If you live in rented apartments, as I did for a long time, you may find yourself annoyed whenever apartment hunting time rolls around. It's hard, after all, to find a place that's reasonably priced, clean, in a decent neighborhood, and that also meets all your other criteria.

According to the folks at Apartmentratings.com (a site where you can review apartments and research rents), the process might not be getting much easier in the near future:

"For the past six years, the booming housing market and low interest rates kept apartment vacancies high and depressed their prices. But as the housing market has cooled due to higher interest rates, the population of renters has grown. According to MP/F Yieldstar, average vacancy rates nationally have dropped 40% since 2003."

Yikes. If you're breaking out in a sweat right now, have a seat. Here are some tips for you. First, the obvious: Consider finding a roommate or apartment-mate. Sure, it's not everyone's first choice, but you can save a lot of money -- perhaps enough for a down payment on a home of your own eventually. It might be worth doing for a few years, at least, while you stockpile some savings.

Here are some other tips from Apartmentratings.com and elsewhere:

  • Rent from an individual landlord. They're more likely to value a good tenant and may keep rents reasonable in order to keep you around.
  • Sign a long lease if you can. Some landlords will charge you less in rent if you agree to a multiple-year lease.
  • Consider renting a condo. With the real estate market softening in many areas, there are condos available for rent that their owners couldn't sell.
  • Search in the middle of the month. Since most apartments are leased at the beginning or end of the month, landlords may be especially receptive to negotiating with you to avoid several weeks of vacancies.
  • Look further away. New apartment complexes built outside urban limits sometimes offer the best deals.
  • Do some research first, before signing anything. If you're interested in a certain apartment building, approach some people who live there and ask how they like it. Ask about rents, too. Research online as well -- some websites offer rebates as high as $200 if you find a new home through them.
  • Here's a tip that should resonate with longtime Motley Fool readers: Get your debt under control and maximize your credit rating. Many landlords now check the credit ratings of prospective tenants.

Another option
If you have really soured on apartments (and even if you haven't), consider buying a home. To start your research, visit our Home Center, which features lots of money-saving tips and even some special mortgage rates.

You might also want to check out these articles:

Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian does not own shares of any companies mentioned in this article.