If you’ve hit the market in search of an apartment, you’re likely all too familiar with how much rent prices vary from one property to the next. The same apartment in one area may cost significantly more or less in another. For example, Phoenix apartments will run higher than those in Mesa, while some tiny, urban apartments may be priced hundreds of dollars higher per month than what you would be willing to pay, simply because they’re in desirable location.
The truth is, property managers can ask whatever they want for rent. If they set rent too high, they may end up with a vacant property. But they’re looking to make the most off every unit in a building, while remaining competitive with similar properties.
If you’re looking for the best apartment for the most affordable rent, consider what factors are most important to you – location, amenities and utility costs all play major roles in your overall rent cost.
Location and size
Location is one of the most influential factors in rent prices. Even a sub-par property in a thriving neighborhood will have appeal because of its surroundings and its proximity to great restaurants, shops and attractions. So a 500-square-foot apartment within walking distance of a great coffee shop – or even your office – may cost more than a 600-square-foot apartment in the suburbs.
Some people are willing to make big sacrifices to be where the action is – for example, the architect who moved into a 78-square-foot apartment, just to be in a prime location in Manhattan. The cost of this cramped abode? A mere $800 a month, which in some cities would be the monthly rent for a two-bedroom townhome.
If you want to live downtown but don’t want to pay an exorbitant price for rent, you may be able to save money by opting for a studio apartment over a one-bedroom apartment. Often, there’s little difference in overall square footage, but property managers tend to charge more for properties with one or more bedrooms.
Amenities can quickly increase the cost of a rental unit. If an apartment has a kitchen outfitted with stainless steel appliances, it will generally be more expensive than an identical apartment with dated appliances. Other amenities that usually come with a higher asking price include a walk-out patio, private entryway or balcony. You’ll likely pay extra for anything that offers you additional privacy.
If you’re in a complex, you’ll also want to consider the amenities available on the property. Fitness rooms, laundry facilities and swimming pools aren’t free – the cost of those features is built into your rent. If you don’t intend to swim or workout at your complex, you might want to find a property where your funds are put to better use.
Many properties include utilities of some kind, but, as with amenities, these aren’t free. The most common utilities included in your base rent rate are trash removal and water/sewer service, but it’s possible that heat, electricity and – rarely – cable or Internet service may also be included.
Compare apartments that include utilities with those that don’t. You may find you’re better off renting a place that doesn’t pay electricity, if that means your monthly rent will be lower. If an apartment does include some utilities, ask the right questions about your obligations, such as whether apartment management would handle requests for service if you have a problem with a utility.
There’s not much you can do to affect what property owners charge for rent. But by deciding what matters most to you and understanding that amenities come at a cost, you can find a place that suits your needs and your budget.