Expensive rent: 5 handy guides for students to save money

For many students, living away from home is a sweet, sweet freedom. But ouch! – you may be out of luck in the money department due to expensive rent. 

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Your biggest expense after college will be a rental fee.  According to the New Straits Times, students spend more than 30% of monthly expenses on rental fees. Living on your own has some great perks but when money seems tight, you shouldn’t be spending a lot of cash on rent. Besides that, you might want to avoid expensive condominiums and a rooftop pool.  With student loans and other expenditures, you don’t want to be digging deeper into the wallet to meet month ends.

Nevertheless, don’t feel disheartened. We want to help you with this! Here’s how you can save money on rent.

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1. Always haggle, haggle, haggle

There is no harm to ask for a lower rental fee as long as you don’t ask for a huge reduction. The worst that can happen is the landlord saying “NO”. Once you have viewed the place, take note of the unattractive aspects of the property that can be useful during negotiations. For example, cleanliness, facilities, the size of the apartment and noise. Be alert to anything that is wrong with the place as it is not worth to pay an expensive rental fee if the condition is unpleasant. Serious issues like structural damage is a big red flag.

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2. Consider renting an unfurnished or semi- furnished property

The furniture doesn’t come cheap and an unfurnished property will save you a lot of money on rent. By prioritizing the essential furnishings like wardrobes and beds, students already have the basic needs. Furthermore, students can always be creative by doing DIY projects when decorating the house with a shoestring budget. Isn’t it fun to unleash your inner Picasso? Also, find furniture that maximizes space like drawers under the bed or anything that is dual function.

READ: Planning for decoration on a budget

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3. The more the merrier……

This is the most common way for students to save money on rent. An apartment usually can accommodate four to five tenants. A master bedroom, for example, can be shared with two people. Have a think about how many people you would be comfortable living with. Do you want to live with friends or a stranger? It does not only save your money on rent, but it also cuts down utility bills like the internet.  On top of that, you can appoint a finance captain to track expenses. The following table illustrates the rental cost for three persons in a fully furnished 3 -bedroom apartment at Villa Wangsamas in Wangsa Maju. Assuming the rental cost is split equally among all three housemates:

MYR/ 1 apartment of 3 bedrooms MYR/ per head for 1 apartment of 3 bedrooms
Estimated rental fee/ month 1,900 634
Estimated utility bills/ month 400 134
Estimated total cost for accommodation/ month 2,300 768
Your estimated savings/ month N/A 1,532

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4. Consider moving farther away from the university

If the price is staggering, consider renting a place that is a little bit farther away from college. It can be expensive for students to live in an area that is only a stone’s throw away from the university. By moving 10 to 20 minutes away from downtown or from college, students will be able to save a significant amount of cash. Students can look for a property in Shah Alam and Subang Perdana. The rental fee is ranging from RM 700 to RM 1, 700. However, a few factors must be taken into account like mobility and time management. A long commute will not be worthy if you can’t make it to class on time. You don’t want to end up saving hundreds of Ringgit per month on rent and spend more than that for the commute!

Column 1: Assuming the first column is for a student who lives at Puncak 7 in Shah Alam Seksyen 7. The distance from the apartment to UiTM main campus is about 2km and the estimated GRAB fee for a return trip from the apartment to UiTM main campus is RM 10 during an off-peak hour.

Column 2: Assuming a student lives at Ken Rimba in Shah Alam Seksyen 16. The distance from the apartment to UiTM main campus is about 5km and the estimated GRAB fee for a return trip during an off-peak hour is RM 18. Here is how renting and commuting might play out for a student.

  MYR/High rental fee, close to college MYR/Lower rental fee, farther away
Rental fee/ month (utilities not included) 2,300 1,200
Estimated commuting cost/ month 210 378
Estimated total cost 2,510 1, 578

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5. Save money on energy bills

While the monthly rent isn’t flexible, students can always be flexible with power usage and monitor how much money you spend on energy.  You can always reduce the usage of energy-hungry appliances like the air conditioner and television. Also, turn the switch off when you are not using the appliances. Besides that, have a think if you want the utility bills included.  Paying your bills separately is usually more economical, especially during term breaks where you are spending a lot of your time being away from college.

ALSO READ: 5 things students ought to know before deciding to rent a house

Living on your own is expensive but also exciting and you should really enjoy it. Review your monthly budget before you make a financial commitment and take time to view a few properties. Cut unnecessary cost and look around for better options like moving to a smaller place or cut down your night out expenses. You’ll be surprised at how much money you can save. It may be a bit of a hustle but we are here to help you with more property guides for students!

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