When you’re a student, finding ways to pay less rent can be a big help when balancing your budget.
Rent can seem like a huge expense — especially since most students are living away from home and handling their own money for the first time — but there are some simple ways to cut back.
1. Ask your landlord.
When you’re renting an apartment and spending more on it than you’d like, the first thing to do is talk to your landlord.
Explain the realities of your financial situation and see if you can work out a compromise. Landlords are sometimes willing to negotiate on rent, especially if you are a model tenant (which, let’s face it, many students aren’t).
Another trick: ask if there is any manual labor (like shoveling snow or mowing the lawn) that you can do in exchange for a rent cut. Both parties benefit: You’ll help out your landlord with maintenance and she’ll help you by reducing your rent.
2. Rent long-term.
Before you sign a lease, always ask if there is a possibility of paying less rent on a long-term lease.
Finding reliable tenants who pay their rent punctually can be a big pain for landlords. If your landlord knows that you are going to be a good tenant (i.e. you can provide references), she’ll be happy to hang on to you for as long as possible and may agree to a reduced rate in exchange for a long-term commitment.
References can be anyone who can vouch for your dependability – ideally former landlords or roommates.
3. Find roommates.
Living with roommates is one of the easiest – and potentially most fun – ways to cut back on rent. You’ll be dividing rent as well as the cost of utilities, saving everyone money.
Of course, this doesn’t apply if your roommate has financial problems or simply can’t seem to pay bills on time! Don’t be shy about asking your potential roommates how they will be paying for rent (i.e. parents or a job).
4. Cut down on living costs.
If your utilities (gas, water and electricity) aren’t included in your rental, this can be a good place to begin reducing living expenses.
Small actions can make a big difference in your bills so you pay less rent and less in utilities: make sure that lights are turned off when nobody is in the room, get leaky faucets and toilets fixed and don’t leave the heat on max if everyone is away for winter break. These simple steps are also easier on the environment.
5. Consider shared living.
Great with kids? Many families employ live-in au pairs and nannies. These situations often include free room and board.
Elderly people may also need live-in caretakers. A local hostel might even be hiring, exchanging a room for a few days’ worth of work.
If you have the flexible schedule that these jobs require, these options can be a great way to pay less rent – or no rent at all.
6. Change apartments.
If your current apartment is still too expensive, it might be time to pick up and move.
If you love the building you’re in, you can ask your landlord whether any smaller (and cheaper) apartments are available in the building. If you’re currently living alone, maybe a larger multi-bedroom apartment is available that would let you live with roommates to cut costs.
Moving to a smaller or shared space might seem like a step down, but the money you save will be worth it in the end if it means you pay less rent.
7. Change location.
Real estate on or close to campus can be expensive. If you have time for the commute, living further from campus can be a simple way to pay less rent.
Check out any neighborhood before you decide to live there. You want to be reasonably close to grocery stores and public transportation or parking. You should also make sure the neighborhood’s safe.
By finding student housing or post-graduation housing where you pay less rent, you’ll have more money for both the necessities (like textbooks) and the fun extras (spring break trips!) that are a part of student life.