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Saving Money on a Rental Home

Rent eats up a lot of money — just living in a place can be really expensive. Saving money on a rental is hard, but putting in the effort can really pay off for you. Here are some ways to help you cut back.

Keeping rent down

  • Choose your location carefully: Location is the main factor in how much a home costs. Before choosing an expensive place based on where it is, explore options in less expensive areas that are still near where you want to be.
  • Balance your wants and needs: If you try to get everything you want, you’ll end up paying a lot. Separate what you really need from what you just want, and focus on the necessities. You can find a much cheaper place this way.
  • Negotiate the rent: At the start, and every time your lease comes up for renewal, try to lower your monthly rent. Point out your strong rental history to show that you’re reliable, and ask for the landlord or property management company to lower your monthly payment. It may not always work, but it’s worth a shot.
  • Go for a longer term lease: If you sign a lease for more than a year, the landlord or property management company may be willing to cut you a better deal. Just make sure it’s somewhere you really want to live.
  • Live with a roommate: This can easily cut your expenses nearly in half. Paying for a studio or one-bedroom by yourself tends to be much pricier than splitting a two-bedroom place with another person. Just make sure it’s someone you'll be happy living with.
  • Don’t just take the first place: Shop around and compare a lot of options. What’s the likelihood the first place you find is going to be the best deal? Not very high, so keep looking. You can still take the first place at the end of the day, just don’t make it the only one you seriously consider.
  • Go with unfurnished places: This one is simple. Furnished homes have higher rent and more ways to lose your security deposit. Go with an unfurnished place and buy cheaper furniture.
  • Keep utility costs down: This can take many forms. Negotiate a cheaper cable bill. Cut cable entirely. Make sure you don’t spend so much money on heat/air conditioning. However you do it, utilities are one of the larger expenses, so anything to knock them down is going to help a lot.
  • Use cheaper furniture: Not cheap as in bad quality, but less expensive. You won't keep your furniture forever, so spend less money on more utilitarian pieces. Save the expensive furniture for when you have more money and own a place you plan on living in for the long term.
  • Get renters insurance: Yes, this is going to cost you money over the short term. But if the worst case happens, such as flooding, a fire, burglary, etc., you’ll be glad you paid for this, rather than having to pay to replace everything that was damaged or lost yourself.
  • Get your security deposit back: This won’t pay off immediately, but you paid a lot for this. Taking good care of your place will help ensure you get as much of the deposit back as possible, saving you money over the long term.

Other expenses

  • Create and stick to a budget: Know how much you make and carefully consider how much to spend on everything. The more carefully you consider what you spend your money on, the better you’ll be able to make decisions for where and how to save it.
  • Cut expenses you really don’t need: Do you have cable but don’t watch it very much? Are you eating out a lot when you could eat at home more often? Find out what you’re spending excess money on that you don’t really need and change your habits.
  • Go with digital over physical stuff: This helps you on two levels. One, digital books/movies/other things can be cheaper than getting physical copies. Two, they take up no space, while physical items do. And larger places (or having to use outside storage) to store these items costs more money.

Other approaches

Just saving money isn’t always the best approach to keeping things affordable.

  • See if your building offers referral bonuses: Many places offer monetary bonuses, taken off of your rent, for referring a new tenant. If you know anyone who might want to live where you do, referring them can save you a good amount of money.
  • Be polite and friendly with management: This won’t pay off immediately — your landlord or property management company won’t give you a discount just because you’re friendly. This can come in handy when you’re negotiating rent for a new lease; the more polite, friendly and reliable you are, the more likely they’ll be more lenient when negotiating a new rental rate.
  • Don’t be afraid to move: If your place is getting too expensive, you may have to move. This gives you the opportunity to find somewhere cheaper, as well as some leverage for negotiating on your current rent. If you really would move based on a rental increase, communicate this to your landlord or property management company. They might be more open to keeping rent at the same price so you'll stay. This ensures they'll continue making money without having to search for a new tenant and risk the home being vacant.
  • Increase your income: If you’ve cut your spending as far as it’ll go, this might be the only option you have left. This could be anything from trying to get a raise, looking for a new job or starting a new project on the side.

It's not easy saving money on a rental home, but there are always things you can do to make a difference.

Categories: Renters

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About the Author
Zac Kandell Headshot

Zac Kandell is a freelance writer based in Atlanta. In addition to contributing to Rentals.com, Zac has previously written for Apartment Guide and AT&T. During his spare time, he enjoys reading comics and spending way too much time listening to podcasts.