A smart renter will tell you, you don’t necessarily have to break the bank just to have a roof over your head. In this article, I'll show you eleven money saving tips for renters that will keep money in your pocket.
1. Take Advantage of Technology
Cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York may be the best in the world but they are also among the most expensive to live in. In New York, for instance, finding an affordable rental unit is next to an impossibility. In addition, there is an agent’s fee that you have to may have to pay. There is also the challenge of finding a compatible roommate.
The good news is that there are some apps that help you find an affordable rental. These include smartphone apps like Zumper, Naked Apartments, Rad Pad, Zillow, PadMapper among others. These apps not only help you avoid the real estate agent’s fees but also enable you to find compatible roommates and even people you can sublet a space to.
2. Negotiate For Lower Rent
Because rent is arguably your biggest monthly expenditure, you may want to negotiate for a lower rent with your landlord. Those who don't ask, don't receive. Here are some tips to help you:
In case, you plan to live in the same place for a long time, ask your landlord if it’s possible to sign an extended lease agreement. In exchange, you can negotiate for lower rent. Most landlords would be happy to receive lower rent but consistently. Ask for one month off your lease for every additional year you sign for. The worst that they can say is no.
In case, you can pay your rent earlier, use this as a bargaining tool. For example, if you're able, pay 3-4 months of rent in advance when you sign. Ask your landlord to give you a discount of 5%-10%. The feeling of certainty is very important for landlords.
3. Research The Competition
One of the best ways to negotiate for a better rent is to know the area and the competition. It could be that the apartment down the road is more competitively priced than your place. Use this newfound knowledge as leverage.
6. Find A Roommate
A foolproof way of saving money on rent is through having one roommate or two. Use websites like Roommates.com or Craigslists.com to find one. Roommates bring one big advantage in that they split the rent and utilities cost. A roommate helps you save on rent and therefore you may be able to afford a larger and nicer apartment than if you lived alone. Also, you can split the cost of shared items such as groceries.
7. Consider Having Renter’s Insurance
When you rent an apartment or a home, your landlord will be responsible for insuring the unit against fire damages and other disasters. However, this doesn't mean that your personal property is also protected. You can buy a renter’s insurance to protect you from any eventuality.
For instance, if there is a break-in and your possession are stolen, or even damaged by severe weather or fire, the insurance will allow you to be compensated.
8. Nurture A Great Relationship With Your Landlord.
Make sure that everything is laid out in writing and also document the condition of the house or apartment. If the house requires painting or some minor repairs that you can do, ask the landlord for a discount. Communication can help you a lot financially, especially under these circumstances.
9. Design On A Budget.
Websites such as Freecycle and Craigslist can help you find used furniture and movers among other things. Get creative with DIY projects to further save and personalize.
10. Location Is Everything
When renting, the two most important things are price and location. Find a place that’s close to a school, grocery store, and work. This will help you save on commute time and gas. The Walk Score smartphone app enables you to see nearby grocery stores, schools, restaurants and coffee shops.
11. Be Mindful Of Mother Earth.
Irrespective of whether the utilities are included in your contract or not, it is always a good idea to remain as efficient as you can. Install window shades to save on energy. Also, use energy efficient light bulbs and install a programmable thermostat.
As a renter, you want to be smart. There are many things you can do to save on your rent and live more easily. Know how to negotiate with your landlord for a lower rent, find a good location to save on gas and groceries, find a roommate to save on rent and other utilities and above all, maintain a great relationship with your landlord. After all, the more you save, the more you'll have for when you eventually buy.
4. Maintain A Healthy FICO Score
Just like any other business, a landlord also wants to protect their investment. They want to be sure that you will pay the rent when the time is due. Having an "excellent" score of 700 or more can give you leverage for negotiation. This is because it shows that you are financially responsible and therefore a less risk.
5. Increase Your Income.
In addition to having a robust credit score, you also want to demonstrate to your landlord that you have strong financials. You can take on part-time jobs, work overtime, or even consult online. These not only help your bottom line but also increase your rental options. But make sure not to rent above your financial ability to avoid working for your rent.