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The cost of living is high for everyone right now, but it’s especially so for those living alone. Rent.com reports that the cost of a one-bedroom apartment is up right now in 97.8 percent of states nationwide. The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in 2021, was just shy of $1,700. That’s up 22.1 percent from 2020. Some cities have seen an increase of over 40 percent. In Gilbert, Arizona the cost of rent is up 117 percent. Housing is one unavoidable cost and the housing market is certainly capitalizing on that fact right now. Paying for a one-bedroom apartment in big cities like LA is practically only attainable for the wealthy at this point. The average cost of a one-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles is currently at $2,225, says Zumper.com.
So, we get it: living alone is expensive. But, it also comes with a lot of perks, like never dealing with roommate drama again or someone else’s dirty dishes or someone else’s music waking you up. Living alone, for some, is worth the cost. That doesn’t mean the finances of it aren’t real, though. They’re very real. If you’re going to live alone and aren’t exactly rolling in it, you need to come up with a financial plan to save money. We’ve got some tips.
Find A Place That Includes Utilities
Utilities can be a major expense that take you by surprise. The rent might look reasonable at one place, but by the time those utility bills between water, power and Internet come in, several hundred dollars have been tacked onto your cost of living. Some buildings bake the utilities into the cost. Because the entire building falls under one account, the landlord can get each tenant a better price-per-utility than if they’d covered those individually. This is especially true for buildings that provide Internet. If you know your life calls for a lot of Wi-Fi, water and power usage, look for a building that includes utilities in the rent.
Share A Shopping Membership
Costco memberships traditionally work best when split amongst several people. When you have one all to yourself, you might struggle to make the most of it. One person alone cannot go through seven pounds of chicken. No matter how good the deal is, it’s not a good deal if you throw half the food out before it expires. If you live alone, see if a neighbor would want to split a Costco membership. You can make a trip to the store together once or twice a month, pick up bulk items you both need and split them up. You also get to split the price of the membership, which saves you additional money off the top.
Rent Or Reject Your Parking Space
If your apartment comes with a parking space, you’re paying for that. But are you using it? Do you have to? If you don’t even have a car, then accepting the parking space is just a waste of money. Sometimes landlords are happy to take back that spot and reduce your rent, because they can rent that spot to somebody else. If they won’t make this deal with you, consider renting your spot out yourself. You probably have a neighbor on the block who doesn’t have a parking spot and needs one. People will pay good money for a reliable parking spot within walking distance from their home.
Ditch The Living Room
If you’re going to live alone, consider getting a studio. You pay a premium for a full one-bedroom. Unless you host large parties often, you don’t really need that full living area. Lean into the minimalism of living alone. Studio apartments can save you hundreds of dollars on rent each month compared to a full one-bedroom. If you are worried about having space to hang out with friends, you can find a studio in a building with lots of community space like rec rooms, a swimming pool or community patios.
Find Items For Free
When it comes to furnishing and decorating, find items for free. People put up items for free on Facebook, Craigslist and Nextdoor every day. They don’t have the time to try to sell things. They just need them out of their space so they can make room for new items, or don’t have to pay to move as many old items when relocating. If you have patience, you can check the “Free” category on Facebook market and similar platforms daily until the thing you want pops up.
Sign A Longer Lease
This option might not be for everyone, but if you know you’ll be sticking around in one town for a while and you love the building, sign a long lease. Landlords are often willing to bring down the rent in exchange for a guaranteed long-term tenancy. This protects you from rent increases as well. Remember that if the landlord breaks any of the conditions of the contract (like failing to keep up with maintenance or keep a quiet building as promised) you can get out of the lease.
Barter With Your Landlord
Some tenants barter with their landlords. Maybe you have a service you can offer to your landlord, in exchange for a rent reduction. If you’re a CPA, you could do their taxes. If you have a landscaping company, you could take care of the building grounds at a reduced rate. If you’re a babysitter, you could babysit the landlord’s child. Get to know your landlord and determine if there is something you could offer that they’d find of value – like a couple hundred bucks off the rent value.
Watch That Electricity Bill
If utilities are not included in your rent, you can at least monitor your usage closely. You don’t need to argue with a roommate about turning off the lights or running the heater. Be stingy with the power. Get a space heater that you run only in the room you’re occupying instead of touching the thermostat. Or, don’t touch the heater at all and layer up. Only turn on the lights in the room you’re occupying. Keep showers short. Unplug devices that aren’t in use. Take advantage of the fact that nobody influences your power bill but you, because you live alone.
Get To Know Your Neighbors
It can be useful to know your neighbors for many reasons. If you’re a woman living alone, getting to know your neighbors can increase your safety since you’ll have people looking out for you. Knowing your neighbors also means you can borrow rather than rent or buy certain things. This can mean borrowing anything from a barbecue to a car. You might also find that some neighbors will pay you to run errands like them like picking up groceries or walking their dog.