Free Rent for Blood, Sweat and Tears

Free Rent for Blood, Sweat and Tears


In a handful of east-coast states in the US, a new ‘resident curators’ scheme has launched offering brave souls the chance to live in derelict historic buildings rent-free in exchange for applying some hard-graft and DIY know-how.

Before you sling on the tool belt

This is not for the feint-heart or shallow-pocketed. The renovations go far beyond a lick of paint as the cost of renovating the buildings following years of neglect can range from $150 000 to several million dollars. Many of the properties also need new sewage systems, asbestos removal and industrial cleaning, as well as major structural work to make them habitable.

These projects are also not for the weekend DIY-er as alterations need to meet strictly monitored local, state and (on occasion) national building codes, and financing isn’t available. Curators therefore need to have proof of a substantial nest egg and necessary know-how to invest in the project.

Still, it’s for free!

Think this doesn’t have legs to stand on?  Maureen Clarke and her husband disagree. Having taken on a pre-Victorian farmhouse in Massachusetts, they say “our costs will end up being about the same as paying two years’ worth of rent in some states. Instead we’ll have years of living rent-free in a unique home that we wouldn’t have been able to afford otherwise.”

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