Moving on a budget? Consider staying where you are

by Karen on March 10, 2009

moving-boxes
photo by mtmiller

I think I hate moving more than anything else. It’s expensive, stressful, and exhausting. But since we’re renters, we’re always tempted to look for something better when it’s time to renew our lease.

We don’t love our apartment. It’s comfortable, but the building is old. It costs a fortune to heat and cool because our entire living room wall is a sliding glass door. We’re constantly calling maintenance to patch leaks and fix problems. We also kind of hate the neighborhood.

Last year when it was time to renew our lease, we strongly considered moving. We did a lot of research to find out how much other apartments in our area cost, and what kind of deal we could get. In the end, we decided to stay put. Why? Well, there are a number of reasons:

  • Even though we don’t love this neighborhood, it’s less than a mile from where Tony teaches and attends classes. He’s able to easily take a bus to campus, so we only need one car.
  • The building is old, but rent is cheap. Our two-bedroom apartment costs the same as smaller one-bedrooms in newer, fancier buildings. We like having the extra bedroom for guests.
  • We’d lose $300 in non-refundable security and pet deposits if we moved, and then we’d have to come up with the money for additional security and pet deposits for the new place.
  • We’re probably going to be making another big move in less than 18 months, so we decided we’re better off saving our money for that move and dealing with the problems here. After all, no apartment is perfect. If we weren’t dealing with these problems, it would be something else in our new place.
  • I hate moving. I moved seven times in four years during and after college, including an 800-mile move. I’d really like to stay put as long as possible now.

Since we knew we wanted to stay here for another year, we decided to ask our landlord what kind of deal they could give us for signing early.

Of course, we didn’t tell them we’d made up our minds. We just told them we were starting to look at other options (even though our renewal isn’t up for another two months), and asked what they could offer us. I’m so glad we did.

Not only did they offer us another year with no rent increase (it usually goes up about $15 a month), but they knocked $300 off the rent for the first month of the new lease. We were expecting our rent to go up $35-$45 this year, because last year we negotiated with them to get washer/dryer hookups installed in our apartment. Our rent should have gone up another $30 then, but they cut us a deal. If we had waited to renew, they probably would have added that $30/month to our rent plus the normal increase of $5-$15.

Honestly, if you’re renting and considering moving, take a serious look at why you want to move. If you just have normal gripes about apartment life, I encourage you to consider staying put for as long as possible. Not only will you save the money it costs to move, but you might be able to negotiate a great deal with your landlord.

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