Remember the day you signed the lease on your current apartment? The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, and you couldn’t see a single fault in your beautiful new dwelling. After six to twelve months in an apartment, even the best of abodes start to show their cracks (though hopefully not literally). A few months before your lease ends, you must ask yourself: should I stay or should I go?
There are pros and cons to re-signing a lease and putting in your notice when your contract ends. Here are five important factors to consider when you’re deciding whether or not to extend your lease or find new housing.
Crunch the Numbers
One major deciding factor will be the price point. Now that you’ve lived in your apartment for at least a few months, you have a better idea of how much rent, utilities and living expenses really cost. Are your housing expenditures in line with your financial goals? Has your job situation changed since you signed the lease? You may want to upsize, downsize or stay in place accordingly.
Moving isn’t free. The average cost of a move within the state is $1,170, and costs rise with the more possessions you move and the longer distance you travel. Of course, you can rent a U-Haul and rally your friends for a more DIY approach, but you will still have to pay a base fee, plus mileage and gas. You may end up needing to store some of your furniture, books and clothes between moves, which tacks on the costs of a storage facility.
Crunch the numbers on how your new rent would stack up to your old rent, and don’t forget to factor in projected moving costs so you can make an informed decision.
Can You Negotiate?
Now is the time to find out if the price for your apartment will jump after your lease. You may be able to strike a bargain with your landlord, but keep in mind that many apartments increase in price between leases either to keep up with market inflation or because real estate values in your area have jumped. Rents in 2016 increased at a rate of approximately four times the overall inflation rate, according to CNBC.
As Forbes points out, it’s important to research surrounding property values and come to the table with a good idea of what’s fair. Initiate the conversation with your landlord early, and don’t be afraid to point out specific instances that show your highlights as a tenant, like if you pay your rent early each month. If you live in the city’s hippest new neighborhood and your rent price will soar if you re-sign your lease, you may be better off moving a few blocks—or neighborhoods—away.
Look at Your Landlord-Tenant Relationship
Assess your relationship with your landlord. Did they process your payments in a timely manner or mysteriously lose half of your paper rent checks? Did their handy skills around the house save the day when your toilet broke or did they make the problem worse and try to pin the costs on you? Were the lines of communication open for the duration of your lease or did you change your morning route to avoid an awkward random encounter.
If your landlord-tenant relationship is uncomfortable, tense or otherwise unsalvageable, it may be time to move on and hope for better luck next time. Working with property management rentals can help you centralize your lease, payment, and maintenance information so you won’t run into fuzzy communication or outdated practices in the future.
Are You in Love with Your Location?
Does the bus that takes you to work pick you up just steps from your front door? Are you attached at the hip to the charming coffee shop down the street? If you can’t imagine yourself living anywhere else, it may be a sign that you should stay. However, many renters find that they want a change of pace. Consider other neighborhoods that may widen your perspective and introduce you to your new favorite restaurants, bars, parks, shops and landmarks.
Look around. Have you outgrown your current apartment? Are your books stacked on the floor, your pans spilling out of the cabinets and your extra clothes sitting in boxes near your bedroom closet? It’s natural to accumulate prized possessions as you continue to live in one place. If a solid spring cleaning won’t be enough to tidy up your apartment, it’s time to find a listing with more square footage or an extra bedroom.
Deciding whether to move depends on a comprehensive blend of factors. In the end, only you can decide whether to head for greener pastures or stick out your current situation for another lease term.
FYI: I worked at a dead end cubicle job from 2005-2011 for about $30,000 per year. I went self-employed in July 2011 and make between $70,000-$90,000 through blogging, professional pet sitting, hubby's reffing, and our rental home. If you’d like to start your own site (link to my free step-by-step guide), I highly suggest checking out Bluehost (my referral link with a nice discount for you, PLUS a free custom header banner from me!). Please contact me any time at budgetingfunstuff*at*gmail*dot*com with questions or just to brainstorm! I’d love to help!