MoneyMagpie

May 06

11 ways to get a free home

Would you like a free home? Who wouldn’t! Affordable housing is very hard to find. It can cost more than half your salary to pay for accommodation now. But it is possible to get cheap housing or even a free home if you know how. Here are the ways we’ve found.

Get a job with free accommodation

Thousands of employers up and down the country need staff to live on site.

Some offer really impressive places to live, while others just provide you with your own room in someone else’s home.

  • Charity fundraiser
  • Activity instructor
  • Boarding school matron
  • Caretaker
  • Hotel jobs
  • Carer
  • Nanny
  • Domestic couples

be a Charity fundraiser

What’s involved?

11 ways to get a free home If you are confident, physically fit and speak good English, you could get a job as a charity fundraiser, with free accommodation thrown in. Wesser is one of Europe’s leading charity fundraising organisations, operating in Germany, Austria, Spain, Switzerland and the UK. It needs fundraisers to visit members of the public in their homes, create an awareness of charities such as the Swiss Red Cross and the World Wildlife Fund, and ask them to donate.

While Wesser focuses on students and backpackers on the lookout for short term jobs, long-term opportunities are becoming increasingly common. If you’re looking for a job in the charity sector, this could also boost your CV.

What will I get?
Wesser provides all its fundraisers with shared accommodation, a decent commission-based pay packet, a shared car for the household and team events and incentives throughout the year. The homes are usually five-bed fully furnished houses in smart, safe areas with at least 2 bathrooms and spacious communal areas. According to their website, Wesser fundraisers typically earn between £1500 – £1800 per month.

How do I get started?
Find more information and fill out an online application form on the Wesser website. It’s quick and easy and the company should give you a call back at a time that suits you.

 

be an Activity instructor

What’s involved?

Activity centres all over the UK are looking for fun, energetic people to join their teams. Activity centres are places that groups visit to take part in outdoor exercises like raft building, wall climbing, abseiling and rowing. Visitors’ ages range from primary school to adult.

It goes without saying that activity instructors need to be fit and healthy as a lot of physical work is involved. The role would include planning activities for a wide range of visitors, ensuring the safety of participants and equipment and instructing groups on how to complete the activities – among many other things.

What will I get?11 ways to get a free home

Some work for these kinds of places is voluntary, although your accommodation and expenses will normally be paid for. However, people taking up the job at a more senior level, or with relevant experience, should expect a reasonable pay cheque.

First Person

Tim Ferris, a web designer from Stafford, spent six months working for Acorn Adventure. He told us: “It was a fun, relatively easy job, with no commute! We were paid minimum wage, and Acorn deducted a small amount from this for our food and lodgings. I can’t say I saved up much money, but in the short term it was nice to have all the bills taken care of.”

How do I get started?

You don’t necessarily need qualifications as some centres offer training programmes. If you want to enter this career on a reasonable salary though, it’s advisable to hold a coaching or instructor qualification for one of the activities the centre offers. Again, a CRB check will more than likely be necessary. Other desirable attributes would include skills in outdoor activities, first aid/life saving certificate, driving licence, Duke of Edinburgh awards, Sports Leaders UK award and voluntary work for outdoor activity centres.

You can apply online for activity centre jobs with these activity centres:

  • Kingswood
  • PGL
  • Acorn Adventure
  • Rock UK
  • Robinwood

 

be a Boarding school matron

What’s involved?

A Matron’s duty is quite simply to take care of student’s well-being. This can include organising the cleaning staff, taking children to medical appointments, communicating with parents, doing pupil’s laundry and ordering cleaning, medical and domestic supplies. School Matron’s we’ve spoken to say they also offer a shoulder to cry on, and sort out many an argument!

What will I get?
Residential schools often offer accommodation and meals for their staff. You would also receive a salary based on your experience of between £17,000 – £22,000.

How do I get started?
Although there are no specific qualifications needed for the job (other than a DBS check) it’s helpful to have experience in childcare or nursing. The following qualifications may also help:

  • CACHE (Council for Awards in Children’s Care and Education) Diploma in Childcare and Education.
  • BTEC National Diploma in Care or Early Years.
  • Nursing diploma.
  • Nursing degree.

It’s best to start by going for a job as an assistant matron and then apply for a more senior position once you have gained some experience.

There are many websites offering various domestic roles but a good place to start would be the Times Educational Supplement.

Other websites featuring boarding school jobs are:

  • Jobisjob
  • Gabbitas
  • boarding.org.uk

 

be a Caretaker, Porter or Concierge

What’s involved?

11 ways to get a free homeCaretakers often supervise cleaning staff, carry out general repairs and safety checks and order any necessary equipment. Porters and concierges work in hotels and upmarket apartment blocks, carrying luggage and assisting with residents’ basic needs.

What will I get?
Depending on the location of the job, a lot of caretakers, porters and concierges receive a free or subsidised flat or house as a perk. Places that offer these jobs include a selection of schools, universities, churches, some office blocks and private and housing association flats.

How do I get started?
Relevant work experience is normally more important than professional qualifications. Having been a maintenance supervisor or security guard in the past will help. If you’re short on experience, try temp agencies for short-term night-watchman positions. Being a DIY whiz can also be very helpful.

The following qualifications may also help:

  • NVQ/SVQ Level 2 in Cleaning and Support Services (Caretaking
  • Basic health and safety/fire warden training.
  • The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) – offers study programmes in caretaking and concierge services and supported housing.

The best place to look for a caretaking job would be The Caretakers’ Website. This features jobs all over the country, live-in and live-out, and also lists jobs from the job centre website.

For porter and concierge positions in London, try the Claibon Agency. Previous experience is essential, but if you fit the bill, you could earn a salary between £16k and £28k, with a one, two or three bedroom flat thrown in.

 

get free accommodation with Hotel jobs

A range of agencies specialise in hotel work, take a look at Caterer.com to see hotels that offer these kinds of jobs.

Larger hotels often require a variety of staff to live in-house. Here is a selection of the kind of jobs that come with accommodation:

  • Hotel Manager

There are two ways of becoming a hotel manager, either working your way up from a more junior position, or getting yourself a good qualification in hospitality. Suitable qualifications would be either a degree or BTEC HNC/HND in Hospitality Management or other related subjects.

  • Restaurant Manager

Lots of restaurant managers work their way up to this role from being a chef or waiter/waitress etc. If you’d prefer to fast track your way to the top then you’re going to need a qualification in hospitality. With good GCSEs in maths and English, or a BTEC First Diploma in hospitality, employers may hire you as an assistant manager. With a BTEC HNC/HND or degree you’re likely to be offered a higher paid role with more responsibilities. Also, as restaurant manager you will probably be required to hold a personal licence if the restaurant serves alcohol.

  • Receptionist

Employers usually look for experience, and a high standard of English. It’s helpful to know another language as you’d be dealing with lots of people from other countries, particularly larger hotels. It is possible to get an apprenticeship working as a receptionist – check out apprenticeships.org.uk for more information.

  • Housekeeper

Housekeepers are in charge of the room attendants in the hotel. They organise staff rotas and supplies and inspect rooms amongst other responsibilities. A work history in management would normally be required although it’s possible to work your way up from a position such as a room attendant.

  • Chef

Hotels often hire commis (trainee) chefs, in which case you need no formal qualifications as you get on-the-job training. You will need to be passionate about food, have the ability to work well under pressure and have excellent communication skills. If you want to enter at a higher level you’ll need a good qualification. There are different levels of chefs, a ‘chef de partie’ is the head of a section in a kitchen, the second chef is known as a ‘sous chef’ and ‘maitre de cuisine’ is the head chef. A good qualification for these kinds of jobs is a foundation degree, BTEC HNC/HND, or degree in professional cookery or culinary arts management.

  • Waiting Staff

There are a number of qualifications you can work towards relating to waiting/waitressing – however, most employers look for experience in this sector. It’s important to have superior customer service skills and a healthy brain for remembering orders.

 

become a live-in Carer

What’s involved?
As a carer you can expect to be taking care of elderly or disabled people. This would mean assisting them in getting up, washing and going to the toilet, getting dressed, dispensing medication, cooking, cleaning, day-to-day tasks and getting back into bed. The job can be frustrating at times so you’ll have to have a caring nature and lots of patience.

What will I get?
This job can be highly rewarding as you’re helping someone in need. However, it’s not for everyone and you need a lot of patience and a willingness to sacrifice some evenings and weekends to care for your “patient”. Depending on the job, expect a bedroom with bedding and food provided. The Live-in Carer salary ranges from £450 – £580 per week (before Tax & National Insurance deductions).

First person

Gemma Morrison, 28, works as a carer for a 24-year-old man with mobility problems. She said: “I think people expect my job to be a bit depressing, but it really isn’t. The guy I care for is very upbeat and we go on a lot of trips to the cinema, the seaside and even casinos. He rarely wakes me up in the night, I just need to be there just in case.”

How do I get started?
You will need a DBS check firstly, as you will most definitely be working with vulnerable people. Good mental and physical health is a must and relevant experience with your family, or voluntary work would be bonus. As well as sites specialising in care worker jobs, try grabbing a copy of The Lady magazine from your local newsagent. Start with a local job site such as Gumtree, and look for jobs in your area.

Some agencies that employ carers are:

  • Helping Hands
  • Athena Care
  • European Nursing Agency

 

be a live-in Nanny

What’s involved?
moneymagpie_child-care
Nannies are hired by parents to look after their children. Ages can range from newborn to early teens dependent on the family. When looking after young babies, duties would include feeding, bathing, changing and general care. For older children the role would involve more education through play and keeping children entertained and well looked after.

What will I get?
Not all nannying roles involve live-in accommodation, so you’ll have to check with the potential employer before you apply. However, if it is a domestic role then expect to receive your own bedroom and any meals provided for you. Wages are between £350 and £700 a week depending on the location, hours and your qualifications.

First Person

Claire  Dunton from Top Notch Nannies says that live-in nannies earn upwards of £350 a week, compared to a wage of between £450 and £700 for live-out nannies.

She says “it’s a lot cheaper than paying for rent. It covers all your bills (except your phone bill) and often includes your meals while you are on duty with the children. It’s £350 pocket money.”

Claire advises all nannies to make sure a contract is drawn up before they move in.

“A contract is very important; both sides feel better if they know the terms and conditions in advance. A nanny needs to know what hours she’ll be working, which days she has off, how many weeks holiday she can take, and whether she lives and eats with the family, or in a separate flat of her own at the top of the house.”

How do I get started?
There are no laws requiring nannies to have any formal qualifications but you have to consider the fact that parents may not trust you to look after their children if you dive in head first with no experience or knowledge of the subject.

The best way to go about it is to sign up to a nannying agency such as Top Notch Nannies. The agency will normally ask for personal references, the ability to speak fluent English and some childcare experience. Try to get as much experience as you can working with children before you start to apply.

Relevant qualifications include CACHE Level 3 Diploma in Home-based Childcare or a BTEC National Certificate or Diploma in Early Years. First Aid for Those Caring for Children or Paediatric First Aid is also an impressive thing to have on your CV. A good place for advice on childcare is the Government’s information site on childcare careers, which also includes relevant contact details for information on childcare in your local area. You can find out about nanny jobs, and nanny agencies, on the Gumtree website and through The Lady magazine. Also, you can just look on Google for agencies in your area.

Get a DBS check

When a job requires you to work with vulnerable people such as children or disabled people, you will need to have a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check, to prove that you are not a potential danger to the people you will be working with. If the company employing you asks you to get a check carried out, then they should provide you with an application form to fill out, or tell you how to apply.

If you’re self-employed however, the process can be quite difficult as the current law in the UK is that you can’t apply to carry out a DBS check on yourself. There are companies that can legally facilitate DBS checks on individuals, although they are difficult to find. Start with the UK Umbrella Service. The DBS check can be quite a complicated and lengthy process, so get clued-up by reading our guide: Demystifing the DBS check.

Some better known nanny agencies are:

  • Knightsbridge Nannies
  • Childcare International

Be aDomestic couple

What’s involved?
Places such as country mansions, large family homes or historic buildings usually require a domestic couple to carry out day-to-day cleaning and maintenance tasks. Tasks might include things such as cooking, cleaning and general housekeeping duties for the woman, and general repair work/DIY, general gardening maintenance and driving for the man. Although childcare isn’t usually a necessity there are often young ones around so it’s useful if you’re good with children.

What will I get?
Your accommodation and meals will be provided. Because of the nature of the work, and the fact that you would be working in an expensive and large house, the accommodation you receive is likely to be of a very high quality. You can also expect a decent pay cheque: depending on the size and location of the home, wages for a couple can range from £600 to £1,000 a week.

How do I get started?
There aren’t really any qualifications you can get regarding the housekeeping aspect, but gardening courses may be helpful. One of the couple will need a full driving licence. The best way to go about it is by gaining experience – possibly by working in a hotel or any other maintenance position. Take a look at Country Couples for information about vacancies for domestic couples.Mrs Hunt’s Agency also has jobs for couples

 

Not quite a free home…but close..

Be a property Guardian

11 ways to get a free home What’s involved?

A property guardian is a responsible person who lives in a building that would otherwise be empty in order to protect it from potential squatters and vandals.

They usually pay some form of rent but it is supposed to be very low, and they may have to pay utility bills as well. Typically in the UK, property guardians pay a fee of only £40 a week which usually includes all utility bills.

The properties could be empty for all sorts of reasons. It’s possible that the landlord is changing the use of the property or redeveloping it, or even knocking it down. These sort of activities can take a while to put into effect so in the meantime properties often stand empty and unused.

The practice has been around for at least ten years and when it started it was a really good way for people to stay in a nice area for a very, very cheap rent, but recently quite a few companies have abused the system as you can see in this article from The Guardian newspaper.. So be careful.

Who can be a property guardian?

People who get to be property guardians have to be flexible – you usually only get a month’s notice to vacate the place and you might only be there for a few months. They also have to be thoroughly vetted to make sure that they are responsible.

Property guardians could stay in all kinds of places including abandoned offices, a former children’s home, a run-down ex-Council property or possibly a palatial mansion (though there aren’t so many of those around!).

You might get studio rooms in a community centre in East Finchley for £500 a month and rooms in a fire station in Yorkshire for £200 a month. However, with some of the bad companies it could be a run-down office with intermittent electricity for £700 a month, so be careful.

You will have rules you can abide by including, probably, not having more than two friends round at any one time and not going away for more than a few days at a time.

 

How do you get to be a property guardian?

You need to contact one of the property guardian companies, but be careful which ones you go for (see the ones mentioned in the Guardian article and avoid them!).

They all have questionnaires that you need to fill in and you may have an interview too. Some agencies ask for a security deposit at the start.

Companies that offer opportunities for property guardians include:

  • Dot Dot Property Guardians – which only take on people who are doing at least 16 hours a week of voluntary work.
  • Ad Hock has flats and other properties in various areas for very low rates.

house sitting

11 ways to get a free home What’s involved?

Across the UK there are thousands of empty properties left vacant. These include holiday homes, homes awaiting new buyers and even office spaces. Sometimes the property owner has simply gone on holiday for a short time. The owners of these properties may not wish to rent them out full time, but they still don’t like the idea of leaving them sitting empty. As a house sitter or property guardian, you live in the property in the short term and benefit from low cost rent. The downside is that you may be asked to move at short notice, the upside is that you save thousands on rent each year.

What will I get?

You’ll get somewhere to live either for free, or for a low rent of around £250 a month, depending on which service you use and what you are looking for. Utility bills are usually covered. Other perks and responsibilities vary, but it is important to draw up a contract that both parties are happy with before the house sit begins.

How do I get started?

There are several websites offering house sitting opportunities.

  • As both a house sitter and house minder you can look after the houses of family and friends, but for regular work register with a reputable agency like Trusted Housesitters. If you’re doing this independently, the owners should provide a written contract with instructions of what to do if specific situations arise so that you’re completely sure of the right action to take. Also, make sure you provide the homeowners with references from a previous landlord and employer.
  • Mindmyhouse.com is a forum that brings together house-sitters and those with vacant properties. Many of the house-sitting assignments are short term, when the owners go on holiday, but housing associations and charities advertise longer term assignments here. In many cases, house sitters do not pay rent, but the terms and conditions of each assignment are arranged privately. Mindmyhouse.com provides a useful contract template which you can use to draw up an agreement with the property owner.
Did you know…?
House-sitting doesn’t have to be for months on end – many people swap their houses for a couple of weeks for a cheap holiday. Learn how to have a house swap holiday here.

University Halls of Residence (summer only)

11 ways to get a free home What’s involved?

University halls of residence are often left empty for around four months every summer when the students up sticks and go home to mum and dad. These days, universities need to maximise all potential income streams, so many rent out their halls over the summer break. The savings are not always huge. Staying at a hall of residence in London costs around £21 a night, and in Manchester it is around £13 a night. But university properties can be right in the centre of big cities, where accommodation for professionals is at a premium. There are usually discounts for interns and alumni and flexible pricing for longer stays.

What will I get?

Mention Halls of Residence and many people think of grotty student digs, but these days student accommodation is carefully regulated, and many rooms in halls come with en-suite bathrooms and modern kitchens.

Many colleges or universities rent out student rooms during the summer holidays (from late June until the middle of September). Some rooms may also be available over the Easter holidays (from late March until late April) and in the winter holidays (from the middle of December until early January).

Student rooms are typically small, containing a single bed, desk, wardrobe and storage cupboards. Many have an ensuite shower room / toilet, but in some cases these will be separate. There is usually a shared kitchen area and a room where people can meet to watch television and socialise.

How do I get started?

If you think this is a good option for you, it’s really just a case of contacting the universities in your area to see what’s on offer. For example, try University of London, or University of Manchester or University of Bristol or whichever is your nearest higher education establishment.

You can also visit Universityrooms.com which advertises convenient and affordable accommodation options for over 100 universities, colleges, and student residences in 30 UK cities which are free during the Summer, Christmas and Easter holidays.

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