Guest Post: RealWorldYearOne

Sharing is caring!


Apartments are expensive, a fact I found particularly irksome post-graduation while temporarily playing “boomerang kid” stuck at home with my parents. 
The initial move from Mom and Dad’s house to a place of your own can be tough to afford.  The upfront costs of moving, first month’s rent AND a security deposit all add up to a pretty hefty price tag.  Then, on top of that, is the prospect of ever-increasing rent prices when it comes time to renew your lease.
Fortunately, there are ways of cutting down on some of these costs that can actually save you hundreds, if not eventually thousands of dollars on your apartment.
How to avoid a security deposit.   My biggest problem was that I’m naturally impatient.  I didn’t want to wait until I’d saved up enough to cover first month’s rent AND a security deposit before I could finally move out.  Fortunately for me there was an easy solution.
A great way to avoid paying that security deposit is to move in with roommates who have already been living in their apartment (and therefore have already paid the security deposit).  Ask around — maybe you have friends or acquaintances who are looking to move out of a shared apartment a bit early.  In my case, I happened to find a three bedroom apartment on Craigslist where one of the three roommates was moving out a few months before her lease was up.  We worked with her landlord to get my name on the lease (there was a small fee for this) and then when the lease was up, the other two roommates and I decided to sign for another year, and I managed to avoid that pesky security deposit altogether!  The general idea is that exiting roommates, by managing to find someone to take over their lease, are actually avoiding having to pay the rent themselves, so they are often willing to swallow the security deposit they previously paid.
Another related suggestion is to check out one of the numbers of websites where people can list leases they are looking to get out of. is one that I’m aware of, though I personally haven’t tried it out.  The listings are very up front about what sort of deal the current tenants are looking to arrange, and you might be able to find an apartment that will better fit your price range — and without that pesky deposit driving up the cost.
Negotiate your rent — don’t just give your money away!
When it comes time to renew your lease don’t let your landlord get away with an astronomical rent increase.  Oftentimes the draft proposal of the renewed lease will be higher than it should — landlords tend to bank on the fact that it’s easier for you to just renew than to incur the costs and annoyance associated with moving: hiring movers, schlepping your stuff around town, paying that security deposit.  But keep in mind that if you move out, it’s going to cost your landlord money too, and he may even end up swallowing a month or two of rent while looking for new tenants.  Use this to your advantage, as it makes for great leverage.  Generally speaking, your landlord really wants you to stay and is willing to renegotiate that price.  Think of it as a starting point rather than a final offer.
Armed with this powerful knowledge, my roommates and I managed to negotiate a nearly $200 monthly rent concession on the rent increase proposed by our landlord, a savings for us of about $2400 over the year!  This was money we would have just given away had we not negotiated.
Having a place of my own was really important to me.  And saving as much money as I could on it was an absolute must.  With rent generally the largest portion of a monthly budget, it’s really important to try to slim it down as much as possible.  Savings of as little as $25/month or a security deposit can really add up when you’re first starting out.  Hopefully these tips will help you save as much as they’ve saved me.  Best of luck!
Jane is a 2009 college grad currently living and working in Washington, DC.  She prides herself on her financial independence from her parents and wants to help other recent grads accomplish the same.  Read all about the many life lessons she’s learned since graduation at