We’ve found this year’s LiveRentFree top dog…

A 25-piece samba band, four SpareRoomers in dog fancy dress and a giant cheque for £6,708. It’s the stuff dreams are made of, right?

Or at least it was for 29-year-old Nicola Bodfish, a Brighton-based canine-grooming enthusiast and the latest winner of our annual LiveRentFree competition.

But let’s paws (sorry) and go back to the start. In May, we invited renters to share their dreams of how they’d spend a year’s free rent. Over 80,000 entries (and a LOT of hilarious responses) later, we found our winner Nicola, whose dream was quitting her job to start a dog grooming business.

Such an insane prize deserved an equally insane reveal, so we decided to surprise Nicola on Saturday 1st July, while she was (aptly) studying at The Dog Hut Canine Studies college in Polegate. Our squad included a samba band, four SpareRoomers dressed as giant dogs, a banner with Nicola’s name plastered across it, and a HUGE cheque for £6,708 (a year of her rent) hand-delivered by Rupert, our CEO and Founder.

Her reaction? Worryingly cool, calm and collected on camera, but overall as chuffed as you’d expect: “Saturday was absolutely crazy. I really can’t thank you guys enough for such an awesome surprise – you don’t know how much this will help me progress the business plans. I don’t think it’s even sunk in yet!”

Keep your eyes peeled for Sussex-based canine updates, and in the meantime why not have a think about what you’d do with a month’s free rent? Our monthly LiveRentFree competition could make it happen sooner than you think…

Happy Rent Freedom Day!

Happy Rent Freedom Day!

What does that mean? Simple – if the average UK flatsharer started the year putting all their take home pay towards rent, it would have taken till now to pay it off. That means May 12th is the first day of the year you’d be working just for yourself.

That’s a massive chunk of your life spent working just to pay the rent.

But what if every day was Rent Freedom Day?

Someone’s about to get the chance to find out, thanks to SpareRoom’s Live Rent Free competition. It’s one of those ‘does what it says on the tin’ things – we’re going to pay one lucky flatmate’s rent for a whole year.

Yep, you heard right.

What would you spend the money on? The trip of a lifetime? Starting a business? Clearing your credit card debt?

These are some of our favourite responses so far!

“I would always order guacamole when I had a burrito (even though it costs more)”

“Holiday like a Z-list reality TV celebrity”

“Buy flights to South America as I really want to go to Costa Rica and hold a baby sloth”

If you want to find out what happened to the last person we gave a whole year’s rent to, check out our blog post (**spoiler alert – this link does not include baby sloths or guacamole**)

So, what are you waiting for? Enter Live Rent Free now to be in with a chance of winning. Oh, and happy Rent Freedom Day!

How living rent free changed one person’s life

Back in 2009, when we first launched Live Rent Free, we decided to give away a year’s rent to kick things off. We figured a whole year without paying rent might give someone the opportunity to do something exciting, or maybe even life changing. Thousands of people clearly agreed and entries started flooding in. We picked a winner and emailed her with the fantastic news.

Nothing happened.

We waited a few days…still nothing. We emailed again. Nope. So we took to social media to see if anyone out there could help find our winner. Still no luck.

Then, two weeks later, just as we were having the do we need to pick another winner? conversation, an email arrived.

‘I didn’t get the original no, thank you for mailing me again. Jo.’

Quickly followed by another…

‘Didn’t fully read the last email, now I’ve read the second bit… I’m sort of freaking out. I don’t think I’ve ever won anything before!’

Turns out the original email went into her junk folder but, finally, we’d found our winner. At the time, Jo lived in London (Balham, to be precise). We worked out her prize, based on the average rent in her postcode, and sent her a cheque for £7,072, along with a note asking for a bit of info about herself and what she planned to do with the money.

‘I moved to London from Manchester in order to go back to university, where I study illustration. I entered the competition on a whim then forgot all about it. I have to say when I read your email my brain stopped responding to what I was seeing, which is a bit worrying for an art student. I have no idea what I’ll spend the money on…probably  a Cintiq, which is a sort of computer screen you can draw on. Then I guess lots of nice books and beer for my friends!’

Lucky friends!

Our lucky winner, Jo

Fast forward to 2017 and we decided Live Rent Free deserved a little bit of a refresh. We’d given away over £60,000 in our regular monthly competition by then, but, inspired by our founder Rupert’s experience of finding roommates when he moved to New York, wanted to give someone else the chance to live rent free for a whole year.

While we were discussing it someone in the office asked what had happened to Jo since she won. We had no idea, so sent her a quick email to see if she minded us asking what she’d done with the money. Thankfully, we got a quick response this time!

‘I’m so happy you got in touch! It was life changing actually.

I was studying illustration at the time, and I used the money to buy a Cintiq. It’s a drawing tablet, like a big screen you can draw directly onto to make digital artwork. After I graduated I worked at a couple of studios in London, then within the year I decided to go freelance and move to Australia. I only brought one bag of clothes and my Cintiq. 

Since then I’ve been working as an illustrator, and I actually got to do some work with the company who make the tablet (Wacom) which was amazing, they kindly gave me a Companion (a smaller Cintiq you can carry around) and I also won another small one, so I’m now the proud owner of three of them! The first one is still my favourite though, I use it every day! 

I’ve attached some pictures of my workspace, see if you can spot the cat!

If you want to see some of my artwork, there are a few pieces of personal work on here http://jo- ley.tumblr.com/ 

I really want to say a big thank you to you all for the competition and prize money. I’m lucky enough to have a job I love, and I definitely wouldn’t have been able to do it without that piece of equipment, so you really helped make my dream of becoming an artist come true.’

Jo and Gambit

We didn’t need any more convincing that a year’s rent free could change someone’s life!

So, now it’s your turn. How could a year living rent free change your life? Would you travel, start a business, go back to uni or volunteer? Or would you just use the money to pay off your debts?

Enter now for your chance to live rent free for a year.

(Oh, and in case you were wondering…a year’s rent in Balham now comes to rather more than it did eight years ago – £9,449 to be precise!)

Rent – you can’t give it away (really!)

You may have noticed that the winners page for our Live Rent Free competition hasn’t been updated this month. That’s because we haven’t been able to get hold of the person who won yet! If you’ve been a SpareRoom user for a while you may remember this isn’t the first time we’ve had trouble giving away money – in 2009 we almost didn’t manage to give away a whole year’s rent due to an over-zealous spam filter! The current prize is one month’s rent, so will be considerably less, but I’d hate to think the person who won will miss out.

The winner gave their name as Benjamin and we suspect he’s in York (based on the email address). We’ve sent 3 emails so far with no response so if you know a Benjamin in York who entered the competition you might want to get them to check their emails, just in case it’s them.

Matt

I love you, you pay my rent

OK, so we only pay one person’s rent at a time but that person gets to live rent free for a whole month. Pretty good eh?

So, who is it this month? It’s Maryline.

maryline

Maryline lives in Streatham, SW16, so it’s another London winner (and another female winner!). Maryline’s prize, based on the average rent for a double room according to SpareRoom’s Room Rental Index, is £537.33. Maryline won with one of her loyalty entries (additional free entries we give out to people who regularly enter the competition or encourage their friends to enter).

Maryline says:
“The timing is so perfect that it is hardly believable: I am just ecstatic!!! I currently live in Streatham, and have just returned to work as a teaching assistant in my local school after 9 months of maternity leave, during which credit card debt had started to pile up. My son, my husband and I currently live in a shared house until we are able to afford a bigger place or decide to move to a cheaper location. I have used SpareRoom in the past and I enter the competition every month when I don’t forget about it. I generally share the link on Facebook for friends to join as it is so easy to enter.”

Don’t forget, for your chance to win a month’s rent enter SpareRoom’s Live Rent Free now

Another month, another Live Rent Free winner

This month’s recipient of a whole month’s rent, courtesy of SpareRoom, is Alex Fisher.

Alex lives in lives in Peckham (SE15), where the average rent for a double room plus bills (and therefore her prize) is £546.

alex

Alex says:

“That’s amazing news!! I can’t beleive it! I’ve literally never won anything ever!! And after entering every month for over 2 years I’d almost given up hope! I’m a Quality Assurance Analyst working in Aldgate and living in the mighty Peckham, SE London. I moved to London in 2008 after a year teaching in Japan and moved straight into a shared house. Living in London is so expensive and, with rent going through the roof, sharing is a really excellent way to make it affordable and meet some great friends along the way. I’ve met a boatload of fun and interesting people and sharing definitely helped me settle into London life! The money will come in really handy as, being 28, apparently I’m at ‘that age’ and all my friends have started to get married! So I think I’ll be using the cash to make sure I’ve got some fantastic outfits for the 4 weddings I have lined up this year! Maybe it will stretch to a few glasses of champers too.”

To be in with a chance of getting your rent paid next month head to our competition page. Alex, like 90%, of our winners, won with one of her loyalty entries (extra entries we give away free) so don’t forget to check out the ways you can earn more chances to win while you’re at it.

Good luck!

The SpareRoom team.

Who’s living rent free in March?

Natashka is.

Congratulations to Natashka Brown, who lives in East London (E1). She wins £654.33, according to SpareRoom’s Room Rental Index.

natashka

Natashka says:
“I’m a West End theatre lighting technician and had been living alone for seven years before I found my present flatshare on SpareRoom last year. It was a good way for me to move into a new area and find out what to do and where to go. Having just ended a six month contract, I’m using the site again to find my dream share apartment, hopefully with a great social element and in a great location. I’ve entered the competition on numerous occasions and never thought I’d win, it has come just at the right time. I’d like to use the money to go to Barcelona and celebrate a friend’s 50th but I’m sure it will come in handy with my room deposit too!! Thank you SpareRoom”

Don’t forget, for your chance to win a month’s rent enter now

A month’s free rent and an iPad goes to…

We have a winner for our latest Live Rent Free competition.

The lucky winner of a month’s free rent (courtesy of us) and an iPad (courtesy of Sarah Beeny’s mysinglefriend.com) is Natalie Ross.

Natalie lives in LS13 (Leeds)  so wins £320.66 – taking the total we’ve given away so far to £20,327.17.

Natalie says:

“I live and work in Leeds. I’m sharing at the moment so I can afford to live somewhere a bit nicer than I could afford on my own. I have had a tough year so it was great to have a bit of good luck for a change, I can’t believe that I won in the month you were giving away an iPad too!!! I’ve wanted one for ages but couldn’t justify the cost. I have a couple of weekends away planned, visiting friends in Galway and Zurich so I’ll be changing the money into Euros and treating myself to Guinness and glühwein.”

natalie-large

You’ve got one more chance to enter Live Rent Free in 2011 – enter now for your chance to start 2012 on a high.

Another month, another winner – £20,000 given away so far

As we do every month, SpareRoom has paid another lucky winner‘s rent in October. This month it’s the turn of Maurizio who lives in west London.

maurizio-large Maurizio enters Live Rent Free every month and won with one of his loyalty entries (free entries SpareRoom give to regular competition entrants as a reward for their…you guessed it…loyalty.

Maurizio says:

“I’ve used SpareRoom a few times before and started entering the competition religiously every month, so it now finally paid off! I have also recommended it to a number of people I know. I live in a very expensive area, Kensington (W14) and thanks to this great news I can pay off my credit card and buy a nice gift for my mum who lives in Italy.”

Maurizio’s prize takes the grand total we’ve given away in rent to a whopping £20,006.51

For a chance to win your month’s rent in November don’t forget to enter now.

As an added bonus, this month’s Live Rent Free is run in conjunction with Sarah Beeny’s Mysinglefriend.com. They’ve donated an iPad so November’s prize is a month’s rent plus an iPad.

Win a month’s rent and an iPad with SpareRoom and mysinglefriend

live-rent-free-banner Screen shot 2011-10-04 at 11.17.13

beenyset2This month’s Live Rent Free competition is being run in association with our friends at mysinglefriend.com, Sarah Beeny’s dating website. As always we’ll be giving away a month’s free rent to one lucky winner but, on top of that, mysinglefriend have donated an iPad.

That’s right – your rent paid for a month AND and iPad.

So, how do you enter? Simple – just go to SpareRoom.co.uk/liverentfree

In the spirit of mysinglefriend you’ll also get an extra free entry every time you refer a friend and they enter the competition.

That’s all – good luck!

Matt, Sarah and the SpareRoom & mysinglefriend teams