Rent in Most Cities Is Higher Than Pre-Pandemic Levels: What to Do if Yours Has Risen

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Here's how to cope with rising rent costs.

Everything seems to be getting more expensive these days. Gas prices have soared, food costs have risen, and many workers have to dip into their savings or rack up debt just to keep up.

Compounding the problem is rising rent prices. Apartment List reports that rent in most U.S. cities is currently higher than it was before the pandemic began. What's more, the national median rent has climbed 16.4% since January.

If you're struggling to keep up with rising rent costs, you're no doubt in good company. Here are a few things you can do to cope with a rent hike.

1. Push back

If you receive a notice from your landlord that your rent is about to increase, don't assume your only option is paying more. Instead, contact your landlord and try to negotiate. If you've lived in your home for many years and have a strong history of paying your rent on time, your landlord may be willing to waive the increase, or at least lower it.

If that doesn't work, you may want to see if it makes financial sense to move to a less expensive home. This may not be feasible if you have a lot of furniture and belongings, because that could mean shelling out a lot of money for a moving service. But if you're renting a minimally furnished apartment and can hire movers on the cheap (or, better yet, enlist the help of some friends who can help you move for free), then renting a new place may be a good solution.

2. Barter

Your landlord may not agree to keep your rent as-is out of kindness. But if you give your landlord something in exchange, that's a different story.

Depending on the type of home you rent, you may be able to get a rent hike waived if you agree to take over some of the maintenance. For example, instead of having to pay $75 more a month in rent, you might offer to be responsible for snow removal during the winter months.

3. Boost your income

If your rent is rising and moving isn't an option, your best bet may be to get a side hustle. That way, you can use your extra earnings to cover your rent increase.

These days, there are many side gigs to choose from. You might be able to drive for a rideshare company, babysit, care for pets, or even get a medical billing or data entry job from home. In fact, you might manage to earn enough money from your side hustle to not only take care of your rent increase, but also pad your savings and shore up your finances in the face of other rising costs.

A rent hike can be a blow to your bank account and throw your budget out of whack. So it doesn't hurt to try to negotiate or barter your way out of a rent increase. But if that doesn't work, boosting your income with a side job could help you manage that larger bill.

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