Barter, Slum It, Go Rustic To Save On Living Costs

There is more than one way to skin a lease. Not only can you negotiate to bring costs down, but there are other ways to slash your rent budget. Well-Heeled Blog digs up a few that might not have occurred to you.

Tips from the post include bartering services with landlords, such as landscaping or even babysitting, shying away from high-class neighborhoods and being willing to go without certain high-ticket amenities.

Renters, are you happy with your lease? What did you do to make sure costs would be as low as possible?

Low(er) Rent: How to Make it Happen [Well-Heeled Blog]

Previously: Pay Less Rent


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  1. ysthsncnsmrst says:

    I knew I was going to be in the area for 4-5 years, so I offered to sign a 4-year lease if they knocked 5% off of the rent. They did, and I saved $600/yr x 4 years. Not too bad.

  2. anewmachine615 says:

    I’ve got a parking spot in my lease, which I will be renting out to someone else, as I am getting rid of my car at the end of the summer.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Ours came with a parking space for free! That was one of the big selling points. Everywhere else was charging $30 to $50 a month for a parking space, so that’s as much as $600 saved right there.

  3. pax says:

    I’ve found here in NYC that you can live in a decent (not crime-ridden or filthy) neighborhood for an NYC-reasonable rent if you don’t mind not living in a supertrendy area. If you MUST live in Williamsburg or the West Village or what have you, you should know that some of your rent is paying for the privilege of saying you live there and nothing else.

    There are lots of neighborhoods in Queens that are convenient to public transit (although I’ll grant that in Queens, the meaning of “convenient to public transit” can vary), have things like grocery stores and good restaurants in walking distance, and are pretty clean and safe, and rents aren’t as exorbitant as they would be in similar (or even less nice) neighborhoods in Manhattan or Brooklyn. So you don’t have to think of it as “slumming it”; you’re being a bold, singular trend-bucker!

    • sponica says:

      What I did was live on the border of the trendy neighborhood. Park slope amenities for Gowanus prices!

      And actually I don’t think 2700 for a 3 bedroom was that outrageous, we each paid 900 a month. And the landlord dropped the rent when one roommate got laid off, and I was about to move out.

      It was only a couple blocks from the Union St R, and I rarely felt unsafe stumbling, er I mean walking, late at night.

      • Conformist138 says:

        My parents did this when I was a kid (Portland, OR, not NYC). They moved just below the trendiest neighborhood and bought a house for a steal. Within the decade, the boom had extended to our area and we became part of the must-live area without spending the money for the privilege. They sold the house for a huge profit and we moved to a bigger, nicer place once again across the line of the in-demand areas.

    • bigTrue says:

      A good friend of mine lives in Queens and he says it’s the pretrendy spot to be in right now. Cheap rent, cool shit, close to public transit….the problem is that the “secret” is getting well known.

  4. erratapage says:

    What is it worth to go without laundry in your unit? How about living without laundry in your building?

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      IMO, it depends on the laundry facilities. We have a washer and dryer in our apartment, but when we thoguht about moving, we found a great apartment that didn’t have that but had laundry facilities on site. We took a look at the laundry room and even though the units were a little older, there was a sign up sheet and from everyone we talked to, people respected the sign up sheet. If all the machines at 4 pm on Sunday are booked, people respected that.

      Then there were places that were nice, but there wasn’t a system like that in place, and it seemed a little too unwieldy for us.

      • Fidget says:

        That’s awesome. Our place only has four washers, four driers (for a 13 floor building), no sign ups, and the doors don’t lock. That said, we’ve never had to wait for a machine; it’s kind of a crap shoot whether you get a broken one, and we keep odd hours anyway.
        We pay 850 a month, all utilities included, for a really spacious 1 bedroom. The no dishwasher is killing me, I can deal with no ac, the maintenance people are good so when the historical building problems come up, they’re resolved quickly, and the landlord may yield on the pets policy to let us have cats.

    • rpm773 says:

      When living in Chicago, I actually found running to a laundromat once a week early on Sunday morning to be easier and quicker than waiting around for the common-area laundry in my building to become free. It was especially quicker if I had a few loads of my own to wash.

      I was one of those people who would stand there waiting for the laundry as it finished in the machine, but I found others to leave it for a long time after it finished. It would drive me crazy.

      As for in-unit laundry, well, in 9 years of renting in 6 apartments, I only had that luxury for 1 year.

    • Brunette Bookworm says:

      For me, there are a few washers and dryers on site in another building but I end up taking laundry with me to my parents’ or to my boyfriend’s house to do it while I visit. I buy them the detergent and softener and leave it there as payment. There is also a laundromat in the strip center nearby so if I need to, I can go there. Even if I do laundry at the laundormat it’s still cheaper by $100+ a month than the other apartments in the area with laundry facilites in the apartment or on site.

    • sponica says:

      my apt in park slope/gowanus brooklyn had laundry on premises, and it was much cheaper than the laundromat I went to in the first apt in the kensington/boro park neighborhood.

      I’m talking 2.25 to wash and dry a load, versus the 5 dollars i paid to wash and dry a load.

  5. erratapage says:

    What about airconditioning? I bet there will be some opinions on A/C today, given the east-coast heat wave.

    • Fidget says:

      I hate it for a month or so, but we forego the cost of installing a window unit and paying for it year-round. Unless you have a health condition or don’t live very high up and get your wind blocked by other buildings, a box fan in the open window has been pretty good for us. Electricity’s included in our rent, so I can plug in as many of these suckers as I have space for, though right now we’ve only got two. I would say that if you’re in a position to try it, try it; I thought living with no ac would kill me, but I kept telling myself I could always install one if it got to be too much.

  6. samandiriel says:

    One of the things I look for in a rental is proximity to public transit – in fact, I usually get out a transit map and trace out which buses go directly to the places I’d visit regularly. Then I find out what area(s) are close to those routes, and start hunting there.

    Saves a bundle on car costs; I never even owned a car until I moved to Phoenix a few years ago (REALLY bad transit and HUGE city, very hard to make do without one).

  7. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    After arduous apartment hunting, we definitely concluded living in a seedier area just isn’t worth it – we would have paid lower rent, but we were concerned we’d use the savings just to replace the broken windows in the car, or have to buy a lot of pepper spray because walking to the station at 7 am seemed unsafe.

    One thing people don’t often think about is that friends aren’t nearly as inclined to visit or hang out at your place because you live in a shady neighborhood. Just pony up the extra dollars if you can live in a safer area and an area that looks like it’s proud of itself. Just because you can’t truly buy safety doesn’t mean you should tempt fate.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      It really is amazing how much money (and aggravation) is spent on living in a seedy area. On my previous car, every window had been replaced at least once in the 10 years that I owned it. It’s amazing how much damage people are willing to do for 35 cents in the console or just for the hell of it.

    • Fidget says:

      Yup. Boyfriend looked up crime breakdowns for every block we looked at, the place we’re living now is attached to a dorm building (so we get double-police), and the people across the alley are pretty damn ritzy, with lawn/balcony furniture that costs more than anything in my place, so if somebody’s getting robbed, it ain’t me.

    • Big Mama Pain says:

      Yep, I say this all the time; I don’t care if it makes me sound like a snob-I have no problem living in an area that prices out scumbags. Plus, having to move around a lot, loving where you live is the first step in making a new place “home”.

  8. Milehimama says:

    I rent a house in the suburbs, and I got our landlord to lower our rent 10%.

    We signed a year lease, and paid our rent every month on time. Then I noticed a lot of foreclosures and rentals in our same neighborhood. When our lease came up for re-signing, I told our landlord that because prices had fallen so much, we were going to shop around. I emailed her several rental listings for houses with similar square footage and in the same school district as we live now that were listed for a lower rent. Our landlord lowered our rent 10% to keep up in the house because we were good tenants.

  9. majortom1981 says:

    Here on long island its way cheaper to bu ya house then to rent. here a one bedroom apt is at least $1250 a month. I just bought a two bed condo and with taxes, mortgage and common fees i pay $200 cheaper a month then my apt rent.

  10. Kevinsky says:

    I had a landlord that refused to replace the worn out windows. We literally had icicles on the inside of our window frame in the winter, and our heating bill went from reasonable one year to outlandish the next.

    But they didn’t want to do the work, so I started petitioning for a decrease in rent to cover my extra heating costs. When THAT didn’t work, I resorted to my tried and true method of Getting Other People to Do Stuff: threaten to fix it myself. That got results pretty quickly.

    I call it my Canadian Tire method. Anyone who’s tried to get some attention in a Canadian Tire store will understand; if you want help, you have to go start fiddling with the key cutter like you’re about to start cutting yourself a key. You’ll have more salesteens than you know what to do with in about five seconds. Works at Home Depot too.

    I’ve used this method to get help in stores, to get gutters cleaned, outlets replaced, ovens fixed; the more optimistically hopeless you act, the faster they’ll show up to do the job properly.

  11. sir_eccles says:

    I believe the practice is quite prevalent in Paris where young female renters are able to “barter” services to lower their rent. Though I think they are trying to crack down on it.

    “contre services” –

  12. HogwartsProfessor says:

    If you’re buying and on a budget, try to find a little better neighborhood that doesn’t have too many rentals, or buy on the outskirts of a good neighborhood. There are more rentals than I’d like where I am, and while my neighbors on either side are good, the rest of the place is slowly turning ghetto with people that trash their yards and make insane amounts of noise. I’m worried that I won’t be able to sell the place.

  13. mac-phisto says:

    i traded some painting work w/ my landlord to reduce my rent for a few months when i first moved in (paying for 1st/last/security + the oil in the tank all at once was too much for me at the time). external painting on a dozen different properties in weather just like we’re having today (90°+ & humid).

    it got me thru the summer, but i don’t think i would do it again. $10 off the rent for each hour worked + a summer of no nights or weekends = teh suxor.

  14. bigTrue says:

    We moved about two months ago and negotiated a free ceiling fan and locked in a super special rent rate by agreeing to sign a lease two months out. 750 sq ft 1 bedroom in an older ‘motel’ sort of building with two floors, everyone gets a screen door entrance looking on a courtyard with a newly refinished pool. The rent is $563 a month and includes heat and water.

    If you have a steady job (my gf and I both have 2), the Detroit area has some awesome perks. We’re in Royal Oak, about 4 miles north of the infamous 8 mile city border.