Finding the perfect apartment can be overwhelming and frustrating. You’ll want to make sure you’re getting the best possible deal for your budget. Saving money on rent isn’t always easy, but you can find a number of landlords who will be willing to negotiate the monthly rent and even offer a discount. Seeking out these deals and finding ways to cut costs on your rent budget can help you save a lot of money in the long run. Set aside plenty of time to begin your search, so you can find the most affordable place to call home.
1. Check your credit. Your future landlord will pull your credit report to determine whether you are a suitable match for the apartment. Make sure the report is free of any errors and mistakes that could end up costing you money. Things like late student loan payments, improperly canceled gym memberships, and even late library fees can negatively affect your credit. Your landlord may be more receptive to negotiating and providing you with an attractive rental agreement when you have a high credit score and a clean free report.
2. Set a budget range. Rent will vary widely by location, apartment, and current demand. You’ll likely need to be flexible with your budget, so decide what your budget range is instead of choosing a specific number. If you end up choosing an apartment in the higher end of the budget, find ways to start cutting down your monthly living expenses.
3. Consider subletting. Sometimes you can get a reasonable price for an apartment that someone is subletting, and then you can switch over to a regular lease after a few months. This can be a convenient way to save money on rent in the short term and get settled in a new place. Check Craigslist and the classifieds to search for attractive sublets.
4. Ask about move-in discounts and special offers. Almost every apartment community offers a move-in special at some point in the year, as this helps to fill up vacant units quickly, so don’t be afraid to ask. Some landlords may offer one or two months free if you sign a full year or longer lease, subject to a credit and background check. Find out what types of units are available, and make sure you get a chance to look at the actual unit you will be moving in to—not just a model unit—so you can decide if it’s the right match for you.
5. Always evaluate each location in person. Avoid the temptation of just looking at the apartment complex’s website, apartment reviews, and ratings, as online sources can be deceiving. You’ll need to do some comparison shopping when searching for the right apartment, so make sure you’ve set aside a few weeks to visit several destinations of interest. Make a list of amenities and key features you are looking for, evaluate price ranges, and consider the pros and cons of each location. Narrow down your search to your top three or four and then make an appointment to do a walk-through of a model or available unit at each. Be prepared to negotiate based on what you’ve found during your search. Some landlords may be more willing to negotiate when they know you are shopping around and have alternative options in mind.
6. Don’t use a broker. Unless you’re moving to a completely new town or city and don’t have much time to search for an apartment on your own, avoid working with a broker. Brokers work on commission and you may end up paying an above-market rate just to cover broker fees and other costs, so conducting the search on your own could save you money.
Sabah Karimi is an award-winning writer for Yahoo! and Wise Bread. You can find more great financial tips for young people at Wise Bread’s New Graduate Help Center.