Is it really possible to find free accommodation in London? The truth is, nothing comes completely free, so often you will have to exchange your time instead of your money when searching for free places to stay in London. But if you’re up for that? Read on because we have a full list of ideas on how you can find free rentals in the city.
You’ll usually have to do some housekeeping, chores, work exchange, or something similar in order to find free accommodation in London. It’s a different kind of non-financial exchange for a place to stay. Kind of revolutionary, right? Let’s get into it.
Couch surfing in London is an easily accessible way to find free accommodation in London if you are visiting the city. It’s suitable for trips lasting one or two nights, any longer and you might be overstaying your welcome!
It works on the basis that a host in London will offer you a couch, air bed, or even a room (if you’re lucky!) to sleep in for free. In exchange usually you will agree to doing some odd jobs around the house, chores, housekeeping, or helping the host to learn a new language. You can decide with the host what the exchange will be.
The best place to find couch surfing hosts in London is couchsurfing.com. You can create a profile with your details, and search for like minded hosts listed on the platform. The platform is safe to use and you are able to exchange messages with the hosts before you commit to a stay.
Another totally free way to score free accommodation when visiting London is to house sit for someone. You might even get paid to do it! Usually you will have to maintain the house while they are gone, water plants, take care of the garden, and possibly take care of pets too.
You can find house sitting opportunities on websites such as Trusted Housesitters, House sitters UK, and Mind a Home. Each does require a membership fee, but this will be a lot less than the cost of paying for a hotel in London for your trip! It might even be the best way to get a free house in London for a week or two.
Work exchange programs
Work exchange programs don’t just happen in hot countries, you can find work exchange programs here in the UK too. You probably won’t be picking bananas but you’ll exchange labour for a free place to stay. It’s a brilliant way to not only meet new people but also to get free accommodation in London.
You can find work exchange programs on websites like World Packers and Hopper Jobs. Often this work is volunteer work, so you could expect to be doing things like housekeeping, cleaning or potentially even building work.
Jobs with free accommodation in London
Hospitality jobs in London will often come with free accommodation. Or rather, the accommodation is built into your compensation package. Sometimes as a bar or restaurant manager, you may receive free accommodation above the establishment which means that you could be living in a very central London location for free!
You can find jobs in hospitality using websites such as Indeed, where you can filter by jobs that also provide accommodation.
The other alternative is live-in jobs. You can find jobs such as a carer or live-in au pair or nanny in London. For these jobs you will get paid but also have your accommodation provided for free. Again Indeed, Reed or TotalJobs could be excellent websites to find these kinds of jobs in the city. It’s certainly a great way to save money in London on living costs, and you may even end up living and working in a central London location.
Property guardianship is the concept that you stay in a disused property and act as a guardian while you stay there. You could be staying in disused commercial properties, hotels, or even a Victorian mansion if you are lucky. Strangely, there are lots of weird and wonderful properties that lay vacant in London, and people are stepping in to fill them.
Usually you’d be sharing a property with several other people, so this option is best suited to single people or couples, rather than families. The reason behind property guardianship is to ensure the buildings do not go to ruin, and instead are looked after by the appointed guardian or guardians.
Although property guardianship is not totally free, it certainly is cheaper than traditional rentals. You get free rent, but you do pay a monthly license fee to stay in the property. The license fee is on average around £435 per month. A lot cheaper than most London rents! It’s certainly a great contender for the best cheap short term lets in London.
A great way to stay in the city for free is a home exchange. You can find an individual or family that live in London, and set up a home exchange. You’ll travel and stay in their home (in this case, hopefully their home would be in London!) for a fixed period of time, and they will stay in yours.
This usually only works if you own your own home in a desirable location (whether that’s abroad or elsewhere in the UK). If you rent your home you could also ask your landlord to see if they would be open to the idea. You never know!
To find people to do a home exchange with on a temporary basis, you could search on websites such as Love Home Swap and People Like Us. These websites are highly reputable, and you can be sure that you are safer using these websites as opposed to Facebook groups and Gumtree.
How can I get free accommodation in the UK?
For free short-term accommodation in London, a home exchange or house sitting is a great way to stay in the city for free. If you are house sitting, it is likely that you will also get paid in exchange for looking after the house, any pets, and the plants or garden.
How can I live in London without paying rent?
One of the best ways to get longer term free accommodation is to get this provided with your job. This is typical for hospitality workers such as bar or restaurant managers, and for chefs. This may also be provided if you are a waiter or supervisor. You can also get free accommodation with your work if you are a live-in member of staff. For example, if you are a carer or an au-pair or live-in nanny.
Jobs with free accommodation in London
You can check out job websites such as Indeed, Reed, and TotalJobs to find jobs with free accommodation in London. Typically you can filter by ‘accommodation included’ so that you can view all jobs available in the city.