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Renting an apartment can be both an exciting and slightly stressful experience. Having a place of your own will grant you freedom but many financial responsibilities will be added to your plate as well.
Given the high market rent rates throughout the country, along with expenses like utilities, food, parking fees and a security deposit, many first time apartment renters are searching for a way to cut back on costs so they can avoid struggling financially.
Consider some of these money saving tips before looking for your next place.
Choose an Affordable Area
Location is very important when you’re trying to get more bang for your buck. The area that you choose to live in can significantly affect your rent. Most of the time, housing in a large city is going to be more expensive than in a small suburb.
But apartments closer to shopping malls, tourist attractions, and popular high-traffic areas of a city or suburb are going to cost more. The idea is that people who choose to live near these conveniences are willing to pay more.
Skip All the Amenities
Apartment complexes that have a gym, pool and clubhouse are nice, but if you’re trying to save money on rent, they may not be the best option. The apartments with the most amenities and luxury features will have higher rent because the tenants are expected to help pay for the extra add-ons.
If you leased an apartment at a complex that has a private gym and a hot tub, you may be paying an extra $100 in rent for luxuries you don’t often use. If you think your car will be safe parked outside of your apartment year-'round, then opt out of spending the extra $20 or $30 per month for a parking space.
It’s nice to have these things nearby but by choosing a basic apartment that has everything you need and little extras can really help you knock $200+ off your monthly rent. That will help you save $2,400 a year or more. That extra cash can go toward debt repayment or even help boost your savings.
When it comes down to it, you have to ask yourself what you value more and choose an apartment that fits your expectations in value, quality and affordability.
Get a Roommate
Living with a roommate can significantly lighten the financial burden that comes along with renting your own place for the first time. When you split the costs of rent and other bills, you’ll both save some money and you won’t be expected to pay for everything yourself.
If you choose to get a roommate, you’ll have to be okay with sharing your living space. Make sure you pick someone you can get along with and who has similar goals and values as you. Drafting up a brief agreement would be a good idea to lay out ground rules and make sure you and your roommate are on the same page. You’ll also want to make sure that both of your names are on the lease so you’ll both be equally responsible for paying the rent each month and maintaining the apartment.
Lower Your Utilities and Bills
As a renter, your landlord may cover some of the utilities like garbage and water and make a few repairs here and there, but you will likely be responsible for paying your own way as well covering your electricity, internet, gas and so on.
It’s very rare that a landlord will pay your electric bill because this utility can vary a lot based on your usage and it’s usually the most expensive bill you’ll have. Therefore, it’s important to do a quick sweep through the house before you leave for the day to make sure everything is turned off and if you have programmable thermostat, set it to automatically reduce heat or air at certain times during the day or night.
Delay turning your heat on for as long as you can during the fall and do the same with your air conditioning in the spring. Be very conscious of how often you use certain things in your home and try to conserve energy, water usage etc. You can also reduce your cable expense by opting for the most basic cable package. You can track your spending and saving using a tool like Cinch from Fidelity. With Cinch you can see your spending in one place and create a customized savings target. I can think of several times that I missed a payment because I didn't pay attention to all of my spending. Cinch helps with this.
Living on your own for the first time is full of financial challenges making it crucial that you prioritize your spending and cut expenses however you can.
Figured out the renting thing and looking to take the next step? Use this helpful tool from Fidelity to see if you should rent or buy.