How to Rent a Studio Apartment

Suitable rentals in densely-populated urban or metropolitan areas come at a premium price and are often hard to find. A studio apartment can provide relatively affordable rent and the bare essentials. Approach a studio search much the same way you would a house or a regular apartment search, but before committing to a lease, consider how space limitations will affect your lifestyle.

Shoebox-Size Rentals Can Stretch a Shoestring Budget

Search for studio apartments with maximum square footage and efficient storage solutions to minimize or eliminate additional expenses, such as self-storage. Studio apartment square footage varies based on building trends, housing costs and region. Highly populated and pricey cities, such as New York and San Francisco, have studios known as "micro" apartments, averaging 380 square feet, according to the National Association of Realtors. Studios usually offer a separate kitchen and bathroom, with a single sleeping/living area. Limited living space leaves little room to store non-everyday items, such as recreational equipment, off-season clothing and purely decorative or ample-sized furnishings.

A 5-by-5-foot storage unit costs from $40 to $50 per month as of 2015, according to Cost Helper. A 20-by-20-foot space or a portable on-demand -- POD -- cost about $225 per month to rent. Look for units that offer on-site storage closets on the balcony, patio or in the unit's parking area. On-site storage is often fixed into the monthly rent, unless you ask for an additional parking space for the storage it offers.

Tip

If you don't already own furniture, l**ook for fully furnished studios and built-ins** to offset moving costs. You can avoid renting a large truck and paying movers if you can find a studio with built-in furniture, such as a wall bed, and multi-purpose furnishings, such as a wall-mounted collapsible kitchen table that doubles as a desk. A fully-furnished studios may cost more per month but it will also help you avoid the hassle and upfront expense of buying furniture that fits.

Don't Find Yourself In A Tight Financial Spot

One of the main benefits of renting a studio is affordability. You can usually expect to pay less for a studio apartment than a 1-bedroom at the same location. In general, you should spend no more than 30 percent of your gross income on housing, according to Apartment Therapy. Property owners and managers usually review your income as part of the application process to ensure you meet the 30-percent rule. Multiply your annual gross income by .30, then divide by 12, or simply divide your annual gross income by 40, to determine the maximum rent amount you should pay. Keep your search parameters at or below this price limit because studio landlords are unlikely to negotiate a lower rent, especially in areas where affordable rentals are scarce.

Find the Right Fit Online

Certain real estate rental websites provide free studio listings, including:

Some online rental listing services may charge a fee and require you to register. You can also find studio rentals from private landlords by word-of-mouth or through personal referrals. Homeowners with converted basements, garages or guest houses may offer studio apartments in less densely populated parts of town or suburbs.

Lock Down the Lease

Whether you're dealing with a property management firm or a private homeowner, be sure to protect your rental rights and interests.

  1. Get a written lease and consult an attorney about any complex lease terms you're not sure you understand.
  2. Perform a move-in inspection with the landlord present.
  3. Take photos of the studio's move-in condition.
  4. Provide the landlord with a written list of repairs for defects found at move-in.
  5. Keep copies of all rental documents for your files.
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