11 Smart Tips for Finding Cheap Apartments on a Budget Right Now

You've probably heard that rent prices across the country are sky-high. Whether you're planning a move in the next few months or wondering if you should move or sign a new lease in your current apartment, rent increases and inflation will play into your decision.

If you're looking for budget-friendly tips to help you navigate the rental landscape that can help with finding cheap apartments, look no further. With a bit of patience and dedication, these 11 tips can help you on your quest to find affordable apartments right now.

1. Shop Around

When it comes to finding cheap apartments, plan to shop around. Whether you're looking for an apartment complex, a duplex, or a rental house, plan to spend quality time comparing and contrasting prices across rental websites. Use the internet to help you compare rental prices, apartment amenities, and rental requirements.

Both Rent.com and Apartment Guide offer search engines where you can put in your price range the number of bedrooms you want and the type of rental you're looking for (apartment, townhouse, condo, or house). Additionally, through internet listing services, play with features, minimum square feet, pet policies, and amenities like air conditioning, an in-unit dishwasher, hardwood floors, a balcony, patio or deck, and a plethora of other amenities often associated with apartment living.

Ultimately, shopping around while searching for cheap apartments is key.

2. Get Social

Finding cheap apartments may feel like searching for a needle in a haystack, but utilizing social media platforms is often a great way to identify budget-friendly rentals. Rentals often pop up on Facebook and even on the market, and many of them are privately owned rental units — so you don't have to go through a major property management company. Plan to spend time combing through Facebook groups and even the Facebook marketplace.

Not finding what you want on Facebook? Try Nextdoor, a neighborhood-focused community app. Local property management groups, as well as privately owned rentals, pop up there constantly.

3. Do a Google Deep Dive

Although it's time-consuming, doing your research is key when you're on a mission to find cheap apartments to move into. Make Google (or your preferred search engine) your BFF and spend time searching for keywords like “cheap apartments,” “affordable apartments,” “cheap apartment listings,” “affordable housing,” or “affordable rentals.”

To ensure you're getting apartments in the area you want to move to, don't forget to include your desired location when searching. While many of your Google searches will bring up internet listing sites, you'll find a variety of information that can help you get a better idea of what it will cost you to move and how much it will impact your budget.

4. Think About Downsizing

If you're currently in a two-bedroom apartment and don't need the extra room, consider moving to a one-bedroom or studio apartment. Finding cheap apartments becomes easier if you simplify the number of bedrooms and square footage you need.

Unless you live in a major metropolitan area like New York City, Los Angeles, or Chicago, rentals with smaller square footage can help you cut costs (and even your utilities may come under what you pay for a larger space). The smaller the square footage, like 400-600 square feet, the more likely rent will come in cheaper than apartments over 600 square feet.

If you currently live in a one-bedroom apartment and decide to rent a smaller unit, you may have the opportunity to sell some of your belongings that won't fit in your new space. While letting go of furniture or miscellaneous items may feel like an inconvenience, think — if you sell those items, you can pocket extra cash.

Trust us; your budget will thank you for that extra income you earn from your downsizing.

5. Don't Bother With Pricey Neighborhoods

Instead of wasting time searching high and low for affordable apartments in pricey neighborhoods and affluent ZIP codes, decide to simply skip these areas. No matter where you live — in the suburbs or even the city — some local neighborhoods have a reputation for being pricey or higher income than others.

If you're serious about finding cheap apartments, skip high-priced neighborhoods and concentrate on areas where you won't immediately price yourself.

6. Decide What Amenities You Need vs. What You Want

On your renter's journey to finding cheap apartments, get serious about what amenities you must have and what amenities you can live without. If you need all the bells and whistles like a fitness center, pool, or in-unit laundry, know it will cost you more than if you don't.

Finding cheap apartments gets much easier if you're not looking for things like trash service, dog runs, a rooftop lounge, or even an in-unit dishwasher.

7. Open Yourself up To Older Apartment Buildings

Many renters want to live in a state-of-the-art, brand-spankin' new complex or unit. These types of apartments often cost way more than older buildings do. When finding cheaper apartments in your town, consider opening your options to older or even historic apartment buildings. While older buildings may not have all the fancy amenities or bells and whistles of a new high rise, they often come with a lot of character.

Additionally, many older rental buildings sometimes have rent-controlled housing options. If you can find a rent-controlled unit, especially in a flourishing city, it's a perfect place to live on a budget.

8. See if You Qualify for Subsidized Help

While this won't apply to every renter, those who qualify with low-income jobs could potentially get help from the U.S. Department of Housing Development. Not only can this department offer grants that would subsidize rent costs, but the Department of Housing Development can also help qualified renters find suitable low-cost apartments to call home. If you believe you qualify, this government service is an excellent way to help you in your search for finding cheap apartments to call home.

9. Remember That Finding Cheap Apartments Is Easier During the Off-season

May through September is a very popular time to move. Most renters prefer to move during summer because school isn't in session. The weather during the summer months often makes the moving process a little bit easier, too (who wants to move during the dead of winter with the possibility of a blizzard on the horizon?). Since more renters move during this time, rental prices often fluctuate due to lease turnover and an increase in vacancies.

All that said, though, the most optimal time for finding cheap apartments is during the off-season between October and April. Winter is the best time to rent an apartment if you want to save money.

There are two main reasons budget-conscious renters should know:

  • Apartment turnover slows down during this period, so private landlords and even property management companies often will negotiate with potential tenants to keep their apartment units filled
  • Thanks to frigid weather (depending on where you live), most people spend the winter months staying right where they are. Because of this, those on the prowl for cheaper rent may see savings between 3 percent and 5 percent — especially between December and February.

While cheaper rent is easier to find during winter, it's important to note — less inventory is available than during spring, summer, or early fall.

10. If You Live in the Heart of a City, Consider the ‘Burbs

If you're living in a major city like Los Angeles, New York, Boston, or even Atlanta, rents continue to rise. And if the idea of paying more than 30 percent of your income makes you queasy, it's probably time to look outside of the city.

Surrounding suburbs near major metropolitan areas often have lower rent prices, making finding cheap apartments less challenging. The farther you go outside of a metro area, the more affordable rent prices you can find. If moving to the suburbs makes sense for you, taking the plunge to leave a city's epicenter is an alternative for renters looking to save more money.

11. Move Somewhere Cheaper

On your quest for finding cheap apartments, moving across the country or to a new state or region could be an option for those looking to live a more budget-friendly lifestyle. If you're feeling like the cost of living is too high where you currently live and you're having issues finding cheap apartments to rent, moving to a more affordable locale is always an option to consider.

If you live a flexible life — meaning you work remotely or don't have school-aged children — moving elsewhere to make the most out of your money can serve your budget well. Look for cities that don't have rental markets with exorbitantly high demand and smaller towns and metropolitan areas. Monthly reports like Rent. ‘s June 2022 Rent Report break down what's happening nationwide with rents. This resource can help identify cost-effective locations to consider.

Whatever You Do, Don't Give up Hope

Yes, finding cheap apartments can feel like a daunting task, but if you give yourself time and diligently seek out what you're looking for, more likely than not, you'll find a perfect rental to call home.

This post was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Image Credit: Shutterstock.