Find ways to lower your monthly rental costs with our list.
Housing is one of the largest expenses most people face nowadays, but it doesn’t have to be. Especially if you are trying to pay down debt, start a business, or save up for a big life event, it’s worth the effort to whittle down your housing costs.
As a wise man once said, sometimes it’s worth living for a few years like others won’t, so you can spend a lifetime living like others can’t. In that spirit, here a few creative and unconventional ways to slash your housing costs so you can start saving for your future.
1. Live smaller
Most of the time, the biggest cost of housing is simply the size of our accommodations. living smaller and simpler. Do you really need a 1200 square foot apartment, or will 500 do the trick?
2. Live simpler
Get rid of your excess stuff and a smaller apartment may begin to look quite spacious. You’d be surprised how much better it feels to live with fewer possessions, and you could make some good money selling your used items, too.
3. Look for shared outdoor square footage
Is a smaller apartment still daunting? Look for a place that has shared spaces, especially outdoor areas, to increase your overall living area. Switching from an apartment to a room in a house with a yard, for example, may save you money while actually increasing the space you have access to.
4. Get furniture second hand
I’m not sure why anyone making this side of six figures buys furniture new anymore. Get it from garage sales, university move-out, and move-in sales, thrift shops, habitat for humanity, even the side of the road! (Jason’s note: Take a look at Home Goods. They sell furniture made to look rehabbed.)
5. Travel “abroad” to gain perspective
Modern Americans (myself included) have among the highest standard of living of any people in the history of the world. If you’re used to absolute comfort, but high housing bills bother you, I encourage you to see how other people live, especially in less economically fortunate countries. The change of perspective lifestyle tourism brings can help you save a lot of money. (Jason’s note: Traveling during the pandemic is not recommended. But the idea is see your situation through a different perspective. Challenge your own idea of your lifestyle standard.)
6. Rent a really cheap apartment for a year
If you’ve never had a really cheap apartment – go get one. I grew up middle class, but I spent a year living alone on an income of half the poverty level, in an urban neighborhood to match. The life experience and perspective, not to mention relationships, I gained from that year of limited means was invaluable, and has helped me reject senseless overspending on an elevated lifestyle.
7. Talk to people who grew up in poverty
You know who is really good at saving money? People who have never had very much of it.
My mother grew up in poverty, so much so that the house she lived in was condemned. She recently retired early from a VP of marketing position, but to this day, she still clips coupons, saves scraps of aluminum foil, and refuses to waste food. She understands scarcity, so she’s an excellent negotiator when it comes to large expenses, like housing.
Talk to the people in your life who have gone through hard financial times. Their insight is invaluable.
You pay a premium for personal space. And you can lower your monthly rental costs by sharing that space. If you’re really having a hard time, roommates are the way to go. Dirty dishes and loud music aside, they can also be a wonderful source of community in these strange times.
9. Rent out an unused parking space
Got extra space in your driveway, or an unused parking spot at your complex? Don’t waste it. Rent it out! A very happy renter is likely just a Craigslist ad away. (Jason’s note: Or check out SpotHero to list your parking space or driveway for cash.)
10. Rent out spare space
Airbnb hosting can be a lucrative side hustle once you get through the set up phase, and you meet so many interesting people! Consider short-term rentals to family, friends, and out of town travelers.
11. Rent out storage space
Make some extra cash by renting out closet space with services like Neighbor.com or Storeatmyhouse.com.
12. Ditch your own storage unit
Don’t pay to store your stuff. If you’re not using it, just get rid of it and make money selling your stuff.
13. Camp a lot
It doesn’t take too many nights of roughing it to make you appreciate your bed – any bed, in any room with four walls, heat, and a roof. If you’ve never camped for a week straight, do it. It’ll go a long way toward curing any expensive luxury housing desires.
14. Live in an RV or camper van
This lifestyle is not always glamorous and it’s not for everybody, but some people really, really love it, and it can be very affordable, even if your employment depends on showing up physically to work every day. Check out sites like ProjectVanLife.com and Parkedinparadise.com to learn more.
15. Choose housing with efficient utilities
Heating and cooling can be a huge expense, especially in older homes. If utilities are not included in your payment make sure you ask to see average utility bills before committing to a home or apartment.
16. Negotiate the installation of more efficient utilities
If you’re a good, loyal tenant, and you love your place, but your utility bill is huge due to poor energy efficiency (air leaks, or electric baseboard heating), ask your landlord to install more efficient heating and cooling units and even re-insulate if necessary.
If they balk at the cost, don’t be afraid to put moving out on the table. Sometimes it takes a good tenant leaving for a landlord to invest in modernization.
17. Reduce the use of electric-powered comforts
Get comfortable with minor discomfort. Don’t heat or cool rooms all day and night that only see a few minutes of use each day. Try turning on the AC two weeks later in the summer than you normally would, and turn it off two weeks earlier. Do the same with your heat, and simply dress appropriately.
Remember, 99% of all human beings who’ve come before us somehow survived without air conditioning and thermostats.
18. Don’t leave appliances or lights on when not in use
Think of devices that use electricity the same way you might think of a leaky faucet – if you leave them on when you don’t need them, you’re leaking money. If you’re not using something, get in the habit of turning it off.
19. Reduce your internet service
Do you really need the highest level of internet service, or will the basic package do? Downgrade your service and slash your bill. Come to think of it, do you really need the internet at all? Now there’s a thought.
20. Live closer to work and ditch your car
You can consider the cost of vehicle ownership as part of your overall housing costs. If you live close to your job in an area with all basic amenities within reach of walking, biking, or public transit, you can ditch the car and save thousands of dollars every year.
21. Negotiate work-at-home perks with your employer
If you only have to commute to work once or twice a week, choosing to live in a cheaper suburb or rural area far from your job becomes much more attractive. It’s never been a better time to ask your employer to begin or extend work from home benefits. (Jason’s note: Sometimes a small salary decrease to work from home can be offset from savings on fuel cost, food expense, and regaining back time).
Here’s some uncanny ways to lower your monthly rental costs:
22. Sublet your room
Can’t afford to buy a house to rent out? Sublet your room when it’s warm outside and live in a tent in your back yard, or your van. Don’t want to live outside? Just sleep on your couch. You still get use of your kitchen, bathroom and any living areas. As long as your landlord approves . . . why not?
23. Write off your home office expenses
If you’re self employed or even if you run a side-hustle at home, you may be able to deduct all or part of your housing expenses , even utilities, from your taxable income.
24. If you don’t have a pet, don’t get one
I love animals. But they destroy furniture, decorations, and even walls and floors. Skip the pet fees from the landlord, and visit somebody else’s dog when you need your fix. Owning a pet is expensive, but petting somebody else’s pet is free!
25. Ask for a discount for paying upfront
Remember, the answer is always no unless you ask . . . and if they do say yes — make sure you get a written receipt. (Jason’s note: I’ve seen landlords discount rents by 5% for paying the entire year. In some situations, that can mean getting 2 weeks for free.)
26. Barter your services for rent with your landlord
Ask if you can trade a skill of yours for some or all of your rent payment. I did some did basic carpentry work at one of my apartments in exchange for reduced rent. I’ve also pitched trading graphic design and web work, installed a patio, and did all sorts of other trades in place of money when cash was tight. The landlords were thrilled.
27. Negotiate a lower rate with your landlord
Never assume that you have pay sticker price for anything, especially housing. Ask your landlord for a lower rate. My brother recently got his rent in Hoboken, New Jersey reduced by $250 a month, just because he asked — no bartering required. The market was on his side, granted, but the point is this: the answer is always no if you don’t ask.
28. Save your landlord money on repairs and maintenance
See if you can get rent reductions for performing maintenance on the property yourself – basic repairs or plumbing, mowing the lawn if you have a yard, even small renovation projects. Make your landlord’s life as easy as possible and they will more than likely be happy to return the favor.
29. Contact landlords and look for weird, unlisted deals
Landlords with multiple properties often have unlisted deals available – a room in an otherwise empty house that’s under renovation; a run-down but serviceable apartment over a shop or warehouse; a property that’s vacant for three months out of the year and could use a sitter.
This requires extra digging, but landlords are often willing to cut an unconventional deal on unconventional spaces, saving you tons of money.
30. Buy a home and rent it out
Do the opposite and become the landlord. You can negate the cost of a mortgage and the myriad other fees associated with home ownership by renting out rooms while you’re still living in it. Check out Jason’s guide to house hacking for more info.
How have you found ways to lower your monthly rental costs?