I’m happy to report a big win with our rental apartment situation. We’ve lowered our monthly expenses. Long story short, the deal for a house we were buying fell through due to the builder missing an inspection. Not willing to keep paying the month to month deal (around $900) we have with our current place as we continue house hunting, we decided to look for another place that would work with us.
Searching for an Apartment
We look at what we were spending on rent and decided we needed to get serious on getting a deal. Our priority in hunting our apartment was getting a good value, not just the cheapest apartment. We needed an apartment that was affordable enough to help us continue build our house fund while we continue looking at properties around the city.
Scouting the Apartments and Neighborhoods
Once we narrow down our choices, we’re going to scout out the potential neighborhoods. Sometimes things look great when the leasing agent gives the tour, but they don’t really reflect the day to day situation.
- Visit on a Friday or Saturday night. This visit lets you know if the place is too noisy and rowdy for you or if it’s not exciting enough. My cousin is a city girl, so she needs things to do and happen. (She’s a great salsa dancer.) My sister likes someplace peaceful and quiet at night. Each would have a different opinion of the same neighborhood.
- Look to see if your bank is located nearby. (This might not be an issue if you’re considering changing your bank.) With banks charging $3 for out of network users, this is something to seriously consider. I wrote some tips on how to cut down the ATM fees.
- Ask for directions a few times. Try and see if the area is generally friendly or not.
- See if good public transportation is available. Fluctuating gas prices have made public transportation a consideration in some cities. If the area you’re considering has a great mass transit system, then you can save thousands of dollars a year and reduce the stress of sitting in traffic.
If we don’t find a place to buy within the next few months, we also wanted to be in an apartment that we would be happy to stay in. We did our homework and went to several places and after talking with different leasing offices, we were offered some good deals.
Asking for a Better Deal on Rent
We had a favorite, but they were a bit higher than the other places we saw. We decided to speak with our first choice and explain we had some cheaper offers and asked if they were willing to lower their monthly rent to be competitive. I was trying to negotiate a fair deal. I gave a reasonable number, in the $600s, and they were willing to lower the price!
It’s a better community (friend’s brother lives there and loves it) with more amenities, we got several move in fees waived (saved us about $300), and we can continue house hunting while saving money. Another benefit of the apartment is that it is adequate enough in size to keep our stuff in the apartment instead of paying for a storage unit. We plan on taking out only what we’re using since we don’t want to unpack and repack everything. Who knows, we may find that we don’t need so much stuff.
Building Up Our House Down Payment in the Mean Time
Now that the deal fell through, we’re starting again and are looking at places. Our down payment fund will be coming from our joint savings account that we’ve deposited slowly in since we got married (some of the first dollars were actually gifts of money from our wedding). When we get our earnest deposit back from the other place, it’ll be deposited into our savings account.
Your Thoughts on Apartment Hunting
What do you think about apartment hunting? Do you have any tips on making it a less painful process?