5 Ways to Score Cheap Rent — Without Annoying Roommates

By Brittany Lyte on 23 December 2014 1 comment

The United States is in the midst of a rent affordability crisis. While financial advisers will tell you housing should cost no more than 30% of your income, the reality for many people is that rent is commonly much, much more. In fact, half of all renters across the nation spend well more than 30% of their gross income on housing.

Yet, finding a cheap place to rent isn't pure fantasy. We've all heard of a friend or loved one living in an expensive area for a fraction of the neighbors fork over in rent. So how do they do it? (See also: 6 Ways to Haggle Your Way to Cheap Rent)

Read on for our cheat sheet of the best ways to score cheap rent — without having to live with a stranger.

1. Seek Out Properties Under Renovation

Housing construction makes a racket, stirs up dust, and jeopardizes parking — all of which are turn-offs to most potential renters. To compensate, rental offices commonly offer up price concessions, including discounted rents, waived fees, and lower deposits. New renters can usually enjoy these benefits for a full year, even when renovations only last a couple of months.

2. Scope Out an Ugly View

No one fantasizes about bedroom window views of highway ramps and abandoned parking lots. But it might be better for your bank account. "Proximity to generally undesirable transportation facilities can be a money saver," says Ryan Harris, a New York City planner and a representative of the local American Planning Association, told Time Out New York. "Look for areas near elevated train lines, highways, or bridge and tunnel entrances to be more affordable than those even one or two blocks away."

3. Wait for Winter

Fewer people move in the winter, so landlords are usually ready to cut a deal. New York City resident Susan Goldstein, a designer, says she saved big bucks by planning her most recent move between Thanksgiving and Christmas. "We looked at buildings that offered incentives." Her broker, David J. Bucci of A.C. Lawrence & Co., said Goldstein was able to get one month of rent free, and the building paid the broker's fee. "The majority of leases turn over during the summer, so the inventory is high, but so are prices and the number of people looking increases dramatically," Bucci told the city guide. "If you are looking for a deal, the winter months are the way to go."

4. Become a Live-In Caretaker, Nanny, or Pet Sitter

These opportunities are hard to find. But for those who are lucky enough to score a caretaker gig, the payoff can be astounding. Namely, free or deeply discounted rent in what's typically a fully furnished home. What's the catch? Typically, there isn't one, which is why these living arrangements are so hot. Often it will be a well-to-do couple who wants someone clean, quiet, and reliable to walk the dog and water the begonias while they're away in Europe. Sound like your cup of tea? Check Craigslist, coffee shop bulletin boards, and the classifieds in your local newspaper for potential opportunities.

5. Offer to Sign a Longer Lease

It never hurts to negotiate. In fact, it's rather silly not to try, at the very least. So if the landlord asks for a 6-month commitment, offer up a full year in exchange for a knock-down on the monthly price. If he or she wants you to agree to a year-long commitment, say that you're willing to up the ante to 18 months if they're willing to throw in some extras — like free parking or a gratis gym membership. Landlords often offer discounts to long-term tenants, but your commitment saves them on turnover expenses such as lost rent during the search for a new tenant, advertising costs, and cleaning fees.

Have you snagged cheap rent? Share your tips and tricks with us!

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Guest's picture
Stefan

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