It's obvious that rent is one of your biggest monthly expenses, and it really can't be avoided because you always need a place to live. If you pay $2,000 a month for rent, that amounts to $24,000 per year (the price of car!). And that doesn't include utilities, rental insurance, groceries, etc. If there's a way to reduce your rent, wouldn't you be willing to try? How is that even possible? Well, it takes a little bit of creativity, as well as some sacrifice. But if you're trying to do everything you can to cut costs across the board, it's worth it. Here are a few steps you can take to save money on rent.
You like your privacy, and you're wary of living with someone who might not share the same good habits you have like cooking, cleaning, and enjoying quiet hours. But you also don't like paying too much for rent, so you should consider getting a roommate (even if you're no longer in college).
If you get a roommate, you can reduce costs drastically. Consider that the average rent in Chicago for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,200. For a two-bedroom, it's about $1,500. So, instead of paying the entire one-bedroom cost by yourself, you'll only pay $750 per month if you have a roommate in a two-bedroom. That's a savings of $450 a month or a whopping $5,400 every year. If you've been meaning to pay off your credit card bill, this is the way to do it. But don't just find any random roommate. Use a reputable site like Spareroom.com and find someone trustworthy and mature. Who knows, you might just get a new best friend in the process.
If there's one big concern for landlords and leasing offices, it's keeping vacancies filled and getting good tenants. If you already have a great relationship with your landlord, consider speaking with him or her about your financial situation. Let them know you want to save on costs and remind them that you're always on time with your rent and have never had any complaints against you by your neighbors.
If you have an impeccable payment history, keep your apartment in great condition, and you're well-liked by your neighbors and your landlord, consider asking for a rent discount when you renew your lease with them. This might make the difference between keeping you as a tenant or losing you when your lease expires.
Coupled with the aforementioned tip, you can always agree to sign a multi-year lease or long-term lease, typically two or three years. Do so only if your landlord agrees to reduce your monthly rent. The benefit for you is tremendous cost savings over the course of the years (even a reduction of $100 a month can amount to $3,600 over the course of three years).
The plus for your landlord will be the fact that he gets to keep a reliable tenant in a rented unit for three years, versus having to lease it out every year. There are costs involved for the leasing office to clean, renovate, or repair the unit every single year, as well as taking care of paperwork and registration, so both you and your landlord will save in the long run, and that's a win-win.
Bigger is better, right? Well, not necessarily, and especially if you're just one person living by yourself. If you always wanted a one bedroom, versus a studio, you have you ask yourself if you really need all that space. But consider that the more rooms you have, the more you have to take care of, the more furniture you need, and the higher your rent. If you pretty much just work or go to school, and you get together with friends away from your apartment, you should consider cutting down on space.
If you get a nice studio, you can also furnish it nicely and make it look like you have more space by choosing minimalist-styled furniture and use lighter colors. If you give up some square footage, you might find that your place is more manageable in terms of cleaning, and the simplicity might provide you with peace of mind. Most importantly, you'll find that you're saving thousands of dollars every year.
Who doesn't like an indoor gym, pool, in-unit laundry, and a common area with wi-fi and snacks? Well, all that stuff costs money, and your landlord doesn't give you access for free (it's built into your rent, don't you know?). Well, if you want to reduce your monthly rent, you'd be better off finding a place that doesn't have those amenities. Think about how often you'd use them (be realistic, a lot of amenities go unused by most tenants). What's more, in the age of COVID-19, these amenities are probably used far less than usual.
If you don't use them much or don't plan to use them, consider moving to an apartment complex that's decidedly simple. Do you really need to pay extra for these things that get used so infrequently? You'll find that rental costs are much lower (saving you a couple of hundred dollars a month or more), and you'll find that you don't miss them all that much, anyway. What you will like is the extra thousands in your bank account.
Especially when it comes to smaller apartment buildings, you'll find that landlords handle a lot of tasks on their own in order to save money. Cleaning the lobby and floor hallways, changing light bulbs, shoveling snow, etc. These all cost time and/or money, so consider offering to do some weekly cleaning in your apartment building in exchange for a reduction in rent. If you're handy with fixing things, you can be a part-time superintendent who handles smaller repairs.
Just make sure you're covered under your landlord's insurance before you start taking on responsibilities, and make sure all supplies are provided by the building leasing office and not out of your own pocket. Offer terms that are commensurate with what you're taking on, and don't sell yourself short. If it's $30 a week to wipe down and clean the hallways, you'll save $120 a month. That seems pretty fair, but negotiate terms with your landlord and get things in writing.