Finding an Affordable Rental in a Large City

As anyone who’s ever rented a property within a hundred miles of a major city such as New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago knows, apartments in the big city do not come cheap. Whether you’re a single young professional looking for an inexpensive base of operations to call your own while you make your way up the corporate ladder or a blue-collar worker just trying to make ends meet, you need your apartment to be affordable. 

So what are you to do if you can’t afford a fancy apartment in the downtown area? Don’t worry, we’re here to help. In this article, we’ll be giving you some of the best tips and tricks on how to score an apartment way below the average monthly rent price. It won’t be easy, and you’ll have to do a whole lot of searching, but with our help and a little luck, it’s a possibility. 

Making concessions: needs vs. wants

The first step in finding a cheap apartment in a large city is figuring out what you absolutely need to have in your future home and what you want but can live without. There are many things you might be taking for granted if you’re from a small to mid-sized town, but in the big city every little convenience will end up costing you. 

You should consider taking certain amenities off your list of necessary features in your prospective apartment. Things like a nice view, large amounts of space, or good natural lighting might make a rental a better place to live, but they are not strictly necessary to make a place your home. 

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Other things might not be quite so optional — for busy professionals on tight schedules, a good parking space (or a garage, if you should be so lucky) and a central location might be necessary. And for those who work from home, finding a rental with a fast internet connection and a relatively quiet space to work might be the top priority. If you want to find a good apartment for cheap, figuring out the difference between needs and wants is crucial. 

This isn’t to say that essentials have to be based solely on your work; mental health, physical health, and leisure time are all important. The question is, how much are you willing to spend on these? In general, if you feel that your mental or physical health would be negatively impacted by living in a certain rental, it might be time to move on to the next one. 

Scour the classifieds

Once you know what you want out of a rental, it’s time to start looking for one. Under normal circumstances, this wouldn’t be too hard. Rentals are easy to find in cities with populations in the hundreds of thousands or even millions. But you’re interested only in the exceptionally rare — a decent rental in a large city that won’t cost you an arm and a leg! 

For the best chances of success, you’re going to boot up your computer, tablet, or phone and start scouring the web for anything close to what you’re looking for. You can use anything from dedicated rental platforms to Facebook Marketplace and everything in between. Use one, use them all. Just get out there and look! 

There are other ways to find cheap apartments too. Newspapers, dedicated Facebook groups, and even through your friends. Keep your eyes and ears open at all times. You never know what will pop up! Whether you find your next home by word of mouth, by print, or over the internet, one thing stays the same: cheap apartments don’t come on a silver platter! 

Consider alternate solutions

Once you’ve done all this, you might still be left without any adequate options. That’s ok — most rental markets are saturated beyond belief with renters, and landlords take full advantage of this to hike up the rent. Finding a cheap rental in a big city right now is like seeing bigfoot and a unicorn at the same time! 

More like this: How Can You Negotiate Your Rent? Tips for Getting the Best Deal

But fret not: there are other ways to live in a big city and avoid paying exorbitant rent prices at the same time. For example, you could try finding a roommate. Living with roommates gets a bad rap, but if you’re young and without kids, it can be a very viable way of saving on rent and having a good time! While it certainly isn’t for everyone, living with a roommate is simply too good of an option to ignore. 

For those who can’t abide life with a roommate, why not try finding a micro-apartment to rent? And, if your credit score isn’t too bad, you might be able to get a mortgage on a home or apartment at a lower monthly cost than renting. Sure, buying a home or apartment has its downsides, but in the long run, it’s a lot more financially advisable than simply renting. If you’re interested in this option, find a real estate agent in your area and see what’s on the market. Before you know it, you might be living in your very own home! 


In today’s economy, finding cheap rentals in big cities is a daunting task. With a mounting cost of living and ever-increasing inequity, the plight of an accommodation-seeker with a limited income is dire indeed. Hopefully, with this article we’ve managed to shed a ray of hope, inspiring you to think outside the box and find the rental of your dreams!

1 Comment

  1. Susan Anne Chatman says:

    Article was inspiring.

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