So many people are looking to rent right now that prices are rising due to the increased demand. However, even with increasing home and rental prices, there are still ways that you can maximize your chances of finding a great rental in your budget.
Read on to learn a few of the tips you should consider if you want to make your hunt for a rental a success.
1. Determine How Much You Can Afford
You should know your finances well to determine what percentage of your income should go to rent to allow you to live comfortably.
Experts consider that you shouldn’t pay more than 30% of your income toward your rent. Consider the current debts and daily expenses when setting that budget. You may even cut out some unnecessary expenses to allow more room for budgeting.
2. Look Further Away From the City Center
Less popular neighborhoods usually come with lower rent rates, for example, Manhattan and Brooklyn have totally different market rates. Look for affordable areas that have local attractions and low criminal rates.
You could also save a lot of money if you are willing to completely relocate to another city, for example, you could find a huge apartment in Iowa for the same price that you would get a small room in Los Angeles. However, relocating is not always possible if you already have a secure job.
Looking for affordable locations is a great idea if you want to save money but make sure the location isn’t far away from your job because the transportation costs could swallow your savings on rent.
3. Find a Roommate
Maybe you found a two-bedroom apartment that is perfect for you but the rent is higher than you can pay. The best idea is to find a roommate to split the costs, you won’t only be saving money on rent but also on utility bills and groceries.
You will have someone to share the chores and both can even build a strong friendship relationship. However, you need to do your research and find a roomie that is financially responsible, you will also sacrifice some of your privacy. Having a roommate comes with many benefits and challenges.
Make sure to sign a roommate agreement and both should sign the lease contract, so in case the roomie misses a payment you don’t have to carry the responsibility of paying the whole amount.
4. Rent During the Off-Season
Winter is one of the best times to move if you are on a budget because most people don’t like to move during the colder months.
If you live in an area where there are many colleges the off-season may be in the summer. Looking for rental property during the off-season will give you a higher chance of negotiating a good deal.
5. Cut Back on Utility Expenses
Before renting an apartment, find out if there is any utility cost covered in the agreement and ask for an estimate of how much money you would pay monthly on utilities.
Cutting some expenses would help you save money but to do it you should create a monthly budget track, set different categories like housing, entertainment, and utility bills. Note every expense you have and watch them carefully to see if you could make some changes.
Take a closer look at your utility expenses and bills to see what you can ditch. Maybe are paying for a gym membership but don’t go there more than once a week, then it is better to ditch it and run outside. Stop paying for TV cable and pay streaming services.
You can also save money on groceries by creating a meal weekly plan. It could be tempting to eat out when you go home and an empty fridge, but it is more budget-conscious to create a weekly meal plan and buy the ingredients just for those meals. You’ll be surprised at how much money you will save.
6. Work With a Real Estate Agent
If you want to save money but don’t have enough time to visit countless places or spend hours on a computer to narrow down places you should work with a real estate agent. They have exhaustive knowledge of the location you want to search for a house and understand your budget priorities.
You can also talk to them about your specific requirements and what you are looking for in an apartment, this way you will only visit cheap apartments that are on your budget and you would like.
They also can do all the negotiations with the landlord and help you submit the rental application. The best part? It doesn’t cost you money — the landlord usually pays the real estate agent’s fees.
7. Show Good References and a Good Credit
Get your supervisors, managers, or previous landlords to write references on your responsibility and compromise, this could show your landlord that you are a reliable tenant that will follow all the rules and never miss a payment.
Showing a good credit score could also heavily influence whether the landlord decides to rent you the apartment or not, and could give you a higher chance of negotiating the deal.
8. Be Flexible With Upgrades
In many cases, getting a house ready to rent can mean costly renovations or upgrades for landlords, and that’s before tenants even move in. In general, then, the more renovated or updated a home is, the more you will pay for rent every month.
Therefore, one easy way to save money on your rent is to compromise a little when it comes to your apartment’s aesthetics. Instead of worrying about details like the color of the walls, how updated the bathroom vanities are, or what kind of tile is on the floor, prioritize functional details that will be more important in the long-run. These include the size of the rooms, the overall floor plan of the apartment, and the kind of amenities it offers (such as a washer and dryer).
At the end of the day, you may not end up renting your “dream home,” and that’s okay. Finding a clean, safe home that is within your budget will help leave you with more money for essentials and hopefully let you save enough to buy a place of your own down the road.