If you are looking for an affordable rental home, you’re not alone. It’s no surprise that some people prefer renting over owning when it comes to housing. There are many reasons why people find it more financially feasible to rent rather than purchase a home. Renting can be a great alternative for those who are not ready for the responsibility of home ownership. But whether it’s your first apartment or one you’re moving into after downsizing from a house, renting can be a tricky process. We have some tips to help you determine the most affordable rental home to meet your needs.
Start with a Budget
There are several factors to consider when trying to get the best deal for your budget. When you begin looking for a new place to live, make sure to sit down and figure out exactly how much you would like to spend on housing, and what your budget will realistically support. It’s important to have a realistic number and to look for something that does not exceed your price range. Once you have a budget in hand, it’s time to start looking at other factors that can help or hurt your deal.
Determine how much room you will need in your new home. If you have a family, you may feel that your money would be best spent on an apartment with several bedrooms and ample living space. Single? Decide whether you would like to live alone or find a roommate or two. Roommates are a great way to cut down on expenses, but before you sign on the dotted line make sure that you are protected with a rental agreement in place with your roomate so you aren’t left holding the bag on a rental you can no longer afford.
An apartment complex and surrounding community can be a big factor when you consider a potential place to live. If you work outside the home, check to see how long your commute will be. If you spend a lot of money on gas, that may offset the price of a cheaper apartment if it is farther away from work. If you would like to try out public transportation as an alternative, is your apartment accesible? Also, what amenities does the complex offer? If you spend a lot of money on gym or pool memberships, finding an apartment that takes care of these needs can offset some of the cost.
When preparing your budget, be aware that there are many more fees associated with renting than just the rent itself. Water is not always included in the price of rent, so that is an additional expense you will need to budget for. Many apartments also require you to hold renter’s insurance while you are renting. If you have a pet there are almost always non-refundable pet fees required upon moving into a new place. Pet fees can range anywhere from $100-300 or more and some properties require additional “pet rent” every month in addition to the deposit. It’s important to have a very clear picture of what your true monthly cost will be instead of a general idea that falls far below the actual cost. Call your utility companies and ask them to project the cost for your unit -- they can often give you a realistic estimate to help you with your budget calculations.
Consider Potential Trade-offs
When looking for an affordable rental home, are there aby “trade-offs” that can warrant a difference in spending? For example, if you decide to work from home, it may be worth it to spend on additional space for an office or second bedroom. What you are saving in gas may offset the cost of paying for more square feet. Make sure to consider all the angles before you sign a lease, and don’t be tempted to fall for a sales pitch or fancy ammenities that look good, but can’t really be factored into your budget.
Above all, it is important to find an affordable rental home that you will feel good about month after month as you write those rental checks. Calculating all of the factors above can help you find the best deal on renting in your area.
Consumer Education Services, Inc. (CESI) is a non-profit committed to empowering and inspiring consumers nationwide to make wise financial decisions and live debt free. Speak with a certified counselor for a free debt analysis today
Consumer Education Services, Inc. (CESI) is a non-profit service provider of comprehensive personal financial education and solutions for all life stages and for all of life’s milestones. Our goal is enhanced economic security for everyone we serve.
CESI is NOT A LOAN COMPANY