Pros and Cons of 5 Common Apartment Move-In Specials

As rent increases across the country, you might find yourself looking for a good deal. Many apartment communities offer move-in specials and rental deals that may seem like they’ll help you save money, but there are pros and cons to such arrangements. Here we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of some of the most common specials to help you find the apartment that works best for your lifestyle and your budget.

1. First-month Rent Free


It’s a whole month of rent-free living! The pros are obvious. First-month free specials are incredibly popular with potential renters. After all, without having to pay your first month of rent, it’s much easier to afford other moving costs like application fees, security deposits, and transport costs.


A month of free rent sounds like a great deal. However, there’s a reason that first-month rent-free apartments are so common with landlords. This offer can be a little tricky, and you’ll want to read the fine print. Sometimes, the rental rate advertised is not what you’d actually be paying each month. Instead, you might be paying the base rent, with the added “free” month divided into equal parts for the rest of your lease. For example, you might see an apartment advertised at $1,500 with a free month on a 12-month lease. In reality, you might end up paying $1,635 per month to make up for the “free” month.

2. No Security Deposit


Another common apartment rental special is a waived or reduced security deposit. These can add a hefty additional expense to apartment hunting, and can range from one to three months’ worth of rent, depending on where you’re searching. If an apartment complex reduces or waives this fee, that frees up cash to actually pay the rent when you move in without overextending your finances.


Among rental housing deals, a fully waived security deposit is very rare. Usually, it will only be a reduced amount such as half-off or a certain percentage discount. Some apartments may allow you to pay a small one-time fee instead of a full security deposit, but either way, the savings will likely be less than you’d hope. 

3. Waived Application Fees


Application fees can range from around $50 to $75, depending on where you’re conducting your apartment search. If you plan on applying to several apartment complexes, that can add up quickly. Waived application fee apartments can make your search less expensive, and allow you to consider more options.


If you know you’ll only apply to one or two apartments before you make your rental decision, waived application fees will have a minimal impact on your overall apartment search savings.

4. Free Amenities


Free stuff is always good, right? Access to the top amenities like a pool, gym, business center, dog park, free parking, and in-unit or onsite laundry is a definite draw when comparing rental options. Having those amenities included with your rent can also save you from having to seek out such amenities elsewhere, saving you both time and money.


Check to make sure these amenities are really free. Often, the price of rent for apartments with “free” amenities will actually be much higher than in places where those amenities aren’t included. If you don’t think you’d use the amenities much anyway, it might be better to look somewhere else.

5. Look and Lease 


In an effort to fill up apartments quickly, landlords are usually eager to get leases signed as quickly as possible. Sometimes, they will offer discounts or other specials when you tour and decide to rent an apartment on the same day. This could save you money and time, but check out the cons below before you sign any paperwork.


While immediate move-in specials might sound tempting, you should still be sure to ask important questions before signing on the dotted line. Anything that sounds too good to be true likely is, so while you may be encouraged to act quickly to get the best deal possible, you may unintentionally end up paying more for your apartment than you realized if you skim over the details of the lease.

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