Renting an apartment has gotten pretty expensive over the years, but trends seem to indicate many people are more inclined to rent rather than own.
According to U.S. News in Sept. 2013, a survey done in April of that year found 54 percent of Americans felt renting was more appealing than buying a home. A separate survey suggested 61 percent planned to stay longer in a rental. 1
A decade or two ago, many landlords required a small monetary payment or one month's rent as a security deposit. It was also not uncommon for lease agreements to be handshake deals, or at the most, informal contracts.
Today's tenants often have it rough when it comes to the high costs of renting apartment space. In many regions you'd be hard-pressed to find an apartment which doesn't require 2 or more months of rent as a security payment up front. Also, as more and more properties are being operated by management properties, lease agreements have gotten very formal.
The days of a family renting out a spare living space or a second home are still an option, but are not the standard anymore. And even if you can find an independent landlord, they have also typically followed suit and require higher security payments (i.e. first and last month's rent).
When moving, it can be difficult to find areas to cut back to put some of that money back in your wallet, when you are required to cough up such high levels of cash to get into an apartment. If you are in this position, you might try looking for other ways you can reduce costs and make apartment life more affordable, especially if home ownership is not an option.
Maintain Strong Credit
Believe it or not, your credit often matters greatly when renting an apartment. These days apartment owners regularly run credit checks on their potential tenants because they want to know they'll get their monthly rent. If you have poor credit your application may be denied or it is possible you might be charged slightly more; if your credit is good, you might be in a better position to negotiate your rent price.
Consider a Roommate
If you are the type of person who doesn't mind sharing living space with another person, you can easily cut your monthly rent bill in half by rooming with someone else. You can room with someone you already know, or find a compatible apartment mate through an ad or agency which provides the means for you to find a well-suited roommate. Sometimes even couples room together for 2-bedroom apartments in order to split the rent.
If you want to keep a close eye on costs associated with renting an apartment, be careful about the length of lease agreement you sign. If you get a really cheap rent, it might be worth your while to consider a long-term lease. Consequently, many companies will offer a great "introductory" rate and then raise your rent higher once your agreement is up. Unfortunately at this point, you may be locked into a high rent for the duration of your lease. Always read the fine print.
Plan By the Season
The season you move matters as supply and demand factors come into play. Rent.com suggests if you want to save money when moving into an apartment, consider moving during October through April before the "busy" season for movers. 2 Being there is less demand, you might find a landlord anxious to rent vacant space. While granted, moving into a place the middle of January is probably not ideal, it might be a good time to score a nicely priced apartment. Also, if you are hiring movers (and watch out for scams!), they may also be willing to cut you a deal since it's generally a slower season.
Can You Negotiate Your Rent?
It can't hurt to ask the landlord if there is any flexibility on the monthly rent fee at a reduced cost. If they are not filled to capacity and are anxious to rent (an empty apartment is not making money!), you might get lucky enough to be offered a lower rent. Even if the rent price is firm, some landlords are willing to reduce rent in exchange for yard work or other odd jobs you can help out with around the complex.
Choose Your Location Carefully
As you decide which location your apartment will be in, carefully consider commuting costs, neighborhoods, utilities and insurance rates in the possible locations. If you are looking to save some money, you'll want to try to avoid high-priced rental areas.
When looking to save money when renting, it's important to choose your location carefully. For instance, in places such as New York City, you'll pay top dollar for a rental, it may be more affordable to commute.
Monitor Utility Bills and Energy Costs
No matter where you live, utilities are a common cost you'll incur, but if you watch your utility bills and see which ones are unnecessary expenses, you can cut back where possible. As for necessary bills, you can also try and reduce these regular expenses, for instance don't leave on the lights and unplug appliances you aren't using to lower your electricity bill.
Carefully consider those "extras" when you order services which aren't a necessity such as cable movie channels and elaborate telephone features. Before agreeing to any terrific sounding "introductory rates", be sure those special prices don't lock you into a long term contract which will cost you considerably in the long run.
If you aren't home during the day, it's a great cost saver to keep your heat or A/C at a minimum so you aren't wasting energy when you aren't at home. Some thermostats are equipped with timers, but if your apartment doesn't have one, simply turn it down when you aren't at home.
Find a Place that Meets Basic Needs
In summary, when you go apartment searching, try to rent space which meets your basic living needs. To really save money, there is no need to rent in a high cost area or sign up for excessive apartment space. By selecting a place which is the right size and in a good location you can ensure you get your money's worth and, in the long run, save money on your rental.
There are many other actions you can take to reduce the costs of renting an apartment and most of them fall into your daily routines and spending habits. If you keep your apartment clean and undamaged, this will ensure you get your entire security deposit back when you do eventually move.