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Saving Money on a Rental Home

Rent eats up a lot of money, but just living in a place can be really expensive. Saving money is hard, but putting in the effort can really pay off for you. Here are some things to do to help you with saving money on a rental home.

Keeping rent down

  • Choose your location carefully: The location is the main factor in how much a place costs. Before choosing an expensive place, check other, cheaper locations 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 your needs. You can find a much cheaper place sticking just to what you really need.
  • Negotiate the rent: At the start, and every time the lease comes up for renewal, try to negotiate the rent down. You’ll know if you’re a good tenant who can make a good case for this when renegotiating the lease. When you first sign the lease, point to your good rental history to show that you’re reliable. 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, they may be willing to cut you a better deal in exchange for not having to renegotiate or find another tenant in a year. Just make sure it’s somewhere you really want to live for a longer term before signing the lease.
  • Live with a roommate: This can easily cut your expenses nearly in half. Rent also doesn’t usually double going from a studio/one bedroom to a two-bedroom place, so you’ll pay even less. Just make sure it’s someone you’ll be able to live with.
  • Don’t just take the first place: Shop around and compare a lot of places. 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, just don’t make it the only one you seriously consider.
  • Go with unfurnished places: This one is simple. Furnished apartments have higher rent and more ways to lose your security deposit. Go with an unfurnished place and buy cheaper furniture to use in it.
  • 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, but as in 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 for the long term.
  • Don’t pay rent with credit cards: It’s tempting to get airline miles or cash back, but this is a terrible idea. There are usually large fees on paying rent with a credit card, more than you’d get in cash back, so you’re losing money this way. Plus, you really don’t want to fall behind on a card that has that much unpaid balance on it, do you?
  • 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 as a security deposit. Taking good care of the place will help ensure you get as much of it back as possible, saving you money over the long term.

Other expenses

  • Create and stick to a budget: This can encapsulate all the other items on this list, but it’s important. Know how much money 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 money.
  • Cut expenses you really don’t need: Do you have cable but don’t watch cable TV? Are you eating out a lot when you could eat at home more often? Find what you’re spending on things you don’t really need, and cut or reduce them.
  • Adjust to the lifestyle you really want: Do you go out to eat and drink with friends multiple times a week because you really want to? Are there other things like that you do just out of momentum? Cutting out these things can save you money, and you won’t feel like you’re really giving anything up to do so.
  • 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 copies take up space, and larger places (or outside storage) cost more.

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 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 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 it is that they’ll be more lenient when negotiating new rental rates.
  • 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, and some leverage for negotiating on rent. If you really would move, they’d make no money from you, so might be a lot more amenable to keeping rent at the same level.
  • 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 to get some more money coming in. It’s not the same as cutting expenses but has the same effect.

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

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.