Renting is a great option for people who cannot afford to buy a house or who wish to spend their income in other ways. Although renting alone will save you money, there are many ways you can further minimize spending and build up your savings account while renting. All you need to do is make and follow a plan for reducing costs, starting with the very first stages of research and up to actually living in your rental.
Here are 4 of the most important steps you can take to save money while renting:
- Spending time on research
It is of utmost importance to take your time and be critical in your research process. Learn to balance your wants and needs and prioritize the necessities over your ‘wants’. One of the most important aspects of choosing an apartment is the location. While you should avoid renting close to the city center or a business area, you shouldn’t have to sacrifice your commute either. Find a spot that is close to public transportation or offers you a direct route to your job or school. Calculate the distance and how long it would take you to travel from place to place and decide how much you are willing to sacrifice on that.
You can also consider renting with other people. If you find a nice apartment that has more than one bedroom, partner up with someone and split the rent. If none of your acquaintances want to join you, there are plenty of reliable apps you can use to find a roommate. It’s easier now than ever to find housemates.
- Choosing the apartment type
The sheer number of options might be overwhelming, but make a list of your needs so that you can easily sort through them. Apart from price range and location, seriously consider what type of apartment is best for you. If you don’t have furniture and you don’t have it in your budget to buy some right away, consider renting a furnished apartment for the time being. A furnished apartment would also be a great option for you if you plan to travel a lot or move again in the near future. It definitely varies from one situation to another, but there are pros and cons to both furnished and unfurnished apartments.
Also, be careful with apartments that have utilities included in the price, as that could backfire on you and your housemates. If you pay for utilities separately, you can control your energy consumption and intentionally reduce costs. But if you are tied to a fixed amount you could potentially pay for more than you are actually consuming.
- Signing the lease
When you’ve found your new home and the time comes to sign the lease, be sure to read the contract very carefully. Ask questions wherever things are unclear and make sure both you and the landlord understand your obligations. Before signing the lease, when you’re checking out the apartment, keep an eye out for any flaws that you can bring up in the discussion and ask for a lower rent. Negotiating rent is a must.
A good idea is to rent long-term because the longer you rent the lower the monthly cost will be. Ideally, one year will reduce the rent while not tying you down and being too much of a commitment. Show yourself as a reliable person, even offer to fix things if necessary, and use this to convince the landlord to cut down on your bill.
- Living in the apartment
After you’ve moved in, remember to keep the same mindset. Adapt your lifestyle in order to save money. Be aware of how much energy and water you consume and reduce that. It’s as easy as turning off the water while brushing your teeth or unplugging the microwave before you leave the apartment. These are minor habits you can build that can add up to save you a significant amount on your monthly bill.
If you rent in a busy city like Seattle, you might fall prey to eating out or ordering food on a daily basis. A hectic lifestyle of running from one place to another could make you feel like you have no time, but if you decide to cook for yourself at least once every two days, you’ll not only eat and feel better but also save a lot of money in the process.
General Rule of Thumb: Follow the 50/30/20 Rule
The 50/30/20 rule is the golden ratio of budgeting; 50% of your budget is spent on needs, 30% on wants, and 20% on savings. Try to adjust your spending habits and fit your monthly costs in half of your salary. Divide the other half of it and try to put aside 20%. The rest of the 30% goes to your wants for the month, or towards covering unexpected expenses. It may seem hard to implement, but if you have this rule in mind from the very start, it will be easier to decide and to keep an eye on your budget and discretionary income.