People searching for an apartment on a strict budget often don’t have the wherewithal to stretch their housing dollar the furthest. The way to go about it depends on a number of factors, such as your city’s housing market, the best time of the year to rent an apartment and whether you have the courage to negotiate a lease. To help keep you within your apartment rental budget, here are some tips that will assist you before signing on the dotted line:
Your City’s Housing Market
If your search is in a high vacancy market, like San Francisco and New York, be prepared to have competition. You’ll have less room to haggle, so before you fully engage in an apartment search, get your funds together. This requires saving money and cutting back on unnecessary expenses. In low vacancy markets, move-in specials or discounting the first year's rent is more common, so keep your eyes peeled for these money-saving opportunities.
Best Time of the Year to Rent an Apartment
On a limited budget, timing is everything. The time of year when new leases are signed is in the summer, because the weather is more favorable than moving in the cold, people have more free time, and people need a temporary apartment for work or school. In the winter, there are higher apartment vacancies, and rental prices are often lowered because of less demand. If you’re already in a lease that ends in the summer, ask if you can extend it for another six months. This will buy you time until the winter, and if you’re a responsible tenant, many apartment communities and landlords are happy to keep an apartment occupied for a few months longer.
Negotiate a New Lease Before You Sign
Plenty of people don’t bother trying to negotiate a lease, like bargaining for lower rent or asking to split up security deposits over a short period of time. If you’re happy where you live, it’s easier to negotiate the terms if you’ve already proven yourself as a responsible renter. But if you need a new apartment, you'll need to offer incentives other than money. You might save $50 a month in rent if you do yard maintenance or repair problem areas in the apartment during your stay. If you don't make the effort to negotiate, you’ll never know if you would've been successful, so the least you can do is try.