How to Find an Apartment You Can Afford on a Tight Budget

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So you have gotten to the point where you found that new job, graduated from school, or are going back to school, either way, you need to find an affordable place to call home-- and quick.  As much as staying with mom and dad has been great as well as a smart way to save money, it is now time to flee - I mean move out.

Yet, once you start apartment hunting in your dream locations (think Miami, New York City, or Los Angeles), you realize those rent prices look like mortgages for million dollar dream homes, not 4” by 4” apartments. Nevertheless, there are still ways to save thousands of dollars on rent without breaking the bank.

1. Try out Airbnb

Airbnb is a great place to start to find cheap accommodations if you are planning on staying in a location for a couple weeks or months and do not want to sign that expensive, uptown lease. The best approach is to reach out to people on Airbnb to see if they would be willing to accommodate you for a couple of weeks or months.

There are spots on Airbnb as low as $20 a night, which is about $600 every month, much better than sky-high rents in the downtown of any city. On top of that, there is no need to pay for utilities, Wi-Fi, and cable. Many Airbnb locations allow you to use the kitchen.

"An Airbnb I had last summer offered all of these amenities, for just $500 a month in Miami."

2. Consider getting roommates to save on housing cost

Another more traditional way to cut down on the cost of rent is to find roommates to live with or live with another family member. Maybe if you cannot find kind family members who will let you live with them or a friend, you could also try looking for outside connections.

Always be safe with strangers, but Facebook groups and GroupMe are a good place to start to find at least acquaintances who would be willing to join in on an apartment with you.

3. Work in exchange for rent

I was recently looking for cheap ways to live in NYC and found the option of providing care for the elderly. It sounded too good to be true, free room and a stipend, but it actually is a legitimate problem as there is a growing elderly population in the U.S.

So in exchange for a free place to stay, all you have to do is be available at certain hours to care for the elderly person you are working for and possibly run errands. This does require additional time outside of your work week or class schedule, but it is a great way to save money for rent in cities if you don’t mind the devoting additional hours per week for elderly care.

Another way to live rent-free is by working for a program or company that offers rent in exchange for work. Certain hostels have programs that allow you to live for free, work-for-rent. Moreover, graduate programs allow graduate students to live on campus free in exchange for attending and managing the needs of undergraduate students who also live in the same dormitory.

The great part about the live-in graduate fellow accommodation is that you will also cut costs on transportation because you will be living on campus. Just like, I said before, as long as you are dedicated to spending an extra couple hours a week attending to the needs of tenants or students, this is an option that can save you thousands of dollars over the course of your stay!

4. Try subleasing your apartment to make some extra money

Lastly, subleasing is another great way to save money on rent. You can either have your place subleased when you are away for weeks or months at a time or seek out people who would like to sublet their apartments. The best place to look for literally hundreds of people subletting is on college campuses.

Many college students do not stay on campus for the summer, leaving behind empty apartments that they still desperately need to pay rent on; and the best part is they will not hesitate to lower their offering price for you. I reached out to an acquaintance who was subletting, and she was able to offer me $250 a month for her room!

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It is definitely possible to find affordable living accommodations, even in a major city. It just requires a good amount of time, patience, and a little perseverance.

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