How to Live in Luxurious Homes for Free

We’ve recently written about how to drive across the country for free. Would it surprise you to hear that some people live in plush homes for free too?

It’s nothing new. It’s house sitting, and Sandra Holmes has been doing it for seven years.

“I don’t pay any taxes, insurance, the mortgage, or electric. Everything is already done – all I do is make their home look really nice,” says Holmes, a professional home stager, someone who helps people sell their homes by making them look better. You don’t have to do both – stage and sit – but it works out for her.

“It’s like being on vacation all the time,” says Holmes. If you’re ready to pack your bags, check out the video below from Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson. Then read on to learn more about considerations for house sitters, because it certainly isn’t for everyone.

The best way to find a house to sit is by word of mouth. For example, Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson said he did it for clients back when he was a stockbroker years ago and stayed in places “way nicer than I could have afforded, especially back then.”

There are many ways to find a house-sitting gig, although some may not be totally free. Many businesses that specialize in matching sitters with homeowners charge membership fees, and a handful even charge “rent,” although it may be a fraction of the going rate. There’s also no guarantee that once registered you’ll find a place to live. Here are a few starting points:

  • Caretaker.org claims to have published a bimonthly newsletter since 1983 containing listings and advice for house sitting, and also emails new listings several times a week. An annual subscription is $30.
  • HouseSittersAmerica.com allows sitters to view openings for free, but charges $30 per year for a membership that allows sitters to contact owners. Owners can list for free.
  • HouseSitWorld.com has had global listings since 1999, and sitters can register for $40 a year. Owners can place want ads for free.
  • Vacant Home Solutions lists available sitting properties online along with photos, floor plans, and “monthly membership fees” (rent), which, as of this writing, range from $550 to $2,400.
  • ShowHomes.com is a staging company that also finds sitters, which they call “home managers.” The catch here is you often have to provide furniture of “the style and grade appropriate to the home” in addition to rent-like charges. Although they may be substantially discounted from the going rate, luxury homes will still have hefty fees.

House sitting listings also sometimes pop up on Craigslist, and although there is no dedicated section for it, would-be sitters can always post under the “housing wanted” section for free. Wherever you go, though, here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. No playing Realtor. If you do find a job like Sandra’s from the video above – house sitter/home stager – your job is only to keep things looking good, not to sell houses. You don’t have to know much about the place besides how to maintain it by following the instructions left for you.
  2. Be flexible. Sitting gigs can range from a week to months, and if the house is for sale, could end suddenly and without much warning. “You have to be prepared to move out at any time,” says Holmes. The terms of the gig, including what you pay and what you’re responsible for, can also vary widely.
  3. Travel light. Houseowners don’t usually want pets, although you may be caring for theirs in some cases. Kids might be OK, though a vagabond lifestyle probably isn’t for most families. And possessions? “I only have a few things hanging [in the closet]. Everything else is hidden in the drawers. The homes are for sale, so I don’t want it to look like someone is living here,” says Holmes. “All I really need is my suitcase, curling iron, my hair dryer, make-up, and tooth brush.”
  4. Think ahead. Because you never know when to expect the boot, it’s important to always have another arrangement waiting. “Have another one lined up so you’re not homeless,” says Holmes. “I always have people that want me to stay in their properties.”
  5. Be professional. As Stacy mentioned, competition can be fierce. Having previous house-sitting experience is a plus, as are good references. Keep your car – and yourself – looking nice.
  6. Keep some stability. Always moving can be an adventure, but it’s a lot to keep up with too – especially for your poor mail carrier and everyone trying to reach you. Maintaining a PO Box or fixed address might be a good idea for important correspondence.

Bottom line? There’s a tradeoff for free or reduced rent that may not be worth it for everybody. But if you’re single, frugal, or just plain adventurous, it may be a great way to save money and see new places.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
10 Cars That Lose the Most Resale Value After 5 Years

Two types of vehicles are especially likely to see steep plunges in value.

8 Surprising Things No One Tells You About Retirement

Knowing what to expect can help you prepare for — and adjust to — life in your golden years.

9 Products That Will Organize Your Home for Under $45

These clever Amazon finds can help transform a messy nest into the pristine home of your dreams.

11 Expenses That Quietly Drain Your Wallet

It’s scandalously easy to overspend in these areas of your life.

5 Secrets to Keeping Your Brain Sharp as You Age

Forget young at heart — science says these tricks will keep you young in mind.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco

This leader in bulk shopping is a great place to find discounts in the fixed-income years.

Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines

Fall is the time to schedule vaccines that can keep you healthy — and even save your life.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older

There is no need to wait until you’re 65 to take advantage of so-called “senior” discounts.

8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies

In this age of higher-priced drugs and complex health care systems, a trip to the pharmacy can spark worry. Freebies sure do help.

These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020

Medicare Advantage customers themselves rate these plans highest.

The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America

A new model parks atop the list of vehicles that thieves love to pilfer.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous

When you get the impulse to stockpile these everyday items, pay close attention to their expiration dates.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62

If you can, here are several good reasons to retire earlier than we’re told to.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

14 Things That Are ‘Free’ With Medicare

These services could save you money and help prevent costly health problems.

5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles

Pushing your car to 200,000 miles — and beyond — can save you piles of cash. Here’s how to get there.

26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income

These states won’t tax any of your Social Security income — and in some cases, other types of retirement income.

5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees

Retirees agree: These are the things that give them purpose and fulfillment in their golden years.

10 Things You Should Never Do With Bleach

Does the pandemic have you reaching for bleach more than ever before? Learn the ins and outs of using this powerful disinfectant.

15 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.