Rose Kennedy, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
From the moment you start searching for an apartment until your last goodbye to the landlord, there are numerous fees, utility costs and more than can make having your own place a little more expensive than you planned.
There are several money-saving hacks to trim some of those added costs, according to frugal bloggers, lifestyle pros and real estate experts.
1. Check out rentals in the chilly months.
While November through February offer fewer rental options, you can strike a deal for a lower rent more often and more easily in the winter months, according to Lifehacker. Landlords have to look harder for tenants in these slow apartment hunting months, so they might be more willing to take less rent or a lower deposit, or to offer a few extra services than what you’d get in spring and summer.
2. Choose floor No. 2.
While conventional wisdom indicates saving money by opting for a floor that’s higher in the building, that cheaper rent could push your other bills higher, according to the Wise Bread blog. Choosing the second floor of a place with three levels of units saves dramatically on the utility bill — far better than getting a nominal rent break. The best insulated floor of three is the second, which is particularly important if you’ll be paying for air conditioning in the sunny South.
3. Power down on the electric bill.
If you’re responsible for the electric bill at the apartment, hack away at it, real estate website Truliaadvised. Be sure to identify energy sappers like appliances that use a remote control or an external power supply or have a continuous display, Trulia said. All of them continue to use electricity even after they’re turned off. To save as much as $150 on your power bill annually, invest in a smart power strip and plug in such devices as TVs, cable boxes and game consoles to cut off “phantom power” at the source.
4. Save on renters insurance.
You could always save on renters insurance by forgoing it altogether, but that leaves you open to losing all you own, according to The Balance. Instead, get the insurance, but economize by exploring professional discounts if you are in a profession such as police officer, firefighter, teacher or nurse or are a credit union member or retiree.
If you haven’t already chosen where to rent, you may want to opt for apartments near a fire station, in a low crime area or in a newer building to further reduce your renter’s insurance.
5. Make a movable bathroom floor upgrade.
A lot of the most affordable apartments, and even some of the pricier ones, have unattractive, cold or warped bathroom floors. To keep from losing your deposit by altering the actual bathroom floor, consider making an inexpensive deck tile upgrade that merely rests on the floor and can be used at your next place, too, RentManager.com suggested. And instead of cutting tiles to fit that specific floor, fill in the hard-to-fit nooks and crannies with black river rocks.
6. Walk through on your way out.
Make time to schedule a walk-through at the empty apartment before you’re gone for good, Wise Bread recommended. Look at the place with your apartment manager, and review any charges you might incur against your deposit and any outstanding bills. While it’s tempting to avoid the face-to-face even if you’ve had a wonderful rental experience, having the supervisor sign off on notes from your conversation lays the groundwork for protests far better than waiting to get the refund in the mail.