The cost of living in the Chicago area keeps going up, and Chicago apartments aren’t getting any cheaper. But affordable living in Chicago is possible if you do your homework and stay aware to the ways you can save money on Chicago apartments.
1. Comparison Shop
When you comparison shop, you get the best deal possible. Retail stores and gas stations often brag that they will match prices or specials of their competitors, and while it is less likely for Chicago apartments to advertise this, it doesn’t mean they
won’t do it. Even if you know you don’t want to live in a building 10 blocks down the road, it doesn’t mean you can’t use their “Free First Month’s Rent” to your advantage.
2. Determine the True Value of Amenities
It is not unusual for Chicago apartments to try and entice potential renters with photos and videos outlining all the little extras they have to offer. Maybe there’s a pool, a workout facility, or dry cleaning services. Some Chicago apartments include all utilities; others require that you pay your own heat, water bills or electricity, which can lead some renters to be surprised by their monthly rental costs.
Making a spreadsheet of the different amenities Chicago apartments have to offer, along with your likelihood of using them, can help you determine what will best suit your lifestyle. Double check what hours these services are available, and determine if they will eliminate other costs you are currently facing. This way you can determine what amenities are important, and what you might forgo in exchange for lower rent.
3. Stick to the Middle
A standard three story apartment building, many people rush for dibs on the top floor thinking it may lower utility cost. But when it comes to things like heat, stick to the middle – after all heat rises. This is not necessarily the case in every situation. Insulation will be better on the second floor, and you will also have a lower risk of robbery than a first floor tenant. Many times 3rd floor apartments have vaulted ceilings, which means more square footage added to your heating bill.
4. Choose Your Location Wisely
While the price tags of downtown Chicago apartments may be higher than comparable Chicago apartments on the outskirts, a little convenience can go a long way. Living within walking distance of the grocery store, your work, or any other place you go on a regular basis can save you considerably in gas costs, not to mention you’ll be doing the environment a favor as well. One of the perks of living in a large city, such as Chicago, is that it is relatively easy to get by without a car at all — which could save you hundreds of dollars every month.
Of course, some neighborhoods are better than others, so you’ll want to look into crime rates no matter what apartment you choose and investigate what security is offered. You can also talk to small business owners and get a feel for what to expect in any given neighborhood.
5. Make the Right Connections
Like many things in life, sometimes saving money is about what you know, but surrounding yourself with the right people; it is about who you know. That’s why getting to know people like the city inspector or fire marshal could be a first step. If your apartment manager knows the authorities will listen to you when you speak up about a repair that needs attention they will often get it fixed faster. It always helps to be on your landlord’s good side. Making a positive first impression can help you get ahead. Walking off Michigan Avenue with Gucci and Coach bags and being snooty to your fellow apartment residents is probably not the route you want to go after first moving in.
6. Investigate Utility Costs
Once you determine what utility bills are going to fall in your lap do some calling around to determine prices per Kilowatt Hour. Sometimes larger buildings and complexes will get a bulk rate on some of these costs. If you know people in the
building or complex you can also ask what a typical utility bill will cost. Don’t forget to factor these expenses into your budget.
7. Schedule a Move Out Check
Apartment living has its share of quirks that will likely make the experience of living in Chicago apartments at least a bit tiresome after you have been there a while. By the time renters are ready to move out, many are anxious to get the process over with as quickly as possible and forgo having a move out check with their apartment manager. This is a mistake.
By doing a walkthrough with your apartment manager you will be able to discuss any potential charges on the spot, and even get the manager to sign off on exactly how much of your deposit will be returned to you, leaving you better prepared as you move on to your next home.
This post was provided by guest post and freelance writer Martha Keagan who is a huge fan of the windy city. Keagan’s best girlfriend used to have an amazing view of down town Chicago from her apartment. Rather than buying a house in this real estate market, she has moved into new Chicago apartments on the north side of the city.