The Definitive Guide to Cheaper Rent (and the PERFECT Home)
WITH RYLAND KING
I think you'll agree with me when I say:
"Paying rent often feels like flushing your money down the toilet."
If you think similarly, you're in the right place.
Imagine if you could live in an awesome home for 30%, 50%, or even 70% cheaper rent then what you pay now.
You could probably save an extra $3000, $5000, even $10,000 a year, and not even have to change your budget.
So what's in this post?
In this post you’ll get a complete guide for how to stop paying too much for rent, find the perfect home and start using that to save money for freedom and security.
So, if you’re looking for ways to make your rent cheaper and love the home you live in, you’ll love this guide.
Let’s jump on in!
So how big a deal is it that you overpay for rent?
You want an awesome home, of course.
But you also don't want to be stressed about money, and would love the freedom money can provide.
So the question becomes:
What rent can you actually afford?
Well let’s give it a look!
Am I Paying Too Much for Rent?
One of the biggest differences between a financially free and financially stressed person is the way they analyze decisions.
You obviously want to analyze it the financially free way which means viewing money decisions through a long-term lens.
In other words:
Don’t think about how much your rent is costing you each month. Figure out how much it’s costing you over a year, five years and even 10 years.
You are going to pay to live somewhere for the next 10 years, right?
To see if you’re overpaying for rent, let’s use the midrange New York rent price above of $1500 per month.
(*For the 10 year analysis use The Rule of 752 & 173 to account for long-term investment growth.
i.e. $1500/mo x 173 = $259,500)
If our example continued doing what they are doing rentwise now, they’d be throwing $259,500 right down the tank.
That’s a lot of freedom going to waste!
If you feel disappointed or frustrated when you look at how much you’re paying for rent, you’re probably paying too much.
Imagine what you could do if you just kept a certain portion of that rent for yourself...
What Rent Can I Afford?
Now what would happen if you just took 30% of that rent and kept it.
So for our example, that’s:
And again, we don’t think like ‘normal’ people here. We think about money like rich, freedom-filled badasses:
Hmph… That’s rad.
You literally don’t need to change anything else in your life —
Not your food budget, your travel expenses, etc.
And BOOM you’re adding $78,000 to your bottom line in ten years.
Imagine what life freedoms having $78,000 could unlock for you?
$78k extra in your bank account could mean...
- The confidence to pursue your passions more full time.
- Not having to worry or feel stressed about a car breaking down.
- Taking a year off to adventure and not feel irresponsible about it.
And hell, we’re still in kiddie-land with what’s possible.
Imagine if you got super creative and took your rent down by 50% or even 70%:
Let freedom ring if you so choose!
But hey, even a 30% savings on rent seems like a no brainer.
So how do you find the perfect rental at a freedom price?
You obviously want cheaper rent, but you also have a certain standard of living.
And that's different for each of us.
Your goal is to find the balance.
Elements of a Great Home
The first thing you should do is axe all considerations of money from your conscious.
Seriously. We did 'money' last step.
In this step completely forget about money.
And ask yourself:
“If money didn't exist, what makes up a perfect home for me?”
Here’s the categories I think through when I’m in the hunt for the perfect home and a less expensive price tag.
Write out your preferences for each of these categories.
Negotiable and Non-negotiables of an Awesome Home
After doing this, sort your answers by what is negotiable and not negotiable in getting your perfect home.
Make it easy and just put a star next to qualities that are not negotiable.
Your goal isn’t to be perfect with what you write.
Your goal is just to do it. The goal is literally the act of “doing”.
So don’t think, just do.
Great housemates can make or break your perfect renting experience.
They can make your life more fun and help you get cheaper rent or they can make things miserable.
Wouldn’t it be great if you knew you’d be stoked on a housemate before moving in together?
Yep, we think so too.
So we’ve built the How To Find The Perfect Roommate Test to ensure your cheaper rent happens along with a fun social experience too!
(If housemates are in your non-negotiable bucket, you can skip to Chapter 4: Be The First to See Every Rental)
The Perfect Roommate Test
The perfect roommate vetting process should do 2 things.
- Assure you the roommate is a good fit
- Assure the roommate you are a good fit
And by good fit we mean socially, habitually and financially.
Here’s how to find a “yes trifecta” to find a great housemate using The Perfect Roommate Test:
When I first start to consider someone I don’t know, I like to pepper in easy questions to open conversation:
I usually look for commonalities and feel out whether chatting with them feels like an interview or a conversation.
Obviously, you want it to feel like a friendly conversation.
From there, I turn the questions a bit more toward my needs. These are questions I’d also ask someone I’ve known for a long time.
This gives you a good base.
Often here, I’ll add in my two cents about each question too.
The biggest thing to remember as you go is to be honest.
If you like something they don’t or vice versa, it’s important to get that out right away since it could turn to an issue down the road.
If it feels good there, then I head into the last portion of the conversation which covers a bit more high-touch topics:
Don't Agree If a Roommate Can't Cover Rent
After running through a conversation with those questions, you will have a good feel for situation.
You’ll know your make or break items.
But one thing you should never budge on is the roommate’s ability to pay rent.
A roommate can pass that test only if their income is greater than 30% their rent, or they have a bank account that has over twelve times their rent.
Income needs to be $3000 (minimum) or
Bank account needs $12K in it
If their income is any less, you are taking on too much risk and you should find a better fit.
Checking Craigslist 3, 4, 5 times a day to find an apartment isn’t fun.
It’s time consuming, stressful and lacks good results because you’re often not the first person to see the new listings.
You need your perfect Craigslist postings to come to you via email or text as soon as they are posted.
Here’s how to do the best apartment search:
I used this method in San Francisco and was able to score this beautiful beachfront apartment because we called within the first three minutes of it being listed.
(Here's us on the roof during the best sunset of the 4 years I lived there.)
As we went and chatted with the landlord I made sure the utility costs and the rent all together kept my savings ratio pointed toward the freedom I wanted.
And when it did, I said we’d like to move forward!
I've also used an If This Then That recipe to email me new apartment listings exactly how this BuzzFeed article shows. (and other Craiglists items),
But I've found the Craigslist 'Saved Search' method above is 15-60 minutes faster.
Preparing to rent doesn’t just mean having first month’s rent on hand.
Thinking like that is personal finance suicide.
It’s commonplace for the landlord of your rental to require first month’s rent, last month’s rent and a security deposit equal to one month’s rent.
Do I Have Enough to Rent the Apartment?
How do I know if I have enough to rent an apartment?
If you're going after financial freedom, there's two parts to this answer:
The new rent is less than 30% of your income.
(Ultra freedom seekers will get this into the 20% range.)
You have 4+ months of new life-style cost saved, after the deposit payments.
And before you decide to you move in, double check that you will still be able to hit your savings ratio goal.
Common Documents Requested by a LandlordIt’s also commonplace for a landlord to ask for documents to ensure you can cover the rent each month.
Having these ready to go will help you stand out and give you a better chance at closing the deal with your perfect apartment comes up.
The last thing landlords will ask for is letters of reference or phone numbers of past landlords and housemates.
Letting the landlord know in your first communication with them that you have these ready upfront will make you a top candidate when you do a walkthrough of the property.
Here’s the latest email I wrote. Use it as a template when you reach out to landlords.
Just add in that you have pay stubs, tax returns, etc. and you'll be looking fly. 🤙
How do you check an apartment's condition?
Here’s a list of what to do and look for when checking an apartment's condition:
Take pictures of any problem areas with a digital camera and show them to the landlord.
Email the pictures to yourself, so they are saved and dated.
That way if there are any discrepancies with getting your security deposit back, you have evidence to show you didn’t cause the damage.
For an in-depth checklist check out For Rent's Apartment Inspection Infographic.
Negotiating a lower rent doesn’t happen by just asking for it.
So how do you negotiate a lower rent?
You have to put yourself in the landlord’s shoes, find win-win situations and ask in a way that highlights the “win” for the landlord.
First off you've got to know your market. If you left would it be hard or easy for the landlord to fill the space?
You have a much better chance of landing a negotiation if a potential month plus vacancy could occur when you leave.
Here are certain win-win’s from Ready for Zero's list you can use to negotiate with your landlord.
When you bring up the conversation frame it so the landlord clearly sees the benefit to them.
Here's an example email:
If you are able to come to a verbal agreement, don’t celebrate just yet.
Make sure to get your newly negotiated rent agreement in writing with a signature.
The agreement can be as simple as typing something on a GoogleDoc, printing it out and getting it signed by you and the landlord.
Reading through a lease can be complicated.
There’s small print, verbose language and a potential future on the line.
Though this isn’t a replacement for reading the entire lease, here’s what to look out for before signing a lease on an apartment or home.
Lease Checklist: What to Look Out For
Renewal Clauses & Policies
If your lease has a renewal section, keep an eye out for any “escalation clause.”
An escalation clause could raise the rent in subsequent years based on a fixed amount.
Make sure to add any rent increase to your calculations, so your savings ratio doesn’t get screwed up 1, 2, 3 years down the line!
Check to see what disasters (like a fire) are covered by the landlord’s insurance.
Make sure you know what both you and the landlord are liable for.
HOA or Community Rules
Look to see if there are any quiet hours, pet or visitor restrictions.
Making a home your own is super nice. Scan for any policies around renovations like painting, hanging artwork, key copies, etc.
There may be a time when you want to pocket some cash during a two week vacation by subletting out your space.
Look in the lease to see if subletting is okay, needs approval first or isn’t allowed.
Right to Outdoor Spaces
If the property comes with outdoor space, make sure the lease states you have a right to use them.
Scan for termination policies. Some leases can auto renew. Other’s come with a lease termination fee.
Ensure they meet your needs. The last thing you want is to end up paying for a space you’re no longer living in.
Pay attention to whether any utilities are covered in the rent. And look out for application or amenity fees.
Background Check the LandlordIf you have any hesitations about the landlord his or herself, ask if you could get references of past tenants.
To make it less awkward when you ask, say something like,
“I’d love to learn how the house was to live in. Would you be open to share one or two references of past tenants?”
And again, the list above is just a helpful guide. Money Under 30 has a few extra helpful lease reading tips here.
Make sure to read every line of any lease.
Should you move in at grandmas?
Or your parents, or friends parents, or to a smaller room, etc.
It may sound lame at first thought.
But if you’ve ever given this some thought, the free or dirt cheap rent can fast track your life to being secure, free from financial worries and out of a shitty situation.
The big thing to keep in mind when you consider it is: It’s not permanent.
Think and talk about it more as you are fueling your freedom engine for a few months.
The goal is to get creative with it!
So what would the numbers look like?
Isn't that insane what just a few months of that can do?
Treat the 'Move in with Grandma' option as an initial accelerator of freedom.
And when you’re to a good point, then come back to this guide and find cheap rent (and a perfect home) to continue on your path toward financial freedom.
Now It's Your TurnSo that’s how I live in homes I love that also come with cheaper rent.
This one simple change of rent can literally be all you need to gain a sense of financial security and freedom.
And there are endless ways to do it — so get out there and score cheap rent and an awesome home.
If this guide was helpful to you, please share it with your friends and followers. Word of mouth really helps.
Good luck and godspeed! 🤙
TOLD BY: RYLAND KING
Ryland is a writer, outdoorsman and surfer. He's also the founder of The Hidden Green.
Keep reading. You won't regret it.