Finding a short-term rental home on a budget

August 5

(Reed Saxon/Associated Press)

Nancy Simmons Starrs is president and founder of Apartment Detectives, a D.C., Maryland and Northern Virginia apartment search service. 

Finding a short-term rental can be very easy if you have an employer who will cover the expense and who is aware of the going rates for this type of rental home.

But if you’re not in that situation — if you’re hired on a temporary contract or for an internship, relocating  to the D.C area to find a job or looking for a place until you can buy a home — finding a short-term rental can be a frustrating experience.

Here are some tips to help you find a short-term rental that’s in your budget:

 Check with a short-term housing provider to see if they have any options that are farther away from the center of the city. Short-term rental homes farther away from the center of the city will typically be lower in cost.

You will have more options if you don’t mind taking a bus to the Metro or driving to the Metro. A lease term of three months or a little more in some cases might help you get a better rate, depending on the time of year.

Some of the cost that is covered in short-term rental is having the utilities already set up and included in the rent.

• Rent a furnished apartment from an individual. This works out well if the individual owner has furniture already in an apartment but might not want to have to pay for the furniture to be moved and stored. This may be something the owner would not charge a premium for, if this is convenient for them and saving them storage fees.

These types of rentals are harder to find and will take more time and leg work.  A bonus is the convenience of being able to walk in  knowing all the pots, pans, linens and furnishings you need are included. But keep in mind that you will probably have to pay for utilities, Internet, cable and phone on top of rent. You should check to see what that will cost so you’ll know whether adding those expenses on top of the rent will save you money and  make financial sense.

• Rent an unfurnished apartment and rent furniture on your own. This can save you money, depending on the term of the lease you need. This will take more time and research as not all apartment rental properties will do short-term leases.

You should ask what lease term will give you the best rent with each property you contact. Many properties will charge a short-term premium and this can vary depending on the lease term. Depending on the time of year, prices will vary.

Keep in mind the expense of utilities. If some utilities are included in the rent, this will save you the trouble of setting them up yourself and the additional cost on top of the rent. Cable, Internet and phone are not typically going to be included in the rent, so you have to allow for those expenses within your budget as well.

You can rent furniture from a furniture rental company. Many have basic packages and will allow you to add what you need to those packages. Sometimes it’s best to purchase a reasonably priced set of flatware, china, linens and a coffee pot, rather than rent a housewares package. This will make more sense if your lease term is a little bit longer than a month or two.

With any of these types of options you have to add up all the costs to see what’s best financially. Keep in mind your list of must haves to be sure you find the option that best suits your needs for your short-term rental home.

Read Nancy Simmons Starrs’s previous columns:

Searching for a pet-free rental — it’s a jungle out there

The pros and cons of renting a basement apartment

How to stay within budget in the expensive D.C. rental market

Tips on finding a pet-friendly rental

How to land a great rental in the competitive D.C. market

 

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