Shelter.

From the zine How to have an amazingly adventurous life for zero dollars a day.

There are infinite possibilities for creating a shelter, a safe place to live.  By stepping out of the Rent or Buy? options we can consider:

Housesit or caretake. You could go through life never paying for accommodation, taking care of the houses, gardens and pets of people who are travelling.  Housesits can last for days, months, sometimes years.  If you enjoy country life and have some farm skills, or are looking to learn, caretaking a farm can be rewarding and give you a chance to get to know an area if you are considering settling there longer term.

Squat. Any unoccupied house can be legally occupied and have the locks changed by anyone.  There are plenty of empty houses around.  No rent.  Always the possibility that you may be evicted if you don’t know who the owner is, but you do have some legal rights in this situation.  It may be possible to make an arrangement with the owner to stay on and maintain the house.  Check out the Squatters’ Handbook at squatspace.com/handbook for everything you could want to know about squatting.

Renovations. For those with building skills, fixing up a house while living in it can give you a job and free accommodation.  If you don’t mind living in a building site.

Build a shelter. I spent a few months sleeping in a humpy made from wax boxes in the backyard of a friend’s house.  It can be quite easy to build a temporary or permanent shelter, such as a tipi, hut, stardome, yurt, bender, treehouse or shed, in a few hours or days, and build completely out of free recycled materials.  It feels great to live in something you have built yourself.  Building on a friend’s property where you can get access to water and a place to store food makes it easier.

Free camp. I cycled around Tasmania last summer carrying camping gear, and set up camp in parks and patches of woodland, on beaches, clifftops and creekbanks.  I’ve read a story of a man in America who lives in a cave, and there’s a guy in Sydney who sleeps in a hammock high up in a Moreton Bay fig tree in a park in the inner city.  He has a house but prefers sleeping up in the tree.  I know of someone who spent months camping out in a forest on the outskirts of Hobart while maintaining a full time IT job in the city.

Work exchange. The idea of taking in a boarder who looks after the house in exchange for free rent can be quite appealing for busy people.  If you enjoy cooking, gardening, babysitting or cleaning this can be quite an effective arrangement.  Currently I have an arrangement with two friends who have bought their own house that I live with them, do a fair proportion of the cooking and gardening, provide a reasonable share of the food and pay minimal rent.

Share housing. Not free but cheaper than occupying a house as an individual or couple.  It can be lots of fun and has many other benefits: sharing chores, becoming open to other ways of doing things, which is useful for anything you do in life, expanding your social networks and introducing you to new ideas.  There’s no reason two families with young children couldn’t share a house, or older people whose children have left home.  Widows and widowers might also benefit from the companionship and reduced expenses of sharing a house.

Every night in Australia there are 17 million spare beds.  There is no shortage of housing, just a shortage of creative ways to make use of the space we have.

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