Creative Ways to Cut Apartment Costs
If you've looked for an apartment in the Portland area lately, you know that it's getting more expensive each year. The average price of a Portland apartment is about $1,425 per month, according to RentCafe. However, you may spend even more on apartment costs, depending on where you live and whether or not you live with roommates. A few of the city's priciest neighborhoods include the Pearl, where rent averages $1,811 monthly and Northwest/Nob Hill at $1,769 per month.
In times like this, Portland residents need to get creative about negotiating and managing rent expenses. Here are ways to cut your apartment costs so that you can more comfortably afford your other bills and financial goals:
Negotiate Your Rent Upfront
It's worth asking, "Do you have any flexibility on that price?" Landlords may offer a better rate if you apartment-shop at times of year when it's harder to find tenants, such as the winter months. If the landlord can't lower your rent, ask if they can throw in any benefits. Options might include lower or no security deposit or free/reduced-cost parking, according to the Balance.
List Your Extra Room or Apartment on a Home-Sharing Site
You could consider sharing that second bedroom or, if you can stay with friends or family occasionally, your entire apartment for a few days or even a few weeks during vacation season. Just be sure to check with your landlord to be sure that they allow temporary subletting. Some tenants have been evicted for listing their apartments on Airbnb, even when they never ended up renting them out, according to Nolo.
Embrace a Farther-out Neighborhood
As in most metro areas, the farther you live from downtown, the lower your apartment costs tend to be. Consider looking for housing in suburbs like Milwaukie, Gresham, or Beaverton. If you're close to a TriMet bus stop or MAX light rail line and can leave your car at home, even better.
If you want to live in Portland proper, the most affordable rental neighborhoods tend to be in the Northeast, heading toward the airport, according to RentCafe. The average monthly rent is a comparative bargain at $959/month in:
- Parkrose Heights
- Woodland Park, just north of the Gateway area
Live with Roommates
Even taking in just one roommate can significantly reduce your rent. When you split a 2-bedroom apartment (the average Portland rent for a 2-bedroom is $1,525/month) with someone else instead of living alone in a 1-bedroom unit (average rent $1,368/month), you could save as much as $605 a month.
Sign a Longer Lease
If you're staying put for a while, and you like your apartment and neighborhood, consider agreeing to a longer rental term, such as two years. Landlords like the stability of having long-term tenants and they may be more likely to negotiate your rent this way.
Be Savvy About Payment Options
Once you've come up with ways to trim your apartment costs, be careful about the way you pay them. For instance, paying rent with a credit card might seem like an easy way to pile up rewards points. However, many property managers charge a hefty service charge (often close to 3 percent) for credit card payments. That kind of fee wipes out the value of any card rewards, according to NerdWallet.
Think carefully about letting a landlord automatically withdraw rent from your checking or savings account. That's typically the payment system when you use your landlord's online payment portal. However, if the landlord accidentally double-charges you one month — or withdraws rent after you've moved out — it could take time to get your money back where it belongs.
Instead, consumer advocate Clark Howard suggests setting up electronic payments through your bank. Your bank can automatically send money from your account to your landlord every month and that way you'll have a lot more control.
As you look to find creative ways to cut your apartment costs, make sure to visit your bank and schedule a financial wellness review. With a solid understanding of your financial picture and goals, you can work together with your banker to ensure you're well on your way to financiall success.