Living Off-Campus: How to Negotiate a Lower Rent

Posted on 08/20/2013

Saying so long to tiny refrigerators and rickety lofts? There is definitely an allure to living off-campus, but making the switch for the first time can be daunting. According to The College Board room and board at a public four-year school costs about $9,205. Add another thousand for a private college. Students can definitely find cheaper alternatives off school property, but getting the best deal may require some negotiations.

Look for Privately Owned Properties
If you're working directly with an owner rather than a property manager you may have more luck negotiating a better deal. The owner has more flexibility to adjust your rent than a property manager at a huge apartment complex.

Offer to Help
Are there certain responsibilities you can take off the property owner's plate? Perhaps you can negotiate a better rate by mowing the lawn or cleaning common areas. By saving the landlord some expenses you can save on rent.

Ask for Extras
Sometimes utilities are included in rent prices and sometimes they're not. While the landlord may not be able to lower your rent perhaps you can get utilities, cable TV or Internet access added in with no extra charge. This will give you more bang for your buck and help you cut monthly expenses.

Do Your Research
Most college students moving off-campus have never rented an apartment or house before. That's why it's important to do your research to know if you're getting a good deal or not. Many schools help students by doing the research for you. Colleges like the University of Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania list average rental rates depending on size and location.

Sign a Longer Lease
College students tend to move regularly. Landlords love stability so offering to sign a longer lease could help you score a lower rent payment. Just make sure you are ready to plant some roots because getting out of a lease early can be a costly move.

By Alison Storm

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