How to make housing free, cheap or make money from it!

How can you make and save money on housing?

Rent or your mortgage takes up over 50% of your budget for many families. While financial experts say it’s best to keep it under 30% or 40%, this can be quite difficult. Getting your mortgage to pay for itself, reducing the cost of rent or living for free might sound unrealistic but it’s possible!

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How to save money on housing

Think about what you need and want from a home. Close to work and schools, easy transport, how many bedrooms etc. While many people assume they need to be in Sydney or Melbourne to get higher wages, the cost of living is also higher. Looking a little further out such as Newcastle for those in Sydney can sometimes provide similar wages with a lower cost of living.

The size of your home matters too. Where I live most homes are $1,000,000+ and the homes are large. We live in a small home for the area and recently I found out we are paying half the rent the previous tenants were. I knew where we wanted to live, what I wanted in a home and manage to find it for significantly less than I anticipated.

Free Housing Options

Can you really get free accommodation? Yes! Couchsurfing is one popular option though it works better for single people. I’ve used it as both a host and guest but not for a while. Apparently, the site Couchsurfing has a lot of men assuming things of female guests so it isn’t as safe now.

Housesitting can be great and once you have experience, references and a reputation you can get paid for it too. Pets usually need to be looked after in the home and you can get placements from a few days to months. If your location is flexible, you could do this long-term. Get tips on it from a friend of mine here.

Making your home pay for itself means while you do have to pay the mortgage or rent, you make enough money from it that it is free (or even profitable). Check out how it can be done in this post based on a home I was living in. Renting rooms on Airbnb, having boarders, renting the garage or carport if you have one and running classes from your home are just a few options.

Make it cheaper

There are lots of ways to reduce expenses when it comes to your home, whether you rent or own. It mostly depends on what you are willing to do and what you want.


Renting somewhere cheaper is generally the most commonly given advice. I could live in a cheaper area but I have chosen where we lived based on school zones, transport and accessibility to things I need or want. Living with others is another way to reduce the cost. I’ve done this on and off since I was 18 and it’s worked well.

ShareAbode is one platform single parents can share homes, alternatively, putting your place up on Gumtree, Realestate.com.au or local Facebook groups work as well. Be extremely thorough in the screening process for anyone you choose to live with. 

Most renters I know want to eventually buy a home, which sometimes feels like it will never happen. Check out this article outlines how and tips to get that deposit!


Owning a home is quite different to renting and comes with a whole lot more expenses including maintenance, council rates, more insurance plus the mortgage can vary more than rent at times. There are pros and cons to both which I won’t get into here.

Before you buy if you can do your research to make sure you get a great mortgage and quality home. Check for issues with rot, pests, asbestos, damage and any major foundations or other issues which are likely to be expensive to fix. Proper building and pest inspections are essential.

Save up as much of a deposit as possible (20% is preferred to avoid LMI, but less can still get you into a home and guarantors are sometimes an option). Make sure you are getting any grants you’re eligible for to save money. Plus ensure you have enough money to cover any fees, stamp duty, lawyer costs etc. which you might have to cover. Getting started with your mortgage the right way can save you thousands.

To reduce the cost of your mortgage refinance or negotiate with your bank to get a better option. Mortgage brokers can be great for helping you look at your options and find better deals. However, if you are on a fixed rate or there are a lot of fees to exit, it might not always be beneficial to do it now. Look into your options and decide what is best for you. 

And of course, you can still rent out rooms and make money from your home to help reduce the cost further.

How to make money with housing

One of my favourite ways to make money with my house has been Airbnb. It’s free to join and list plus over busy seasons such as Christmas I have made $1,300 in 5 days! Check out this post with my top tips and this post about MadeComfy, a service to make it easier for you and more tips.

If you prefer regular tenants and consistent income having boarders is the way to go. I have rented rooms for $100 to $250 depending on where I lived and what was included. Where I am now the master room would rent for $250 which is over half my weekly rent! Do thorough checks, rent to people you know if you can and have a solid agreement in place. This post can help with 14 tips for renting to a boarder.

Rent out your garage or carport to someone needing parking or to store their project car, boat or similar. In the city, I rented mine for $181 a month but could have gotten more. Years ago in the western suburbs of Sydney, I rented out my garage for $50 a week to another mum running a business who needed the space. Spacer was one option to rent it out and not have to worry about it. Others simply put up signs in buildings I lived in. How much you make will vary depending on where you live but I have usually made $50+ a week from it.

Examples from my life

I’ve lived in large homes, small apartments and in 4 different states. What I have done in each state has varied depending on the home.

House 1 – Canberra

This was the home featured in an article about how to make a home pay for itself. I rented to boarders for $250 a week, had Airbnb for $60 a night, couchsurfers paid nothing but I viewed it as good karma and my kids loved it. The front lounge was perfect for a studio so we ran classes from our home which paid covered the rent each time we ran one and they were easy to do. I also saved a lot in this home in some ways through having chickens, a solar-powered swimming pool, home gym etc. The gas bills there were awful though. 

Rent was higher than I would have liked to pay but the potential to make money from it (which I did) made it worth it.

Apartment in Melbourne

I lived in 2 different apartments, one was in a luxury complex which after renting the place on Airbnb a couple of times, we got told you are not allowed to. Always check if you can for where you are living! We could still rent to people we knew so did that when we went away and for special events. In this home, there were two gyms, a pool and meeting rooms we could use for events and classes still. I miss this home so much.

The other apartment was smaller and didn’t have all the amenities. Rent was cheaper, it was easy to rent out whenever I went away ($1,300 in 5 days as mentioned over Christmas, $600 another time when we went away for a few days and it easily went for $100+ a night other times when we were not home). Separately I rented the garage out for $181 a month since we didn’t need it.

Large house in Melbourne suburbs

This is where we currently live and it has been so different. Completely different lifestyle here to my city lifestyle (which I miss terribly). My kids love it here and are thriving! We moved to be in the school zone for high school we decided on for them. I am yet to rent out any rooms or do anything to make money as we’ve been too busy. In many ways I am saving money though because we have amazing neighbours, our electricity, gas etc is the same as the apartment despite the huge home and I have a variety of people willing to look after my kids for me. The elderly couple across the road have adopted us like family including getting their grandkids to visit to play with my kids, giving us flowers, fruit, olives etc.

The neighbours’ swap excess produce, help each other fix things around their home, take care of each other’s kids etc. Plus the rent is a little cheaper than I was paying in the city but the home and yards are so much larger. Our home has a heap of fruit trees, flowers we pick and have inside every week and everything my kids wanted in a home.

Those are a few examples of where I have lived and what I have done in those homes to ease the cost of housing.

How do you make and save money with your housing?

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