For first-time renters, first apartments are exciting new territories. Many first-time renters are either fresh graduates who just got out of college or newly inducted additions to the workforce who just landed their first job and earning their first paychecks. Whatever the case, finding a good apartment always presents a challenge, let alone finding a cheap one.
Depending on where you live, good and cheap apartments may be hard to come by, maybe even downright impossible. But if you’re determined to move into your first apartment while having enough money to pay your rent, utility bills, necessities and still have a little extra disposable income, read on to find out how and what you can save money on.
Find a roommate
One of the most cost-effective ways you can cut your rental payment by a lot is by finding a roommate to move in with you. Finding a bigger apartment that can accommodate more than one person shouldn’t be too hard and having a roommate or housemate around helps for more than just the rent. If your roommate keeps a job as well, you can split it into utility bills and grocery costs, plus it gives you some peace of mind knowing that there’s someone else at home who can help you if you need it or for added security in case of break-ins and the like.
It shouldn’t be hard to find someone willing to move in with you. Even better if it’s someone you know or a close friend! You might not feel too comfortable moving in with a stranger or sharing your space with someone else, but budgeting is all about compromise and this is only the start.
Buy used or secondhand
Most apartments will come semi-furnished but just in case you need to buy your own furniture or appliances, skip the long lines and prices at IKEA and look for used or secondhand items instead. Not only are they cheaper, but depending on how used they are, you’ll have the assurance that these appliances actually work. Secondhand furniture is usually fine even when they’ve been heavily used, with only a few scratches or signs of use showing but not really getting in the way of its usage. (And let’s be real, you probably don’t care how it looks either.)
Secondhand appliances, meanwhile, are probably more of a slippery slope. Depending on how often they were used, some used appliances might actually be closer to breaking when you bought them, or they could already be broken. When buying used appliances, know the pros and cons and what you’re getting yourself into. Be wary of where you buy them and who you buy them from and as much as possible, ask to inspect or test the item before you decide on buying it.
Still, even with the added risk of buying secondhand, professional appliance repair is often cheaper than buying new and you’ll still save yourself a lot of money.
It might not be the glamorous life you imagined it’d be, but if you want to save as much money as possible, it’s best to live cheaply and damn anyone who makes fun of you for it. Buy only the bare necessities and try to look for cheap yet good alternatives to your favorite brands and groceries. Limit your extra spending and the times you go out and eat at restaurants. It’s often cheaper and safer to cook your own meals in your apartment instead.
Save on utility bills by limiting the time you spend in the shower and the time you keep the AC or the heating on. Limit your subscription services as well — this includes Netflix, Spotify, or YouTube Premium. If possible, cut out ones that you don’t really use and look for cheaper options.
Remember: it’s all well and good to live frugally, but you don’t want to sacrifice comfort as well. Just because you’re living with the bare necessities doesn’t mean sacrificing everything else. As much as possible, try to find a compromise.
Have a backup plan
Like with everything else in life, you want to have a backup plan just in case things go sideways, as things are often wont to do. Not everything is going to go as planned and when it does, it could be entirely by luck. Just to be on the safe side, have a backup plan ready in case you either can’t make rent for a month or otherwise can’t meet the budget you set for yourself.
Find a place where you can crash just in case things turn south or have some backup funds and savings that you can access if you need them. Set aside a fixed amount of money from your monthly salary for this backup fund and try not to dip into it as much as possible. Most of all, be realistic but hopeful. It’s good to have a backup plan ready but what’s not good is relying on it too much as a failsafe.
Living frugally doesn’t always mean you have to live in absolute squalor. There are ways to live comfortably without succumbing to the cheapest of the cheap. Nowadays, there are always cheap options available to anyone on a limited budget and it’s all a matter of finding them. Starting out in a new place and apartment can be tough for everyone, but it’s also a big step towards your future and is sometimes necessary to assert your independence.