When’s the best time to rent an apartment?

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Lighthouse

Updated

June 23, 2022

When’s the best time to rent an apartment?

When’s the best time to rent an apartment?

Have you ever wondered if it matters what time of the year you move? Is there really a difference between getting your apartment in the winter vs. the summer? 

Well, the short answer is yes! Depending on when you move, you'll experience different pros and cons. The summer months are beneficial for those who want a variety of options to pick from. Moving in the winter is best for the money savers out there. 

Throughout the article, we'll do a deep dive into when's the best time to rent an apartment.

Here are the points we'll be discussing. 

1. Introduction to the rental market

2. Winter months are best for savings 

3. Summer months are best for variety and selection

4. Best time to start looking for a rental

5. Other items to consider when looking for an apartment

6. TL; DR

Having said that- let's get started! 😊

Introduction to the rental market

Many of us don't know all the benefits that come from moving during a specific season. For those who don't have a set time to move, you'll want to weigh out your options. 

Let's start with the facts. Rent prices have skyrocketed in 2021 (we wish we were joking).😭 Back in 2019 and 2020, the yearly rent growth was 0.3% and 0.6%, respectively. 

Then we reached 2021. The average cost of rent in the US went up 12.1% for a 1-bedroom and 13.2% for a 2-bedroom. When looking at the average rent growth in the US (for all rental units), rent went up 10.67% in 2021. That's almost a 1700% increase! 😱 

Additionally, analysts project that the rent will increase by 7.1% in 2022. 

Given this information, it's no surprise that the rent consistently increases every month. As such, our conclusions on the best time of the year to rent were evaluated based on rent growth.

Rent growth in the US (Oct 2019 to Oct 2021)

Rent price growth

Winter months are best for savings (October - April)

It doesn’t matter where you are in the US, every year the rental market cycles through the same trends. As it turns out, the best time to rent an apartment to save money is in the winter months! The drop in temperature means a drop in rent prices. 🥳️

The lowest rental prices are found between October to April. Now, why’s that? To put it into simple terms- no one likes moving during the winter. 

It’s cold, the weather is bad, and it’s a busy time of the year. So, as fewer people search for rentals, landlords ramp up their competitive pricing. 😅

Rent rates ranged between 1.6%-7.1% lower for apartments throughout the low-peak period. There were fewer savings on 1-bedroom apartments, which were between 2%- 4.7% less expensive. On top of being able to save, landlords are also much more open to negotiation. 

An important mental note to make is that there’s a lot less selection throughout the winter months. Most people don’t move during this time, implying lower turnover rates. Hence, a lot fewer rental options are available.

✍️ KEY TIP! Our studies have found that the best time of the month to rent an apartment is in January. You'll get the biggest amount of savings since no one likes to move at the beginning of the year and the weather is bad. 

Summer months are best for selection and variety (May - September)

If you’re wondering “when do most rentals become available”, the answer is in the summer months! This is the most popular time to move. Not only are students and graduates moving out, but the weather is also a lot nicer. Families also prefer to relocate during the summer because kids are on their break.

Since most people decide to move out during this season, a lot more rentals became available. Hence, look for apartments from May to September if you want more rental selection. 

You'll most likely find an apartment you actually love as you'll have a lot more options to pick from. You'll be able to view lots of units as the rental market floods with new units!

Having a wider selection of apartments also comes with its disadvantages, though. Demand and competition in the rental market get significantly higher. On top of that, if you have a poor rental and credit history, finding a place may be harder. 

The cost of rent and application fees also increases. As mentioned above, you can find yourself paying over $40 more per month for the same unit. That adds up to almost $500 over the course of the year! 😧

Nonetheless, a huge pro to renting an apartment in the summer is the weather. It's easier to drive, move furniture, and carry your boxes.

✍️ KEY TIP! We found that the worst month to rent an apartment is in August. That's when the rent is the most expensive as demand and competition go up. 

Best and worst time to rent an apartment in 2021

Best times to rent in the US

When's the best time to start looking for an apartment?

Once you've figured out when you'd like to move, your rental search can begin!

The general recommendation is to start your rental search 1-2 months before you move out. The earlier you start your search, the more options you'll have to work with. You can also find cheaper rent prices if you sign a lease weeks before you're supposed to move in. 

Here's a short story for you. I had to move back to school this past September. My history of finding rentals involved a lot of stress and moving into homes I didn't entirely like. Now, that was only because I always left my rental search to the last minute. So, I decided to do things differently this year. My search started in early July (so, I was looking 2 months in advance). I stumbled across a great unit (that had VERY reasonable pricing) and quickly decided to sign a lease. 

Later on, in August, my landlord mentioned that he had undercharged me as rent prices had gone way up. The lease was signed, so there was nothing he could do. What was his loss was my gain! 😅

But the moral of the story (at least to me) was that I would've probably had to pay $100 more in my monthly rent. I realize that I did have luck on my side. But, if you start your rental search early, you can too! 

Alright, that's enough of that. Let's summarize the key points involving the best time to start your rental search. 

If you start your rental search less than a month in advance

If you start looking too late, you'll find yourself in a stressful position. Rent prices will be at their highest, and you won't have many options. That means you might have to settle for a rental unit that you don't completely love. 

If you start your rental search 1-2 months in advance

The best time to start your rental search is 1-2 months in advance. You'll find the greatest selection and prices. It also gives you enough time to view different units and look through multiple options. 

If you start your rental search more than 2 months in advance

You don't want to start looking for apartments too early. If you look too far in advance, likely, the rental units won't be available for your move-in date. You'll also be spending more time and effort searching for the same rental criteria. 

Other items to consider when finding an apartment

Finding the perfect apartment isn't just about timing the rental market. 

Here's a list of some other items you should consider when searching for a rental unit. 

Location

Location will always influence the rent price (even if you decide to move during a low-peak season). The more expensive the city, the more expensive the rent. 😅 You can also expect greater rent growth in cities where the cost of living is high (like NYC, LA, and San Francisco). 

Budget 

Even if you decide to move during the best month of the year, you'll need to establish a budget. Some areas or neighborhoods won't be able to accommodate a lower budget. It helps to research the average cost of rent in your desired location beforehand. That way you're not hit with any surprises!

Understanding the rental market

It'll help a lot to understand the rental market before you start searching for an apartment. As we mentioned earlier, rent prices increase continuously throughout the year. 

So, even if you decide to rent during an ''affordable'' month, you may find yourself paying more rent. That's because the cost of rent isn't static. It keeps growing. Yet, the increase in rent throughout the winter is significantly lower than in the summer. 👍

Credit score & rental history

Your credit score and rental history can impact your rental applications. If both of these are low or muddied, it'll make it more challenging for your application to get accepted. 

If this is the case, applying for rent during low-peak seasons will make it easier for you to find an apartment. Landlords have a harder time finding tenants in the winter, so they're more lenient! 

Moving timeline

There's no use moving in the middle of winter if it doesn't work with your schedule. When establishing your moving date, double-check that you can get the help you need. This move-in date also needs to align with your work schedule and current lease agreement. 

TL; DR

Rent prices continue to increase every month in the US. In 2022, they're projected to increase a total of 7.1%. The best time to rent an apartment for savings is from October to April (winter months). The cheapest month to rent is in January. The most expensive time to rent is in August. You should rent from May to September if you're dead set on finding your "perfect" home. There’s a lot more rental selection and availability during the summer months. Ideally, your rental search should begin 1-2 months before you want to move in. Don’t forget to consider the following when looking for a rental unit. Your budget, move-in date, location, credit score, rental history, and the rental market! 😄

Conclusion  

And that concludes our article! If you have any questions or comments, feel free to shoot us a message on our socials. You can find us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter @lighthouse_apts.

Our team at Lighthouse is changing the rental market by offering cash back on newly signed leases. We also offer a free partnering service! Team up with one of our Lightkeepers to get help on finding a new rental home. Check out our website here! 

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