How to Get Affordable Rent
Man opening the door to his apartment

Moving out from your childhood home and renting your first apartment can be an exciting but also intimidating experience. In addition to the costs of groceries and other bills, finding affordable rent is hard. People can end up spending around half of their paycheck on rent. However, many young people prefer renting an apartment to buying a house, since buying requires a large deposit and high maintenance costs. That being said, with careful planning, finding a good deal on your rent is feasible. Here are some things to consider and tackle before finding an apartment:

1. Show that you are employed

Landlords are going to want to know that you have a steady source of income. During the rental application process, you are most likely going to have to show your employment history. In some cases, there is a possibility of even showing your bank statements and tax records. 

2. Have a good credit

Bad credit can prevent you from sealing the deal on a lease, but you also might get charged a higher rent and security deposit with bad credit. Make sure to take the necessary steps in order to raise your score before you start looking for apartments. Some factors that can affect your credit score are payment history on loans/credit cards, length of time you’ve had a payment history, how many credit lines you have open, the variety o these lines, and the percentage of available credit you’ve borrowed. 

3. Know needs and wants

Make a list of what amenities you can’t live without and amenities that are more of a want. For instance, how much does location matter to you? Do you want to be closer to work and/or family? Do you need or want central heat and air? Are you okay with no washer or dryer?  You are not going to find the perfect place. Weigh your options and be flexible when it comes to the number of amenities a place has or doesn’t have. 

4. Expect additional expenses

The rent price you see if often only the price of renting the space. Other expenses such as wifi, utilities, cable, water, and parking are an additional expense. Make sure to estimate these costs as well as the cost of things such as groceries, travel expenses, saving fro emergencies, and the cost of other miscellaneous things that come up every month. You should also be aware that you will have to pay the first month’s payment as well as a security deposit up-front. 

5. Start looking

After completing the steps above, start researching online. Combine your price range and preferred location and look at places that have the amenities you need. In your free time, make sure to go look at them in person. If you are using a platform such as CraigsList, listings can often be fake or put up by a person who is not the actual landlord or. Looking at newer apartment complexes might save you money as well because they might offer price breaks in order to fill units quickly. 

Connecting with someone who is an apartment locator might save you time and money as well. These people often know about rent specials, rental price decreases, and other deals. Moving at a certain time of year also might save you money. For example, if you are looking for an apartment in the Northeast, searching for places from December to March could score you a better deal as many people don’t want to move in the snow and cold. In addition, waiting until a time that college students are already moved into their apartments could get you a better rate. 

6. Negotiate

Before you sign the lease, review the rental contract thoroughly. Make sure you fully understand all of the phrases and clauses. In addition, rents are often negotiable unless it’s a highly desired place, or you already know you are getting a good deal compared to similar prices around it. Before negotiating, do plenty of research on comparable rents in the area so you can leverage your bargaining power. If the landlord won’t negotiate on monthly rent, you could possibly ask them to cover an additional utility charge such as parking. If you sign a longer lease, you also most likely will have more bargaining power. 

Some last things to consider before signing is to make sure you know who the landlord is. Look on the internet and see if anything sketchy comes up. You might avoid problems and additional costs in the future by taking this extra step. Secondly, make sure that the rider is attached to the lease if you are renting a rent-stabilized property. Lastly, double check the lease, keep copies of it, and take pictures of the apartment prior to moving in. This can help ensure that you won’t be charged a fee at the end if something like a stain was there before you. 

Resources

Six tips to finding the best deals on rent by Amy Hoak from MarketWatch

How to get a good deal on your first apartment by Living on the Cheap

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