National rents have continued their upward trend so far this year, and while you can still find a one-bedroom apartment in Milwaukee, WI in the mid-$900 range, that same square footage would cost you thousands of dollars in Berkeley, CA. Regardless of exactly where you choose to live there are ways to cut your monthly rental cost, and here are six great tips:
In many cities like Austin, TX, the closer you are to downtown the more you will pay in rent, and buying is also getting super expensive here. Sure, you love the downtown lifestyle but with public transportation, cheap scooter rentals, a bike, a motorcycle, or even just your feet, you can enjoy downtown but live a little further way in a more affordable apartment. You don’t have to live in Manhattan to party there, so look for apartments that may just not be in the heart of downtown.
Longer Term Lease
It costs landlords a lot of money to re-lease an apartment. If you are there for a year and then leave, the landlord will most likely have to repaint and maybe upgrade appliances. Inevitably landlords lose a month in rental income when a tenant leaves since it’s tough to find and move in back-to-back tenants. Therefore, there are many reasons that landlords like longer leases, and if you agree to sign one, you could be offered a lower rate. If you are a good bargainer, you could also get the landlord to forego any future rent increases during the longer lease term.
In some locales, prospective renters look at the listed rent price as an asking price only—sort of like the first price the car salesperson throws at you. Think of renting an apartment as a chance to make an offer to the landlord and then see what response you receive. Of course, in tight rental markets, this may not work, but in a normal apartment rental market environment, a landlord may settle for less money since a little lower monthly rent is better than a vacant unit.
Save on Energy
We know that you are environmentally astute and that you are concerned about being energy efficient, but frankly, if you can get someone else to pay for your utilities, you don’t have to worry about sweating in your one-bedroom apartment because you turned up the thermostat to save $10 in July. Some older complexes are physically unable to break out electric and gas bills per unit because the buildings were not constructed with separate meters for every apartment. If you find one of these and your utilities are included as a flat rate in your rent, you can save big bucks during peak heating and cooling seasons.
Get a Roommate
Ok, so you really love that $2800 high-rise downtown, but you just can’t justify the price. One solution would be to get a roommate to share the costs. Make sure you’re compatible, but by doubling up you can cut your expenses in half.
A worn but structurally sound apartment might give you the opportunity to get into a desired location at a lower price, especially if you can trade your carpentry skills for a reduction in rent. Everything has to be right for this to work, but we know people that put sweat equity in someone else’s apartment in order to receive a reduced rental rate.
Just like buying your first home or selling your older car, don’t take the first deal that comes your way. Do your diligence and communicate with your prospective landlord, and you’ll find that your monthly rental expenses can be considerably lessened.