How to Save Money on Your Rent When Signing a Lease

Renting your first apartment can be exciting and scary. Depending on the rental market in which you live, you may feel like you are stuck paying prices advertised online or by the complex. However, there are some steps you can take to reduce the amount of rent that you pay. These ideas can help you save money until you are ready to buy your first home. It is important to find a place that you can afford. Review your budget before you move. Be sure to sign up for renter's insurance when you begin renting.

01
Negotiate Your Rent

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There are times when you can negotiate your rent or your deposit or ask to have your application fee waived. It depends on the area of the country that you live in and the time of year that you are looking.

Do not be afraid to ask for a lower price. The worst thing that can happen is that they say no. You will have the most flexibility in asking for a lower price with a large complex. They want to keep the apartments full and will often negotiate. Here are some negotiating tips:

  • Shop at the right time. If you live in a college town, you may have a better chance of negotiating the rent over the summer when students are gone.
  • Check the ads online to see if a company is posting more often and at different rates to see how low you may be able to negotiate it.

02
Try Private Rentals

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There are benefits to renting in larger apartment communities with the additional amenities like a swimming pool or weight room. However, if you are trying to save money, try looking for private rentals. You can search in the newspaper, online, or drive through an area where you want to rent and look for signs posted in the yard.

Often, the rent is cheaper, and you can save a lot of money. Be sure to take in the added cost of utilities. Generally, you will be responsible for them in a private rental so the savings might not be as much as you expected. Make special note of the following:

  • Be sure to read the contract carefully and to inspect the property carefully before you sign the lease. It can protect you from other issues in the future.
  • Other options: ask friends who they rent from and keep an eye out on specific properties in your area.

03
Look at Rental Companies Instead of Complexes

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Contact a rental company in the area instead of just looking at large apartment complexes. You may want to look at several to find the best deals. These are similar to private rentals, but a company manages the properties. It means you may receive responses to repair requests more quickly. The reputation of the rental management company can make a difference in your experience. Here are some tips on how to find one:

  • Watch for rental signs in your city—they often list the rental company, and you can start looking at their site online. 
  • Ask around for a good rental company to begin your search. 

04
Think About a Different Location

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Location and price are often a trade-off. It can be expensive to live directly downtown or to close to your school. You may be able to save a significant amount of money by moving between ten to twenty minutes further away. If the price is staggering, consider looking at other locations.

Of course, you also have to take into account the convenience and the type of job that you work. A long commute may not make sense if you are regularly working late.

Additionally, you may want to consider the public transportation options before you choose a location. You may save money overall if you can get by without a car, which can save you on gas and car insurance. The two biggest takeaways from this are:

  • Consider moving further out in a suburb to save on rent. 
  • Alternatively, you can choose to live in neighborhoods or complexes in more dangerous parts of town.

05
Consider Roommates

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Another great way to save on rent is to find a roommate. Often a two bedroom is just $100 more a month. You still have the convenience of your own room but at almost half the cost of what you would pay if you were living on your own.

Be sure that you feel comfortable with your roommates, and try to convince the apartment manager to sign separate leases with each of you, so you do not end up having to pay the full rent if your roommate flakes or are affected by their bad credit. It’s also important to establish how you will pay utilities before you start living there.  ​

  • It helps to know each other and to establish clear rules about expectations regarding visitors (especially long-term ones).
  • Finding a roommate online may be more difficult, and you should be careful. Install a lock on your bedroom door to protect your personal information.