Apartment rentals are getting more expensive by the day, so getting a good deal is imperative if you don’t want to pay too much just to live. With that in mind, you might be wondering how to get a good deal on an apartment. Here are 9 of the best tips around that will help you get the lowest rent on a place that you can enjoy calling home.
How to Get a Good Deal on An Apartment
The last thing you want to do is go blindly into an apartment search.
You want to be sure you’ve done your research and have all your ducks in a row so you can get the best apartment deal around.
Cheaper rent is the goal here and the following tips will help you find a monthly rent you can live with without breaking the bank.
1. Look For Apartments Not Listed on Rental Sites
In your search for that perfect apartment, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to get off of the internet and the rental listing sites.
That might sound counterproductive but it’s really not.
Once you decide the neighborhood you’d like to live in you need to actually go there and walk around or at least drive around.
Yes, there will be some rental properties there that have been listed on rent sites, but you’ll be surprised how many smaller rentals or privately owned rentals there are that haven’t been listed anywhere.
They will simply have a for rent sign in the yard of the apartment complex.
These rentals are not actually part of the rental market in the sense that they’re not listed anywhere.
Chances are they’re being rented by the actual owner instead of a property management company
These people are easier to work with especially if your credit is not great and the rent can be cheaper as well.
For example, when I lived on the beach in Florida there were lots of small apartment buildings.
And by small I mean they might have 4 to 8 apartments total.
They never listed them on the rental sites.
The only way you would find them is to actually drive through the neighborhood or walk through the neighborhood.
That’s how I found my place on the beach.
I was living on the Gulf of Mexico feet from the sand and I paid $800 a month.
Really that’s kind of crazy.
But the apartment building wasn’t listed anywhere so no one knew about it unless they happened to drive down there and be in the market.
The truth be told it wasn’t a dream apartment.
It was older and could have used some updating.
But I had million-dollar views of the Gulf of Mexico from every window in my place.
My balcony faced the Gulf as well and I could watch Dolphins playing in the water from my living room.
I suppose that’s as close to perfect as you’re going to get.
The point is if I had looked only through the internet for apartment rentals, I would have never known this apartment building existed.
So get out of your car, get off the internet and go walk the neighborhood.
You’ll be amazed at what you might find.
2. Check Out Your Local Rental Market
Before you head out to look at apartments you need to do a little research.
First off, you should know how much you can actually afford.
The rule of thumb is you shouldn’t spend more than 30% of your income on your rent.
So once you know what that amount is you’ll know how much you can pay each month.
Is at the very basics of what you want to know.
Then you want to take some time researching the different areas that you might be interested in living in.
Find out what the local market rents are going for.
You can find this online or by calling rental management companies.
One rental apartment might be very similar to another one, but the second one might be more expensive in one area over another.
You don’t want to pay more without getting more.
Unless you research your local market you’re not going to know what an affordable apartment actually looks like.
In one area one-bed one-bedroom apartments may go for $1,500 a month in another area it might go for $800 a month.
You want to find that out before you actually go and look at anything.
You also have to take into consideration the wide range of options and amenities.
Do you need a pool? Are a washer and dryer in your apartment important to you?
Decide what amenities the apartment building should have and what you can live without.
The amenities will have a big impact on rent prices
One way to get cheaper rent, for example, is to just wash your clothes at the laundromat instead of renting an apartment with a personal washer and dryer in your apartment.
Also, think about whether or not you need a dedicated parking spot.
Can you park on the street or do they just have a big lot? Is that okay for you?
If you can deal with just a big lot or parking on the street you can save money on your rental rate.
Also, think about whether or not you need a fitness center.
Can you get your exercise by walking or running down the street or do you want the gym at your apartment complex?
There’s no right or wrong answer here but all these will have an impact on your apartment hunt and how much you eventually pay for rent.
The bottom line is the fewer amenities you can live with the more you can save on rent.
3. Have Good Credit
Telling someone to have good credit can sound like a glib thing to say if you don’t have good credit.
Trust me I’ve been there myself.
But the truth of the matter is the better your credit is, the easier it is to get an apartment.
Your credit score plays a big part in whether you can rent an apartment and even the rent you will be offered.
In a competitive market if you have poor credit you may find it very difficult to find someone to rent to you.
The property manager might not want to take a risk on you if you have bad credit.
They also won’t be willing to negotiate and in fact, might require you to pay more money upfront if they decide to rent to you than if you had good credit.
So, if your credit history is nothing to brag about, see what you can do about it before you start your search.
The higher you get your score the more options you will have when you do rent.
4. Rent at the Right Time of Year
You may not realize it, but one time of the year is better to rent than the rest of the year.
You can get a better deal during the off-peak seasons.
Not surprisingly, winter is the best season to rent.
Most people don’t want to have the hassle of moving when it is cold out.
I remember one time watching my neighbors trying to move out of their apartment during a winter storm.
It was near zero temperatures and the wind was howling.
They had to fight against it just to get their boxes in the moving truck.
It was snowing as well.
They looked miserable.
The holiday season is a good time to rent as well.
So, if you can move in the winter months you might get a better rental rate or move in special than if you try to rent during the summer months.
5. Get a Long-Term Lease
Some owners or property managers will give you a deal on your rent if you are willing to sign a longer lease.
Instead of a one-year lease, consider a two or even three-year lease if you feel you like the area and plan on staying for a number of years.
I did that when I rented a house once.
I signed a two-year lease and got $50 dollars a month off my rent.
That means I saved $1,200 dollars over the two years.
The time to ask is before you fill out an application and pay an application fee.
6. Watch for Move-In Specials
If there are hundreds of listings out there waiting to be rented, then chances are, apartment complexes will offer a move-in special to get their units filled.
That might be the first month free or no security deposit.
New complexes often offer move-in specials as they have the whole complex to fill, so do take a look at any new construction.
The best time to get the deal is before the complex actually opens.
They will have a management office that can show you a finished apartment.
If you don’t have to move right away, this can be a great way to save money.
7. Be Ready to Sign on the Dotted Line
If you are ready to rent the day you look at the apartment, you will have more bargaining power than if you can’t rent for a month or two.
It’s a lot of work to show an apartment, so having to do so once saves the property manager time and energy.
Also, if you have cash in hand, it is easier to ask for perks and discounts.
8. Provide References
If you have good rental references be sure to bring them and show them.
If you can prove that you are a good tenant, then there may be more wiggle room in what the property manager is willing to offer.
Everyone wants a good tenant that pays the rent on time and doesn’t cause issues.
If you can show that you are that tenant, the property owner will be more likely to do what they can to get you to rent.
9. Have a Flexible Schedule
If you can be flexible on the date you need to move in, it can help your chances of getting a better deal.
Apartment complexes need to clean the apartment and possibly paint or do other renovations before you can move in.
Offer to clean the place yourself and forego the new paint job.
You can then ask for a discount and you might get it.
Anything you can do to make the property manager’s life easier will work in your favor.
Can You Haggle with Apartment Prices?
Yes, it is possible to do so, but it won’t always work.
A large apartment complex is less willing to haggle than an actual property owner of a small apartment building.
Also, if there aren’t a lot of apartments available in your area, then chances are you won’t be able to haggle at all.
What is the Cheapest Month to Move into an Apartment?
The cheapest month to move is going to be December.
However, any time between December and March is going to be cheaper.
May through October is the most expensive months to move into an apartment.
How Do You Ask for an Apartment Discount?
Once you have decided you would like to rent an apartment, simply ask the property manager or owner if they have any discounts or if they would be willing to discount the rent and under what circumstances.
Be polite and direct.
Don’t beat around the bush but don’t demand.
Simply ask the question and regardless of the answer be polite and understanding.
If the two of you can’t come to an agreement, tell them that you like the apartment but you will have to look elsewhere for something less expensive.
Then thank them for their time.
It’s that simple.
You might also enjoy:
Do You Negotiate Rent Before or After the Application?
You always want to do any negotiation before you sign anything.
Once you have signed the application, and even more so, once you have signed the lease it is a done deal.
Any negotiation should be done and agreed to before you move to the next step.
You might also enjoy:
To Sum it All Up:
Apartments are expensive but you can find ways to get them a bit cheaper. Use one or more of these nine tips and you should be well on your way to finding a great place to live and a rent you can live with.