Moving is one of the most stressful things you can do. There are a million factors to take into account but the bottom line? You want to move to a great, affordable place.
These practical tips will help you save on rent and allow you to move with peace of mind.
If you're wondering how you can save even more money by learning how to save in the kitchen or what you can do to cut costs in the laundry room, or even how to build a good credit score, I've got you covered.
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Ways To Save Money On Rent
1. How Much Rent Can I Afford?
Question number one should be, "How much rent can I afford?"
Ideally, your rent shouldn't be more than 30% of your salary.
Do this step FIRST.
Look at your budget - your income and expenses. If you need to cut costs somewhere, figure this out in the first step.
Don't start looking at places; get your hopes up, and then do the math only to be disappointed that you can't afford any places you love.
2. Choose Your Location Based on Your Budget
Location, location, location. We all want to live in the best, the safest, and the most beautiful neighborhoods, but if you're reading this, it's most likely that you cannot afford to live there...yet.
At this point in your life, you need to choose your location based on what you can afford. The better the neighborhood, the higher the costs involved.
If you're willing to live in someone's garage in a fabulous neighborhood because that's all you can afford, and you'll positively die if you can't live in that neighborhood - go for it. But if you want more space, a parking spot, and a small balcony - you might have to settle for a "cheaper" location where you can find just that.
3. Choose Needs Over "Nice"
You have to get honest and detailed with what you need from your place.
Safety, proximity to work/ school/ gyms, ease of access, etc.
Think about the big picture before you decide you don't want an apartment because it has ugly doorknobs.
You can always spend time and money turning a less-than-ideal apartment into your home rather than eating nothing but cold noodles for months because you can't afford the electricity to use your microwave.
4. Be Smart and Do Your Research
Know what you're looking for, know the average rental price this goes for, and keep your eyes and ears on the ground.
Look at rental listings online and compare prices for similar properties in the same neighborhood. This will give you a better idea of what you should pay for rent and help you negotiate a better deal with your landlord.
Additionally, if you find prices too high in your current area, consider looking for housing options in nearby neighborhoods that may be more affordable.
Do proper research on the area and apartments in the location you're interested, and make sure you view places as soon as they go on the market.
Apartments that are good value get taken so fast; if you don't stay on top of it, you'll still bookmark the listing while the new renters move in.
5. Look for Apartments in the Winter
Winter is a good time because who wants to go out and look at places when it's freezing?
Winter is considered the off-season for real estate, so there may be fewer people looking for rental homes at this time. This can mean less competition for available properties and a better chance of finding a rental that meets your needs.
Because there is less demand for rental homes in the winter, landlords and property managers may be more willing to negotiate rental prices or offer move-in incentives to attract tenants.
Because fewer people are looking for rental homes in the winter, it may be easier to schedule viewings and move-in dates that are convenient for you.
No landlord wants their places to stand empty for seasons on end - they lose money that way.
6. Private Rentals
If you can, rent directly from the apartment's owner, not through an agency.
Renting directly from the owner means you can build a relationship with them.
They might be laxer on deposits and application fees, and you could negotiate yourself into a great place at your budget.
Be polite and respectful when approaching a landlord, and don't be afraid to (truthfully) sell yourself as the greatest tenant alive.
7. If There's Space, Consider a Housemate
This can significantly reduce your monthly housing expenses and allow you to save more money.
There are pros and cons to this one.
Pros: You can afford a bigger apartment in a better area because you share the costs.
You always have company.
Cons: You always have company...
Be sure to carefully screen potential roommates or subletters to ensure they are reliable and trustworthy.
8. Consider Signing an Extended Lease
Any landlord wants a reliable, stable renter who will take care of the property and hopefully improve a thing or two.
By offering to sign an extended lease, you're giving the landlord peace of mind and the guarantee of having the rental income for a longer time.
The longer the lease, the lower the landlord should be willing to go on the rent. So put on your negotiating pants and work out something that benefits both of you.
Read the lease agreement carefully and understand any penalties or fees associated with breaking the lease early.
9. Negotiate When You Renew a Lease
If you're a good tenant, the landlord would want to keep you. It costs them less to have you stay than for them to try and find someone else.
Research rental rates in your area and negotiate when you renew your lease.
Be careful with this; you must be willing to look elsewhere or accept the rent increase if the landlord doesn't budge.
10. Pay Upfront
Not every landlord would be open to this but ask for a discount if you pay upfront for a few months ahead.
Don't go into debt to do this or use up all your savings; only do this if you have the cash on hand.
11. Offer to Work for the Landlord
You might have a skill that they need.
Plumbing, an electrician, mowing the lawn, tending to the garden, etc.
Offer your services for a discount on your rent.
They'll need to pay someone to do these things anyway, and it might as well be you.
12. Rent Out Your Parking Space
If you're not using your parking space - rent it to someone else in the complex. Or ask that the cost be deducted from your rent since you're not using it.
13. Referral Fees
This will work with bigger apartment companies that have multiple units available.
If you're someone with a big social group and influence, ask if they'll pay you referral fees should you successfully refer someone to them.
It could be a lucrative side hustle...
The Bottom Line
Most of these tips come down to research and asking the right questions. I've always been fortunate with places I've rented. I've found great apartments at low costs by being super clear on what I want, being proactive, keeping an eye out, negotiating until I get it, and then being the most excellent tenant alive.