When your job lets you work from anywhere, you have the unique luxury to choose where you want to live. Whether you want to stay in your hometown or move abroad, you’re free to settle wherever (WiFi and visas allowing).
At the same time, you don’t want to bust your budget on an apartment you can’t afford. Before moving, make the most of these seven creative ways to save money on rent and safeguard your finances.
1. Move to a cheaper city
Changing cities could be one of the best decisions you make for your finances. By moving somewhere with a lower cost of living, you could drastically cut your expenses while still maintaining the same quality of life.
Consider the difference between rent in San Francisco and Austin, for example. The median one-bedroom in SF goes for $2,478 per month, according to ApartmentList. But in Austin, that price is just $1,158, over $1,300 less. And although Austin might not have Silicon Valley, it’s still an awesome city with incredible food, killer music, green spaces, and a growing tech scene.
If you’re a digital nomad looking to go farther afield, you could lower your cost of living even more by moving to an inexpensive city in Southeast Asia or South America. Chiang Mai and Medellin, for instance, are popular destinations for digital nomads, and apartments in their city centers only cost a median of $350 or $308 per month, respectively, according to Numbeo.
With those low prices, you could work fewer hours while still having money left over to pay off student loans or meet your savings goals.
2. Sign up for house-sitting
A few months ago, I interviewed a couple who found a unique way to stop paying rent entirely: They did house-sitting full time around the country. They would stay for several months in one home, looking after the owner’s home, plants, and occasionally a pet or two.
When one house sitting gig was up, they’d move on to the next. At the same time, they worked online growing their financial services business. Altogether, they estimated they saved $24,000 per year on rent — and they got to explore new cities and towns across the country.
If you choose to housesit, you don’t have to stay in the U.S., either. You could set up international house-sitting gigs all over the world.
House-sitting websites like TrustedHousesitters and House Sitters America connect house sitters with homeowners looking to go away for anywhere from a week to a few months. To book house-sitting gigs, make sure to set up a solid profile, as well as gather good reviews and references as you go.
If your goal is to travel and save money on rent (and you don’t mind watering plants or taking care of a furry friend once in a while), house-sitting could be a great way to explore the world without paying a cent on accommodation.
3. Move away from the city center or subway stop
The closer you get to the city center, the greater the price of rent will be. The same rule often applies when you get close to subway stops.
But if you can be flexible with your location, you could find lower prices on rent. Instead of living right in the middle of a city, find out if there are cool neighborhoods just outside it.
And if you can find a nearby bus route or take up biking, you could move a mile or two away from a subway stop to reduce costs. Real estate is all about “location, location, location,” so if you can be flexible, you can save a lot on rent.
4. Negotiate with your landlord for a lower price
If you’d rather have your own space, you might be able to negotiate with your landlord for a lower price. Although this won’t always be successful, it’s worth a shot.
For instance, your landlord might knock some money off the price in exchange for service, such as shoveling your own snow out of the driveway or doing certain repairs around the apartment.
If there are any services included in the rent that you could take on yourself, you might be able to use this as leverage to negotiate for reduced rent.
5. Give up your parking space
Along similar lines, if your rent includes a parking space or two, you might give it up for a reduced price on rent. If you have a car, you could instead get a city permit and park on the street.
Or if your landlord isn’t into the idea, you could use a site like Spot or even Craigslist to rent out your parking space on a weekly or monthly basis.
If you live in a popular area, renting out your parking space could be a fairly lucrative way to bring in some passive income.
6. Rent out a room on Airbnb
In addition to renting out your parking space, you could also supplement your budget by renting out a room on Airbnb. Or you could rent out your whole place when you go away for a week or longer periods of time.
Of course, you might want to make sure your landlord is cool with you allowing Airbnb guests to stay in your apartment. You wouldn’t want to get kicked out and have to start the apartment-hunting process all over again.
7. Start living that #vanlife
If you’re a digital nomad, you’re drawn to an unconventional nomadic life. If you really want to stay mobile, consider joining the #vanlife movement.
Get yourself a cargo van or camper (or anything Volkswagen), and fire up your WiFi hotspot. Then hit the road, exploring the long highways of America while building your empire (or working a full-time remote job).
Apart from car payments and fuel, you won’t have to pay anything else on rent.
Use location independence to your financial advantage
Not only does working remotely give you the freedom to explore the world, but it could also transform your budget.
Whether you move to a cheaper city or start house-sitting full-time, you can save money on rent while living your best location-independent life.
Then, you can put that money straight into your travel fund and get ready to visit the next destination on your bucket list.