5 Smart Ways to Make Money Without Leaving Your Apartment Building

Image: Apartment building
Sarah Nichols under Creative Commons

Starting a side hustle or taking on a second job can be an awesome way to earn more money, but it can also challenge both your energy level and your budget. Commuting to a second job or buying lunch because you didn’t have time to make one (again) can take a bite out of your earnings, leaving you wondering whether you’re actually making any extra cash.

However, if you’re lucky enough to live in a large apartment building, there are a number of ways to supplement your income without even walking out the front door. City dwellers, this one’s for you.

1. Pet Care

If you live in a pet-friendly building, you’re bound to be surrounded by pet lovers. Trips can crop up, plans can go sour, and even the most devoted of pet sitters can become unavailable. This is where you save the day.

Feeding and checking in on a cat once or twice a day takes minimal effort and can come with the added benefit of a few furry snuggles. Watching a dog? Frequent walks will require leaving the building, but can be refreshing if you work from home regularly.

For a friend or close neighbor, you might do these tasks for free or in exchange for a bottle of wine. But think about charging a small fee for new “clients”: perhaps $10 per day for cat sitting and $20 per day for dog sitting.

Consider yourself a dog whisperer? Sign up for DogVacay, a site that connects you with dog-sitting gigs, many of which can take place in your own home. Owners pay at least $25 per night for you to host a furry sleepover.

Michelle Nguyen looked into becoming a DogVacay host in Northern Virginia when she wanted to supplement her freelance design income. “The experience has allowed me to spend more time with my dog, give him a few buddies to play with, and earn some extra pocket change,” she said. Being able to set her own schedule for taking in guest pups is an added perk.

2. Babysitting

Have experience working with children? Got a CPR certification or other proof that you’re trustworthy? You could be the most popular adult around for youngsters and their busy parents.

It’s a more involved task than pet sitting — the kids are more likely to talk back than the pets — but the rewards can be great. Who wouldn’t want to earn $20 an hour to supervise a child who’s likely to be in bed for half the evening?

3. Home Care

Pets and kids aside, some travelers just want to take care of the little things at home. Bringing in mail or packages for a neighbor and watering their plants is probably the easiest task you can perform. Think about offering a flat rate, like $15 for a one-week trip. Talking or singing to the plants is your call.

4. Moving Assistance

Got a little brawn to share? Some of your neighbors might feel that they don’t have enough belongings to warrant hiring a moving company. But the stresses of moving can catch up with them quickly, and having an extra set of hands can literally take the weight off their shoulders.

Stick to your building by helping folks move items into their moving trucks, or by helping them unload into their new apartment. It’s a great opportunity to meet your new neighbors while making some extra cash.

5. Taking in Visitors

Got a spare room, or a roommate who’s out of town for an extended trip? Maybe your place is small, but you’ve got a futon you could offer. Airbnb hosts in major cities charge $30, $45 or more per night for a guest to sleep in their living room or on an air mattress. If you’re social and have space to spare, this might be another low-maintenance option for you — but check with your landlord first, in case this option isn’t allowed in your building.

How to Get the Gigs

Word of mouth is by far the best option for spreading the word about your willingness to work for your neighbors. A happy neighbor-turned-customer might mention you to another resident in the mailroom or while sitting on the roof deck, and those good referrals are essential.

Got a community bulletin board? Don’t be afraid to advertise your services (be sure to check with your landlord to make sure this is permitted). People love getting help close to home. Make it easy for them to reach you by providing your email address or phone number. You don’t have to list your unit number, but do mention that you live on the property.

If your building uses an online management service like BuildingLink, use the message board or announcement options to notify residents of your availability. In town over the holidays? Be sure to send or post a reminder of your services as the holiday season approaches — these small tasks can slip your neighbors’ minds as they’re making travel plans.

Don’t forget to keep an eye on Craigslist. Searches in your immediate area may offer requests for last-minute moving help, or assistance with odd jobs. If you live in a large building or complex — the kind that seem like small towns — the poster may even list the property name.

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