First Person: The Best Time to Rent

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In ten years of renting, I've always been a bit of a nomad. I usually move to a new apartment whenever my lease is up. Since I move so often, I've noticed trends over the years, like the best and worst times to move. I've found that when I move during the late fall or early winter I save the most money on rent. Here are a few reasons why.

Less Competition

When you're looking for a rental in the spring or summer, you'll face a lot of competition. College students are looking for a place to rent for the fall semester, and since the weather is nice, more people are willing to move. Since landlords have plenty of potential tenants to choose from, they're less likely to offer a deal on rent. The opposite is true during the winter. Few people are moving, so landlords are more willing to negotiate rent prices or offer a discount. They need your business and you have the upper hand.

Holiday Specials

Property management companies are always looking for ways to advertise their apartment buildings and bring in more renters. In my area, holiday specials are a common advertising technique. Many small apartment complexes offer a Christmas sale on apartments. A few years ago I got two months of free rent by signing up during a holiday special. Recently I saw an ad for an apartment where the landlord was offering a $0 move-in special if you signed a lease by December 31st. The specials offered will vary by management companies, but you can find them by browsing rental magazines or by visiting the apartment complex's website.

Cheaper Moving

Movers do not have a lot of business between October and February. Since this is their off-season, many movers offer cheaper prices or are willing to haggle a bit on the cost. For example, while I usually deal with the hassle of moving myself to save some cash, I was able to move into my current place for less than the price of renting a self-service moving truck. I called up a local moving company and asked what their cheapest price was right now. Since they didn't have any appointments that weekend, they gave me a 40 percent discount. I saved about $200 on the cost of hiring movers for my one bedroom apartment. As an added bonus, I didn't have to lug my furniture around myself in the cold.

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