Finding an affordable rental under $500 a month is a challenge, but it's not impossible. It also can't be done on the spur of the moment. There are very few rentals at or below $500 that are safe and clean. Lots of time, the rentals under $500 in good neighborhoods are offered by private landlords that don't have the money to advertise on the mainstream websites, which makes them very hard to find.
Finding an affordable rental is a lot like finding an affordable house. I have to watch the markets and research the areas at least once a week. That takes time which is why I start looking six months to a year early. I want to know what the rental markets are doing and what the average price of a rental is in my area.
For this move, I started looking over eight months ago. Back in January, rentals were going for between $550 and $700 a month depending on the size of the apartment and the neighborhood.
Right now, the average rental price in and around Indianapolis is between $650 and $700 for a one bedroom apartment. The rental houses are even more expensive, starting at $1,000 a month.
The cheapest apartments in my area range between $500 and $625 a month. The $500 is within my price range, but the $625 is not. In other words, the rental market in my area has gotten more expensive since January 2012. Thankfully, my lease isn't up until December, and it just might take me another four months to find an apartment within my price range.
Look Online, In The Local Papers And In Neighborhoods
There are hundreds of rental websites online from Yahoo! real estate to Rentals.com, which is great for getting a ballpark idea of what the average rental price is in an area. However, to find the cheapest and cleanest apartments, it's more beneficial to check out local websites, local print newspapers and neighborhoods.
I spent six months looking on mainstream websites before I realized my approach wasn't working. I couldn't find any apartments below $550, and $550 is not affordable with my current budget. That's why I'm moving. My current apartment is $550 a month, and it's financially killing me.
Then, my brother found a local county flyer that advertised rentals. Suddenly, I had rentals options between $475 and $500. A few minutes later, I had the local website, and sure enough, there were four rental properties within my price range.
Once I had those properties, I began canvassing the neighborhoods. Changes are, if there's one rental property in an area for $500 a month, there are more that aren't advertised. Taking a trip through a neighborhood, looking for rental signs and dialing the numbers is a great way to find unadvertised rentals.
Current Lease Mistake
Now that I have some options for affordable rentals, I'd like to look at them now, but I made a huge mistake with my last lease. I signed a year lease in order to save $25 a month. A month to month lease would have cost me $575 a month, and I figured if $550 was out of my price range, $575 would be impossible.
Unfortunately, when I went to look at rentals in late July, I caught a lot of flack because my lease isn't up until December. To landlords, that looks like I want to break my lease and move even if I explain to them that I'll be buying out the rest of my lease as soon as I find an acceptable apartment.
The problem is that landlords are leery, and that explanation isn't good enough for them. If my lease is up in December, than I should move in December to spite what I want to do. If I had signed a month to month lease, I wouldn't be blocked by their mental blocks, and I would have saved myself money.
An extra $25 a month translates to $300 a year. That's less than a month of my rent, and leaving my apartment even one month early would have saved me $250. Plus, I'd be able to move with 30 days notice.
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- Real Estate