchanges are hosted by real people, people that have their own lifes, their own responsibilities and maybe even their own families, so if you're coming into this thinking that you can take advantage of the situation - you're in the wrong mindset, and this whole thing won't go well for you. You need to come into this with a mindset of "How can I be of service to these people? What can I give in exchange", this is much more empowering than "What can I take from this?". Trust me I've done a few already, and when you come into this with the right mindset, you will have a much better experience. And you can obviously use work exchanges as leverage to get yourself out of your current situation, but just make sure you're giving something back in exchange.
And lastly if you want to do this just for the fun of it, then give it a go, it's always good to try new things!
Can this be done in any country?
Yes, it can be done in Spain, Hungary, Germany, Russia, anywhere in the world, as long as you can get into the country legally.
How much does it all cost?
Work exchange are free of charge, you exchange work for accomodation, food and sometimes pay. The only thing that you 'will' have to pay for is transportation.
How do I start?
Those are all the website that I know of for work exchanges, check them out, maybe you'll find something you like. If you're looking for a how to guide, there might already be one up on my website, if not it will be coming soon!
What do I need to start?
A pair of hands, some confidence and a bit of money to cover travel expenses. Also travel documents if necessary.
Is it dangerous?
Never had anything bad happen to me so I would say most likely no.
You can do either or, just set that up with your host
Can I do it during the Covid Pandemic?
Yes, it's possible. You might have to be a bit more clever, but definitely possible.