Live on the Cheap With These 16 Jobs That Provide Housing
There’s a whole category of job opportunities that often gets overlooked: jobs that provide housing — for free.
They include entry-level jobs and seasonal jobs, and they run the gamut of industries and careers. What they have in common is a significant way to save money by letting you live where you work. That might be private rooms in a home or employee housing in a park or on a cruise ship.
You can find jobs that include housing throughout the U.S. and even internationally, helping you save money on other monthly bills and, in some cases, even get free meals.
What are some examples of jobs that provide housing? We’re glad you asked.
16 Jobs That Include Free Housing
- Park ranger
- Au pair
- Cruise ship employee
- Military member
- Private chef
- Building superintendent
- Live-in caregiver
- Faculty in-residence
- Oil rig mechanic
- Seasonal hotel/resort worker
- International English teacher
- Ranch hand
- International civil engineer
- Travel nurse
1. Park Ranger
Love the outdoors? Don’t mind a bit of a rustic way of life? You might be interested in being a park ranger. Your day job will involve giving tours, responding to emergencies and patrolling around the park – all with free accommodations in some of the most beautiful settings that America has to offer.
Estimated Salary: $38,660 per year (Park-Ranger.org). The top 10% make around $85,000 per year.
2. Au Pair
A what? An au pair is a young person — usually a woman — between the ages of 18 and 30 who provides child care for a foreign host family in exchange for free housing, board and cultural exchange. As an au pair, you’ll be expected to do a variety of household tasks such as making meals, doing laundry, transporting kids and light shopping.
Estimated Salary: Depends on the country. Pay in Australia ranges from $580 to $720 per month on the high end, while Spain ranges from $311 to $364 per month on the low end.
3. Cruise Ship Employee
Maybe you like the adventurous nature of the park ranger but prefer the wide open seas over the forests and mountains. If so, you might like to work on a cruise ship. Job opportunities abound on cruise ships, with many industries represented – casino dealers, dancers and singers, as well as restaurant servers, chefs, deckhands, housekeepers, paramedics and so many more.
Estimated Salary: The average cruise ship worker makes $48,891 per year. The range of jobs varies widely, making the salary range wide as well – from $14,000 to $102,000 depending on the position. (ZipRecruiter)
4. Military Member
Joining the military can be a life-changing decision and a years-long commitment. But it also comes with many perks. Free room and board, food, health coverage, paid leave, and great retirement benefits if you make it a career. Plus, you can feel fulfilled in the fact that you are serving your country.
Estimated Salary: Varies greatly by position but the average army private first class (infantry) makes $33,250 per year. On the other hand, an army sergeant major (infantry) will make an average of $87,000 per year. (PayScale)
5. Private Chef
As a personal chef, you’ll perform job duties like preparing daily meals for family members and guests – possibly including some gourmet meals and fancy parties. Chef jobs that include free housing mean you’re never far from the kitchen. Think “Downton Abbey,” but just 100 years later.
Estimated Salary: $90,758 per year (Indeed)
6. Building Superintendent
Building superintendents live in apartment buildings or condo complexes in exchange for managing the property. They will be residents’ first go-to for complaints and requests. Generally speaking, they’re also in charge of cleaning, garbage collection and other maintenance throughout the building.
Estimated Salary: $54,510 per year (Indeed)
7. Live-In Caregiver
For those who really have a heart for helping others, a job as a live-in caregiver could be a fulfilling career choice. You’ll help elderly or special needs people with their daily needs, like dressing, bathing and meals. In return, you’ll have a free room within the house or on the property to live in. This job could also be great for someone who is thinking about a career in nursing but isn’t quite ready to make the schooling commitment.
Estimated Salary: $36,855 per year (Zippia)
This is similar to an au pair, but without the overseas commitment. A live-in nanny will take care of the kids, including making sure they get to and from school, helping with homework and providing healthy meals. Full-time live-in nannies will have access to sick/personal days and health care options. If you want to take your babysitting game to the next level, then a full-time nanny job might be for you.
Estimated Salary: The average gross weekly salary for a full-time live-in nanny is $670. Live-out nannies earn $766 per week on average. (Nanny Lane)
Some church denominations provide free housing on site for their clergy members. Obviously, being a pastor or religious teacher isn’t a job you just apply for overnight, but if you feel a spiritual calling in this area then you might eventually find yourself in a clergy role. You’ll teach and counsel your congregants, and even direct funerals and weddings.
Estimated Salary: $38,358 per year (ZipRecruiter)
10. Faculty In-Residence
If a career in education is your calling, you could live on campus as a faculty in-residence. These professors teach and work as mentors to the young students who live on campus and, in exchange, they receive free housing. Since they live on site, they become much more visible and accessible for students.
Estimated Salary: The average salary for an associate professor in-residence is $87,098 per year. (Open Payrolls)
11. Oil Rig Mechanic
If you don’t mind some rough and tumble accommodations, working on an oil rig certainly has its perks – including a really nice salary. In fact, it’s one of the highest-paying jobs that provide housing. In addition to mechanics, rigs also hire engineers, scuba divers and general management. Rig workers typically work two weeks on and two weeks off, which might be problematic if you have a family.
Estimated Salary: $151,240 per year (ZipRecruiter)
12. Seasonal Hotel/Resort Worker
Unlike clergy, chef, or mechanic, seasonal jobs don’t often require much, if any, experience – meaning this is a great entry-level job. If you’re looking for a career change, or just getting started and not sure what to do, seasonal jobs are good short-term gigs.
Like a cruise ship, resort jobs run the gamut – from bartender to server to scuba teacher or receptionist. You’ll agree to work for at least several months in exchange for employee housing on site. And, depending on where you are, you could have amazing sites to see – mountainous ski resorts or glamorous hotels in the Caribbean – during your free time.
Estimated Salary: $45,989 per year (ZipRecruiter)
13. International English Teacher
English teachers are in high demand all across Asia – making this a great option for a young graduate who isn’t tied down and who wants to experience the world while making a difference in young people’s lives. As part of a contract, it’s standard for many schools to provide housing and airfare. The other perks can vary, so make sure you know all the details before signing a contract (that’s just good advice for life in general!).
Estimated Salary: Pay varies wildly by country. See a full list of salary ranges at TEFL.org.
Here's what you need to know about ESL certifications.
14. Ranch Hand
Love the great outdoors and don’t mind getting your hands a little dirty? A ranch hand has housing provided in exchange for taking care of the animals on the ranch, maintaining the property, and greeting and interacting with guests. These jobs are usually available across the western United States.
Estimated Salary: $26,073 per year (Comparably)
15. International Civil Engineer
Yes, there’s a good bit of schooling that goes with being a civil engineer, but the rewards can be nice. Some countries simply don’t have a lot of civil engineers within their population, so they recruit these positions in all parts of the world. The job pays a solid salary and comes with free housing, and fully paid for round-trip flights back home.
Estimated Salary: $86,595 per year (ZipRecruiter)
16. Travel Nurse
Travel nurses are employed by staffing agencies and take on temporary roles at clinics, hospitals and other health care facilities. These positions became increasingly popular during the COVID pandemic because they helped temporarily relieve staffing shortages. Travel nurses usually have a wealth of benefits, including extremely good compensation – though their pay rate has decreased slightly since the height of the pandemic.
Estimated Salary: On average, $117,490 per year (NursingProcess.Org)
Robert Bruce is a Senior Writer at The Penny Hoarder.