The cost of living is going up and continuing to rise. Unfortunately, that means the cost of apartment hunting is up, as well. If you’re going to have to pay more for rent, you’re also going to have to pay more for things like security deposits. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do certain things to mitigate the cost of finding an apartment. It takes some smarts and creativity, but there are ways to lessen the financial pain of moving into a new place. Here are a few tips to help you search for an apartment without losing all your money.
Utilize technology to avoid scams
In the year 2019, you can do most of your preliminary apartment searching from your laptop or mobile phone. There are a ton of apartment sites out there, some of which are more reliable than others. Craigslist is a popular site for scammers, so you should be wary of listings that seem too amazing to be true. For example, if someone is renting a one-bedroom apartment for $500 in Seattle, that’s probably a scam. If it’s not a scam, then a person is renting out a closet and calling it an apartment. If an apartment is real, you should be able to call and set up a showing within a few days. Anyone who says they are “out of the country” is almost certainly trying to pull a fast one. While it is less common, some scammers may also try to charge you just to view the apartment. Don’t fall for that. Rental application fees are not the same thing as a fee to look at the place. If you do pay an application fee, make sure it’s reasonable. Landlords should have access to a free rental application that helps them keep costs down. They shouldn’t be shifting too much of the burden to the prospective renter, especially if the renter hasn’t even been approved for the apartment yet.
Watch out for pet fees and rent
If it seems like most apartments have started charging extra “rent” for pets in the last two or three years, you’re not imagining it. USA Today referred to pet rent as “the latest costly apartment fad.” Pet rent is not unreasonable by itself, but it can start to feel a bit much when combined with hundreds of dollars in pet fees and deposits. Paying several hundred dollars to move your cat into an apartment in the city is one thing, but for many people, paying an extra $30 or $40 a month on top of that is a bridge too far. You may feel like you don’t have a choice. But first, ask if there’s any way to spread out the cost of a pet deposit. For instance, some landlords will let you pay out $600 in pet fees and deposits over a few months, while others will require you to pay everything upfront. Either way, there’s no harm in asking.
Look for public transit options
Some apartments will advertise a unit as “close to the bus line” or “right by public transit.” If it’s not mentioned in the ad, feel free to ask when you tour the property. Better yet, you can pull up the address on Google Maps and search for nearby public transit options. Taking the bus or train can save you in a couple of ways. For starters, you don’t have to pay $50 or $100 a month for a parking spot. Even if your parking spot is free, you may still want to take the bus sometimes and save money on gas. Sure, going to the grocery store and buying a lot of food may require taking your personal vehicle, but not every errand or trip will. If you’re visiting a family member at an assisted living community in New Jersey, hopping on the bus or train will probably be less stressful than driving yourself there and attempting to find parking near the facility.