With the economy in its current state, even before another energy crisis and a few crushing global events, it’s almost laughable the idea of buying a house. Those of us unlucky enough to not have a deposit handy will have to rent until we can save up – also easier said than done.
This means being very tight with your money, so if you’re looking for somewhere to rent, you’ll want it in good nick, for a reasonable price, and to not spend too much money down the line.
Well, you’re in luck. If you’re looking for tips to keep things as cheap as possible, take a look at our guide to renting for the frugal at heart.
The thing on your side with rented property is that there’s actually very little you can do to make the home yours. Chances are, unless you have a very understanding landlord, that you are not allowed to paint the walls, change the floors, hang anything that will leave the walls looking like a polka dot feature, or basically any other means of decorating that isn’t reversible when your time in the property is up. At least this means you won’t be spending a lot of money on extensive renovations.
There are cheaper and more temporary ways of making your mark, however. For one thing, see all that furniture you bought? That’s yours to upgrade as you wish. There are loads of upcycled furniture styles on the internet, where a simple lick of paint or varnish can make all the difference.
As for floors and walls, there are a lot of renter-friendly alternatives reaching the market. You can buy renters wallpaper that will peel and stick to the walls and will seamlessly peel off again at the end of your term, making for a great accent wall, for example. And floors can be just as simple, with vinyl peel and stick tiles duplicating everything from sink backsplashes to wooden floorboards and bathroom floor tiles.
Checking the state of the property
Inspections are more a part of establishing a home fit for anyone, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take a look around to make sure the state of the property is up to scratch of your own accord. Landlords can get sneaky with their photos, omitting damp patches and cracks in the walls, using a renter’s need to get in quickly to pull the wool over their eyes.
So, take a checklist and request a chance to see the property for yourself – and take photos while you’re there. If there is a blemish on the foundations already, take a photo to ensure the landlord doesn’t stick you with the bill when you are moving out.
Look out for signs of dampness, structural issues, try out all the sockets and taps, turn everything on and off to make sure it’s working, etc. Water damage down the line and damage to your personal belongings should be covered by your renters insurance, but it’s better to not have to deal with it at all.
If this is your first home after flying the nest or leaving college, you might need a lot of furniture quickly. The mattress in the corner can only last so long before people start to laugh when they enter.
If this is a consideration, meaning you haven’t opted for a furnished property, you might want to add another item to the checklist while you’re looking: storage. If the property has a built-in wardrobe, that’s one less item to buy.
As for the rest of the property, this is where you can pull in some favors. Family members aren’t likely to have a spare bed, but it’s guaranteed they’ve got something in their garage they’ve been trying to get rid of. Popular items are sideboards and chest drawers. Take any and all offerings that help you.
For anything else, it’s time to get thrifty. There are loads of items available at furniture thrift stores. Beds, sofas, dining sets, etc. If you have icky feelings about using someone’s old furniture, opt for non-absorbent materials like leather for sofas, and you’ll have to spring for a mattress, but the bed frame will be fine. Just check that everything is sturdy.
You can also shop around for other things in the charity stores. They get handed everything from curtains to crockery, rugs to furniture. Load up on mismatching plates and glasses for pennies and enjoy the twee nature of everything coming back into style.
Of course, there are other ways you can store your clothes. The cupboard storage always fills up with things you use once and never again. Convert that into your wardrobe and get a handheld hoover and store your tools in boxes elsewhere.
You can also store away your seasonal clothes in storage boxes too. Vacuum pack them so that they take up less space and put away that giant coat during the summer. Even better, put them in storage for the summer months. The smallest unit, about the size of a spare room, can cost around $10 a month.
If you’re renting, it’s likely you don’t have the biggest of spaces, where it can very quickly look cluttered, so you’ll have to learn a few tips to trick yourself into having more space than you do. While looking for furniture, for example, try to avoid displays or glass windows. Keep everything in your storage furniture behind doors so that it is out of sight and out of mind. Perhaps a total shambles behind the doors, but who’s to know?
Allow in as much natural light as possible. There is a reason that just about every rented property is painted stark white. Well, two. Not only is it a one-size-fits-all approach to décor, but it also makes spaces look a lot brighter, mostly when coupled with natural light.
If you’re somewhere that’s cold in the winter, it might be tempting to buy heavy curtains and keep them closed all year round, but that will feel very small. Buy your heavy curtains, but keep a lookout for mesh curtains too, that will go some way to keeping the cold from windows reaching you but allow the sun in too.