Paying rent sucks no matter how you slice it. It’s especially difficult for those who live in a big city, where costs are high and sometimes salaries are just plainly too low. However, there are little ways to save on rent that all of us renters could benefit from. The major component of saving on rent costs lies in being completely realistic on what you can actually afford versus what is simply out of your price range. We all might want a huge apartment with a view and no roommate, but is that realistic based on your salary? Saving on rent is about finding a compromise between the things you want in a new home, and what makes sense for you financially.
For anyone who has ever walked into the apartment of their dreams only to learn it was far more money than they could ever afford, you can attest to the fact that it is a gut-wrenching feeling to have to give it up. I vividly remember an amazing apartment I went to look at once that couldn’t have been better — big, new, great location, and awesome building community. Downside? I learned as I was leaving that it was $300+ more per month than I could even begin to rationale being able to afford. Why I didn’t ask about the price beforehand, I have no clue. Regardless, I sulked about that apartment for a long time until I finally landed in one that I really liked but that was more fitting to what was realistic for me. For anyone currently on the apartment hunt, here are seven little ways to save on rent.
1. Pick The Right Location
This sort of goes without saying, but if you’re working with a tight housing budget, you need to pick a general location that aligns well with that. If you’re not making a ton of money and your job is location in New Jersey, while it might seem really appealing to move into New York City and do a backwards commute (I’m guilty of this!), consider those finances first. You might end up digging yourself into a whole for the sole purposes of living somewhere fun. This might not come as much of a surprise, but according to Business Insider, the most expensive places to rent in the U.S. are San Francisco, New York City, Boston, and San Jose. If you’re on a budget, it could be very easy to save on rent by not choosing a place to live in one of those locations — or being wary of any location on that list as a matter of fact. If you work in these cities and want to live nearby to your office, let’s consider your other money-saving options.
2. If You’re In A Big City, Enlist Some Help
If you do feel like you either need to live in an expensive city or town due to your job, or you plainly just want to, there are people out there ready and willing to guide you in finding affordable housing. After all, no one ever said you had to find an affordable apartment all by your lonesome. If you’re in a big city, consider working with a real estate broker in your area to land the right apartment for you — and one you can realistically afford. When I was apartment hunting in New York City, I found Craiglist to be really overwhelming, so I turned to the brokers to help me. I wasn’t swimming in cash by any means, yet they were able to find me a great apartment in midtown with a doorman and close subway access. The best decision I made was to get that necessary help.
3. Don’t Be Afraid To Negotiate
If you’re not one to negotiate, it can seem intimidating, but think of it this way — by asking for a lower cost of rent, the worst the landlord can say is “no.” Am I right? Rent.com suggested attempting to negotiate the best rate possible prior to signing the lease. Before you negotiate, though, the outlet suggested getting yourself familiar with the cost of rent for comparable apartments in your area so you’re as knowledgeable as possible during the conversation. If the landlord won’t budge, Rent.com then suggested asking if the rent could be cut if you signed a longer lease — something that could actually save the landlord money in the end. Again, the worst that could happen is they decline your negotiation tactics. It’s totally worth a try.
4. Get A Roommate Or Two
If you’re like me, at a certain age you feel completely over the idea of roommates. It is really nice to have a place all to yourself where you can be as clean (or not clean) as you want — or basically that you can do whatever you want at any given moment. However, sometimes to save money, finding a roommate (or more) is inevitable. Huffington Post reported if you opt to live with a roommate in San Francisco, it can save you a whopping $1,077, and can save you $942 a month in New York City. In you want to see what having a roommate can save you in the other 48 largest U.S. cities, check out the Huffington Post article here.
5. Be Patient
This isn’t practical for everyone, but if you have the liberty of being able to wait it out to find an affordable place, you should. Take some serious time and devote it to scouring through sites like Craigslist, Apartments.com, Rent.com, and your local newspaper. You might also consider spending some time searching through the Roomi app, which assists in finding open apartments and people on the hunt for roommates. Being patient in the search can also help you better understand those comparable apartment costs in your area that we discussed, which will make you much more equipped when it comes time for negotiating. MoneyTalksNews.com confirmed patience is key to getting a cheaper rate on rent — the article’s author actually pays $100 a month less than others who rent from her landlord thanks, in part, to this tactic.
6. Be Realistic
If you’re making $30,000 before taxes, but want to rent a one bedroom in San Francisco alone for $3,500 a month, that math just isn’t going to work out for you. Based on your income, you need to have a realistic mindset about what you can and can’t afford. This might mean, as we’ve talked about, picky a cheaper location or bringing in a roommate, but it might also mean settling on a far smaller place than you ever imagined in a building you don’t love. According to U.S. News & World Report, when you begin the apartment hunt, be realistic about how much you have to spend on rent based on your income and be OK with having to compromise here and there on what you thought were “must-haves” (like a gym in your building or a private playground for your little ones).
7. Consider Being A Professional House Sitter
This last one is a bit out-of-the-box, but it could be super effective in saving you money if you’re willing to try it. If you want to live alone without the crazy cost involved, RealEstate.com suggested housesitting. According to the outlet, there are many reputable websites that specialize in helping you land places to house sit (just Google it and you’ll see a ton). This tactic allows you to go from house to house without having to pay rent. There may be things you need to do at the house (e.g., take care of pets, etc.), but the free aspect is really tempting.
If you’re on the hunt to rent a new apartment, hopefully these little tips will be useful in helping you land on something affordable. Keep in mind that you must be realistic based on how much money you have to work with, so don’t get frustrated if you can’t find a mansion-esque place in your price range. A great one is out there for you — and it’ll be one you can swing financially!