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Move In Special Apartments: How Do You Find One?

Looking to score a discount on your next apartment? Here’s how rent specials and move in specials work and how to find one.

Even during a pandemic, summer is apartment-hunting season. There are scores of renters looking to make a move to a new neighborhood or across the country.

This year will likely bring frugal-minded renters looking to pinch pennies after dealing with the fallout from COVID-19. Fortunately, more property managers are offering move in specials, even in amenity-rich luxury complexes.

If you’ve been waiting for the right time to score a deal while taking a step up in your rental situation, the time to look is now. You could end up with your dream apartment and save lots of money in the process.

Finding Move In Special Apartments

What are Move In Special Apartments?

Move in specials are common when properties are looking to increase demand and attract new renters. They’re usually a one-time, limited-time offer. Move in specials usually are offered during the first month of your lease.

Some renters feel like there’s so much competition, a move in special must be too good to be true. However, when demand for apartments is low, move in specials pop up more often. The coronavirus pandemic or an economic downturn might be lowering demand for apartments, especially luxury communities. Movein specials give landlords leverage to attract the best tenants and fill occupancies.

What Are Some Types of Move In Specials?

Move in specials can differ depending on your city, the apartment complexes, and the state of your market. There are several types of specials you may encounter while apartment-hunting.

Here are a few of the most common move in specials:

1. Waived Application Fees

Application fees tend to be around $50-$74. The average application fee is $51. They can add up, especially if you live in a competitive market and want to apply for multiple apartments.

Average Application Fees

Waiving the application fees are a common move in special. This is nice, but they’re typically not the best savings you can find. Instead of a one-off $100 discount, you can scour the market for more competitive deals.

If you are new to renting, be sure to learn about the apartment application process and associated fees.

2. Reduced or Waived Security Deposit

Security deposits can add a big expense to your apartment hunt. One-month’s rent is a typical security deposit, but they can even cost up to three-months rent. This can be a massive chunk of your savings, especially in pricey rental markets.

A fully waived security deposit move in special is rare. However, you might see a half-off option or other discounted security deposits. Some apartment complexes will also waive a security deposit in favor of a smaller one-time fee.

3. First Month Free

Yes, it’s possible to get discounted rent with a move in special. Keep an eye out for apartments with move in specials offering six weeks to two months free. There could be even larger discounts, depending on the area.

It’s tempting to allocate the savings towards a more expensive apartment. However, you should only rent what you can afford for the long-term.

The discount is usually prorated across the length of the lease, which we’ll cover below.

4. Look-and-Lease Deals

During a sluggish rental market, landlords are eager to get leases signed as quickly as possible. You may discover discounts on rent or other specials when you tour and lease an apartment on the same day.

Although the deal may be tempting, be sure to have your bases covered. There are 12 crucial questions to ask before renting an apartment.

5. Deals on Longer Lease Lengths

Landlords prefer the security and ease of securing long-term tenants. Signing a longer lease will usually cut down the cost of the monthly rent. On the flip side, month-to-month leases and short-term leases will usually be the most expensive.

How Are Move In Specials Factored Into Your Rent?

Although eight weeks free of rent payments is wonderful, you aren’t really living for “free” for two months. These move in specials are usually prorated into your overall monthly rent.

If you sign a 12-month lease on an apartment that costs $1,500 per month, and you get two months free rent, that’s $3,000 knocked off of your lease. This will bring your new monthly rent rate to $1,250.

Any move in special that results in a nice rent reduction will come in handy. You’ll have more money left over for things like savings, groceries, and utility bills.

When Do Apartments Have Move In Specials?

It's common for apartments to have move in specials during periods of lower demand, like in the winter months. Apartments can offer move in specials throughout the year, but there are times where they're more common to find. The apartment market is seasonal, and properties tend to see higher demand in the summer and lower demand in the winter.

How to Find Move In Specials Near You

If you’re sold on the idea of snagging an apartment with move in specials for yourself, finding one online isn’t always straightforward. Fortunately, Apartment List makes it easy to find move in specials near you. Take our easy quiz to find matches that fit your budget, locations, and amenities. Once you've been matched, you'll notice that some units have red move-in special alerts. Keep an eye out for those as you scroll!

Move in Specials

What Are Some Tips for Finding the Best Move in Special Apartments?

Apartment List offers a number of ways to help you identify the best move in special deals. Our Net Effective Rent feature allows you to search specifically for move in specials and see the true value of them. Your monthly rent costs after deducting rent specials will give you a better understanding of the value of the special.

We do this by calculating the total rent you’d pay over the term of your lease (subtracting specials), and then show you an average estimated monthly figure that can be used to easily compare the total cost between different properties.

Learn more about net effective rent.

Apartment List also makes it easy to keep track of apartments with a simple tagging system that allows you to select places you "Love" or that you "maybe" interested in revisiting. Once you have a solid short list, you can use it to quickly compare rates and deals across all of the apartments you selected.

Lease Savings and Rent Savings

Ready to Move?

Moving isn’t always pleasant. However, you can sweeten the deal by finding a move in special that saves you tons of money. From months of free rent to look-and-lease deals, find the best for your situation and start packing for your dream apartment.

Move in Special Apartments FAQs

What is the Hardest Month to Rent an Apartment?

Apartments are most in-demand during the summer months from June-August. The weather is generally more amenable to moving, and students are often looking to move outside of the school year.

What Month Do Most Leases End?

Most people sign 12 month leases from June-August, meaning those are the months that leases are most likely to end as well. While there may be more openings in the summer, keep in mind that this is also the busiest time for apartment hunting as well.

What Time of the Month is Rent the Cheapest?

The winter months are usually the best time to find deals on rent such as move in specials. People move less frequently in the middle of the school year and when there's a risk of inclement weather.

What Are Some Red Flags to Watch out for with Move In Special Apartments?

Move in specials that are actually rental scams share many common features such as,

  • Offers that sound too good to be true
  • Frequent misspellings or errors in the listing
  • The leasing agent declines to allow you to tour the property
  • The agent requests money up front (other than an application fee)
  • You can't find the property in online search or on any maps

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Dr. Katherine Blake
Dr. Katherine Blake is a content editor with Apartment List, where she helps ensure our renter and rental management content is fresh and informed by the latest data. Read More
Susan Finch
Susan is an accomplished freelance writer whose passion for rental real estate, travel, and digital marketing has been the driving force behind her nearly 15-year career. Throughout her professional journey, Susan has become a seasoned veteran in creating compelling and informative content focused on the tenant/landlord relationship. Read More
Justin Chaplin
Justin is a Content Manager and contributing author at Apartment List, helping people navigate the world of renting. Justin previously spent his time earning his BBA in Marketing from Boise State University. Read More
Kimi Kaneshina
Kimi is a Content Associate and contributing author at Apartment List, helping renters find a new place to call home. Kimi earned her BA in Organizational Studies, Economics from Scripps College. Read More
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