How to Save Money on Rent When You’re Self-Employed

In order to keep this site going (at no cost to you!) this guide may contain affiliate links. All of the products mentioned have been used and personally tested by me!

save money on rent

One of the items on my financial Leap List this year, is to become debt free, so I can move to a new location. In the long term I’d love to move to a different city, but I enjoy my Texas roots so much I don’t have plans to move too far away.

So right now, I’m looking around for a bigger apartment, with a space for an office and a bigger kitchen.

My current lease expires at the end of September, so I’ll need time to plan ahead, do some research and save up some extra cash for moving. While moving is an added expense, I can use the opportunity of signing/renewing my lease to my advantage.

Here’s how I negotiate for lower rent and live large on your self-employed budget.

Take advantage of the “best time”

The optimal time to negotiate for lower rent, is when you’re signing a new lease, or renewing your current one.

You can prove your good financial history of paying rent on time, and use that as a bargaining chip. This is also the best time to request they sweeten the deal (more on that below).

Sacrifice living space

For almost 3 years, I’ve lived in a small 640 square foot apartment in a not-so great apartment complex. All I was interested in, was the location near my job and cheap rent so I could pay off debt. My total monthly rent is 19% of my income which is way below the national 25% recommended amount.

Pay early and go paperless

Landlords and apartment managers love tenants who pay their rent a few days early. They spend the majority of their resources and time chasing down rent payments.

I get a 10% discount each month by going paperless and paying my rent with an echeck 4 days early.

Use your positives as leverage

High maintenance tenants include those with pets, several roommates or kids, and people who are rough on their furniture/appliances.

I’m a low maintenance renter because I don’t have any pets and am rarely ever home. I don’t need stuff constantly fixed or repaired, and I do my best to not lock myself out of my place (it only happened one time I swear, lol).

Research the competition

While looking for a new place, I’ve been able to research the competition and what the going price is for a decent apartment within my budget.

By using my knowledge of the area, I make sure the landlord knows “there’s other fish in the sea” and can put a little more pressure on them to reduce the monthly rate. If the deal is good enough I might decide to stay put instead.

Ask them to sweeten the deal

If you get to a point where you can’t negotiate the monthly payment any lower, consider asking them to sweeten the deal in other ways.

For example, I was able to get a new paint job and carpet cleaning for free, the last time I renewed my lease. Plus, I’d rather pay the same price or a little extra for added luxuries like, peace and quiet (no barking dogs) or a beautiful scenic view.

These are just a few methods to help you live large on a small budget. With the money you save on rent you will have more freedom you to fund your dreams. Your living space should be fun and comfortable, but not suck the life (or money) out of your budget.


  1. These are great tips! I’ve made use of them all over the years, but most recently I used “sacrifice on living space”. I live in a small studio, but the benefit is my rent is only $350.00/month, all inclusive.

  2. I have really cheap rent (for Vancouver), so when I tried to negotiate and my landlord wouldn’t play, I was ok with it. You can get a lower price for a longer lease, but leases are very constricting.

  3. Good luck on looking for the new apartment!  Having a space for an office and more kitchen is very valuable!  I like the theme of these tips – basically you need to have a strategy and not be afraid to ask if you want to get a better deal.

  4. MyCanadianFinances says:

    I totally wish I had negotiated for cheaper rent when I moved in to my current place but I did not really know what I was doing. Oh well, I have a roommate now so it is considerably cheaper.

    • I did the same thing when I moved into my place 3 years ago. This is how I found out I could negotiate when I re-signed my lease. It’s always a learning process, but I’ve gathered some tips along the way. 🙂

  5. James says:

    I used to negotiate my rent every year.  I live in a city that has a lot of single people, therefore there are a lot of apartment buildings.  My leverage was always paying on time, never making noise, and mentioning how many apartments there were in the area available for rent

  6. Thrifty Writer says:

    While I would love to be paying lower rent (having lost a decent-paying job, my rent jumped from being 25% of my income to 40%) I know that I have a good deal.  The landlord usually rents the floor my roommate and I live on for about $300 more per month, but we happen to sign on during the point of the recession when it was a renter’s market (a VERY brief window in NYC and its boroughs), so not only did we get the lower rent, we also didn’t have to pay a security deposit, and he threw in an window A/C unit. I thought that he would increase the rent our second year, but we’re good tenants, plus he knows he’d have trouble getting someone else to rent with his noisy kids running around upstairs:-) 

  7. YourFinancesSimplified says:

    When we rented the wife and I definitely lived in smaller spaces to save money.  We saved on rent and not having to furnish such a large place.  I would also say a good tactic to lower your rent is to offer to pay 2-3 months upfront for a monthly discount.  

  8. You should definitely ask for ask much as you can get in the way of upgrades, especially if you’re an early-paying, no-hassle person.  Carpet cleaning and paint should be a standard renewal thing. As a landlord, I WANT to paint and carpet clean to keep the place looking like new.

  9. Pete Sveen says:

    Great advice Carrie. I think that negotiating for everything in life is something more people need to do. When buying a house you negotiate. Why not negotiate when renting an apartment, business space, or warehouse? I think it is great that you emphasize the importance of improving negotiation skills as they will make help you out so much in life. Thanks for sharing and I hope people follow your guidance! – Pete

  10. Farouk says:

    Hi Carrie
    i loved the post
    i always believed that i have to sacrifice many things to save but your post gave me a creative way to save without sacrificing anything
    thank you 🙂

  11. Robin Uram @ Quizzle says:

    Awesome article! So many people do not realize they can negotiate their rent. It pays to be on time with all your payments!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *