On the subject of what the heck are we doing/where the blazes are we going next, we have some ideas (in no particular order)…

Okay. What’s a WorkCamper? What’s a Workamper? And what is the difference?

According to Wikipedia, a volunteer camp host is a WorkCamper, while a PAID camp host is a Workamper. “Workamper” is a contraction of work and camper that is copywritten by Workamper News, Inc. (fascinating, right?)

When this idea first occurred to us, we had no idea what a “workamper” was. It was the day of our very first open house back in August (which also happened to be my birthday.) We spent the day avoiding reality as best we could at Leo Carillo State Beach in Malibu. There was this RV situated in a lovely nook on the beach with an unobstructed view of the Pacific and a little wood sign that read “Campground Host.” Campground host? It had never occurred to me that there was such a thing. But of course. Why wouldn’t there be? We started fantasizing…. imagine living in Malibu ON the beach and getting paid to be there!

With a little research, we discover that the Leo Carillo Campground Host gig is UNpaid. But still. In exchange for 20 hours weekly, you get to camp there for FREE including all services (electric, water, sewer, telephone and AT&T Wifi.) That seems like a good deal, actually. 20 hours of work leaves plenty of time for another job. And you get to live on the beach. Bob can do his job anywhere there’s a wifi connection. Check. I can write anywhere. There’s a Starbucks down the road. I could be a barista/writer/campground host. This could work. Right? Well…

There’s the little matter of needing to purchase a camper, however. Though I do enjoy tent camping for a night or two, I’m really not interested in living in one. And so far we haven’t landed an Airstream for free. Not yet, at least.

Opportunities for volunteer campground & park manager/hosts in CA:
California State Parks

An intriguing Paid Campground Host/Manager gig in Alaska:
Kenai Riverside Campground Host/Manager (ALASKA)


Ever since watching Pete’s Dragon as a kid, I’ve fantasized about living in a lighthouse. Who hasn’t? Did you know that you could live in one for FREE? Well, in exchange for being it’s keeper, of course.

How to Be a Lighthouse Keeper

I’m really loving this idea!


I think this idea came from my mom. We’ve been thinking about it. How it would be an opportunity to live rent-free short term somewhere we’ve always wanted to live but have never had the chance. I’m sure a lot more goes into it (as all of these ideas) than we can see on the surface, but it’s definitely fun to look at some of the listings…

Like this one found in The Caretaker Gazette

HOUSESITTERS of adventuresome spirit, Europeans, jet setters, retirees, caretakers. Discover unspoiled Alamos, Sonora’s city of silver in semitropical Sierra Madre Mountains. Live in 250-year-old Spanish colonial mansions. Experience a unique community. The Santa Fe of Mexico. Little theater, tennis courts, bridge club, poker, chess. 4000′ municipal airport.

And this one:

COUPLE, or a single person able to handle isolation, is needed on a remote southern Arizona ranch for various short-term time periods. Caretaker, cooking, housekeeping, and maintenance responsibilities. Small salary, housing and insurance provided.

Biggest fear about house sitting? The Shining. I mean, it’s right there in the ad: “couple able to handle isolation“?! If that’s not a warning, I don’t know what is.

Sabbatical Homes – House Sitting Listings

Googling “Living Rent-Free” generated this intriguing and slightly scary idea- living like a pirate in NYC. There is apparently, however, a 400 person wait list!

Urban Pirates via Gothamist

and from the New York Times:

A Floating Home
Moored in a spot about a 10-minute boat ride from Midtown, a ship has become home for a small group of secretive and resourceful people looking for an inexpensive, unorthodox place to stay. The ship is 6,000 square feet across four floors with 15-foot ceilings, and from a roof deck the size of a tennis court there is an unbroken view of the Manhattan skyline.

5. WWOOFing

Idea #5 comes from Vagabondish in
“8 Tools to Help You Travel Forever and Live Rent Free”

WWOOF stands for World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms

According to their site,

WWOOF is a world wide network – It started in the UK in 1971 and has since become an international movement that is helping people share more sustainable ways of living.

WWOOF is an exchange – In return for volunteer help, WWOOF hosts offer food, accommodation and opportunities to learn about organic lifestyles.

WWOOF organisations link people who want to volunteer on organic farms or smallholdings with people who are looking for volunteer help.

WWOOF USA– for Wwoofing locally

For more information, here’s an article about WWOOFING in Australia: “Labour of Love

To WWOOF or not to WWOOF…



  1. Posted May 14, 2009 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

    Ha! Great post.

    And on another note, I loved both “Pete’s Dragon” and “The Shining.”

    Saw a book once about a year that one of the beat writers spent up in the woods in Oregon minding a fire spotting tower. Want to find the book again, as it seemed like a great (if lonesome) gig for an itinerant playwright. I wonder if they accept fire spotters with cats?

  2. Posted May 14, 2009 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

    Fire spotter. Hmmm…

    Cats and dogs do make things a bit more challenging. I’ve found a few lighthouse keeper volunteer postings but you can’t have a pet.

    I want to read that book. If you think of the title, post it here! Thanks, EM!

  3. Posted May 30, 2009 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

    Yep, that’s exactly what I thought of: live in a lookout tower as a fire spotter. I’m from the Pacific Northwest. Idaho, to be even more precise. Working as a lookout was a pretty common summer job that people in my small hometown would take. If you’re seriously interested, out here you would contact the U.S. Forest Service. I don’t know how forest management is done in the East, but maybe USFS is still your contact point.

    And, I’m certain you could find several lookouts where you would be allowed to bring your dogs and cats. The hawks, wolves, and mountain lions would appreciate it, too! 🙂

  4. Posted April 13, 2010 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the great post. I too have desired the campground host position. I never knew they were called workcampers.
    Currently, I’m looking into WWOOFing, I was wondering if you have tried it yet?

  5. Anonymous
    Posted May 9, 2010 at 3:13 am | Permalink

    I found your blog by googling: pregnant, foreclosure, Moving, death 🙁 I know, sad huh? but I’m so glad I did.
    My dad, my best friend died 1 year ago, when I was 9 mos pregnant..shortly after my husbands successful business took a nosedive, leaving us in massive debt…barely paying bills after having the baby, we went late on our mortgage for the 1st time ever in 5 years, spiraling an evil spill of loan hell onto us, now in foreclosure, I have sold everything we own, including my 10 month old sons crib & toys to buy us 1 way tickets to a new life…struggling in my marriage to find out yesterday, Surprise I’m 6weeks pregnant!
    Basically my rant is to say, if I can at least find the time to read 1 post of yours a day, it’ll encourage me-we can move forward-hopefully together!! 😉

  6. Posted May 9, 2010 at 10:28 pm | Permalink


    Thanks so much for taking the time to comment and share your current situation. Honestly, reading your comment made me cry. Yes, I’m completely hormonal (I’m 29-weeks pregnant) but it was your authenticity and the difficulty of what you’re facing that really got me. I know how it feels to feel like everything is spinning out of control. You have so much on your plate right now. I hope you do keep reading the blog and find some inspiration. I wish you and your family all the best. I hope that somehow you come out on the other side better off than before.

    And congratulations on your new baby and your pregnancy!

  7. Brittany
    Posted May 12, 2010 at 4:54 am | Permalink

    I’m so glad I checked back to this post, and saw your reply. I’m sorry I made you cry, but the other night I was just overwhelmed with grief for us, my son, the new life in my belly-completely at the bottom of my barrel. Reading your posts and your new adventure on the island, and how that came about has encouraged me so very much, I hope you know if you’ve ever doubted the time or genuine honesty in your blog-it was well spent on me. I’m grateful to you, a stranger for understanding what I’m going thru and to be human enough to admit it and to have replied to me. You are appreciated. 🙂 congrats on your pregnancy too!! I will say, throughout this horrible last year-we are SO amazingly blessed to have had our little guy-smiling all the time, bringing joy and love to us everyday nomattter what the circumstance! Take care, and I’ll be reading up on your island adventure! Btw our 1 way tickets are to an island too, lol. Life is short! Brittany

  8. Posted March 2, 2011 at 5:09 am | Permalink

    Great ideas! I’ll be looking into the lighthouse one for sure, I’m interested to see the demand for light house keepers, it doesn’t seem like there would be too many opportunities to do something like that. I’ve got a blog on this topic, and just wrote a post of my 6 favorite ways to live rent free, long-term

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