Where to Find Apartments for Rent Based on Your Income
What if limited income couldn’t keep you from finding a great apartment?
It’s possible to find apartments for rent based on your income. Unfortunately, many who are looking for this information don’t know where to get started.
That’s why we put together this guide. Keep reading to discover how to start finding an affordable apartment today!
Apartments for Rent Based On Your Income: A Basic Rule
When you’re trying to find apartments for rent based on your income, it can be difficult to get started. With the fluctuating cost of rental apartments, it’s important to understand how much is too much when living on a budget.
Fortunately, there is a simple rule: whenever possible, try to avoid paying more than 30% of your monthly income on rent. Unfortunately, while the rule is simple, it’s not easy to follow: on average, Americans currently spend about 37% of their monthly income on rent alone!
Depending on how quickly you need an apartment and what the prices are like in the area, you may end up compromising on how much you pay. However, having “30% of my budget or lower” as a goal can help you potentially find an apartment that genuinely matches your budget.
The Difference Between Public Housing and Housing Vouchers
When you start to explore different housing options through HUD, you’ll quickly discover that you have options that include both public housing and housing vouchers. It’s easy to confuse the differences between these two things, so let’s break them down.
The short answer is that public housing is owned by your local regional housing authority. That authority functions as your landlord and sets your prices. If you need to make any disputes, these are the people you need to go through.
Compared to that, housing vouchers are part of a form of subsidized housing. Those who own the property that you rent through this program receive special subsidies to rent to those who have either low or a moderate income. If you have any issues during your time in such a property, you will need to take them up with the landlord instead of working with the housing authority directly.
Is Public Housing Better Than Using Vouchers?
In some cases, you may be in a position to choose between using public housing and housing vouchers. This leads to an obvious question: which form of housing is better?
The honest answer to this question is that it is a matter of perspective. Some people like renting directly from the local housing authority because they are bound more directly by various rules and regulations. If you don’t mind reading paperwork to figure out exactly where you stand, then this is a solid choice.
However, the biggest downside of working with the housing authority is that they are often bound by very specific rules and regulations. In contrast, using housing vouchers lets you negotiate directly with different landlords. In some cases, you may be able to come up with a more beneficial arrangement by speaking to them directly.
Pros and Cons of Public Housing vs. Vouchers
Are you still on the fence about renting through public housing rather than renting through vouchers? In that case, it’s worth exploring the different pros and cons of each approach.
One of the biggest benefits of public housing is that you are facing short waiting times compared to using vouchers. If you are in a situation where housing is an immediate concern, you should take a close look at public housing.
There are also differences when it comes to where you can live. Generally speaking, those who qualify for a voucher can move anywhere in the state. By comparison, those who use public housing are compelled to live in the same area in which they applied.
In some cases, you may end up spending less money on public housing than on vouchers. This is because public housing prices are usually limited to 30% of your overall income. With vouchers, the cost can rise to 40% of your monthly income.
On paper, it may not look like much of a difference between 30% and 40%. However, this can be a very important difference when it comes to your monthly budget.
Calculate Your Monthly Budget
We’ve already touched on the idea of a budget several times. The good news is that such a budget is relatively easy to create and having one empowers you to make informed choices about your funds and your future.
You start by adding up your income. If you have a spouse or anyone else regularly making money, add this up as well. This lets you know exactly how much money is available to spend each month.
Next, you subtract expenses. The biggest expense is usually the cost of the apartment, but you need to add up everything from the cost of groceries to the cost of electricity for your home and gasoline for your car.
If your expenses are more than your income, it’s time to make some changes to those numbers.
Creating a budget gives you an idea of how much spare money you have each month or what kind of changes you may need to make to create spare money. This can help you save towards certain goals. For example, you can pay down bills and start putting money aside for future apartments that may require money upfront (such as the first and last month’s rent).
Variable and Unexpected Budget Items
When you’re searching for a new place to live, make sure to account for variable budget items as well. Those are items that can change from month to month.
For example, if you don’t have a car, you’ll need to consider the cost of public transportation. Additionally, moving to an area with better public transportation can potentially save you both time and money.
Conversely, if you do have a car, it’s important to note whether the prospective apartment has a place for you to park. Parking can be a major hidden expense depending on where you live, whether that cost is in the form of parking garages or parking tickets.
In some cases, you won’t see an unexpected expense coming. That’s what makes it unexpected! However, having a good handle on your budget can help you stick money back in savings that can help with these expenses and ultimately help you find a great place to live.
HUD and Affordable Housing
Thanks to the internet, there are more ways than ever before for you to find an apartment. However, if you are low on income, it’s important to take the time to look into HUD and affordable housing options.
HUD has already calculated the Average Median Income (AMI) for your area. If you make less than 80% of the AMI, you are considered low income. At that point, it’s possible to apply to HUD through your local Public Housing Authority (or PHA) to receive a housing voucher potentially.
If you receive one of these vouchers, you can then use it towards any housing that is approved by the program. This will help you find affordable apartments, but you can also use the voucher to rent houses as well.
Other Ways to Find An Apartment
If you really want to find an affordable apartment, you need to examine all the possibilities. Of course, that means potentially embracing some very unconventional ways of finding a place to live.
In addition to searching local websites online, consider using digital resources like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. Just be sure you don’t fall for any scams and never, ever send money for an apartment you have never seen! If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
In some places, you can also drive around the neighborhood where you would like to live and keep an eye out for “For Rent” signs. Some of the best places can be found this way! Also, despite its reputation for helping those trying to buy a house, Zillow is a great resource to get alerts about new apartment rentals in your area.
If you don’t have a car or you prefer to walk or bike, you may want to look for an apartment through the Walkscore website. In addition to listing low-cost apartments, this website also ranks apartments by how close they are to restaurants and public transit. If you don’t have your own car, this is a great way to find a place where you can easily walk or bike to most of the places you need to go.
The Secret to Finding An Affordable Apartment
Ultimately, there is no one “trick” to finding an affordable apartment. Instead, it’s important to create a budget, explore options like HUD, cast a wide net on apartments, and consider information from a variety of sources.
Save Money on Your Wireless Phone Service
If you qualify for federal housing benefits, you also qualify for Lifeline service. Lifeline is a federal benefit program that makes it possible for low-income consumers to receive access to free or heavily discounted communication services. Click here to find out more and apply for this valuable benefit.