You must move apartments? My sincerest condolences. This is a very challenging task, but there are ample ways to ease the pain.
My last article focused on Craiglist best practices to find the best apartment your budget will allow. However, finding the apartment is only half the battle. Next comes the sweat-filled nightmare of moving all your (so cussing heavy) things.
You’re ready to sign the contract for your dream place? Before signing, consider if you should first negotiate. If you’ve been hunting for a while, you likely know reasonable rental rates for the area. If your dream unit seems overpriced and you think the landlord wants you as a tenant, you can provide comparable examples of cheaper units. The landlord may negotiate if they feel their unit has been vacant for too long. However, only do this if you’re truly prepared to walk away. My friends who have successfully negotiated rent recall that it was only after the apartment sat vacant for a few more weeks that the landlord called back agreeing to lower rent.
If your dream unit was already extremely underpriced, it’s probably unrealistic to further drive down rent. Tenant competition was likely very steep and you should be grateful you were selected. However, there are still other potential negotiations points:
Move-in Date – Timing your move to avoid paying double-rent on your old and new place is often tricky. Try negotiating back your move-in date to prevent paying double-rent.
Future rent increases – Before signing, you may draft terms to protect yourself from future major rent increases.
Pets – Pet deposits are common, but with negotiation the landlord may lower those fees or grant you a pet that wasn’t initially permitted on the lease.
Parking – If parking is limited, try negotiating for your ideal parking spot(s) to be included.
Moving Day Tips
If you’re moving soon, but not immediately, invest now in getting rid of unnecessary junk. By happenstance, I actually Konmari-ed my home a few months before discovering I had to move. Since I was confident that everything I owned “sparked joy,” packing became a no-brainer, because I wasn’t simultaneously packing and donating unwanted goods.
Since I’m pretty thrifty, I didn’t hire movers or a truck. I borrowed a friend’s van and wrangled my loved ones into helping me carry my heaviest items. However, if you prefer hiring movers, Taskrabbit.com may offer cheaper options.
I “hit my wall” in moving when it came time to deep-clean my old place. Deep-cleaning years of my own filth was highly unglamorous and seemed to take twice as long as I expected. Want to save money? Clean it yourself, but budget ample time. Limited on time? Spending $150 on a cleaning service may be a brilliant investment.
Getting Back Your Deposit
Deposit refunds are unfortunately subjective. It’s reasonable that property wear-and-tear would happen during your occupancy, but how much (if anything) do you owe for that damage? As a general rule, the more respectful and thorough you are during the move-out process, the better your chances to get back your full deposit.
Also, since a prospective landlord will often do background checks on you a few landlords back, your current landlord may serve as your reference for years down the road. Treat them with basic kindness and respect. It’s a worthwhile investment into your future.
… your current landlord may serve as your reference for years down the road. Treat them with basic kindness and respect.
Furnishing on a Budget
If you’re looking for used Craiglist furniture, first search for your ideal pieces from a popular store like Ikea; there will be many sellers posting those used pieces online. Use the RSS Feed Searches and Feed Reader I recommended for finding your apartment to also set used furniture alerts for that Grönadal or Sinnerlig you just have to have. Using this method, I found my gently used Friheten (aka. sleeper-sofa) for half the price.
My new place also needed a refrigerator. I posted on Facebook that I was looking for a used one. Almost immediately, four people gave me leads, two of whom simply wanted to give me theirs for free.
Want a patio reading nook, but you’re horrified by outdoor furniture prices? I salvaged free wood pallets from my local Industrial District and then dressed them up with cozy cushions.
Like a fabric wall hanging, but can’t believe the price? I bought an adorable geometric bathroom rug and hung it proudly on my wall for only $35.
Be sure to submit a USPS change of address. They’ll mail you an insane packet of home-goods coupons.
Buying new furnishings may seem faster, but getting creative and thrifty can save a fortune and ensure you the most unique decor on the block.
How Did I Do?
My recent LA move was far from easy. However, I’m honestly proud of how I made out. My rent is about 65% the average rate for a comparable unit in my neighborhood. I negotiated a delayed move-in, paying only eight days of double-rent. I completed the search, negotiation, move, and decoration of the new apartment within one month. And I earned back my full deposit. Everything happened quickly and was difficult, but was also approached very strategically. So today, I write this article from my beloved new cottage and it feels like home.
Do you have any tips to make moving easier? Share them in the comments!
Images via Sé Kipp