Its not about doing everything for free. Its about living outside comfort zone. Trusting your instincts. Best thing is you will have a new friend who is willing to share everything about the city, their memories living in that city, make authentic food for you, share new skill,fun and laughter. In return you just need to enjoy it to the fullest, share your culture.
There is no monetary exchange when you use Couchsurfing [if you’re using it as was intended]. You can surf with separate people, and every experience will fill with generosity and no money paid for sure. consider the site and mission a karmic circle. You will most definitely be “paying forward” the favors that people in the CS community have showered with. Money may pass when hosts cook surfers dinner, take the train with them to act as tour guides, buy them drinks at a bar, sightsee and overall act as hospitable companions, but there is no cash exchange.
The terms for the length of your stay are generally determined before or upon your arrival to your host’s space. If you surf randomly your traveling companion maybe going to do the same things as you wish.
If you have a CS account and you’re looking to rent out space, you can go to an individual city’s Community Page. There will almost certainly be a group pertaining to Apartments For Rent, and that is the only place where CS admins will allow discussion of monetary exchange for space. If you post about your room for rent in an improper forum, you will be warned and redirected. If you create an account and state upfront that you’re looking for money from potential surfers, pretty sure you’d be contacted by CS admins. Or, you just wouldn’t get any response from users. Posting in the correct group and checking out what other people are talking about allows you to scope out potential roommates and do some background “checking” without the uncertainty that comes with Craigslist.