Author Topic: Alternative Living Arrangement Questions  (Read 3081 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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  • Posts: 18
Alternative Living Arrangement Questions
« on: September 12, 2014, 12:32:46 PM »
Hey mustache folks. I am currently looking into some alternative living arrangements and I think I might have found one that will work. Free rent in exchange for 5-10 hours of farm labor per week and the location looks to be biking distance from work. This will also nullify a gym contract I am stuck in saving me an additional $169.00 per month.

I was wondering if anyone could offer any advice or has experience with these type of arrangements. Is there anything I should establish with the property owner? Has anyone been burned by this type of situation before? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Stubbly in the City

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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  • Posts: 9
Re: Alternative Living Arrangement Questions
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2014, 12:56:27 PM »
No experience with this kind of arrangement, but it sounds like a win getting a built-in side hustle that covers all your housing and getting rid of that onerous gym contract. 

My experience in family/friend/legal matters is that good fences make good neighbors.  In this case, the "good fence" would be having very clear expectations with your landlord about what will be provided, what is expected from you, and how long the relationship will last.


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: Alternative Living Arrangement Questions
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2014, 08:34:14 PM »
Right, go check it out and make sure the situation doesn't raise any of your red flags. Lots of weapons strewn about for example.


  • Senior Mustachian
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  • Location: Eastern Ontario, Canada
Re: Alternative Living Arrangement Questions
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2014, 08:51:10 PM »
How well does their work schedule mesh with yours?  Will the 5 hours turn into 10 at the same time you will be doing a lot of overtime at work? 


  • Bristles
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Re: Alternative Living Arrangement Questions
« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2014, 04:55:36 AM »
Just a warning: I have a friend who did a similar thing and was taken advantage of.  She described it as the worst working experience of her life (and she's worked as a midwife).  Basically, she got free room & board on a farm for X hours of her work.  It started out just fine, but the family who owned the farm ended up needing additional help and "small" favors.  This kept ramping up, and she ended up doing 4x as much work as was advertised (with no official records of that work being done, of course). Because it was a farm, it wasn't the type of work where you could just not show up.  Animals need to be taken care of, or they actually suffer.


  • Bristles
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  • Location: Oregon
Re: Alternative Living Arrangement Questions
« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2014, 08:18:14 AM »
Put everything in writing and have both parties sign it. Then keep a log of your hours and what you did during those hours, so there's a way for you to verify your end of the bargain.

I'm concerned with "5-10 hours" because it's so non-specific.

Also concerned with who gets to decide when those hours will be put in, you? them? How much control will you have over your own time?


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Re: Alternative Living Arrangement Questions
« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2014, 10:14:30 PM »
Unless you know the people very well, I would be careful with work trade situations.  We had an awful experience a couple years back where we built a yurt on someone's property in exchange for 8-10 hours of work a week. The problem was that the landlady couldn't come up with more than an hour of work to do at a time, and got upset if there was nobody around to work at any given time,  so we were constantly in her debt, and one of us had to hang around the place at all hours to be available if she needed us.  Basically, it became a full time job, and prevented my partner from looking for other work.  We moved as soon as we could.

The power imbalance with a work trade can be tremendous.  They are both your landlord and your boss, and the hassle to move can be really large, so it is almost always easier in the short term to comply with their crazy demands, or hour inflation, or miscalculations of hours worked, or whatever.  It is harder for you to dissolve the relationship than it is for them.

On the other hand, we have a partial work trade set up on our current situation, but there are two big differences:  we pay rent and then have money knocked off when we work for them (housesitting, in this case), and we knew the people weren't batshit when we moved in.  i would never do straight worktrade again, and instead would recommend paying rent, and then being paid for your work, even if you end up balancing it out to nobody owing any money each month.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2014, 10:19:21 PM by highcountry »