How to Afford an Apartment On Minimum Wage?

A National Low Income Housing Coalition report in 2021 showed that renting an apartment on minimum wage is near impossible for most.

Nevertheless, you may be able to pay rent if you make some smart decisions.

These decisions can involve seeking an apartment in a relatively affordable neighborhood, reducing other expenses, and more.

Therefore, this article explores various tips to help prevent you from becoming homeless.

Tips on How to Afford an Apartment on Minimum Wage

This article focuses only on paying the rent for an apartment.

Buying an apartment can be more costly than living on rent, making it impossible to manage for most people on minimum wage.

Therefore, none of the tips involve getting loans from banks or other lenders.

Instead, the tips are based on making small changes or searching for accommodations in areas that you may be able to afford.

Live in an Apartment-Sharing Set-Up

One of the simplest and most effective ways to save money on rent is to share an apartment with other people.

For example, an apartment with four bedrooms, a shared living room, and a kitchen that is shared by four people can be cheaper than living alone. You can split the rent cost among your roommates.

Also, in some cases, you may be able to ask them to cover for you if you’re temporarily struggling to make ends meet.

You can also consider using the percentage method discussed below to split expenses.

Consider Moving in with Your Partner

If you have a partner who works, consider moving in together. The two of you can share the apartment costs.

You can also split the cost of utilities, irrespective of whether they are included in the rent or not.

The benefit of this step is that you can share a one-bedroom apartment with someone. You most likely can’t do that with other types of roommates.

One-bedroom apartments are more likely to have lower rent than those with more rooms. 

Make sure to confirm with the apartment owner if two people can live in the apartment. Some owners have certain restrictions.

You should also check your lease on this information.

Use a Fairer Method to Share the Expenses of Rent and Utilities

Also, you can use a percentage system instead of splitting the rent costs into two halves. So, consider this example. You’re making $600 a week, and your partner is making $800.

In that case, you can pay about 43% of the rent, and your partner can pay 57% of it. You can get the individual percentages by a simple calculation.

You must divide your income over the total income and then multiply that by 100. So, in this case, you will divide 600 by 1400 and then multiply that by 100.

This method ensures that the person with more income covers a greater share of the household expenses.

It’s fairer than simply dividing the costs by 2. This is especially true if one partner earns significantly more than the other.

Find an Apartment in a Relatively More Affordable Neighborhood

If you plan to switch apartments, look into apartments in a relatively affordable neighborhood. Of course, there are some drawbacks to cheaper neighborhoods.

These drawbacks can include poor security, compromised infrastructure, and fewer other amenities such as grocery stores, schools, and more.

You can use the internet to determine nice neighborhoods that cost relatively lower than others. In addition to that, you can speak to real estate agents, people you know, or those on the internet.

Speaking to residents of a neighborhood may help you get a more accurate idea of how the area is. However, some websites offer decent comparisons of neighborhoods.

You can make a note of the zip codes of some of the cheaper neighborhoods. After that, look for apartment options in those neighborhoods.

Consider Moving Away from the Center of Your City

In many cases, it can help to find an apartment situated in smaller towns or near the countryside. Typically, apartments at the center of the city cost more than those at the periphery.

This is because the demand for those apartments is higher. It’s also more convenient for users because they spend less time traveling to reach destinations within a city.

You should consider the additional commute time and cost if your office is in the city and you live in an apartment in a nearby town.

The commute costs should exceed the difference between an apartment within and outside the city. Another potential advantage of staying in an apartment outside a city is lower utility costs.

Typically, utilities and other expenses are greater within a city. So, in addition to offering lower rent, an apartment in rural areas can make additional costs more manageable.

That, in turn, can enable you to afford your accommodation with little trouble.

Find an Apartment with Low Rent

If you ignore the location, smaller apartments are typically less expensive than larger ones.

Also, apartments with shared bathrooms with other residents are cheaper than those with private bathrooms. This may also be true for shared kitchens.

Try to Reduce Other Expenses

Prioritize your expenses.

There are a few types of costs you can reduce temporarily. Doing so can make it relatively easier to manage rent.

Reduce Grocery Expenses by Buying Only What You Need

Make a note of how much you or your family eats on average. Try to buy only items that you need to reduce wastage. In addition to that, look for more affordable alternatives for some items.

For example, you can purchase cheaper breakfast cereals over some more expensive ones. You can also reduce your intake of coffee and other drinks. Alcohol can also become a considerable expense.

So, consider reducing the amount of alcohol you buy and consume. Reducing these costs can make a considerable impact on your ability to afford rent.

Reduce the Amount of Money You Spend on Entertainment

Try to limit your entertainment expenses for some time until you increase your income. So, make a list of things you don’t use often.

So, if you have subscriptions to various streaming platforms, end those you don’t use. For example, you could end a subscription to Spotify and use YouTube for your music streaming.

Look for free options instead of paid ones. You can also consider using family plans and other sharing options with monthly subscriptions. If you have roommates, that can be a great option to save costs.

Also, try to reduce your trips to the cinema. You can consider waiting until it’s available on a streaming platform you already use. Trips to the cinema and live shows can prove costly in the long term.

You only need to make these compromises temporarily. Staying without entertainment can be challenging in the long term. So, keep looking for another job. 

Budget All of Your Expenses

Make it a habit to create a comprehensive budget for monthly expenses based on your income. Thus, after you set your rent cost aside, decide how much you can afford to spend on certain things.

For example, you should have cost limits for groceries, entertainment, and other things you want.

It also helps to first make an estimate of how much your expenses are. If you have fixed utility bills, then this process can become easier.

So, you can decide how to allocate the rest of your income after you get all of your bills out of the way. Make sure to consider monthly payments of any loans you have to pay off as well.

Budgeting your expenses allows you to keep track of your income. You’ll know how to spend money carefully, allowing you to cover your priorities first.

It’s also crucial that you stick to the budget you create. Exceeding it in some areas can cause problems for you later.

It may also make it easier to stick to your budget by paying the rent and bills as early as possible.

Also, write down your budget for each type of expense. Make a note of how much you’ve spent as well on each expense every month. This way, you’ll be able to keep track of your spending more effectively.

Do Your Budgeting Before Moving into a New Apartment

If you’re moving into a new apartment, budget your expenses beforehand. This way, you can determine if you can afford the rent before you move in.

Doing your homework before can save you a lot of stress and trouble later.

Many people living on minimum wage live paycheck to paycheck, with no disposable income. If you manage to acquire some disposable income, spend it wisely.

You can consider investing that money. You can increase your savings as a result in the long term.

Leaving money in the bank can equate to money lost. This is because the value of that money decreases over time due to rising inflation.

Last Few Words

Don’t stop looking for other employment opportunities.

Try to spend some disposable income on courses to learn more skills to help improve your resume.

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