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Tips For Finding A Rental Apartment On A Budget

Michelle Summerfield

Jan 15, 2020 5 min read

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Tips For Finding A Rental Apartment On A Budget

Want to build your credit history with your rent payments? Check out Borrowell Rent Advantage!

Finding a rental apartment on a budget can seem like trying to find a unicorn: impossible! Whether you’re renting for the first time or you’re switching places, a bit of preparation will get you closer to your new dream place. Preparing includes knowing your credit rating and searching for units from the best sites.

There's always competition in the rental market, so locating the right rental at the right price in today’s market can be very overwhelming. But finding a rental apartment on a budget doesn’t have to be this hard! In fact, the hunt for the perfect place can be made a lot easier by following a few simple steps.

Tips for finding a rental apartment on a budget

Leverage friends, family, and other online resources.

Your network is a good place to start your search. Someone you know might know someone who is leaving town, or needs a roommate, or maybe one of your friends saw a listing on their street. This tip is especially useful if you're a student looking for rentals near your university or college, and it's just one of many student rental tips that might be relevant to you.

Know what you can afford.

By having an idea of what you can afford ahead of time, you’ll minimize the time wasted searching in areas you can’t afford. It’ll also help you figure out if you need to find roommates or not.

It’s also important to keep in mind some rentals charge for pets and almost always charge for parking. Sometimes, they even charge you to rent the elevator (true story). Asking about these things beforehand can help you plan, so you don’t have any unexpected surprises when you sign the agreement.

Get a roommate.

If you’re on a tight budget, the best way to find an apartment rental within your budget is to get a roommate. More people means a lower monthly rent payment. It can also mean savings on utilities, furniture and other expenses like TV and Internet.

Be flexible.

Choose your amenities wisely. Remember that you’re paying for them. By being flexible and nixing a few from your list, you can get a reduction on your rent cost.

It’s easy to get all starry-eyed knowing you’ll have access to a pool, a gym, a party room, and a fancy coffee shop in the building, but do you really need it? When you’re faced with amenities you can’t resist, ask yourself: “Will I use these enough for the extra rent I’ll be paying?” And ultimately, can you afford those “nice-to-haves.”

Be prepared so you can snag that rental.

When you find your dream apartment, it could be someone else’s dream place too.

The rental market is extremely competitive, and most landlords check credit before approving a potential tenant. Yes, they do this! Be prepared.

Before you visit a place, be sure to have everything in place so you can snag that rental on the spot:

  • Know your credit score

  • Bring your credit report

  • References

  • Proof of employment and recent pay stubs

  • Photo ID

  • Chequebook to pay the security deposit on the spot

Tip: Print Your Credit Report With Borrowell!

Now you can print your credit report and provide it directly to your new landlord. Start by getting your free credit score and free Equifax credit report from Borrowell. When your landlord asks for your credit report, don’t buy it – use Borrowell instead.

Take the time to read your credit report before sharing a copy with the landlord. That way, you'll be able to find any red flags or anticipate any questions the landlord may have about your credit history and information.

What features really matter to you?

When you’re finding a rental apartment on a budget, it’s good to keep an open mind. While you may have your list of “must-haves,” by keeping an open mind, you’ll avoid passing up a rental that may just work for you and your budget.

Be sure to create a list including:

  • Must-haves

  • Nice-to-haves

  • Dream apartment features

Opt for an older building.

Older low rise type buildings are usually rent controlled and offer the lowest rent. Plus they often have a dedicated landlord that keeps the building and units in good repair.

Check all the online spots.

It’s a good idea to check more than one website during your search. Not all apartments are listed on every single site! In many cities, there are numerous listing sites, Facebook groups for renters and there are also tenant rights and resource groups.

Here are a few sites to help you find your next rental:





Walk Score






When you’re apartment hunting, a great credit score and a copy of your report are the best tools to arm yourself with. Even before the hunt, start putting in the work to improve your score! That way, you’ll have a better chance of impressing your new landlord and snagging that dream rental.

About The Author

Michelle Summerfield is a professional blogger and the creative director of The Classy Simple Life, a lifestyle design blog aimed at the 40+ woman. The blog started in 2012 and developed into a professional blog in 2017. In addition to documenting her journey to a simpler life, she covers topics such as money management, health + wellness, beauty, solo travel and thoughts on being a creative entrepreneur. Her work has been featured in The Globe and Mail, Toronto Life, and the CBC. To learn more about Michelle, visit her website here.

Michelle Summerfield
Michelle Summerfield
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Michelle Summerfield is a writer and speaker who shares insights on finances, travel, and minimalism. Her work has been featured in Toronto Life, Globe and Mail, Credit Canada and on the CBC.

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