7 Strategies to Save Money on Rent

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With rents going higher and higher nationwide, these 7 strategies to save money on rent can lessen the financial blow. These days, many people I know are struggling with expenses. Many young people I speak with wonder if they will ever own their own home. In this article, I share a number of strategies that I have used in the past to reduce my rent. You may be able to find yourself opportunities to pay little or no rent and be able to work towards a big goal. Sometimes you have to make radical changes to change your life.

#1 Get a roommate or two

I had always had my own apartment in my adult life. When a difficult time came for me financially, I saw the writing on the wall. I chose to rent part of a home with a good balance. I had the main floor to myself, and two roommates lived downstairs in the basement. We all shared the kitchen and the bathroom upstairs. I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed one of my roommates. This was a good experience for me.

I have a friend who got her own apartment in a nearby small town. She loved her apartment, which was a one bedroom. She hit a difficult time money-wise and decided to get a roommate. She found someone who worked at the same factory she did. This wasn’t simple with a one-bedroom apartment, but she made it work.

#2 Trade your time to save money on rent

There are opportunities everywhere to trade your time to pay or reduce your rent. However, sometimes it takes some initiative and creativity to find what might work for you.

I mentioned that I was renting the main floor of a house above. As time went on, I developed a good relationship with the family that owned the home. Once, the pipes had frozen in the basement and I was able to call a cousin who was a plumber to come and save the day. They were grateful and saw me in a different light after that. One day, I got a phone call. They were quite busy with another project. Would I be interested in collecting the rent from the other two tenants in exchange for a reduction in my rent? That was a great opportunity for me when money was tight!

#3 House and pet sitting can be excellent strategies to save money on rent!

In another case, I answered an ad to rent a room in a house that had a built-in exchange. The owner was an avid traveler and thought it would be best to have a tenant in the house while he was away. As a result, the rent was much lower than the local market rates. I was delighted when he also paid me cash to care for his cat while he was in India. The cat and I ended up bonding tremendously. Overall, this was a great opportunity for me and also helped my traveling landlord. Did I mention that the house was also on a stunning river in kayaking distance of two national parks? Yep! 

#4 Senior care and companionship

Another opportunity to save money on rent is when a senior may need some extra assistance, or just some companionship when they live alone. I once explored this as a possibility when considering a job in another city. A long-time friend of our family had a mother who lived alone in that same city. I could have rented a room downstairs and would have had reduced rent for helping with tasks like shoveling the driveway and taking out the garbage. She was a lovely lady. In the end, I didn’t take the job in the city, but I knew I would have enjoyed her company.

You may be wondering how to locate opportunities like those above

The rentals where I helped my landlords were just found on the usual online sites, like Kijiji or Craigslist. I used word of mouth to find the opportunity with the mother of our family friend. These days, there are specific websites where you can register as a potential caregiver/helper for seniors. I would also say, “Don’t be shy!” If there is a certain location or region where you would like to find an opportunity like this, you could always post a “Looking for…” ad where you state what you are offering and what would be ideal for you. I’m a big believer in sending things out to the universe. You never know what could come your way in the form of some great strategies to save on rent.

Caregiver resources

#5 Seasonal trailer or campground living

Many years ago, I bought a 24-foot trailer with my savings and was able to locate it in a beautiful conservation area on the outskirts of the city I was living in. At that time, the fee for the entire season was around $1,000. I was able to live from May until October in the park and give up my apartment. Many landlords still want to ask for a year-long lease. I had to get creative to find a seasonal/winter place, but I did it for five full years. This literally saved me thousands of dollars.

When my tiny house was being built, I gave notice on my apartment. However, construction on the tiny house was late and I had to leave the apartment! What was I going to do? I ended up living in the campground where I was planning to place my tiny house. Yes, in a tent, for three months! It wasn’t ideal, but I got through it. As it turns out, I was not the only one. There were others with housing struggles living in the campground, which was only a few minutes outside of a city of 120,000. That only cost me around $200 per month. So, I saved money while waiting for my house to arrive.

#6 Tiny house living

Tiny houses are becoming more popular. I used my tiny house as a tool to stop paying rent so I could save to build my permanent cabin. I lived in my tiny house completely off-grid for five years, even without running water! This was not always easy, but it was worth it. 

I have kept the tiny house in three different places: the campground (around $200 per month), our family farm (free), the land I bought to build on (free). Over the past five years, I estimate I saved around $50,000 compared to paying rent on a one-bedroom apartment. Here’s another article about tiny house living for those of you who are also preppers.

#7 Family and friends

In our rural area, many people are struggling with housing, and can only make ends meet by staying with friends and relatives. 

There is no shame in this. People who care about you usually want to help. It may help to keep in mind, in many cultures in the world, people live with their parents their entire life. Moving in with family can help in a crisis when you can no longer afford to pay rent. However, it can also be a proactive way to reduce your expenses to work toward a financial goal. For example, buying a house or saving up cash for an emergency fund.

In other countries, living with family members is absolutely normal and a way to share the burden of caring for a property, taking care of elders, and managing finances. It’s a way to save money on rent that can help you bond more closely with loved ones.

A rent penny saved is a rent penny earned

Like many others, you may be in a situation where you need to pay rent. Could you see yourself trying any of these strategies to save money on rent? Do you have one you can share with us? Please tell us in the comments below.

7 Strategies to Save Money on Rent
Colette

Colette

Colette is passionate about sharing her knowledge of thrifty living and self-sufficiency. She has developed her skills in self-reliance living in the suburbs, the city, and more recently, on her own Half-Acre Homestead. Colette lived five years completely off-grid and without running water in an eight by 24 foot tiny home while designing and building her own 18 by 24-foot eco-cabin. She has just launched her website, Half Acre Homestead. (www.halfacrehomestead.ca) Colette invites you to stop by and visit this work in progress! Coming soon in February 2022 is her exciting new online program. Interested in Resiliency, Preventative Health, and Self-Sufficient/Off-Grid Housing (to name a few!)? Stay tuned for more details!

15 thoughts on “7 Strategies to Save Money on Rent”

  1. Awesome and timely article! I have another idea that probably isn’t right for most people but I believe I can make it work if covid ever fades into the background. Hostels in foreign countries. 30 nights in Taipei ranges from $250-$700 for a bunk for the entire month. In Tokyo, I found a beautiful property for $600 per month. I will have to switch hostels every 30 days. And switch countries every 90 days. Airfare between nearby countries is cheap. As more and more people have remote jobs, living overseas in hostels has become feasible.

    1. Hi Karen, Yes, I did travel like this for many years. Five months camping in a tent in New Zealand, for example, was a highlight. I lived in India, renting a room from local families for months at a time. This helped me learn one local language and really experience the culture. I loved it! So glad I did this, as it shaped my world view in wonderful ways.

  2. Buy a home. Your “rent” won’t go up. AND it is yours. Feel free to rent out a room.

    The chick we bought our house from rented out one of the bedrooms to a friend from work. No idea what the rent was.

    We considered renting out a room, but then we started having babies.

    1. Buying a home is no easy feat these days. The 1950s, 1960s, 1970s are long gone and will never return. We all saw the results of the “keep your money in the stock market, take out a 100% mortgage” – the great recession.
      Sure, there are affordable (read: cheap) houses out there – in areas with few jobs and even fewer that pay a living wage.
      So time to think out of the box and Colette has provided some good advice. I would suggest any rental agreement be in writing. AND to know state/local laws re: eviction process for non-payment of rent.

      1. Thanks for your comment, Selena. My heart goes out to the young people I am talking to these days. There is a great deal of hopelessness about the possibility of home ownership in their futures. I write a lot about tiny homes as a tool to unplug from the system and get into the housing market. I think we need to think outside of the box to make it happen these days. Grateful for your thoughts on this.

    2. Hi Bill, Yes, I agree that buying a home is a good option for many reasons. With prices the way they are, I am hoping that this article might provide a bridge of savings to help get some people there. Thanks for your comment!

      1. Buying a home depends where you live. I live in Houston, Texas, which has reasonably priced real estate. I made my comment based on my situation.

        Also, I’ve owned a home (a condo then a house) since the 1990s, and I just couldn’t see going back.

        1. Hi Bill, You are fortunate if Houston has reasonably priced real estate. In the province of Ontario, Canada, where I live, house prices are skyrocketing out of reach for many people, especially in the rural areas, since the outflux of people from the cities due to COVID. I can imagine many reasons why you wouldn’t want to go back to renting, and that is fortunate that you have the capital invested for all those years.

    3. It’s hard to buy a home when you’re self-employed, that’s for sure. And if you’ve run into financial problems like many of us have over the past couple of years, it’s even more difficult. Coming up with a 20% downpayment is not easy.

      While homeownership is great for many, the rest of us must rent.

      I look at my daughters, who both have an education (one with a degree and one with a vocational license), and I wonder how they’ll ever be able to buy in the world we live in.

      1. Major reason our children were able to purchase homes was no college debt (none for us either). Married child’s spouse paid off his college debt a few years before they were married.
        Kids were able to save once they started working summers in high school. Both quickly realized what no college debt meant for their future and how a college degree benefited them. Yes, a piece of paper shouldn’t make a difference but it does.
        Frugal vacations, frugal living/living below our means/teaching life skills gave our kids a leg up in life. Money not spent on a week at Disney paid for a semester of college. No working during the school year – concentrating on studies = scholarships/grants.
        Not all parents can do this but a lot of parents could but didn’t/wouldn’t.

        1. Hi Selena, Your children are fortunate to be in the housing market now. Your story of living below your means clearly provided them with a powerful role model. I am concerned for the young people coming up now. I give guest lectures at universities on related topics: there is so much hopelessness about the dream of home ownership and the life that has been available to even the most recent generation. I do agree that having debt from a college/university education would only make achieving this all the more difficult.

  3. One thing not mentioned is renting or renting to own with an agreement to work on upgrading the property. You’d want to make sure everything is strictly written out and agreed to of course. The other thing is to be a good renter. Rents in our area have gone double what we pay, while our rent has only gone up slightly in the 15 years we have been here. Yeah, I hear you saying we could have bought a house in that time. But if something major happens (like the water heater that’s been replaced twice, the roof that needed replaced, the sewer pipe that had to be replaced twice cuz the first company did a hack job), I didn’t have to pay for it. I have owned my own home. I bought within my means. I lost it due to poor choice in a husband (story for another day). Our landlord loves us because we care for the property as if it were our own. We have replaced failing appliances on our own. We only call him for the big things. We pay our rent on time, and if we have any issues with that, he is willing to work with us. We live paycheck to paycheck, and with DH ill now, I am grateful that our landlord has trusted us to care for our home and will work with us. He has told us several times that he plans to sell this place when we move (well, he can probably get triple or more what he originally paid for it, now).

    1. Hi Grammyprepper, Thanks for raising another great option. In our area, you can often get free rent for agreeing to be handyperson for the building you live in. Your story has a wealth of experience in terms of how to create an ideal rental situation. If you are still paying close to what you were paying 15 years ago, you are saving BIG. Good for you! Home ownership may not be for everyone, as you have to be ready for the big ticket expenses, like a new roof. In a relatively short comment, you have covered a LOT of ground. Thank you for sharing your valuable renting experience with all our readers, Grammyprepper!

  4. I got a cheap apt for my medical school son by telling the landlord that he should check with my sons school as he was a top student and offered to pay 6 months upfront rent right there. I said do you really want wild college kids when you could have hardworking farmboy quiet med school. We got the apt even though he told us not to come because he had people lined up for it! He never raised my sons rent even when he raised the rent. My son made friends with him. JR My younger son and his wife shared their home with his cousin for 500.00 a month so they could save for their home and he could pay off college loans win win. I lived in 1 room apt with 3 in the same 1 bedroom apt to pay my way through nursing school worked as a waitress where we were allowed to eat for free, Bingo no food and 1/3 the rent! That time I told the land lord she should choose us because we were from a small rural town, had jobs were responsible and would have no parties! JR

    1. Hi JoAnne, I hope everyone reads your post three times so that they can take in all of the great ideas contained in it. I tip my Frugalite hat to you. I was so inspired to hear about you worked you way through nursing school Good for you!

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