For many renters, a large chunk of their monthly paycheck goes to paying the rent. As a general rule, Americans should spend no more than one-third of their income on housing. In reality, the rising cost of rent in some of the nation’s largest metros has forced renters to spend a much larger portion of their income on housing. If you’re searching for affordable housing in an expensive city, here are some ways to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your rental bucks.
Negotiate the lease
Don’t accept everything on the rental listing as set in stone. Talk to the landlord before signing the lease to see if they can lower the rent or include perks like parking if you commit to a longer lease. If you’re renting a single-family home you can also try to negotiate a discount by offering to take care of yard work, property maintenance, or snow removal on the property.
Find a roommate
Getting a bigger apartment doesn’t have to mean sacrificing affordability. For those who don’t mind sharing an apartment, splitting the rent with a roommate will allow you to increase your budget to find a larger apartment, but keep costs down. For example, instead of footing the bill for a $1,000 studio apartment by yourself (and don’t forget about utilities), you can split the costs of renting a 2-bedroom for $1,700 and get more square footage to boot.
Take advantage of referrals
Find out if your apartment community gives residents rent discounts if they help fill vacancies. Give your landlord a hand in marketing those apartment vacancies by referring people in your network looking for a place to live. Saving your property manager some marketing dollars can translate to a pretty significant savings on rent for the month.
Find a place that has extras included
All those monthly water, gas, electric bills add up. Keep an eye out for listings that have utilities included in the rent during your apartment search. Compare costs and do the math to make sure the rent and included utilities aren’t more than what you would pay if you metered for them separately. Amenities such as an on-site gym, access to public transportation, and a high Walk Score can also help you save on your costs each month.
Share the Internet with a neighbor
Don’t have a roommate to split the utilities with? Talk to a neighbor or two to see if they’d be willing to share Wi-Fi connection. Dividing up payments will give everyone the online access at a fraction of the cost.
Make energy-efficient changes
Investing in a few eco-friendly, low-cost changes in your apartment will make reducing energy costs almost effortless. Replace light bulbs with LED bulbs, and install low-flow fixtures on showerheads and faucets. Cut down on seasonal utility usage by installing insulated curtains, insulating windows with plastic film, and covering electric outlets.
With some planning, renting in an expensive area doesn’t have to deplete your bank account. What are some ways you’ve saved on living costs? Share with us below.