How to deal with higher rent

You're in love with your apartment, but what do you do when they increase the rent?

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Just recently, I found myself being a bit unhappy with my living situation. Sure, my monthly rent was low considering the alternatives, but I had very little space, and the area certainly left a bit to be desired. I knew it was time to make changes, but I also knew that doing so was going to cost me quite a bit more money each month.

One thing I knew when searching for a new place to live was that I didn't want to leave my beloved city of Portland, ME. What many people who don't spend much time in the area don't know, however, is that the cost of living in Portland has skyrocketed over the course of the past decade or so. The city is no longer a modest port town, but instead serves as a home to a bustling arts scene and some of the best restaurants the country has to offer. The days of $12 martinis on every corner have arrived, and it hasn't made things any easier for those of us who are just looking to stay afloat in what many people still consider to be a somewhat damaged economy.

After months of searching for a new place to live, I knew I had found the sweet spot—a Victorian-era brick house with a garden in the back that most people could only dream of having. No more, I thought, would I have to deal with upstairs or downstairs neighbors making noise at all hours of the night or a cramped bedroom without even a basic closet to store my clothes. As I had expected, though, none of this came without a price. I remember going to look at my current residence with an aching feeling that my rent would end up doubling if I took the plunge, and that's exactly what happened.

While it hasn't been easy, moving to a nicer place was the best decision I've made. I knew I needed a plan before I took the time to sign a lease, however, which is exactly why I took what I considered to be the necessary steps to ensure that I didn't end up in over my head once I made the move. Here are just a few things that have changed since moving to a more expensive place, many of which I believe would carry over to anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation — regardless of location.

Rent comes first

The first thing that I realized after I decided I was going to take on a more expensive rent each month was that I had to prioritize if I wanted things to work-out properly. Everyone loves to spend money on things they might want but don't necessarily need, after all, and I'm no exception to the rule. In order for a move such as this to work, though, I knew I had to ensure that rent was covered as early in the month as possible.

In the past, my rent was so affordable that it had become somewhat of an afterthought that I would deal with toward the latter-half of the month. Now, I set aside money for rent as early in the month as possible, ensuring that it stays in a safe place so that if I end up running low on money toward the 30th, I don't dip-in and put myself in a tough situation. Sure, it's not easy being low on cash at the end of the month, but at least rent is covered, and that means I can rest easy knowing that I have a secure, beautiful place to sleep at the end of the night.

Focus on making more money increases

Being a freelance writer is somewhat of a double-edged sword. On one hand, finding work and building long-lasting relationships with clients can be difficult at times, but if you put in the effort, you can often create your own destiny in terms of the amount of money you bring in each month. Of course, this philosophy isn't limited to freelance writing, as it can be applied to any situation that involves entrepreneurship.

As my cost of living has increased dramatically recently, I've taken a number of steps to ensure that I'm doing everything possible to keep myself on top of the game. This includes spending more hours per week than ever before on business development, raising my rates and generally turning down jobs that are no longer worth my while. In the end, I have less free time at my disposal than I did in the past, but I'm also taking steps to further build my career and have less stress about my increased costs of living than I likely would if I had decided to sit back and remain comfortable.

Personal finance becomes more important than ever

There are times when it can be rather easy to coast along when it comes to handling one's personal finances. It's all too easy, especially if there are no major shake-ups occurring. Personal finance is just like personal hygiene, however, and if you let it go, you're going to begin to notice. I knew that if I was going to make a move like this, I'd definitely have to put some effort into making sure that I was doing everything possible to stay on top.

Sometimes, making changes to better one's personal financial situation is as easy as putting together a list and crossing things off one at a time. Working with a financial planner, for example, is something many Millennials don't consider doing, but it can make quite a difference. List items can be as simple as looking into a new savings account option or making sure all of your bills are up to date; it all helps.

Moving into a new place can be a fun, exciting experience, but it doesn't come without its anxieties. Put the work in, however, and those places that seem out of your reach all of a sudden become more attainable than you may have ever expected.

Topics:
  • Home Buying
  • Renting
  • Saving and Spending
  • Home Buying
  • Renting
  • Saving and Spending
  • Home Buying
  • Renting
  • Saving and Spending
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This article was written by Erik Neilson from The Motley Fool and was licensed as an article reprint. Article copyright July 12, 2014 by The Motley Fool.
The statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. Fidelity Investments cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of any statements or data.
This reprint is supplied by Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC, Member NYSE, SIPC.
The third party provider of the reprint permission and Fidelity Investments are independent entities and not legally affiliated.
The images, graphs, tools, and videos are for illustrative purposes only.
Fidelity Brokerage Services Member NYSE, SIPC, 900 Salem Street, Smithfield, RI 02917
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