It’s no secret: rent is going up. With inflation at a seeming fever pitch and housing growing scarce, you may be living in fear of what your lease renewal will look like–namely, whether it’ll include an untenable increase in your monthly rent.
No one wants to get priced out of an apartment or city they love, so it’s only natural to feel intimidated by the latest news cycle around the rental market. The classic financial advice says you should only spend a third of your income on rent, but with stagnating wages butting heads with increasing housing costs, you might feel like you’re caught between a rock and a hard place. However, if you identify the right tips and ideas, you can make it easier to cope with and pay for the increasing rental prices.
Consider taking time to travel
If you have always wanted to travel, increased rent prices may be a blessing in disguise. If living full-time in your current city is about to exceed your budget, why not live all over the world, wherever you want? That’s the philosophy that many self-described digital nomads have taken on in the midst of an unpredictable labor and housing market.
When you work remotely, you can become a digital nomad by utilizing various tools to help you work from anywhere globally, including places with lower lodging prices. Options like Airbnb or hostels will provide you with a place to stay in a new location, usually for a fraction of your typical rent cost. This option certainly won’t be for everyone, but if you’ve always dreamed of a nomadic, travel-first lifestyle, an increase on your lease may be the sign you needed to start your journey. Take a look at your finances, your career, and your goals before deciding whether the jetsetter’s lifestyle might be the answer for you.
Look into a side gig
If you need additional money, you can look into side gigs to help with rental prices. For example, some people will make art commissions, some will perform remote freelance work, and others will create a product and sell it. Side hustling can help you recoup your losses if you’re suddenly finding your rent increasing by hundreds of dollars the end of your lease. Squirreling away extra savings from your second job can also help you save up for a move if you find a better deal on an apartment elsewhere.
You can find a side gig based on various skills and hobbies. Look into the local market, check websites like Fiver, Upwork, and Craigslist, and be careful not to exchange any financial information before you know the client you’re working with is legitimiate. Lastly, don’t forget to save about twenty to thirty percent of your freelancing income for taxes–you don’t want to blow all of your would-be rent money paying Uncle Sam come tax day.
Identify the best prices near you
While the rental prices increase, you might have to turn on your detective skills and go to work hunting for the best deals. You may have to sacrifice a little in the direction of either quality or affordability, but the ultimate goal is to find the best rental possible at the best price possible. Keeping your expectations realistic and your ear to the ground will be an invaluable help in your rental hunting.
You should also avoid marrying yourself to one specific area unless it’s an absolute dealbreaker. For example, if you live in New York, you need to consider multiple neighborhoods, including Long Island. If you’ve already got your heart set on a specific area, just know that you may have to compromise elsewhere to secure a rental in a competitive market.
Think beyond apartment rentals
One of the cardinal renter sins is forgetting that there are rental options outside of the traditional apartment. For example, you could rent a condo or home and save some money depending on the market. An apartment that could easily blow your budget out of the water on its own might end up costing you more than a nicer house or duplex you could split with a roommate or neighbor.
The same applies to similar locations such as mobile homes. You need to realize you have multiple options for rentals, including splitting a house with roommates, so don’t put your whole paycheck towards a studio because you think it’s the only option. If living in an apartment isn’t a must-have checklist item for you, you might be able to save a pretty penny looking into other types of rentals.
See if you can get roommates
While rental prices increase, it may be time to blow the dust off of your Craigslist account and find roommates to stay with you. When you have roommates, you can split the monthly rent between the group to save money. A hefty lease is a lot easier to shoulder when it’s split between two or three salaries rather than just one.
However, if you plan to split the rent, you need to find a prominent enough place for everyone. Do your best to get a bedroom for each person, so that everyone has a space for privacy. Going in with roommates is often already a compromise, so don’t settle–if you’re pooling your money, you want to make sure you get your money’s worth out of whatever place you rent together.
Before you leave
When rent is increasing hand over fist, you might be faced with the terrifying possibility that you’ll be priced out of an apartment or city you love. While you may not be able to hang on to your current digs if your lease shoots up, you can at least take measures to stay in the same area or city.
When it comes to a red-hot rental market, the key to success is managing your expectations, reassessing your finances, and considering what you’re willing to sacrifice to secure housing. Good luck, and happy hunting.