If you live in an apartment, rent is the biggest living expense in your budget. You need to know how to find apartment prices to make sure you are not paying too much where you live. You also may need to look for apartment prices to find out if you can afford to upgrade to a better place. Because rent is the biggest living expense, it is the most important part of budgeting for apartment dwellers.
Sticking to a budget is important to your financial well-being. Getting the best apartment price will help you keep with your budget so you can save towards a down payment on a house or get a better car. A good budget helps you to increase savings and avoid impulsive spending. To plan your budget, take a look at your existing expenses and make sure they fall within the allotted percentages in the list below:
Category / Allotment
- Rent 20 – 35%
- Credit Card Payments 10 – 20%
- Food 15 – 30%
- Cost of Gas, Car Insurance and Maintenance 6 – 20%
- Internet, Heat, Electric, and Phone 4 – 7%
- Clothing 3 – 10%
- Spending/Pocket Money 1 – 4%
- Savings 5 – 9%
- Personal/Beauty care 2 – 4%
- Doctor’s Visits and Medicine 2 – 8%
- Other Insurance (life and disability) 4 – 6%
How to Find Apartment Prices
Once you see your entire financial picture through your budget, you can figure out how much you are spending on rent and if you can do better. So how can you know if you are getting a good deal or if you should be looking for a better one? It’s very simple really. Just visit Rent-o-Meter at and check your apartment against local listings. This one of-a-kind free web application helps you compare your apartment with others to see if you are paying appropriate rent for your apartment.
If you find you are paying too much for rent, don’t go running out to find a new apartment just yet. If you really like the apartment you are in, bring the information to your landlord and try to negotiate a better lease. If you fail in your negotiations, then it is time to start your hunt for another place.
Choose the Right Time
Understand that spring and summer are the busiest times of year for rentals. If your lease ends in those months, try to negotiate a short-term lease with your landlord at renewal time so you won’t be competing in a tight market. You will probably have to pay more each month for the shorter lease, but it will be better than paying a lease on an apartment you no longer live in when you find a better place.
Find Apartment Websites
Once you have compared your apartment against others on rentometer, the site presents you with a map that lets you check out the listings in your area. You can then research these listings as potential new apartments for you. Websites like apartments.com offer virtual tours of many apartment complexes. Use tools like this for ruling out places you do not want, but never make a choice based on distant information. You need to actually visit the apartment and check it out in person. Rentals online offers an excellent rental checklist to help you compare apartments.
Check Out the Neighborhood
There is other information online as well that can help you compare neighborhoods and make sure the apartment you are considering is in a place you might actually want to live. You can look up community information for all kinds of demographic information, including the crime rate when compared with the national average.
Once you have narrowed down your search to four possibilities, visit the potential apartments a month or two before you plan to move. Physically tour all apartments that you might like, even in the same complex. Never sign paperwork for an apartment you have not looked over carefully.
It will be worth your while to take a drive through the neighborhood on a weekend night. See if you feel safe. What is it likely on Friday or Saturday night? Is there a lot of noise or people hanging out? Be sure it is a place you would not mind coming home to in the dark.
In looking at the potential choices, consider how the apartment amenities might affect your budget. If an apartment has a built-in gym, then you no longer have to pay for your gym membership. You can look at this as a direct write off from the cost of rent. While getting a cheap first month’s rent might seem like a good deal to you, if the regular monthly rent does not fit in your budget, you are not accomplishing your goals. Pass up any apartments that do not have regular monthly payments you can afford.
Don’t be afraid to try to strike a bargain with the landlord, especially if you find the perfect apartment and it is just slightly out of your budget range. See what you can do to get that apartment within your budget. You may even be able to negotiate a lower rent if you can pay for the first few months in cash.
Because you never know if you will find the perfect apartment when you are hunting, always keep your financial information and work history with you so you can fill out an application. However, try to delay signing a lease until you have seen the place at night and done proper research to be sure it is the right place for you.