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Finding a Place to Rent

May 27, 2023

A Helpful Guide To Prepare You For Searching

Finding a place to rent can seem daunting, especially if it’s your first time doing so. Preparing yourself in advance with some research, however, can help you find a new home that you’re more likely to be comfortable living in and affording.

Beautiful African-American young woman carrying her belongings while moving into the new home.

Housing Budget

When you begin looking for places to rent, you’ll want to get a sense of how much you’ll need to be in the geographical location you’re looking to move to. Try going online and searching for “available apartments” for the location you’re interested in.

Search results will vary on price points. While rent will be one of your single largest expenses, you don’t want to get caught up looking at places you cannot afford. That could lead you down a path of getting locked into paying more than you should. A good rule of thumb is that you don’t want to spend more than 25% of your take-home pay on rent. This won’t always be possible, especially in high-demand areas which could see you having to pay closer to 35% to 40% of your take-home pay. Searching for a rental unit that is closer to 25% should be what you search for first. Some sites may even allow you to filter your searches by the price you’re willing to spend each month.

Use this cost of living calculator to help you compare how much rent you can expect to pay in different cities and locations.

Best Ways to Find a Place to Rent

You never know what might be available for you to rent. We suggest using these 4 options to help you find your new home.

  • Word of Mouth: Asking family, friends, and colleagues is a great start. Any one of them may know of something opening up soon. 

  • Websites and Apps: Searching the rental listings on sites like Zillow, Rentler, Facebook Marketplace,, and can be a convenient way to locate properties, especially if you are moving to a new geographical location where you don’t know anyone. Sites like these are also a fantastic resource for finding brokers in the area you’re searching in. Brokers are like real estate agents, only for rental properties. They can help you find a property to rent that fits your financial requirements. 

  • Brokers: As stated above, brokers can really help you find a place in an area you are unfamiliar with. They can provide access to the properties and show you around as well. It is important to remember that they can oftentimes be aggressive salespeople. Sometimes they are paid a commission by landlords and sometimes you will have to pay them to help you. Ask them upfront how their services are paid for so you know exactly what you’re getting into before they start helping you.

  • Local Classifieds: The real estate section of a local newspaper could be another way to find places to rent.

Finding Roommates

There are many factors that come into play when moving. Sometimes you don’t have a lot of time to find the most ideal situation because you have to begin a new job right away or you have to get out of your current place sooner than expected. Also, there just might not be anything available in your price range. These factors, and others like them, can find you renting a place that is more than you can afford alone. Finding a roommate can help alleviate some of the burdens of renting your new apartment.

Word of mouth is a great way to start looking for a roommate. You can get a truer sense of the person from the people you know. If this is not possible, using sites like Roomster, Roomie Match, or Roomi can also help.

Always be sure to use precautions when meeting up or contacting any potential roommates. Pick your roommate as carefully as you pick your place to live. Having an irresponsible roommate can adversely impact your bottom line and cost you a great deal financially and emotionally - especially if they skip out on the rent.

Paying Upfront

Most places require at least the first month’s and last month’s rent to be paid right away. A security deposit, equal to the price of one month’s rent, is also very common to pay upfront. Also, if you use a broker, you will be paying them as well.

Additional Resources

If you’re interested in learning more about the cost of housing, you’ll find more articles like this, as well as different rent affordability calculators in our Banzai Housing Library.

You can also visit under “Loans” to discover different home loan options and compare the potential cost of buying versus renting. Or give us a call at 315-735-8571 to talk with one of our friendly Member Service Representatives about your options. 

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If you would like to schedule our Community Educator for a seminar or workshop for any Financial Friday educational topic, please email your request to

Article adapted from Banzai Financial Education Program.

Posted in: FinancialFriday

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