So you're finally ready to move out on your and get your first apartment. It's an exciting time, but also quite scary when you realize just how much rent costs. Don't worry! Even though apartment searching is competitive, especially in main cities, there're ways to save money on rent and still find a great place.
With some smart shopping tactics, negotiation skills, and some adjustments to your lifestyle, you could be well on your way to scoring an affordable apartment. In this blog post, you're going to learn insider tips to save hundreds of dollars a month when you pay rent. We're covering researching rental rates, hidden deals, negotiating, getting roommates, and simple habits to reduce your overall housing costs. Follow this apartment renting guide to keep more cash in your wallet!
Find Deals on Apartment Listing Sites
First -- checking sites such as Apartments.com, Zillow, Trulia, and HotPads regularly could help you find the best deals on rent. These aggregators pull listings from all over, so you have lots of options.
- Find newly listed apartments, especially later in the month or at the end of the leasing season. Landlords are often willing to negotiate to get the place rented. You may be able to get a couple hundred bucks off the asking rent or score perks such as a month of free rent or no fees.
- Search for keywords like 'deal', 'special', 'discount' or 'incentive' to find apartments offering move-in specials. Some places run promotions for students, teachers, nurses or other groups.
- Check sites that list rent concessions and special offers in your area. Some focus specifically on finding the biggest apartment discounts and bargains.
- Once you find some good prospects, contact the leasing office right away. Deals often go fast, so you need to act quickly. Ask if they're offering any additional specials or are open to negotiating the rent, especially if the place has been on the market for a while.
Every dollar you knock from the rent is money in your pocket each month. With some smart searching, you may find an apartment with rent well below the going rate. Isn't that worth the effort? Keep working at it, and you could be furnishing your place in no time!
Negotiate Your Current Rent
When your lease is up for renewal, it's time to negotiate. Don't just accept the proposed rent increase on an extended lease -- you have more power than you realize as a current tenant.
Research Your Housing Market
First, do some research on current rent prices for comparable apartments around your area. Check sites such as Zillow, Trulia and Craigslist to determine a fair price range. If the proposed increase seems unreasonable based on your research, you have evidence to back up your request for discounted rent.
Check With Your Landlord
Also, check if your landlord is willing to make any upgrades or improvements as part of the negotiation. Things like new appliances, flooring, or a fresh coat of paint. Offer to sign a longer lease agreement in exchange for rent stabilization or a smaller increase. Two to three years is a good timeframe to ask for.
Don't be afraid to make a counteroffer to the rent based on your research and factors like the condition of your place. Explain why you think your suggested rent is more appropriate. The worst your landlord can say is no, but they may come back with a compromise.
Be professional and courteous during the whole process. Tell your landlord you want to keep renting from them, you just want to make sure the new rent is fair for both parties. If it's done right, negotiating rent can end up saving money each year and build a good relationship with the person you're paying rent to.
Consider Getting a Roommate
Having a roommate is one of the easiest ways to reduce your rent costs. When you split the rent and utilities with another person, your own monthly expenses on housing could decrease by up to 50%.
Find a roommate among your friends first
Someone you already know and trust is ideal. If that's not possible, try listing a room for rent ad online or checking with local colleges for students looking for housing. When interviewing potential roommates, look for someone with a good monthly income, good references, and shared values around cleanliness, noise, guests, etc.
Discuss responsibilities for rent, utilities, groceries, chores, and any shared spaces before moving in together. Create a formal roommate agreement in writing to prevent issues later. Decide if you want to choose a new apartment together or if one of you already has a place the other could move into.
There are pros and cons to sharing a one-bedroom apartment or getting a two-bedroom apartment:
- One-bedroom: Usually cheaper but less privacy. Take turns with the living room or look for a large one-bedroom with space for a make-shift second “bedroom.”
- Two-bedroom: More expensive but you each get a private space. Make sure the additional bedrooms are similar in size and amenities.
- Choose a pet-friendly place if either of you has animals. Discuss rules for properly caring for pets beforehand.
- Find a spacious kitchen and common area since you’ll be sharing the space. Extra storage for each person is helpful too.
Having a good roommate could become a lifelong friend. While it takes compromise, finding ways to save money on rent by sharing housing is a smart financial move that will benefit you for years to come. With the right match and some ground rules in place, getting a roommate is worth it to reduce costs.
Government Assistance Programs to Help Renters
The government offers several programs to help make monthly rent payments more affordable. Check if you qualify for some these assistance programs.
Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers
The Section 8 program provides vouchers to help pay for private housing. If you qualify for Section 8, the voucher could cover a portion of your rent, up to 70 of the total cost. You cover the remainder. These vouchers are administered by local public housing agencies (PHAs). Apply at your local PHA to get on the waiting list for a voucher.
Public housing units are owned and operated by local housing authorities. Rent for public housing is generally 30% of your income. Public housing includes apartments for low-income individuals, families, the elderly, and disabled. Like Section 8 vouchers, apply with your local public housing agency.
Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC)
The LIHTC program gives tax credits to developers of affordable housing. This allows them to charge lower rent to qualified tenants. Income limits and rent amounts vary depending on where the housing is located. Search for LIHTC properties in your area to check their eligibility criteria and apply directly with property managers.
Additional programs include homeless assistance, senior housing, housing for people with disabilities, rural rental assistance programs, and more. Do some digging on government sites like HUD.gov or Benefits.gov to explore all options that could help lower your rent burden. Every small amount helps. With some persistence, you may be able to find a solution that makes your housing costs more affordable so you can keep more money in your pocket each month.
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