Search for Lower Rental Costs
There are several things you can do to find a lower monthly rent:
- Look Outside an Urban Area. While living in the city center may seem like a priority, it doesn’t mean much if you can’t afford the rent. Instead, check out apartments in the suburbs within a conveniently commutable distance to work.
- Consider Transportation Costs. Urban areas generally require a smaller transportation budget, since you can likely take public buses or subways to get around. However, you still need to take transportation costs into consideration, whether it’s a bus pass or gas money, if you choose to live away from the city center.
- Get a Roommate. You can slash the price of any apartment in half simply by sharing it with someone. You need a landlord’s approval before doing so, but having a roommate can significantly reduce the financial pressures of renting. Just make sure you have a written agreement with your roommate laying out all obligations.
- Think Small. Square footage comes at a premium in an apartment, particularly in the number of rooms. Going for a studio or one-bedroom may mean missing out on some space, but you make up for it with big month-to-month savings. Assess how much space you really need based on your lifestyle, visitors, pets, and storage. You may find that you’re happier paying less for a smaller place.
- Negotiate. Unless you’re apartment hunting in a popular area with little renter turnaround, many landlords are amenable to negotiating. Check out the rates for comparable apartments with similar amenities in the area and bring your research with you to strike a better deal. You can also offer to pay rent for a longer chunk at a time (a landlord may lower the rate if you pay three or six months at a time) or choose to sign a longer lease to score a better deal overall.
Start Hunting Early
Don’t leave apartment hunting for the last minute. In a perfect world, it should start around three months before your “must move” date. Many current tenants have to let their landlords know of vacancies in advance – the majority of areas require renters to give at least 30 days’ notice, but plenty give more.
While the features you want in an apartment are specific to you and your lifestyle, there are a several basic things you need to look for:
- Transportation. If you’re currently without a car, check every potential apartment’s proximity to public transportation. An apartment may be well-priced and in a great neighborhood, but if you have to spend most of your time walking or calling taxis, it might not be so attractive. What’s more, you need to factor the cost of transportation into your budget for a realistic picture of how much an apartment really costs.
- Convenience. Choosing an apartment that is conveniently located can make your life a lot easier. Look for a place that’s close to work, shopping, transportation, and amenities such as laundry.
- Safety. Not only should an apartment be in a safe neighborhood, landlords should make an effort to ensure their tenants feel safe inside. Proper locks on each door, private entrances, and security should all make you feel better about renting.