7 Tips To Find Nice Affordable Rentals



A cheap apartment complex may not be the only answer.

Looking for something better, but need to watch your costs? Then check out these tips.

For most people rent is their biggest monthly expense. Worse, every dollar paid in rent is a dollar gone forever. That’s why it is critical to get your money’s worth when you go to rent housing. In this article, we discuss seven proven tips to slash your rent with the goal of living in a nicer place than you do right now.



Tip #1: Think outside the box.


A one hundred dollar bill about to be spent on rent.

This really an exercise about hanging on to your money.

Let’s be real: if you intend to save money, you need a critical eye when it comes to spending. This can mean considering options that your friends might not. The key is to be okay with being different, while still maintaining your standards. And that’s going to feel a lot easier as soon as you realize that spending less every month can mean a future filled with the promise of savings, money for college, money to buy a home, or putting away enough for retirement.


When you are willing to see things differently, your world opens up. How might that look?


1) Why not share a nice home or apartment with a like-minded person?

2) Why not rent an unusual place, such as an artist’s loft, or a unit above a store?

3) Are you willing to lengthen your commute?


I need to shift my paradigm.

Sometimes the best solutions require thinking outside the box.

Often the cost to rent is significantly less when we look outside the box. Remember: This is America. It’s okay to be different, and in this case, being different can save a ton of money. Need more help thinking outside the box? Then check out this post: “Time To Shift Your Paradigm“.


Tip #2: Evaluate all the amenities.


Newer apartment complexes advertise lots of amenities. They have pools, spas, tennis courts, and recreational buildings, sporting gas fireplaces and beautifully decorated meeting rooms. The problem is all these amenities come at a significant cost. It’s easy to be lured in by all the extras that these newer complexes promise. That is why they offer them.





Take a walk in the woods.

Who knows? If you look around you might find a cheaper area with nice hiking trails or a park.

As this is an article on getting more for you money, it’s good to weigh how much you’ll really use a given amenity. As an alternative to amenities on site, how about locating near a local park, a lake, a museum, a sports arena, or something that you and your friends might enjoy? For example, if you think you’ll take advantage of the gym, it may be worth asking yourself if you could get by walking in a nearby park, or buying a stationary bike at a garage sale, instead.  Not sure where to go? Then sit down with your closest friends over a pizza and have everybody suggest ideas. Don’t rule anything out right away and write it all down. Who knows? You might just come up with something everyone likes.


Tip #3: Location, location, location.


Would you consider a lower rent district if it saved you up to 30% on your rent? It may be possible. If your city is made up of several smaller towns or districts, find out which one is known for having a lot of young families or lower rent units.


Before you dismiss this idea it is best to do some basic research. Don’t rely on “buzz” alone when it comes to checking on a neighborhood. Buzz is often based on nothing more than an old rumor or prejudice. When visiting an area, seek out several people to talk to. Check online for local crime maps, to avoid hot spots. If you look around, chances are you’ll find “pockets” within the area worth consideration.


Your best bet may be to find an acceptable looking building near local features such as parks or theaters. Think creatively and you’ll soon end up with a terrific place to call home. And yes, there can be a trade-off over how far you may need to commute. For that reason, be sure the area you choose is still a reasonable distance from work and has enough on the plus side to compensate.


Tip #4: One size doesn’t fit all.


To save more money on rent, think fewer bedrooms. Landlords charge for the number of bedrooms in a place, not just for the square footage. The key is to find a place that feels spacious and comfortable to you and yet minimizes your overall footprint.


An empty apartment.

If you can, look for a place that has higher ceilings.

Higher ceilings make an apartment feel roomy and spacious. Most apartments built in recent decades have low ceilings, but many of the buildings from the 1940’s and earlier have rooms with nine-foot tall ceilings. Even a small studio apartment with a kitchen and bath can feel open and spacious if you’ve got the extra head room.


Other considerations: Open floor plans with fewer walls make small spaces feel larger. And white or off-white walls and ceilings tend to “open up a room”.


Tip #5: Check with a local property management firm for the best “rental” deals around.


Most people go straight for a newspaper or internet listing to find an apartment. As a result, they often bypass the potential for substantial savings. A good alternative is to find an area you like, and then find the local real estate company or rental agency that specializes in managing rental properties in the area. Often there is a small place that manages dozens to hundreds of units. Many of these units are owned by small landlords. This means apartments may not be your only option. Don’t rule out flats, duplexes, triplexes, condos, or houses.


Landlords who own one or several units are often retired, or don’t want to manage rentals themselves. They typically use a property manager at a local real estate company to manage the properties for them. Sometimes these units go for startlingly cheap rents. The rents are cheap because the real estate company has too many units on its hands or the landlords are desperate to cut their overall losses. Here’s what you need to know: More empty rentals mean more competition among landlords and that results in lower prices. There are no guarantees, but checking out several property management companies is often worth the time it takes to make a few calls.


Tip #6: Do It Yourself Improvements


Are you discouraged by the condition of some of the rentals you find? Don’t despair. If you’re willing to rethink things just a bit you can end up with a whole lot more cash in your wallet over the long haul. How? Look for a “diamond in the rough” at an inexpensive price, and make it your own. Sometimes you can bargain for a better deal if the unit has superficial cosmetic damage, or if more cleaning is required.


A back yard in need of a redo.

This home rental needs some serious landscaping. Is the landlord willing to reduce the rent for some of your labor?

This is where a little elbow grease and the willingness to get your hands dirty can really pay off. A spot of paint, new blinds, a new shower curtain or towel bars and before you know it you’ll have a place you’ll be proud to call home. Don’t be afraid to ask whether you can  fix up the unit yourself—especially if you’re handy. To give it an updated feel, start off with clean white or off-white walls and consider one or two accent walls. Of course, you’ll want to get your landlord to sign off on any changes, but if you arrange this before signing your lease it won’t become an issue.


Beyond changing the basic cosmetics, simplicity will often work to your advantage in trying to make a smaller place appear more stylish and elegant. Here are a few tricks that may work for you.


1) Keep furnishings to a minimum. A sparse, non-cluttered look can work wonders to maintain a sense of spaciousness.

2) Provide areas of focus, perhaps with a rug, a chair, a fine lamp, and a table.

3) Use occasional pictures or artworks on the walls, ones that bring out a vibrant color.

4) Visit thrift stores to find small, interesting tables. Look in architectural or design magazines for more ideas.


Above all, decorate in a way that helps you feel good about yourself.


Tip #7: Utilities Included


With the high cost of energy today, you may generate significant savings by renting an apartment that includes the utilities. Older apartments without separate meters (power, gas, or otherwise) are your best bet for this. This means the owner has to pay a bill that combines the utilities from all his tenants. It is usually easiest for him to split the cost in equal portions among the tenants and include it as part of the rent. You can save hundreds of dollars a year this way, but you’ll want to research the cost of utilities up front to make certain you are getting the best deal.


An apartment building in the city.

Don't get suckered into a long term lease in an expensive apartment. Check around. You could save thousands.

Taking Matters In Your Own Hands


When you combine the savings from one or more of the above tips, you can literally cut your rent in half. In the course of a year, you might save $3,000 to $7,000. Over ten years, if you invest the money wisely you might easily build a $100,000 nest egg.


The key to securing your financial future is to understand where you’re at now and give yourself permission to make changes. So tell me: What are you waiting for?


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