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Where you live depends on the size of your family and your needs. Downsizing is the solution for many. Downsize possessions and rent the smallest apartment that will accommodate you. Consider renting apartments from private landlords instead of pricey apartment complexes that offer and charge for a variety of amenities.
Consider renting an apartment on a bus line so that you have an alternate means of transportation if your car breaks down or gas prices rise beyond your monthly budget. Consider renting an apartment within walking distance of places you must go- like to work or the grocery store. This savings could make up for paying a bit more for rent. You have to look at the budget as a whole.
Don't save money by renting an apartment in an area where you are not safe.
I recently sold a 3-bedroom ranch-style home (including major appliances) and have moved into a 2-bedroom apartment.
We didn't want to go through the expense of having to purchase a brand new washer and electric dryer, so we are using the laundromat at the apartment complex. It's only costing us $4.25 per week to do our laundry. We are saving money on both the water and electric bill.
Also when we leave the apartment we turn off the Central A/C to save on electricity.
So many people are having trouble either buying homes or renting homes or apartments, but the fact is that the builders are also having trouble getting rid of what they have. In my area of Florida one very new apartment complex is desperate enough to offer renters an apartment with just the first month's rent (no last or security). So, when hunting for an apartment check out the brand new ones as well - you may be pleasantly surprised!
Location, Location, Location! I agree with the last poster on all points. I live within 4 blocks of 3 buses, my post office, my bank, an Office Max, a Mall, a grocery store and 2 thrift shops! I chose a small complex from people I knew, only 6 units. If I could, I would be on the top floor so my heat doesn't help them, so that is something to consider. Your windows are safer upstairs, too.
Try and stay away from apartments that have west facing windows, but if you can't, don't let anyone tell you you can't put up foil in the summer. Disposals save you trash but cost a little extra, so that is a toss up. Sometimes, you can find "daylight basement" apartments that are lovely, and most people don't even know you are there. Spend a little for a post office box if your mail boxes aren't locking, especially if you have important bills there.
Make sure you are renting from someone who cares about maintenance. Ask your potential neighbors how long it takes to get things fixed, etc. If your landlord is out of town or out of state and has no manager, avoid it at all costs. If you are a light sleeper, don't get a place close to the freeway or a busy street, or with a bunch of hotrods and noisy, unsupervised kids. If you have kids and there is no place for them to play, you won't be happy, unless you are very close to a park.
Once you find a cool place, here are some things to do inside to keep your costs down. Florescent lights are now .98 at Walmart. A 60 watt bulb produces as much heat as the human body, but it's also costing you 90% heat and 10% light. The florescent bulbs are cooler to the touch and better inside closed globes.
Buy 8/1.00 Handiwipes instead of paper towels. I go to the dollar stores about once a month and get things from aspirin to wastebaskets, including packaged, canned, and frozen food and milk! You can find hollow core/bi-fold doors and use old popcorn tins for supports either inside your closet or outside in the rooms. They are cute! If it's just the two of you, find a smaller place like mine with the island/bar in the kitchen/living room combo. With two or three nice bar stools, you don't need a table and chairs!
To save room, get the remote controlled window fans that slide in and have two fans. They are reversible, so you can suck out the hot air during the day when you are not home (put some good dowels in the slider for security, again the top floor is nicer for this).
When I get all my food at home for the month, I make all my recipes the first couple of days, then freeze everything. I don't have to do much more than nuke and make a salad from then on. All the things you do monthly to save money can make it possible to have a little bit nicer place. The last poster was right. Saving money to sacrifice security and a feeling you are glad to be home are not worth it. Good luck!
Share with a roomie. You can live in a better location of town. Pick out an apartment that has a kitchen or back entry that has a bedroom and bath off it. Keep your bedroom and living room separate with the front entry. Put up a door or curtain that can be removed when you leave. Having a separate area that no else passes through gives you a feeling of having your own place. I did this once and we both got along great because of the separate areas.
Try to avoid apartments with high ceilings, especially those with lofts. Heating and cooling vertical spaces can be very costly.
Any amount of money spent on an apartment is money wasted unless you can get an older, large one, updated, in a safe community and with all bills paid. Now, wake up from that dream! If you can afford one of those sorts of apartments, with the housing industry suffering so many foreclosures nowadays, why not look for a house to rent for cheap, especially if you have children. If it's in a good neighborhood close to schools and it's fenced and not run down. If not in the country, you can find lawn mowers being placed on the curbs often that still work fine, and buy yourself a used edger at the local lawnmower repair place. People replace these often because they don't have the time to do simple repairs to them, or because they are moving out of state and don't want to move the lawn equipment.
I've been a Real Estate Broker and an Apartment Leasing Agent for over 44 Complexes through temporary services, and I've seen all aspects of both. If you are childless, don't like the outdoors and fresh air, don't have pets, are extra-fearful about security, are single, an apartment might be best for you. However, if none of these fit you, you can now find landlord/home owners who are anxious to keep those properties full, and are renting at great prices. That may not always be the case, however. As the economy gets worse and worse, anything could happen.
Suggestion: Regardless, do not rent on a "month-to-month" basis unless you have very few belongings, because it works both ways. If you want to move out quickly for any reason, you need only give a few days notice. However, if the landlord sells or moves and wants you out, you will be given only a couple of days' notice, as well. Think about it from all angles.
Also, "free rent for first month" can be legitimate or a warning that something is wrong with the apartment, apartment staff, especially maintenance issues, or possibly a rash of burglaries. So go back after hours to a prospective complex offering a bargain to move in, and ask tenants what they think. Most will simply tell you if there are problems and save you a lot of hassle.
I've seen the best and the worst. There are a lot of problems with "HIGH DENSITY" complexes, meaning that where there are more than two story apartments and lots of apartment units in the complex, people get irritable a lot and life is not so pleasant as lower density apartments.
Look at the grounds. If little grass, cracked cement, poor landscaping, too many cars, too much traffic, poor parking/lighting, and too much noise at night, look elsewhere.
Before signing a lease for a property you believe you like, sleep on it and walk the grounds well, talk to the tenants, see how the children get along with each other. Is it family friendly or "Party animal" friendly, pet friendly or restrictive with huge pet deposits(can be an advantage and higher standard, but usually an indication of higher rents, too).
If you are single, you may not want the shrill of sweet screams just outside your window on Sat. mornings, so either ask for a unit away from children, or lease in an all adult complex.
Exterior: If the complex has lots of wood siding or shingles on the walls, that could cost you in higher utilities due to a likely sign of poor insulation. Look at the A/C units to see if they are old/newer, poorly or better maintained, leaking, out of balance, noisy, near windows, clean? All signs need to be considered, because once you sign the lease, you have only three days, in most states, to change your mind and get your deposit back. Otherwise, you'd better keep your half of the rules.
Word to the wise: immediately upon entering on the very first day, try to get your landlord to walk the entire apt or house with you to see if there are any dings, scrapes, damage, missing things or anything broken. Mark every single thing down with perfect description and location. Why so important? Because, I saw some unscrupulous apartment staff not emphasizing this and then when something was discovered a month or so later when the dust settles from your hard work of moving in, the staff will say, "did you turn in your move-in sheet on time and mark every single item that was wrong? If you did, what you are complaining about should be on there, right?" You'll kick yourself for not doing it, especially when they charge you, by the hour, with a one hour minimum for their minimum wage maintenance guy to rub a dab of caulk into a hole in the back of a door you missed! And you will be outright angry if you get charged $50 for the same guy to run his worn out steamer down the traffic pattern of your carpet to "try" to get a bad stain out you did see right away and then not be able to do it, a favorite way to get extra money for the manager's budget!
I'm not saying that all apartments are scamming, just that many do, unfortunately. Watch the terms to be broken on your lease -vs- their rights, especially if you miss your rent payment on time and then come home to find a double lock on your door and your large appliances/electronics missing. Where'd they go? Into a "holding tank" until you pay your rent, if it's not too late and if you pay your late fees as well.
Another advantage to renting a house with good windows, doors, roof, garage/parking; Should you need to supplement your income by baby sitting, child care, working from the home, you can more likely do so in a house rather than an apartment because of the lease and the noise/traffic factor to neighbors.
One last suggestion: Rarely, but sometimes, one can find someone who is "Sub-leasing" their apt/house, and will allow you to move there by paying them rent. However, insist on a copy of the lease before hand, because it may prohibit sub-leasing, where the original tenant cannot get more than he/she was paying in rent for their pocket. If legitimate, it can be a fast easy way to lease on someone else's deposit money and responsibility. In this case, be a good sub-lessee and take care of the place, paying rents early so the original tenant can get it in on time to the Landlord.
TIP: Make several sets of keys, placing outside of your apt. and watch both the keeping of your job, and the terms of the lease agreement. Nothing is perfect.
Beware of the 'Cheaper Rent - You Fix Up' trap. It's only a good deal if you have a truck and if you are a repairman that has access to the cheap supplies needed.
Do you have any more ideas for saving money on an apartment? Feel free to post them below.
To get a good deal on an apartment. Offer to do either simple handyman's work or some janitorial work in the evenings or weekends for a reduction in the rent and possibly free rent.
It pays to keep aware of local happenings. I have somehow stayed at my apartment all these years as the neighborhood got better, always planning to move but didn't.