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The median cost for rent in the U.S. surpassed $2,000 for the first time ever in May 2022, according to Redfin, a 15% increase over the prior year. For many, the sharp uptick in rent prices has made finding a new apartment stressful or even unaffordable depending on location and budget.
Even in the current market, though, there are some ways to save money on rent. Whether you're renting an apartment or a house, you may be able to cut your costs by negotiating with your landlord, splitting the costs with a roommate, moving during the off-season and more. Here are six strategies for saving money on rent now.
1. Get a Roommate
The best way to save the most money on rent is to get a roommate or two with whom you can split costs. You may be able to find a roommate from among your friend group or even by posting an ad online.
Make sure your lease permits roommates and that you comply with any stipulations your landlord requires, such as having your roommate also apply and having a credit check run.
2. Negotiate Your Lease
Some leases may have wiggle room, so see if you can find ways to reduce prices or make your lease terms more favorable before signing a new lease or renewing your existing one.
For example, if you see that the unit you're considering is directly next to the exterior air conditioning unit and the noise is noticeable, ask if the landlord will take $100 off your monthly rent. Or, if you know you will be living in the apartment for an extended period of time, see if you can lock in a lower rate by signing a two- or three-year lease.
3. Search for Apartments Off-Season
If it works with your living situation, try to wait for the off-season to find a new rental. The winter months—especially in northern areas—tend to be a slower season for rentals.
There may be fewer apartments available, but landlords may also be receiving fewer applicants. If they need a unit rented sooner than later, you may score a deal as they drop the price to attract applicants.
4. Exchange Work for Reduced Rent
Certain alternative housing situations may offer lower rent in exchange for work. Some jobs that come with housing include:
- Dorm parent or resident assistant in a dormitory
- Superintendent of an apartment building
- Property caretaker
- Companion caretaker for the disabled or elderly
- Au pair or live-in nanny
Scoring one of these jobs can help you save on rent—though your income could take a hit depending on what job you had previously.
5. Pay Upfront
If you're able to scrape together several months of rent, you may be able to reduce your rent by paying upfront. For example, offer to pay eleven months now and get the twelfth month free.
This may be an attractive offer to your landlord because they are assured of the money for the next year. Much like paying first and last months' rent, this gives your landlord the peace of mind of knowing they won't be left high and dry if you break your lease suddenly. However, it may be difficult for you to recover this money should you need to move out early, so only offer to pay upfront when you're certain you will stay.
6. Consider a Different Location
If you have the flexibility, consider moving outside of your city or to a different, less expensive location altogether. Densely populated areas tend to have higher rents due to competition, but moving just a few miles away can drop your costs.
Extending your commute may come with other costs, though, so make sure you're not trading a high rent for an expensive bus pass or high gas bill for your vehicle. Changing locations to lower your rent may be particularly ideal if you have the option to work remotely at least part of the time.
7. Sublet Your Apartment
If you can move home or in with friends for a period of time before your lease is up, consider subletting your apartment. But first make sure your lease allows it; many leases specifically forbid sublets, particularly when done through short-term rental services like Airbnb or Vrbo.
When you sublet your apartment, you find another tenant to live there for a period of time and pay your rent. You may be able to charge more than your own rent and make a profit, but you have to check local ordinances for any rules about rent-controlled pricing. You should create an official, written agreement with any subletters to keep everyone on the same page and protect yourself legally.
What to Know About Saving Money on Rent
Figuring out how to deal with higher rent costs can be frustrating and stressful. But if you can be strategic with timing and perhaps make some compromises, such as getting a roommate or moving to a less expensive area, it may be possible to reduce your cost of living.
Make sure you're an attractive rental prospect by checking your credit score before applying to new apartments. Your credit score can be an important deciding factor in getting approved for a rental, so monitor your credit regularly leading up to signing a new lease and take steps to improve your credit first if necessary.
Once you're in your new apartment, don't forget to make sure your rent payments are contributing to your credit history and helping you build credit.
Find More of the Best Ways to Save Money on Rent
- How to Split Rent With Your Partner
Moving in together means making important financial decisions. Here’s how to determine the best way to split rent, and it doesn’t have to be 50/50.
- Can You Pay Rent With a Credit Card?
Paying rent by credit card is only permitted by some landlords, though some third-party services allow it; either way, you’ll likely pay steep fees.
- Financial To-Do List for Renting an Apartment
Renting an apartment is a big financial commitment. This checklist can help get your finances in order so you’ll have the best chance of getting approved.