Come end of January, many tenants are faced with a possible 10% crippling rent increase. Rent can be a real killer, but you need a roof over your head.
People pay lots of money for space, for tranquility, for their own place, for being near work, having off-street parking, access to garden space, or living in trendy areas.
But there are a few ways in which you can reduce your rental costs.
Living with your family
It might not be the heady freedom you had in mind when you started working, but even if you contribute to household costs at home (and you certainly should), your parents or relatives are less likely than a greedy landlord to charge you market-related rental.
You probably couldn’t throw a spur-of-the-moment party, or ask a partner to stay for the night, but you get what you pay for. Many thousands of young working South Africans still stay at home.
Avoid the trendy areas
Wherever there is high demand, because of the proximity of bars, restaurants and trendy spots, the rentals tend to spiral. You pay lots of money for being where the action is. You’ll get so more for your money in the suburbs. And when you want to go out at night, you can always take an Uber.
Make peace with commuting
If you want to live close to work, it’s going to cost you. Move a little bit further out and investigate lift clubs/the bus/public transport. Petrol is expensive, though, so just check that you are not spending all the money you’re saving on lower rent on higher fuel costs. Do your sums.
Try and negotiate your working hours, or even see if you can possibly work from home some of the time.
Living on your own is expensive
One-bed flats in large blocks (and even bachelor flats) can be very expensive. And if you are on your own, you are carrying all the costs yourself. If your privacy is a priority to you, then that is your choice to spend the extra cash.
But if you don’t mind sharing (the more the merrier), it really does slash the costs.
Stay away from high-density student areas
Around universities and colleges, rental demand is high, and therefore so are rentals. You are often not competing with other working people, but with the parents of students, who are footing the bill.
Pay your rent regularly
If you never default on a rent payment, it is easier to negotiate the annual increase with the landlord. If you have been a good tenant, chances are they will be keen to keep you, so there is no harm in trying.
Do house sitting
If you can get a long-term house-sitting arrangement, you have hit the jackpot. It will entail certain duties in and around the house, for which you may even be paid a small sum. If you’re lucky, you will be living essentially rent-free.
Move out in December
If your landlord wants to do holiday letting, and you offer to disappear every December, you could negotiate a much lower rental. Stay with family or friends – you don’t want to pay a high rental elsewhere over December. That would be pointless.
Go for garden flats/granny flats
These are cheaper than normal flats are. Some of these have separate entrances, so you will have little to do with those who live in the main house.
But you could get more space for less money, especially if you go to the suburbs. Sometimes people are also prepared to give rental discounts if you are prepared to take on some extra responsibilities, such as occasional pet-sitting or baby-sitting, pool-cleaning or gardening.
Do the Grand Tour of your friends
OK, this is just if you are really desperate, horribly short of cash and prepared to run the risk of losing one or two of them.
Check which of your friends have extra space, and see if you can spend up to a week with each of them.
Most people will agree if they know it is for a short time only. You will have to contribute something, otherwise they will think you are a sponge. This can be done for a month or two if you are between flats – this is so not a long-term possibility. But you could save money that way.