Rent Soaring? 6 Ways To Afford It

Apartment for rent sign displayed on residential street.
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Home renters have felt the pain of rising prices this year, thanks largely to an overwhelming demand for housing combined with a shrinking supply. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look as though the trend will reverse any time soon. 

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Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that, from September 2021 through September 2022, rents in the U.S. rose 6.7%. That is more than double the 3.2% increase from September 2020 to September 2021. 

What’s a tenant to do when the rent is just too high? Here are some ideas. 

Audit Your Expenses

“This is going to be the easiest way to determine where you can afford to make cuts to your budget and adjust to rising rent costs,” said Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst with DealNews.com. “Once you track every cent coming in and going out each month, you’ll be able to determine what areas are necessary and what expenses may be frivolous and can be cut to give your budget some extra breathing room.

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“It may mean cutting out ‘fun’ things, but it’s important to try to leave at least one frivolous option to enjoy if you’re able; otherwise, you may just end up feeling miserable with nothing fun to put your energy into and nothing to look forward to.” 

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Consider Moving to a Cheaper Area

Not every area in the U.S is experiencing a surge in rent. If you can afford to move, and if your job permits you to go remote, consider heading to one of these locations, where, according to Zumper, rent on one-bedrooms is dropping: 

  • Milwaukee fell 22.1% to $950
  • Newark, N.J., fell 13% to $1,340
  • Cincinnati fell 10.3% to $870
  • Richmond, Va., fell 10% to $1,170
  • Durham, N.C., fell 7.7% to 1,200

Consider Not Moving

“Moving to a smaller home may seem like a good solution; but, if doing so will mean having to pay more deposits and high moving costs, it’s likely not going to be worth it,” Ramhold said. “It’s especially troublesome if the area you live in has rising rent costs that basically ensure that, even if you downgrade to something smaller, you may be paying more for less.

“However, depending on your situation, renewing your lease for another year may mean that you can lock in lower rates than what new leases are starting at. Plus, you’ll save on moving costs and new deposits. But it’s important to note that you should only settle for this option if you feel safe in your current home.” 

Make Your Money Work for You

Look for a Rent-To-Own Situation

“This may not be worth it for some; but, if you have the ability to move, it might be a good idea to look for a rent-to-own setup,” Ramhold said. “These may not be that common, depending on your area, so be prepared to do a little digging. It could also mean paying a higher rent rate, so be sure to weigh that against staying in your current lease.

“That said, if you do find a good RTO then you’ll at least be working towards owning your home rather than renting indefinitely. However, it’s important to note too that this route could also mean being stuck with all maintenance costs; so again, be sure to weigh every aspect of this method before diving into it.” 

Adjust Your Shopping Routines

“If you shop more at traditional grocery stores, it’s worth it to see if you can cut way back on your bills by opting for discount retailers like Aldi or big-box stores like Target and Walmart,” Ramhold said. “By saving on other necessities like groceries, you can hopefully help to mitigate the rising cost of rent by freeing up funds to account for it.

Make Your Money Work for You

“Additionally, only purchase items when they’re on sale if you can manage it, as saving a little something is better than nothing. But this extends to other kinds of shopping beyond groceries; for example, check discount stores like TJ Maxx or Ross for clothing, or HomeGoods for home items. They won’t always be more affordable, but it’s quite possible you can save significant amounts on purchases you need.”

Be Strategic With Your Appliances

“If you live in a place with dated appliances, consider using countertop models that may be more energy efficient than their full size counterparts,” Ramhold said. “Make sure these have multiple functions, too; for instance, Instant Pots can often be used for sautéing, slow cooking, pressure cooking, air frying and more.

“Countertop ovens can also serve as both baking and air frying appliances now, depending on which models you buy. These will obviously take up counter space, but they could allow you to cook more items without having to worry about using a ton of energy from larger appliances. And using less energy there can result in savings on your utility bills, which can help to offset the rising rent costs.”

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About the Author

Nicole Spector is a writer, editor, and author based in Los Angeles by way of Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Vogue, the Atlantic, Vice, and The New Yorker. She's a frequent contributor to NBC News and Publishers Weekly. Her 2013 debut novel, "Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray" received laudatory blurbs from the likes of Fred Armisen and Ken Kalfus, and was published in the US, UK, France, and Russia — though nobody knows whatever happened with the Russian edition! She has an affinity for Twitter.
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