If you think living rent free in the USA sounds too good to be true then you'd be right, to an extent. A new 'resident curators' scheme launched across a select few states is giving brave souls the chance to live in derelict historic buildings rent free in exchange for doing them up.
A handful of East Coast states - Massachusetts, Maryland, Delaware, and Connecticut - are taking part in the scheme, which is not for the faint hearted. The cost of renovation following years of neglect can range from $150,000 to several million dollars and involves far more than a lick of paint.
Many of the properties need new sewage systems, septic tanks, asbestos removing and industrial cleaning, as well as major structural work in order to make them habitable.
Plus there are other considerations. The alterations must meet strictly watched local, state and, sometimes, national building codes.
Financing isn't available, so potential curators must demonstrate they have either substantial nest eggs or ample do-it-yourself know-how to invest. And, in the end, most will never see a dime in return for their hard work.
However, for those who have taken part in the scheme, living in a unique property for free is reward in itself. Maureen Clarke who, along with her husband, has taken on a pre-Victorian farmhouse in Massachusetts, comments "We anticipate our costs will end up being about the same as paying two years worth of rent in New Jersey. Then we'll have 23 years of living rent-free in this amazing home we might not be able to afford otherwise."
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