As a college student, you have three housing options. You can stay in college residence halls, commute from home (if your home is near the school) or rent an off-campus apartment. While each of these options has its advantages and disadvantages in terms of cost, convenience, and privacy, there is no doubt off-campus apartments are preferred by many students. However, many are forced to take one of the first two options since apartments are costly.
If you have a tight budget, and you are determined to live in an off-campus apartment, here some top tips for finding a low-income apartment for rent.
1. Choose Your College Wisely
The journey to finding a low-income apartment begins during your college search. This is because states and cities vary in terms of living costs and conditions. According to Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, for example, Hawaii, District of Columbia, California and New York are some of the states with highest living costs. On the other hand, Mississippi, Idaho and Oklahoma have the lowest living costs. So if you want to enhance your chances of getting a cheap apartment, then you should consider joining the universities that are located in states with the lowest living costs.
2. Use Online Portals
If you embark on a fact-finding mission in a new city, you are unlikely to gather all the information you need about housing costs. This is where online portals come in handy. Rent.com, for example, offers campus students the tools to find low-cost apartments near universities. All you need to do is key in the name or zip of a certain state, as well as your monthly rent budget range. The platform will generate available apartments.
Other useful portals include:
3. Consider Other Costs
Sometimes tenants can be a cunning lot. If you have never sought an apartment before, then you know too well that more often than not, tenants impose other costs on top of the rent. Some of these costs include a security deposit, application fee, parking fee, renters insurance and maintenance fees. While some of these additional costs –like renters insurance, are useful, they can significantly drive up your housing bill. As such, be sure to enquire whether there are other costs besides the rent before moving in.
4. Negotiate Hard
Are you a hardball negotiator? If you are, then your skills can save you’re a few bucks. Although landlords or leasing agencies tend to impose fixed rates, you may have some negotiating power if the property in question is not in demand. If they are eager to let out the apartment, he or she can accept a lower rent.
If you are not a skilled negotiator, here are a few helpful tips:
- Determine how low you can go- Going too low can offend the landlord.
- Do some research and identify how much other tenants in the building are paying – Differences in rates among tenants indicates there is room for negotiation.
- Hire a broker.
Finally, off-campus housing is not always an expensive affair. As long as you follow these strategies, and you are determined to save money, you can find a low-income apartment that suits your lifestyle. Remember, you can always cut your rent in half by living with a roommate.
Did you live in a low-income apartment during your college days? How did you find it? Please share your experience with us in the comments section below.