As business owners know, starting up is a costly project, and even more so if you’re trying to find an apartment within your budget at the same time.
To top it off, rent is on the rise. The median asking rent for apartments in the U.S. was $799 in the first quarter of 2015, an uptick from $766 in the same quarter of last year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. General wisdom holds that you should channel no more than 30 percent of your net income into housing.
If you’re your own employer, there are additional challenges to consider. You’ll want to keep good proof of payment, for instance, in lieu of a regular paycheck, such as previous pay stubs and tax returns.
Blake Pierson, Chief Product Officer at media platform RentPath, sought an apartment during the early stages of his venture. For the first few months, he had to live with his co-founder Doug Wormhoudt — something he doesn’t recommend others doing. “Living with your co-founder will make you feel like you’re bringing work home every night, and inevitably, you’ll end up talking about work,” he says. “Space and perspective are just as important to grinding it out. Many times, that’s where your best ideas will come from.”
Luckily, if you keep a few key tips in mind before firing up Craigslist, you’ll have a much easier time with the process.
1.) Have a frugal mindset.
When looking for an apartment, it’s important to have a conservative budget. “Minimizing your personal expenses is critical so you can get your business off the ground,” says Pierson, adding that housing is one of the biggest expenses you can control.
2.) Be willing to make sacrifices.
Live with roommates if you can, or look at locations outside of major urban centers, where the rent is likely to be cheaper. Mark Cuban recalls living with five other people in a “condemned” three-bedroom apartment when he was 24– admittedly, he writes in his blog, not the best time in his life– but he did manage to scrimp and save on his way to doing something he felt passionate about.
3.) Look for an apartment, not an office space.
As tempting as it may be to work from home when you’re starting out, Pierson cautions against it. If you absolutely need a separate place to work, look into shared spaces. “These days, there are many alternatives that provide affordable working space, such as co-working locations and shared offices,” he says.
After all, when you’re going to extreme lengths and pulling insane hours to get your company off the ground, it’s important to come home to something comfortable.Adding a co-working space brings the benefit of connections and relationships, which you won’t find by surfing the Web on your sofa.
4.) Read up on local laws and zoning policies.
If you do decide to look for an apartment to double as your office — even if just for the interim — it’s critical that you check in with the landlord, and learn the various local regulations before signing a lease.
“You could run into legal and zoning issues,” says Pierson, “or neighbors who don’t approve.” What’s worse, the zoning board could ultimately shut down your business before it even starts.
If the local regulations don’t allow for the type of business you want to run, it’s possible to appeal for a “special exception” hearing, but you can avoid such headaches right off the bat by setting up shop in an actual office.