I came across this concept watching a Japanese Hikikomori documentary. ‘Hikikomori’ is an extreme type of introvert, a side effect of Asian societies that don’t promote social behavior as much as education. Naturally, the “Friend For Rent” trend came as a natural occurrence that caught on in face-saving countries like Japan, China, and Korea. This combined with our addiction to technology – the phenomenal of a “Renting A Friend” became popular.
People ARE actually getting paid to become a “friend” – doing friendly activities such as watching a game or hanging out during the weekend. You can also be hired to help in certain things such as guiding a tourist in your hometown.
This isn’t just friendship, it covers all relationships. Want to get your ex jealous? Want someone to watch a movie this weekend? Or are you looking for someone just for a casual conversation? “Friend for Rent” services exist just for the purpose of filling these needs. What’s good about this is that people who are looking for side gigs can apply and get paid for these roles.
Although this might be a surprising concept, in reality, there are people who would want to pay in order to meet new people and accompany them in their daily activities. This is the most 21st-century side hustle with the ever-increasing scope of the internet, phone apps, and e-socializing. Millennials and Generation Alphas will continue this trend towards living and socializing online. I believe we’re only in the earliest stages of it. Let’s jump to the details!
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What is a Friend-For-Rent service?
Friend-for-Rent is a service that offers clients a list of “rentable” people who will give their time and efforts to be the client’s “friend”. Unlike dating sites where people like to find future partners, friend-for-rent services are for people who want to have a platonic friendship. Some clients use this site to hire locals to guide them while they’re traveling in a new city or to help them in mundane things.
Friend-For-Rent born in Japan!
The Friend-for-Rent concept started in Japan a few years ago, when Ishii Yuichi founded the Japanese company called Family Romance. Family Romance is a company that offers the service of almost 800 professional actors who act based on their client’s requests. One of the actors is Yuichi himself, who was asked to act as the father of a child when the single mother opted for his services.
Friend-for-Rent services became available in the US when Scott Rosenbaum was inspired by Yuichi’s booming business. He opened his Rent A Friend business in 2009 and since then, the site has been available to its members all around the world. The only difference is that instead of professional actors, Rent A Friend site offers side gigs or full-time jobs for people who want to get income by becoming a friend, professional actor or not.
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How does Friend-Renting work?
First, the people who want to venture in this gig would need to create a profile through the rent-a-friend site. Linking Facebook and Twitter profiles are often supported for convenience.
General information such as gender, age, eye color, schedule, hourly rate, and sexual orientation are required in order to create your profile. A short essay writing about you is also included in the application. Photos (up to ten files, the more the better) and a verified contact number or email is required. Wait for an hour or two to check if your profile was approved. After approval, your profile will be available for viewing by clients.
On the client-side, to be able to access the site, they need to pay a membership fee for a month or for the entire year. The client will browse the profiles available in the database online. After choosing, the client will message the Friend-for-Rent candidate directly. The candidate can decline or accept the invitation, and if accepted, the client and the candidate should agree in the activity, place, and the rate before sealing the deal.
How much can you earn from being a rented friend?
Your income depends on your rate and how often you accept requests. A friend-for-rent from Los Angeles named Tara revealed that she makes an average of $200 to $300 for accepting two offers a month. Some full-time “friends” were able to get up to $8,000 every month.
Usually, “friend” rates start at $10 per hour, depending on the client. However, it can run as high as $50 or higher. You can also set your profile to “negotiable” if you want to be more flexible. This doesn’t count the additional perks such as going to a movie, food, and transportation cost.
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Is RentAFriend.com a scam?
As of now, the best (and most well known) site that offers rent-a-friend service is RentAFriend.com, which was founded by Scott Rosenbaum. The site has been running for a decade and has one of the most established guidelines. If you want someone who is local to the area, you can also try Rent A Local Friend.
A lot of people would not believe in the Rent-a-Friend because it’s too good to be true. Who would pay someone just for companionship with a rate that averages $10 per hour? It should be comforting to know, before the clients can access your account, they will have to pay $24.95 for one month in order to access the database of friends.
“Friends” will not be paid out of the membership fee for the members. The payment is usually given after each session of companionship and will be usually given in cash. Rent-A-Friend gives what it advertises, and that is a platform for friend-seekers to find people who give the company, so the site is not a scam, but they are not full service.
The experience would largely depend on your client. If you’re doing this for a side-gig, you should really be picky on the requests that you receive and always do a thorough background check for your own safety.
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Is Friend-For-Rent a safe side hustle?
This depends on the platform so make sure Friend For Rent is not a scam. The website is hideous and looks like something from the early 90s though.
To ensure the safety of Friend-for-Rent candidates, there is a set of guidelines that service providers apply. Some of these guidelines are to always meet in public, always have your phone at all times, and if there are red flags, just ditch the offer.
It is strongly recommended to never go to a client’s private property, especially if it is your first client. Safety must still be your first priority, so meeting in public places is essential. You can always say no if you’re uncomfortable with a request.
With the nature of this service, there is no way to determine how safe it can be. The website does a minor share of vetting but crazy people can exist anywhere.
According to “rented friends” who shared their experiences, the majority of the requests are platonic, such as going to a movie or just hanging out. Most of the clients just want company or casual conversations when they need it.
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Is Friend-For-Rent your ideal side hustle?
Being a friend-for-rent is an ideal side hustle for people who are very sociable and can fit in on most situations. If you can keep the conversation going and likes to meet new people, this is one of the possible side hustle for you. You might actually meet someone who shares your interests, meet new friends and build real relationships.
However, if you’re not comfortable in this kind of setup (getting paid for friendship), you can also choose for different side hustles available online or offline. There are a lot of stay-at-home side hustles such as being a freelance writer or becoming a blogger. You can also find side gigs that are related in your profession. If you’re a teacher, you can find online gigs such as becoming an ESL teacher. If you’re a nurse, you can become a phone triage nurse in your free time.
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