One of my very first blog posts was about how to save 70% on rent.
My rent is $350/month. I live in a beautiful, fully furnished studio apartment with utilities and internet bundled into that total. I’ve got a big backyard and the best neighbours ever. Even around here, a one bedroom apartment will run around $600, maybe without utilities, and it won’t be a palace like the place I’ve got. So what’s my secret to paying such low rent, for such a great place?
I only get to live there 8 months of the year.
You see, the flat is actually owned by some relatives of ours who live in Toronto most of the time. From September 1st to November 30th they are away, as well as from January 1st to May 30th (give or take a week or two here or there). During the summer months and for the month of December, they come back to my small town to visit, and they live in the studio. My fiancée and I live there while they’re away, and we clear out while they’re home. We get cheap rent, they get to cover their costs of maintaining two separate residences, everyone wins. Almost.
The only problem is what to do while they’re home for the holidays. The one month over Christmas is pretty easy, we bounce around to a few relatives’ houses, try not to overstay our welcome, and our kitty stays behind in the flat (because she’s so awesome, who wouldn’t want her?). The three months in summer, however is a bit tricky. This summer we’ve been lucky enough to secure residence for a comparable price in a small one bedroom right down the road. It was a lucky snag, and hopefully we’ll have the same opportunity next summer. The kitty will be coming with us, and I’ll be happy to have a bedroom door again.
It’s not the perfect living arrangement. Yes, the apartment is beautiful and the price is amazing. But there is a small part of me that doesn’t like moving around so much. On the other hand, there’s a part of me that loves the living arrangement because it brings out the minimalist in me (I can fit everything my fiancée and I need into our car).
In my ideal life, I’d be sitting pretty in a lovely apartment or small house, freshly furnished, and with enough of a backyard for a dog. But, as I’ve established, this isn’t my ideal life. In my alternate life, spliting my time between two apartments is a necessary step that we’re taking to cut costs and take advantage of an opportunity that we wouldn’t have if we were a bit older and not so mobile (aka: had a kid). Sure it’s not a perfect arrangement, but our flexibility allows us to seize these opportunities when they arise, and benefit from them.
What You Can Learn From Me
Not everyone is going to be in my situation, but almost everyone has lived in a city where sublets are aplenty (especially if you live in a university city). Taking advantage of a low priced sublet for a few months could save you significant costs, if you’re all right with living a flexible and mobile lifestyle. I had a friend in university who I’m pretty sure lived entirely off sublets for the last two years of school – and I bet he saved a fortune on not just rent but also furniture.
Beyond sublets, there’s always long term house sitting as an option. I know it’s not for Ninja, but others might find a situation like that perfect.
So that’s it. You want to save on rent? Think long term house sitting, think sublets, think outside the box and the savings will come.
What have you done to cut costs on rent? Do you have any horror or success stories? I want to know!