Save Money When Apartment Shopping

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Hey Taylor - I’m about to finish my bachelor’s program and move to a new apartment. The market seems brutal right now and I don’t think I’ll be able to find a place with affordable rent. With that in mind, are there other ways I can cut costs when I’m moving? I’d love to not rip through my savings straight out of college. - Amy

Hey Amy - Congrats on earning your degree, and sorry that life after college is already asking for all your money. Cheap apartments are almost impossible to find, but you can save in other ways when moving. See if any of these options might work for you.

1. Take over a lease. This requires a little bit of luck, but if you can find someone who’s trying to move before the terms of their lease have expired, you can potentially save a decent amount of money up front. Depending on the lease and the timing, you might avoid putting down last month’s rent, a security deposit, and other incidentals the landlord requires. Some renters think subletting is the only way to avoid the hefty fees that come with a new lease, but taking over a contract is another good option if the opportunity presents itself.

2. Cut a deal. When you’re renting, you need to consider the costs that will add up in the long term. Things like parking, utilities and pet fees pile up quickly and, when totaled, raise your cost of living significantly. In addition to keeping these things in mind and looking for units where you either get free parking or the landlord covers water or gas, you might be able to work something out to avoid these costs. Remember that landlords hate losing tenants just as much as you hate moving. It costs building managers lots of money to clean and fix up empty units, and that’s before listing fees and any sort of marketing. If you have good credit, references, and you’ll agree to sign an extended lease, there’s a chance your landlord will either reduce the rent or eliminate some other monthly fee.

3. Reassess all spending. A living space will always be one of your biggest expenses. It might be that you can’t do much to drive the cost down and you need to look elsewhere for savings. If you’re currently paying too much for internet or your cell phone, or you have a gym membership you underutilize, this move could be the perfect opportunity to clean house and find other ways to be more frugal. Maybe a new cable provider will offer a good introductory rate that allows you to save $50 a month for a while. A move can facilitate a reset in many ways, so think about which bills you can eliminate or make lower.

You probably won’t find a place that’s $500 a month less than all the other options, but it might still be possible to save that much in other areas. Good luck, Amy!