How to Get a Good Deal on an Apartment

As I mentioned last week, we’ve been busy hunting for an apartment since our house closing fell through. The good news is that we just signed the papers on an apartment that will be cheaper and give us a place to live while we re-start our house hunt. That means we won’t have to put our stuff into storage.

While hunting for a place, we found that getting a good deal on an apartment isn’t easy, though the process itself is straightforward. What follows is an overview of what we learned.

Formulate a search image

Since we were on a time crunch, we had to quickly come up with a list of what we needed in an apartment. We prioritized what we were looking for and used that to filter our options.

  • Cost: We had a price range in mind when we started looking. The maximum we wanted to pay was our current apartment’s rent before the month-to-month pricing kicked in.
  • Location: Commute time was another major factor for us. As you might imagine, some of the cheapest places were inconveniently located, but there were still some deals on apartments with good highway access.
  • Neighborhood: We were looking for a relatively quiet neighborhood. We checked places during different times of the day to get an idea of how noisy it might be. Did you know that some police departments have a crime analyst that you can call for information on crime rates in a certain area? If you’re moving from another state, this can be a great way to weed out places before you even visit.
  • Size: While don’t want to live in too small of a place, we decided that we could down size a bit if needed.

Cast a wide net to find an apartment

While most people don’t have the time to look at every apartment in the city, viewing a good sample can help you find a good deal. We used several sources when we were hunting for apartments.

Classifieds ads

I checked our local newspaper’s classifieds online and also used Craigslist to find a bunch of apartments within our price range. I found Craigslist to be a good way to find better-than-advertised specials.

Roadside signs

As we were taking care of errands or or otherwise running around town, we took note of any deals that were being advertised outside of apartment complexes. A few of them looked reasonable, so we wrote the info down for later. I was actually surprised how at how many offers were out there.


We also asked our friends for recommendation. If they liked a place and it was in our price range, we put it near the top of the list. I’m very grateful that our friends were open about their likes and dislikes. This insight really helped us narrow in on some great places. In fact, a friend’s brother lives in the apartment complex where we ended up signing a lease.

Negotiate your deal

Don’t fall in love with an apartment

You can have favorites, but don’t fall head over heels in love with any certain place until you iron out the details. If you do, you’ll wind up in a weaker position when it comes to negotiating. We took notes about the places we visited, including their monthly rent, move-in specials, size, and overall impressions.

It never hurts to ask

We considered a lot of places, but we had to make a decision quickly. All of our top picks were within our price range, but with so many apartments available, we thought it wouldn’t hurt to ask for a better deal.

I called our first choice and left a message for the manager. He called back and asked if we had picked them. I was honest and told him that we were considering them, but that the price wasn’t in line with our expectations. We wanted to apply to an apartment that day, so we just needed to see if they were willing to offer a better deal.

The manager told us that he could meet our price, and that we’d still get the move-in special. I was so relieved that we went ahead and applied to the complex that day and were approved. I think what helped us was that we weren’t rude when asking for a discount, and we also asked for an amount that would be reasonable for the area.

Your take

The money that we’ll be saving on rent will go back into our joint savings account until we find a new house and need to come up with another down payment.

I’m happy because we not only managed to find an apartment that would work for us while we house hunt, but we also lowered our monthly expenses. Do you have any tips for getting a great deal on an apartment?

10 Responses to “How to Get a Good Deal on an Apartment”

  1. Anonymous

    Apartments on busy (main) roads tend to be cheaper because of the “poor” location. We got used to the traffic noise pretty quickly. The house we ended up buying is near railroad tracks, and I hardly notice it, having become accustomed to traffic noise in my apt.

  2. Anonymous

    I start with location first, usually within a mile radius from where I’d like to be, then use craigslist and to get a general idea of prices.

    After that I use comparables (similar to home shopping) to use when negotiating with the landlord. It’s hard to argue with facts, so it helps, especially if they’re motivated.

    Did you have to sign a long term lease or were you able to find short term? That’s usually another sticky area for negotiation.

    Ryan @ Plantingdollars

  3. Anonymous

    Plan it out in advance–yes. Don’t fall in love with just one apartment—yes. This is a good article, and I like the way you suggested asking for a lower rent.

    John DeFlumeri Jr

  4. Anonymous

    Move in the winter time? My apartment complex reduces rent for those that move in the winter time because it’s not peak moving season, and harder to get people in the units. From what I’ve noticed online, it’s probably a discount of 10% or so. When you consider these apartments are renting at prices between $1000-$1300, it makes a difference.

  5. Anonymous

    Is there any concern that there are a lot of scams on craigslist? This summer it seemed like everything was a link to an external scam site or an offer for incredibly cheap rent from someone who was “living abroad”.

  6. Anonymous

    I heard from a friend the other week that he lowered his rent over a hundred dollars and had utilities included by renewing his lease. He shopped around and found a much cheaper deal and when he presented it to the office they matched it just to keep him.

  7. Anonymous

    It is very difficult to get a good deal but now with the economy being poor may be your best time. Apartment complexes may lower rent. Always look through craigslist and through friends as your best bet with finding new apartments.

  8. Anonymous

    A friend of mine moved into an apartment that was being vacated by a friend of hers. Since there was no break between tenants, the landlord was willing to reduce rent. If you can find someone who is moving out, you may be able to get a discount and your friend may get a bonus for referring you!

Leave a Reply