Scraping together enough money to pay rent in this city is no fun, especially if you don’t have the highest paying job or if you travel around a lot. Some creative folks, though, have gone back to economic basics and are ditching the whole currency thing in favor of bartering with their landlords. The Wall Street Journal recently followed two Brooklynites who have worked out arrangements with their landlords to run errands in exchange for rent. One had ambitiously tried bartering away her over $100,000 in student loans with no luck, but did manage to get her landlord to waive her rent by building him a website, giving him photography lessons, and selling his furniture. The other tenant has been running errands for his landlord and helping her arrange building repairs in exchange for free rent.
This probably isn’t the easiest arrangement to pull off since it depends a lot on having a flexible landlord and also means you could have more trouble verifying your address. One of the tenants in the Journal story keeps getting called to jury duty in the Bronx since he has no bills or lease to prove he has since moved to Brooklyn, and we’re not sure how taxes come into play, so some of the legal stuff can get tricky. Still, the first tenant only needs to work 33 1/4 hours per month to make rent, which isn’t a bad deal.
We’re inspired by these alternative economy explorers, but haven’t had much luck ourselves. We once tried getting the brokers at a Williamsburg high rise to let us crash there in exchange for a song we wrote them about how we otherwise can’t afford to live in Williamsburg. Despite the song’s inspirational bassoon solo during the bridge, they somehow weren’t really digging it. Maybe they’ll show us mercy in Bushwick.