There are many reasons why we rent. For some people it’s a short-term fix while they save up to buy a home or renovate a new property. For others it’s a long-term solution while they invest their savings elsewhere.
But the cost of buying a home can be a significant factor. And with Australian house prices continuing to increase1, we’re seeing more and more people renting2.
As with many financial and lifestyle decisions, there can be an upside and a downside to renting. The freedom of not having to worry about upkeep can be liberating. But there can also be a sense of frustration if you see improvements that you want to make.
Apart from needing the owner’s approval to make any changes, you don’t want to spend your hard-earned savings boosting the value of someone else’s investment. But while you may not be able to make major changes, there are cost-effective ways you can make your rental property as inviting and comfortable as possible without losing sight of your long-term financial goals.
Before you start you need to get your finances in place. AMP’s Budget Planner Calculator can help you work out what you’re currently spending and how much you might have left over for renovations.
Once you’ve done the sums, here are nine cost-effective ways to improve your rental property.
- Update light fixtures—they can change the mood of a room.
- Hang photo frames or artworks using removable wall decals or hooks on your walls without damage. They may seem a little pricey compared with a nail in the wall, but they can also be repositioned and reused when moving home.
- Update the curtains using upholstery tacks or a tension rod (when you can’t drill holes in the wall).
- Furnish the home in your unique style using accent colours, accessories, throw rugs, personal mementos and fresh flowers or plants to liven rooms up. Focus on key rooms and set a budget (and save receipts in case you take items home and find it doesn’t work with your room) so you don’t overspend.
- Cover up or block out less attractive views—try screens for windows or bamboo screens in outdoor areas.
- Invest in durable, quality furniture that you can take with you when you move. Quality furniture will last a lot longer than cheaper items that will need replacing more often.
- Paint an accent/feature wall—See what you can negotiate with your landlord—you could even get a reduction in rent. But you may need to paint it back to its original colour before vacating.
- Declutter by discarding or donating unwanted items. You might even make some money by selling things you no longer want.
- Get crafty and breathe new life into old pieces by upcycling/repurposing existing pieces of furniture (sanding, painting or re-upholstering) or by decorating existing household items.
Remember, whatever you do, make sure you don’t put your bond in jeopardy! So check with your landlord first. Simple changes like drilling holes in the wall might be approved if you agree to patch it up before you leave. Other modifications might add value so the landlord might agree to the change.
And while you’re improving your rental home, we can help you stay on track with your finances by:
2 Australian Bureau of Statistics, 4130.0 - Housing Occupancy and Costs, 2011-12 http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Latestproducts/4130.0Main%20Features22011-12?opendocument&tabname=Summary&prodno=4130.0&issue=2011-12&num=&view=
Five reasons why it's more complicated than you think.