Saturday, 3 October 2009

Money Saving Tip #4: Don't Pay for Housing

One of the best ways to save money is to reduce your major monthly expenses, and one of the expenses at the top of the list is definitely housing. Just think of the money you'd save if you could eliminate that expense! Not to put too fine a point on it, but it would be somewhere between £5,400 (£450/month) and £9,600 (£800/month) per year depending on the housing prices in your area. And that's to say nothing of utility costs which might be around £1000/year.

The trick to eliminating this expense is to find a live-in position that offers free accommodation as either your entire compensation or part of your compensation. In my experience of looking, these jobs are actually in plentiful supply, you just have to know where to look. I recommend Gumtree, Craigslist and as good places to start. To give you an idea, below are three different positions that I was offered when we moved to Edinburgh. All were willing to accommodate both my husband and me, though two out of the three weren't willing to house a baby too.

Nanny: I was offered free accommodation and utilities along with £200/week payment and plentiful holidays. The work expected was 5 days a week, light housework and minding children who spent most of their day at school. The accommodation was an entire flat in the basement of the home, including our own bath and kitchen.

B&B Caretaker: Free accommodation and utilities with very limited additional pay (probably enough to buy groceries). Accommodation consisted of a double bedroom with shared bathroom and kitchen area. Work was helping prepare breakfast, cleaning rooms and looking after the front desk when the owners were away.

Homeless B&B Caretaker: Free accommodation and utilities plus £200/week. Work required serving breakfast to select homeless people staying in the B&B, light cleaning and locking up at night. Accommodation consisted of spacious flat with own kitchen, but shared bathroom.

As you can see, there are a variety of different options. Others that could be explored are caring for an elderly or disabled person in their home, doing gardening/landscaping on an estate or helping as a farmhand on a nearby farm. These are all opportunities that I have seen available in exchange for housing. Often the position will include a car. Sometimes it will be outside the city center and you'll have to evaluate whether the commute would be worth it. The point is to get you thinking outside the box for solutions to one of the biggest regular drains on your bank account. Happy house hunting!

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