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8 Tips to Help You Rent Your Dream Apartment

8 Tips to Help You Rent Your Dream Apartment

More and more people are renting instead of buying ever since the housing bubble burst. Meanwhile, rent prices have steadily increased! For many, renting is the only option, because the barrier to saving up a down payment and getting a (sustainable) mortgage is too high. But renting doesn’t have to mean going without, whether you’re single or a growing family! There’s always a diamond or two in the rough, if only you know where to look. Here are 8 tips to help you find and land your dream apartment.

1. Ask around.

Ask everybody. There have been numerous studies showing that everyone in the country (arguably the world) is connected within six degrees of separation. As in, you know somebody who knows somebody… who knows everyone else.

A lot of people own properties that they rent out, and those people have friends. The big idea here is that you never know what’s available, or what might be coming available soon, until you ask. My wife and I once got a 3,000+ sqft renovated home for a bargain, because so-and-so that we knew had helped out the owners before. Chances are someone you know knows someone else with a steal of an option!

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2. Commit during this season.

Budget constraints are often the determining factor for getting the space you want and need. Rent contracts are usually cheapest during November, December, and January. Take advantage of it! I once got a 30% lower monthly rate just because we signed in January. If you can manage it, wait to sign a deal until one of these months, because you’ll likely be able to get a lot more bang for your buck.

3. Set up an IFTTT recipe for new Craigslist listings.

Craigslist is a goldmine of, well, just about everything, including places to rent. An IFTTT recipe is basically an automated notification system. So you can set it up to hear about every, say, 3 bed 2 bath option under $1500, and get an email whenever a new listing meets that criteria. You can always find a great deal on craigslist, but you’ve got to be quick.

4. Check the announcements.

Most neighborhoods, communities, campuses, local organizations, etc. have some sort of hub for announcements and info specific to their group. Maybe it’s a newsletter, an online blackboard, or a weekly coffee shop flyer. Whatever it is, these announcement hubs can be gems of opportunity. In some cases, this will be the only place an apartment or home is listed.

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I once found a glorious (and cheap) cottage in a wealthy neighborhood by checking my alma mater’s blackboard. That was the only place they listed it. The owners also ran a landscaping company. The place was immaculate, and within easy walking distance to parks, restaurants, and scenic hiking trails. Definitely find and check the announcement boards. It might be the only place your dream apartment is listed!

5. Look into furnished options.

Furnished options can be ideal, even if you already have furniture. After all, what makes a home a dream home is usually what fills it. And if the owners have done a good job of that, take advantage of it! I’ve used HomeSuite to find furnished listings before, but you should keep an eye out everywhere else you look, too. You may even be able to cover the rent by selling what furniture you already have!

6. Read online reviews for flexible landlords.

When you’re renting, landlords are your superheroes. Would you rather have Thor or Loki? Any rental site worth its salt will have a section for reviews on its listings. Is the landlord friendly? Quick? Flexible on price? Willing to compromise or make changes for their tenants?

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The person you rent from can easily be the difference between a dud and your dream apartment. I once rented a place that came to have mold and a broken HVAC. The landlord was entirely neglectful, and the whole thing was a nightmare. If I’d just checked the online reviews, I would have seen how bad they were without having to experience it firsthand.

7. Follow up with the owner(s).

After you view a potential home, keep a running dialog. Build a relationship. Show the owners/managers that you’re interested and that you’re a respectable person or family. They’re generally willing to cut deals or help you out if they like you and trust you.

An email asking about the neighborhood noise because you tend to be a quiet homebody, or a blurb about how this will be a perfect spot for a basketball hoop for your son can go a long way. We had new appliances installed in a place once, simply because we had a great relationship with the owners and asked for something more energy efficient than the current decades-old appliances. It was great!

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8. Don’t give up.

Timing is everything. The difference between you getting your dream home and having to settle could be the few days before a current tenant announces they’re leaving. If you can help it, don’t settle for something you won’t be ecstatic about. Don’t give up! Be patient. Your dream apartment is out there waiting for you, even if someone else is using it at the moment.

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Kenneth Burke

Director of Marketing

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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