Apartment Living Tips

How to Find Cheap Apartments: 5 Helpful Tips

Are you finding it hard to pay for expensive rent? Looking for affordable apartments can be a challenge, but don’t fret! In this guide on “how to find cheap apartments,” we’ll share easy tips to help you find a comfy and affordable place to live. Let’s get started!

How to Find Cheap ApartmentsHow to Find Cheap Apartments
How to Find Cheap Apartments?

1. Set Your Budget: Know Your Limits

The foundation of your journey to finding an affordable apartment, guided by “how to find cheap apartments,” begins with setting a realistic budget. Understanding how much you can comfortably allocate to rent each month is paramount.

Calculating Your Affordable Rent

Determining your budget starts with assessing your monthly income. Ideally, your rent should not consume more than 30% of your monthly earnings. This guideline ensures you have sufficient funds for other essential expenses and savings.

Monthly IncomeRecommended Rent (30%)

These figures serve as a starting point, but they aren’t set in stone. Your unique financial situation may allow for some flexibility. Here’s how to proceed:

1. Assess Your Financial Situation

Start by thoroughly evaluating your income, including your salary, freelance work, or any additional sources of revenue. Be as accurate as possible to get a clear picture of your financial capabilities.

2. Create a Detailed Budget

Once you’ve established your monthly income, it’s time to create a comprehensive budget. Consider all your expenses, not just rent. This should include:

  • Utilities: Anticipate costs for electricity, gas, water, and trash removal.
  • Internet and Cable: Don’t forget about these essential services.
  • Transportation: If you own a car, factor in fuel, maintenance, and parking expenses.
  • Furnishings: Think about any new furniture or decor you may need to purchase for your new place.

By accounting for these expenses, you’ll gain a holistic view of your financial responsibilities, allowing you to make informed decisions.

3. Calculate Your Affordable Rent

Now that you’ve assessed your income and expenses, it’s time to calculate your affordable rent. Start by multiplying your monthly income by 30%. For instance, if your monthly income is $3,000:

Affordable Rent = Monthly Income x 30%

So: Affordable Rent = $3,000 x 0.30 = $900

In this example, $900 is the maximum you should allocate for rent each month to maintain a balanced budget. This figure ensures that you have ample room in your finances for other essential needs and potential savings.

4. Be Realistic and Flexible

While guidelines like the 30% rule are valuable, they’re not one-size-fits-all. Your financial situation may vary, and you may need to adapt your budget accordingly. Consider your unique circumstances, such as outstanding debts or family responsibilities.

It’s essential to strike a balance between affordability and your quality of life. Be willing to adjust your expectations and lifestyle to accommodate your budget comfortably. Remember that finding an apartment within your means is a crucial step towards financial stability and peace of mind.

2. Qualifying as a Tenant

Qualifying as a tenant is a pivotal step in securing an affordable apartment. Landlords have specific criteria that applicants must meet to ensure they can consistently fulfill their rental obligations. In this section, we’ll delve into the crucial aspects of tenant qualification, focusing on the widely used ‘3x Rent Rule’ and the role of guarantors.

The 3x Rent Rule

Landlords often rely on the ‘3x Rent Rule’ as a standard measure to gauge an applicant’s eligibility for renting a property. This rule stipulates that your monthly income should amount to at least three times the monthly rent. It serves as a financial safeguard for landlords, guaranteeing that tenants can comfortably afford their rent commitments.

Understanding the 3x Rent Rule

To gain a deeper understanding, let’s break down the ‘3x Rent Rule’:

Monthly RentRequired Minimum Monthly Income

For instance, if you’re eyeing an apartment with a monthly rent of $1,000, you’d need a monthly income of at least $3,000 to meet the ‘3x Rent Rule.’ This financial guideline aims to ensure that you possess the financial capacity to comfortably cover your rent.

Assessing Your Income

Before applying for an apartment, it’s essential to conduct a thorough assessment of your income sources. Consider all revenue streams, including your primary salary, income from freelance work, investments, and any additional sources of income. Accuracy in this assessment is paramount for a clear financial picture.

Verifying Your Eligibility

Once you have a comprehensive overview of your monthly income, compare it to the monthly rent of the apartment you wish to secure. Meeting or exceeding three times the rent amount is generally the threshold for qualifying as a tenant based on the ‘3x Rent Rule.’

However, it’s vital to maintain open and transparent communication with potential landlords or property managers. Some may display flexibility and be willing to work with tenants who come close to meeting the rule’s criteria or possess a strong rental history.

The Role of Guarantors

In situations where your income falls short of the ‘3x Rent Rule,’ there’s still hope for qualification with the assistance of a guarantor. A guarantor is an individual with a more substantial income who agrees to assume financial responsibility for the rent in case you face difficulties in making payments. Guarantors provide an added layer of assurance for landlords.

When and How Guarantors Assist

When selecting a guarantor, it’s crucial to choose someone who trusts you and comprehends the associated responsibilities. Guarantors typically undergo a comprehensive screening process, including credit checks, to demonstrate their financial stability.

Qualifying as a tenant involves meeting the ‘3x Rent Rule’ or enlisting the support of a guarantor to secure an affordable apartment. Understanding these qualification criteria and potential alternatives equips you to navigate the rental application process effectively. By adhering to these guidelines and maintaining open communication with landlords, you enhance your prospects of discovering and securing an ideal apartment that aligns with your budget and preferences.

3. Budget for Additional Expenses

Budget for Additional Expenses, Pie chart

While rent is a significant portion of your monthly expenses, it’s crucial to account for additional costs associated with apartment living. Budgeting for these expenses ensures that you maintain financial stability and avoid unexpected financial challenges.

1. Utilities

Utilities encompass essential services like electricity, gas, water, and trash removal. These expenses can vary significantly depending on factors such as your location, apartment size, and personal usage habits. To budget effectively:

  • Example: In a one-bedroom apartment in a moderate climate, monthly utility costs may average around $100. However, in a larger apartment with inefficient appliances, these costs could rise to $200 or more.
  • Set Aside Funds Monthly: Allocate a portion of your budget (e.g., $150) to cover utilities, based on your research and potential variations.
  • Practice Energy Efficiency: Implement energy-saving practices, such as turning off lights when not in use or using energy-efficient appliances, to minimize utility expenses.

2. Internet and Cable

Access to the internet and cable services is essential for many individuals. These costs can add up, impacting your monthly budget. To manage them effectively:

  • Example: A bundled internet and cable package may cost $100 per month, while individual subscriptions could total $150 or more.
  • Bundle Services: Explore bundle packages that offer internet and cable together to save $50 per month.
  • Consider Alternatives: Evaluate streaming services as alternatives to traditional cable to reduce costs further.

3. Transportation

Transportation expenses can vary based on your proximity to work, public transit availability, and whether you own a car. To budget wisely:

  • Example: If you use public transit for your daily commute, your monthly expenses may amount to $100. However, if you own a car, monthly costs could include fuel ($150), parking ($50), and maintenance ($50).
  • Calculate Commuting Costs: Estimate your commuting expenses based on your mode of transportation and distance to work.
  • Explore Commuting Options: Consider walking, cycling, or using public transit to reduce monthly transportation costs.

4. Furniture and Decor

When moving into a new apartment, you may need to purchase furniture and decor to make it feel like home. To manage these costs:

  • Example: Furnishing a living room with essential items like a sofa, coffee table, and TV stand may cost around $1,000. Additional decor expenses could amount to $300.
  • Prioritize Essentials: Start with the basic necessities, such as a bed and seating, and gradually add decorative items over time.
  • Shop Smart: Look for budget-friendly furniture options, such as second-hand or discounted items, to reduce costs.

5. Maintenance and Repairs

While landlords are typically responsible for major repairs, tenants may encounter minor maintenance expenses. To prepare for these:

  • Example: Replacing a malfunctioning doorknob or a leaky faucet could cost $50 to $100.
  • Set Up an Emergency Fund: Establish an emergency fund (e.g., $200) to cover unexpected maintenance costs.
  • Report Issues Promptly: Notify your landlord of any maintenance issues promptly to prevent them from escalating into more extensive, costly problems.

6. Insurance

Consider obtaining renters’ insurance to protect your belongings in case of theft, damage, or unforeseen disasters. While this is an additional monthly expense, it provides valuable financial security.

  • Example: Renters’ insurance policies typically range from $10 to $30 per month, depending on coverage and location.
  • Shop for Affordable Policies: Compare renters’ insurance policies to find one that offers the coverage you need at a reasonable cost.

7. Miscellaneous Expenses

Finally, allocate a portion of your budget to miscellaneous expenses that may arise, such as:

  • Example: Budget $200 per month for groceries, $50 for entertainment, and $30 for personal care items.
  • Groceries: Plan your grocery shopping to minimize food expenses.
  • Entertainment: Set limits on entertainment spending to avoid overspending.
  • Personal Care: Budget for personal care items, such as toiletries and grooming products.

4. Use Online Resources

In today’s digital age, there is a wealth of online resources that can help you find affordable apartments more efficiently and make informed decisions. These resources not only simplify your search but also provide valuable insights and tools to secure a budget-friendly rental.

1. Apartment Listing Websites

One of the most effective ways to discover affordable apartments is by exploring dedicated apartment listing websites. These platforms offer a vast selection of rental listings, allowing you to filter and narrow down your options based on various criteria. Some popular apartment listing websites include:

  • Zillow: Zillow provides a comprehensive database of apartments, homes, and condos for rent. Its user-friendly interface allows you to specify your budget, preferred location, and desired features, helping you find affordable options quickly.
  • Apartments.com: Apartments.com offers an extensive collection of rental listings, complete with detailed descriptions, photos, and virtual tours. You can search for apartments that match your budget and lifestyle preferences.
  • Craigslist: Craigslist remains a valuable resource for finding apartments, particularly in local markets. Be cautious when using Craigslist and verify the legitimacy of listings to avoid potential scams.
  • Realtor Websites: Many real estate agencies and independent realtors have their own websites with updated rental listings. Explore websites of local realtors in your desired area to discover hidden gems.

2. Mobile Apps

To streamline your apartment search, consider using mobile apps offered by apartment listing websites. These apps provide the convenience of browsing and saving listings on your smartphone or tablet. Some apps even offer notifications for new listings that match your criteria, ensuring you stay ahead in the competitive rental market.

3. Online Reviews and Ratings

Before committing to an apartment, it’s essential to gather insights from current or former tenants. Online review platforms like Yelp, Google Reviews, and ApartmentRatings.com allow you to read about others’ experiences with specific apartment complexes or management companies. Pay attention to reviews related to affordability, maintenance, and landlord responsiveness.

4. Social Media and Facebook Groups

Social media platforms, especially Facebook, host numerous local housing groups where individuals share apartment listings, roommates wanted ads, and valuable insights about the rental market. Join these groups specific to your city or region to access exclusive listings and connect with potential roommates.

5. Rent Comparison Tools

Several online tools and websites specialize in rent comparison. These resources provide data on average rent prices in different neighborhoods, helping you identify areas where you can find more affordable apartments. Walkscore is one such platform that offers a “walkable score” along with rental listings, allowing you to assess the convenience of a neighborhood.

6. Virtual Tours and 3D Floor Plans

To save time and narrow down your options without physically visiting apartments, look for listings that offer virtual tours or 3D floor plans. These online features provide a comprehensive view of the apartment’s layout and condition, enabling you to eliminate unsuitable choices and focus on those that meet your criteria.

7. Rental Aggregator Websites

Rental aggregator websites compile listings from multiple sources, giving you a broader perspective of available apartments. Websites like Rent.com and ApartmentGuide.com consolidate rental listings from various sources, potentially unveiling more affordable options you might have missed elsewhere.

5. Make Your Affordable Apartment Even Cheaper

Make Your Affordable Apartment Even Cheaper

Finding an affordable apartment is a significant achievement, but your cost-saving efforts don’t have to stop there. There are several strategies and actions you can take to make your already affordable apartment even more budget-friendly such as:

1. Share Your Space with Roommates

Sharing your apartment with roommates is one of the most effective ways to slash your monthly expenses. By splitting rent and utility bills, you can significantly lower your individual housing costs.

  • Roommate Scenario: Imagine your one-bedroom apartment costs $1,200 per month. Sharing it with a roommate can reduce your share to $600, saving you $600 each month.
  • Choosing Compatible Roommates: Seek roommates whose lifestyles and habits align with your own to ensure a harmonious living arrangement.
  • Setting Clear Agreements: Establish clear agreements regarding rent division, shared expenses, and household responsibilities to prevent conflicts.
  • Screening Potential Roommates: Conduct interviews and background checks to choose reliable and trustworthy roommates.

2. Embrace Minimalism and Downsizing

Living a minimalist lifestyle not only simplifies your life but also reduces the need for excessive belongings and space. Downsizing to a smaller apartment or adopting minimalist principles can lead to significant savings.

  • Downsizing Example: If you downsize from a two-bedroom apartment to a one-bedroom unit, you could save $200 or more per month in rent.
  • Declutter and Sell: Sell or donate items you no longer need or use, decluttering your living space and potentially earning extra cash.
  • Avoiding Impulse Purchases: Embrace mindful spending and avoid buying unnecessary items or furniture.

3. Negotiate Rent and Lease Terms

Don’t hesitate to negotiate with your landlord when it comes to rent and lease terms. While not always successful, negotiation efforts can lead to cost savings.

  • Negotiation Scenario: If you’re a long-term tenant with a history of on-time payments, you may negotiate a modest rent reduction or request improvements to your apartment.
  • Renew Your Lease Early: Landlords may offer incentives, such as reduced rent or waived fees, to tenants who renew their leases early.
  • Address Maintenance Issues: If your apartment requires maintenance or repairs, negotiate with your landlord to have these issues resolved promptly.

4. Reduce Energy Consumption

Lowering your energy consumption not only benefits the environment but also trims your utility bills. Implement energy-saving practices to cut down on electricity and heating costs.

  • Energy Savings Example: By using LED bulbs, sealing drafts, and adjusting your thermostat, you could save $30 to $50 per month on utility bills.
  • Unplug Electronics: Unplug devices and chargers when not in use to prevent energy wastage.
  • Use Energy-Efficient Appliances: Consider upgrading to energy-efficient appliances to reduce electricity consumption further.

5. Explore Renting Out Spare Space

If your apartment has spare space, consider renting it out to generate additional income. Platforms like Airbnb allow you to host guests on a short-term basis.

  • Rental Opportunity: Renting out a spare bedroom for $50 per night could earn you $1,500 per month if booked every night.
  • Check Lease and Local Regulations: Ensure that your lease agreement permits subleasing, and familiarize yourself with local regulations regarding short-term rentals.

6. Seek Government Assistance Programs

In some cases, government assistance programs and subsidies may be available to eligible tenants. These programs can provide financial relief and make your apartment even more affordable.

  • Government Assistance Example: Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers can help low-income individuals and families afford safe, sanitary housing.
  • Research Eligibility: Explore government assistance programs in your area and determine if you qualify for any housing subsidies.

7. Cut Back on Non-Essential Services

Review your monthly subscriptions and non-essential services to identify potential areas for cost reduction.

  • Subscription Savings: Canceling unused gym memberships, streaming services, or magazine subscriptions can free up extra funds.
  • Consolidate Services: If you have multiple streaming subscriptions, consider consolidating to a single, more affordable option.

You might also like: Living in a Studio Apartment: Benefits, Disadvantages, and Clever Hacks

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I set a budget for finding a cheap apartment?

To set a budget, calculate 30% of your monthly income as a guideline for rent. Consider all your expenses, including utilities, internet, transportation, and furnishings.

Where can I search for cheap apartments online?

You can search for affordable apartments on websites like Zillow, Apartments.com, Airbnb, and Facebook Marketplace. For instance, Zillow allows you to set filters based on your budget, preferred location, and desired amenities, making it easier to find cost-effective options in your area.

How can I make my affordable apartment even cheaper?

You can reduce costs further by getting a roommate, working in exchange for rent, listing your apartment on Airbnb, or finding a remote job in a less expensive city. For example, sharing a two-bedroom apartment with a roommate can split the rent, making it more affordable for both parties.

What is the ‘3x Rent Rule’ for qualifying as a tenant?

The ‘3x Rent Rule’ suggests that your monthly income should be at least three times the monthly rent. It helps landlords ensure tenants can comfortably afford their rent. For instance, if you’re eyeing an apartment with a monthly rent of $1,000, your monthly income should ideally be $3,000 or higher to meet this rule.

What if my income doesn’t meet the ‘3x Rent Rule’?

If your income falls short, you can still qualify by enlisting a guarantor—a person with a higher income who vouches for your ability to make rent payments. For example, if your income is $2,500, and the rent is $1,000, a guarantor earning $6,000 per month can support your application.

How can I ensure the safety of my apartment search online?

Avoid sharing personal information or sending money to strangers. Verify the legitimacy of listings, and meet landlords in public places for viewings. For example, if a listing requests personal information or upfront payment before a viewing, it’s often a red flag indicating potential fraud.

What steps can I take to find an affordable apartment in 2024?

In 2024, you can follow the same strategies mentioned in this guide, such as setting a budget, using online resources, and exploring cost-saving options. Additionally, consider staying updated with new rental platforms and apps that may emerge to streamline your apartment search in the coming year.


In your quest to find cheap apartments, remember that thorough budgeting and smart apartment hunting are your allies. You have the power to secure an apartment that aligns with your budget while maintaining your quality of life. It’s time to take action and embark on your journey to finding an affordable and comfortable place to call home.

Have you successfully found a budget-friendly apartment? Share your tips and experiences with us in the comments below. If you have any questions or need further guidance, don’t hesitate to reach out. Start your journey to affordable apartment living today!

With this comprehensive guide on “How to Find Cheap Apartments,” you’re well-equipped to tackle the apartment hunting process with confidence and financial savvy. Remember, your dream of affordable, quality living is within reach. Happy apartment hunting!

You can also check our list for the best cheap apartments in Chesapeake, Virginia.