Some of the best jobs that offer housing include seasonal resort worker, cruise ship employee, live-in nanny or au pair, camp counselor, and ranch hand. While there are many advantages to jobs that provide free housing and paid utilities, there are also a few drawbacks.
Individuals in all career paths are feeling the financial sting of the increasing cost of living nationwide. This is especially true for the cost of housing, which is often the highest monthly expense.
The current average cost of rent is more than $1,300 per month for a one-bedroom apartment; in large cities like New York or San Francisco, it’s more than twice that much. In theory, no one should need to spend more than 30% of their income on housing, but these days, the average American is spending 40% or more. This leaves a very tight budget for other essentials like food, healthcare, and education — let alone saving for a house or for retirement.
But what if the cost of housing could be removed entirely from the equation? Keep reading to learn more about jobs with housing included, the advantages and drawbacks of these jobs, and some of the best jobs that offer this bonus.
Pros and cons of jobs with housing provided
Though included housing is a large plus for these jobs, keep in mind that there are some downsides to consider as well.
Here is a list of the benefits and drawbacks to consider.
- Save money on housing
- Offers more financial stability
- Much shorter commutes
- Can relocate to and explore a new space
- Improved communication with co-workers
- Stable housing leads to less stress
- May have access to additional on-site benefits
- Lower salaries than other positions
- Often work long hours
- Limited to befriending people immediately around you
- Housing and shared spaces may be more dorm-style
Having a job with housing provided can make all the difference in the quality of life of individuals and families struggling financially. It enables people to build the skills and knowledge they need for the future without sacrificing their current needs.” — Mark Joseph, founder of Parental Queries
“When housing is provided, it allows individuals to focus on their work and personal life without having to worry about finding a place to live or paying rent,” said Alastair Hazell, a financial specialist, coach, and founder of The Calculator Site. “This can lead to a more relaxed and stress-free life.”
“Housing is often the largest expense for many individuals, and having it included in a job package can result in more disposable income,” said Adam Garfield, marketing director of an online business.
“This can help employees better manage their finances, increase their overall savings, and free up resources for other important expenses. This can lead to long-term financial stability and security.”
All those added savings can go toward financing a great retirement or investing in a riskier venture. Regardless of your risk tolerance, make sure you speak with an investment advisor about your options.
Some people spend many travel hours just to get to and from work. In contrast, jobs that offer housing usually provide options on-site or nearby, making for a very short commute.
Lindsay Karny, an HR professional and career coach, said, “When you have a job without housing provided and are unable to find something within your budget, you’re stuck having to commute farther from work every day, which is costly and time-consuming.”
Ability to relocate and see new places
“Most of these jobs require you to travel somewhere else, allowing you to experience the culture of another area of the world and interact with people you would have never interacted with otherwise,” said Jennifer Finley, content manager at Academic Influence. “This gives you a unique life experience that most of the workforce won’t be able to experience.”
Improved quality of life
“Employees who have access to affordable, safe, and stable housing are more likely to be productive and engaged at work, and less likely to experience absenteeism or turnover,” said Smithe Sodine, founder of an online business. “They also tend to have better overall health and wellness, which can lead to lower healthcare costs for employers.”
Mark Joseph, the founder of Parental Queries, experienced this improvement firsthand. “When I was a student, my family had trouble making ends meet. We were constantly struggling to pay rent and utilities, let alone save money. I found a job that provided free housing, meals, and an hourly wage. Over time, I noticed an incredible transformation in my household’s quality of life: we had more flexibility to save for the future and travel to see family. It also allowed me to focus on my studies without worrying about my financial obligations.
“Having a job with housing provided can make all the difference in the quality of life of individuals and families struggling financially. It enables people to build the skills and knowledge they need for the future without sacrificing their current needs.”
Access to additional benefits
“In some cases, having a job that covers your residence may also provide access to additional resources, such as on-site amenities or services,” said Percy Grunwalt, a personal finance expert. In addition to housing, some of these jobs even include health/dental insurance and paid leave.
Drawbacks of jobs that provide free housing
- Lower salaries. Because housing is included in these job descriptions, you may find that these positions offer lower salaries than other jobs. However, you’ll probably have fewer expenses, giving you a financial advantage in the long run.
- Long hours. “Some jobs with housing provided, such as live-in caregivers or private chefs, can require long hours and can be physically and emotionally demanding,” said Ilia Mundut, founder of an online store.
- Social isolation. Rachel Cunningham, who works on superyachts as a chef, mentions the disadvantage of “not having a social life outside of your crew or being able to see family. While we have the financial advantage of not paying for rent, we do also give up many other ‘normal’ things in life.”
- Shared or basic housing. The “reasonable accommodations” offered by some jobs with housing may not be luxurious, or even private. Sometimes it will be dorm-style housing, which may not be for everyone. Jarir Mallah, who worked as an English teacher abroad, said that, “Most workplaces that supply housing do so in the same block of apartments or houses. The space is usually quite small and not modern. There were many issues with basic necessities.”
Seasonal jobs with housing included
It is possible to combine multiple seasonal jobs to create a unique and diverse year-round career. Jobs like these may be especially enticing for young people or singles with the freedom to move wherever their work takes them.
Since many seasonal jobs are available in scenic locations that attract a lot of tourism, this type of career path may be perfect for those who love exploring new places and don’t mind relocating each season or filling in the off seasons with side jobs.
1. Seasonal resort or hotel worker
Seasonal staff jobs may not pay much, but they do offer other perks. Not only does this include dental and medical coverage, but it also means discounts on resort facilities and services, as well as free room and board (often in dorm-style housing). They also provide good advancement opportunities.
Entry-level seasonal hotel staff involved in the hotel’s day-to-day operations (cleaning staff or front desk staff) don’t need formal education or special qualifications. However, other jobs may require qualified applicants to have more experience, such as in the case of resort managers, instructors, or expedition leaders.
Of course, salaries will vary greatly depending on experience level, location, and even season. For instance, most service-related seasonal jobs will offer minimum wage (plus tips), while the national average salary for ski resort jobs is around $54,000 per year. Hotel and resort directors or managers can earn even more at over $100,000 annually.
2. Camp counselor or camp employee
If you love working with children, this may be a fun seasonal job option with housing provided. Qualified applicants will need some knowledge of positive behavioral management techniques, as well as the ability to provide essential supervision. It’s also important to maintain positive interactions with campers and have the ability to build camper self-esteem.
The average salary for a camp counselor is around $25,600, with the highest-paying states being Mississippi, Nebraska, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming. There is also a high concentration of summer camp opportunities on the east coast in New England, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Seasonal camps typically run from late May or early June through mid-August.
3. Ranch hand
This may be a great option for someone who likes the outdoors, likes working with animals, and doesn’t mind getting their hands dirty. A ranch hand is responsible for taking care of horses and cattle, keeping track of day-to-day operations and property maintenance, and interacting with visitors.
These jobs are usually available across the western United States, from Texas to Montana. The estimated salary for ranch jobs is around $26,000 per year, but it comes with free on-site housing opportunities, as well as a chance to learn new skills and meet people from all over the country.
Year-round jobs that include housing
If you’re looking for a job with housing provided but don’t like the idea of moving someplace new each season, there are also many year-round full-time positions that offer more stability. Many of these jobs also offer other benefits like health care and dental insurance plans, paid vacation time, and long-term job security.
4. Park ranger
Millions of visitors stream into national parks across the country year-round to enjoy the scenic and natural beauty — but none of them can say they live in a national park unless they’re park employees. Park jobs (ranger, fire ranger, educational center employee) are great for those who love the outdoors. Depending on the location or position, these jobs can also be a good fit for someone who prefers working alone or for someone who likes having positive interactions with people.
Park rangers may need some training, but the immersive nature of the work makes it easy to learn on the job. The average annual salary is $43,000, and it comes with the added benefit of free employee housing in the park itself, which provides beautiful surroundings and privacy.
5. Dorm or residence advisor
If you want to get free housing while also earning a university degree (and making an average annual salary of $30,000), this may be the perfect job for you. Your job would entail helping dorm residents solve problems, coordinating student activities, contacting university personnel when needed, and enforcing policies.
If being an RA doesn’t fully fund your higher education, consider looking into a federal or private student loan for the remaining cost.
6. Security guard
Security guard jobs often include reasonable accommodations either nearby or on-site. You’ll likely live with other security guards and work in shifts. The average annual salary is $29,000, but the schedule may allow you enough free time to work other jobs or even attend college.
7. Live-in nanny or au pair
“A career as a live-in nanny offers numerous benefits to those who cannot imagine anything better than caring for children and developing a special relationship with a family,” said Sean Harris, managing editor of FamilyDestinationsGuide. “You will usually be given a private bedroom and bathroom, free food, and the use of a car. You might also get paid sick days, vacation time, and health insurance contributions. Although a degree in early childhood education is not always required, it can lead to better opportunities.”
Similar to a live-in nanny, au pairs are expected to help with not only childcare but also chores around the house, such as cooking, laundry, shopping, and driving the kids (which will require a valid driver’s license). The added benefit is that au pairs can live or study in another country while working part- or full-time.
Outside the United States, most au pair opportunities can be found in Western Europe and Canada. The salary for both live-in nannies and au pairs averages around $25,000 per year (depending on location).
Travel jobs with housing included
If you love to travel, a job that provides housing and allows you to see new places around the world while saving money could be a perfect fit. Some of these jobs require professional training, while others are entry-level.
Every branch of the military (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines) offers housing, income, and training. Some make the military a career, while others join for the financial benefits or to earn a college degree. The average annual salary is $61,000 (of course salaries in the military can vary widely depending on rank, experience, and other factors) which, if used wisely, can lead to significant long-term wealth, as experienced by Charles Joseph, a military veteran, and real estate investor:
“For about 10 years, the military gave me over $2,000 a month for housing. I found a place to live for less and pocketed the rest,” he said. “That extra cash allowed us to pay bills, not worry about emergencies when they came up, and live life without building debt. I also have the opportunity to put a large sum in my toddler’s investment account. Throughout my 18-year military career, I was able to use the leftover funds to purchase 3 homes and start a business that allowed me to fully retire at the age of 41.”
9. International educator or TEFL teacher
If you have teaching credentials, working as an educator abroad can be a lucrative career, paying on average $54,000 per year. It includes housing, medical and dental coverage, moving expenses, and even flights home. Countries in the Middle East, China, Singapore, and other Southeast Asian countries offer the best opportunities.
If you’re just starting a career in education, teaching English abroad (anywhere from Europe, to Asia to South America) may be a good option. Though you’ll need a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificate, it can be a very rewarding career path, paying anywhere from between $2,000 and $5,000 per month.
“In my experience as a teacher in Spain, housing was included in my compensation package, which allowed me to save a substantial amount of money and use it for other expenses or travel,” said Alastair Hazell, quoted earlier. If you find yourself in a similar situation, make sure you have the right savings account to hold your funds.
10. Cruise ship employee
Working on a cruise ship can be hard work because it involves providing guests quality service 24/7. However, it’s a great option for someone looking for a job as an entertainer, a casino dealer, or in hospitality or management.
The ship will provide housing while you’re working and often between cruises. So, if you’ve always dreamed of going on an Alaskan adventure or traveling around the world by sea, this may be the perfect job for you. The average annual salary is around $23,000.
This was exactly the kind of adventure Sara Taskoskiwas, who has now been with Carnival Cruise Lines for over a year, was looking for. “You can pick what ship/location you want to go next, which is a plus. I don’t have any expenses at all besides maintaining regular toiletries. I’m saving money while getting to travel and meet new people from all around the world.”
Other jobs with free housing for qualified employees
- Doctors Without Borders. Some medical professionals choose to work with Doctors without Borders for part of the year while still maintaining a career in the U.S. The average salary is $180,000 per year.
- Oil rig worker. The on-site housing opportunities may be very basic and the schedule is tough, but the pay for oil rig workers is quite good — $70,300 on average (although some positions can pay much higher salaries). Job opportunities are also available for oil rig engineers, divers, and managers. There are also some entry-level opportunities that allow for good career advancement.
- International civil engineer. Some civil engineers work abroad to help develop cities and roads. These positions are in high demand in countries like the United Arab Emirates and Singapore, which bring in an average annual salary of $70,000.
- Butler. This job takes training, experience, and excellent references, but it can be a lucrative and rewarding lifetime career, paying between $60,000 and $150,000 per year.
- Personal chef. This job rarely requires a degree, but cooking skills and a passion for food are a must. The average annual salary for a personal chef is $47,000.
- Property manager. Many apartment and condo complexes need a manager to live on-site. This job could include free housing within the complex or reduced rent, with an average annual salary of $43,000. These also aren’t always full-time positions, allowing you to work another job if you choose to.
How to find jobs with free housing
“According to a recent study, over 1 million Americans work abroad in jobs that provide housing. In the US, jobs with housing are becoming more prevalent, with industries such as healthcare, education, and hospitality offering these benefits,” said Brenton Thomas, founder of Twibi, a digital marketing agency. “However, the competition for these jobs can be high, so it is important to have relevant skills and experience.”
Most job search platforms will have openings for jobs that provide employee housing so you can exclusively look for positions with this benefit. There are also websites dedicated to finding seasonal jobs.
“Getting jobs like these can be challenging,” said Mark Stewart, a certified public accountant and financial media specialist. “However, you can research or hire a recruitment specialist to point you to these jobs and prepare you for their recruitment processes, because they may be more intensive than those that do not offer housing benefits.”
- Jobs with housing included can come with plenty of benefits in addition to free housing, such as shorter commutes and an integrated community.
- That said, there are also multiple drawbacks, including lower salaries, long hours, social isolation, and shared or basic housing.
- Some of the best jobs that offer housing include seasonal resort worker, cruise ship employee, live-in nanny or au pair, and ranch hand.
- There are other, higher-paying jobs that include free housing, but they often require advanced skills or qualifications. These include Doctors Without Borders volunteers, oil rig workers, international civil engineers, butlers, personal chefs, and property managers.
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