This is the part 2 of our ‘saving money when moving out’ series. We are listing 20 great tips for lowering your bills and choosing the right apartment for yourself. Get ready for the ultimate list of non-obvious money-saving tricks. This can help you save tons on money on stuff you are already doing and then have some money to save!
It’s time for Thrifty Moving Out series part 2 where I share load of cool tips and advice for first-time movers. The tips are broken down into 3 parts:
1. Food and Grocery shopping
2. Housing and Bills – that’s this one
3. Budgeting for College Students
This post explores ways of saving money on electricity, gas, water, and other bills, as well as how to choose the right flat for yourself. Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on Twitter to be notified of new updates! Now let’s get right to it:
Tips For Significantly Lowering Your Bills And Renting The Right Apartment
- When you move out, parents, friends, and other people will gladly donate some of the stuff they don’t need to you. Take only the stuff that you think will be essential, because it’s easy to start piling up old junk that you will never really use. Take kitchenware, furniture and similar, but leave decoration and useless stuff behind.
- Before starting the search for the new flat, write down a list of everything that you think you need in your new apartment; do you need it to have a washing machine? A freezer? Which part of the town is ideal for you? What is the maximum price you can pay including bills? Does it need to be fully furnished? This list will not only help you search, but also negotiate a better price when these requirements are not met.
- When renting a new flat, negotiate the price. It’s likely that the market is full of offers (especially in this economical situation), so just remember that you will be able to find another one in no time. Be sure to start searching for a flat to rent at least a month in advance so you have enough time to turn down deals that are not 100% perfect for you.
- Don’t buy new furnishings; always try searching Craigslist and similar for stuff that other people don’t need anymore. If you’re at a campus, try buying items off seniors that are moving out. It’s important not to buy new at this point (unless you live near Ikea).
- Share the flat with someone (or more people), whether it be a friend, a girl/boyfriend, or even a stranger (just make sure they’re alright). This won’t just split the costs in half, but also have psychological benefits; if you’re used to living with your parents, it will be super-scary to suddenly live alone, trust me.
- The first payments of certain bills are normally more expensive as you’re paying for the current and the next month. Keep that in mind when you’re thinking about budget for the first month.
- Try to live as close to your job or campus as possible – you can always move away if you change the job. This will save you money on commute, but be careful not to put too much money into location.
- If you have other frugal friends with rented flats, you can try and get a flat lacking certain utilities (eg. kitchen, washing machine, freezer), and use these at your friends’ houses/flats – and vice versa. These housing options are normally much cheaper.
- Make your own cleaning products; main low-budget & bio cleaning ingredients are white vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice. Combining these you can clean pretty much anything, but if need be also add some cheap dish soap. Forget about the commercial cleaning products, they are truly unnecessary.
- As well as that, make your own laundry detergent; mix washing soda, borax, and a simple bar of soap (you’ll need to grate it like cheese) and there you have it – it’s so cheap it’s almost free. Make a ton of it, share with friends. Fabric softeners can be made out of baking soda, vinegar, or hair conditioner.
- When washing clothes, try to fill the machine up as much as possible – maybe even with friends’ and roomies’ clothes, and lower the water temperature. It’ll wash just fine.
- Also, you don’t necessary need a dryer – just hang your clothes on a line and let them dry. If your flat has a balcony or a patio, even better. The line can be something really simple like a normal rope, just make sure it doesn’t leave residue on your clothes – you could even twist a long piece of plastic wrap into the perfect line for pennies.
- When entering a contract with a utility supplier, make sure to do your homework first – there might be cheaper, less known providers that offer much lower rates for gas or electricity. Sometimes it may seem like you don’t have a choice, but you mostly do – and the switch should be relatively painless.
- If you’re renting an apartment, read the electricity meter when you move in and regularly report its state to the electricity provider so you’re only paying for what you actually spend. Same with gas and water usage – ask your landlord to show you where these meters are.
- Cut the cable, and maybe internet too. Get an antenna to watch a few channels and if you still miss it, replace cable with watch-on-demand TV subscription (Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu), or using an ad-supported free solution like Free TV Project. If you spend most of your day at work or at campus, you may find that you don’t really need internet at home either.
- If you, however, do spend a lot of time at home, you might be able to connect to a free wi-fi nearby – maybe there’s a caffe beneath your flat or could you maybe convince a neighbor to lend you the connection? Either way, make sure you protect yourself from wi-fi hackers.
- If you’re on a very low budget, it’s best that you save that little money you have and not spend it on going out and such. What to do then, you say? Well, try to hustle the money specifically for the ‘non-essentials budget’: trim people’s lawns, wash cars, or whatever mini-job you can do to supplement your budget for having fun!
- When your AC or heater is on, avoid leaving windows and blinders open for longer than a couple of minutes. The same principle can be applied to closing the doors of the fridge and opening it as little as possible.
- Buy a thermostat to help you turn stuff like heating on and off at certain times. You only need to buy this once and then just take it with you every time you move somewhere else.
- Generally, heating options other than electricity are cheaper, so try to use those (gas, oil).
Housing is oftentimes the biggest expense in living on your own, but as well as that, it can be quite a hassle to find the right place and to keep up with payments. For more information on how to rent your first flat, check out this great article. I hope this post helped you; please leave a comment if you have anything to add and don’t forget to share!
More Tips on Renting the Right Apartment
Roommates – worth it?
Yes, not only are you splitting the rent, but you’re also sharing other costs like utilities/cable/internet and possibly food. Living in a communal household where you can share meals is a huge savings.
I think most bad room mate experiences can be attributed to living with other young people who may not have much experience living in a communal environment or may be away from home for the first time.
I also think most people start living with room mates with the expectation that everyone will behave “reasonably”. You really need to establish what “reasonable” behavior is, set up some ground rules right off the bat and have a plan in place to make changes to those rules and communicate before there are actual “problems”.
Apartment / House / Condo
When looking at Apartments or Condos, I try to look for the smallest number of units possible, ideally, I prefer a 4 unit complex. I find these are cheaper, have less parking issues, less noise issues, less turn-over, less maintenance, etc.
I prefer a condo over an apartment, simply because they usually come with a garage, and a washer/dryer (a must have). Houses require more money to heat/cool (generally) and rental houses are generally not as nice as similarly priced condo/apartment units.
Dealing with landlords
I always look for an out-of-town landlord because when my plumbing breaks I want a plumber to fix it NOW, not when the landlord finds time. Also, many landlords think they know what they’re doing, “fix it” and then have to come back and “fix it again”. Property Management companies are my next choice, but I find they often want to hire the cheapest contractor and so this too will require multiple trips.
Knowing your rights!
Read up on your state’s rental laws, most states favor the renter but many landlords will try to get over on you if given the chance. I usually find that, for example, if the landlord does not return your rental deposit promptly, simply sending him a registered letter with your state’s statutes on the subject and the address you wish for your deposit to be sent to, does the trick every single time.