This is more of an issue for long-term WWOOFers. In most WWOOFing situations, you will have free rent and utitilities, and at least some free food. Some hosts will even have Internet access, a swimming pool, a vehicle to use, or other extras. But at most places you’ll just get the basics.
So when staying or traveling for a long time how does one take care of little things like soap and toothpaste, not to mention the bigger things like car payments (if you have one), insurance, medical expenses, entertainment, travel and sight-seeing?
In our travels, we’ve been lucky to have a few things going for us: good public transportation, long-term stays with good people, nearby second-hand stores (sometimes free stores!), great amenities like free TV, local sources of free wild food, and a husband who is good at fixing things and making stuff work.
We also are used to living a independent life and not buying a lot of stuff. We buy our clothes used, we cook from scratch, and we borrow books, music and movies. We’re also pretty healthy, and don’t often need to go to the doctor.
If you can manage to reduce the amount of money you need in this way, there are lots of ways to find a supplemental income while WWOOFing and make the whole thing work. Here are a few that have worked for us or people we’ve met along the way:
-Having an low-maintenance online business that can be run from anywhere- You will need to make sure you only stay where you can get Internet access, but that’s not usually too much of a problem. Ideas would include crafts you can sell online, blogging, e-books, real books (lulu.com has a great program if you’re a writer and want to get self-published), design work, and selling things on eBay.
-Doing odd jobs for neighbors in your spare time – pruning, raking leaves, cleaning house, babysitting, mowing the lawn – all of these can give you a little extra money. Not much for someone who needs to pay rent and utilities, but fine for someone who just needs some pocket money. Your host may be able to recommend you to the neighbors. If you have quite a light work-load, you could even get a part time traditional job in the evenings or on weekends.
-Doing extra work for your host – you can’t assume that this to the case, but your host may occasionally ask you to do some work outside the hours you’ve agreed upon, or work unrelated to the farm (like setting up a website for them, or house-sitting). I’ve met a lot of WWOOFers who have specialized skills like landscaping, painting, web design, or accounting that go beyond WWOOFing. Since they’re already in a close relationship with their host, it makes sense for the host to ask them first. A lot of WWOOF hosts go to farmer’s markets or have an on-site store. Some will pay you to run one of these or to deliver orders to customers.
- Communicate with your host – I always say that communication is key. If you’ve been an excellent WWOOFer, your host is going to be concerned if you need to move on for lack of funds. Let them know, because you’re never sure if they can do something. I’m not saying to flat out ask for a loan! But they likely know people in the community who need help and can give you some work of some kind, or they’ll come up with something of their own. If you don’t talk about it, you’ll never know. I’ve met a few people who started out as WWOOFers, but ended up as paid employees of the farm because they were so good at what they did. Some hosts use WWOOFing as a trial run to find good full-time employees.
If you plan to keep WWOOFing, keep in mind that your WWOOFing duties need to come before your money-making efforts. WWOOFing is what pays for your rent. Never take advantage of the situation. WWOOFing is not designed as a way to make money. If it is not working for you, you should either move on to a different situation, or perhaps go back to a traditional living/working situation. Also keep in mind that if you are WWOOFing in a foreign country, any paid jobs may put you in need of a work visa, depending on your status.
Have you WWOOFed before, or been a host? How did it work for you? Was it longterm, and if so, how did you take care of the non-covered stuff? Any other ideas of how to make some side income? You can leave comments below, or if you want to tell your whole story as a featured guest post, click on contact above.
photo by darrenhester on morguefile