Welcome to NerdWallet’s Smart Money podcast, where we answer your real-world money questions.
This week’s episode starts with a discussion of mortgage rates, which are hitting new lows as the economy stalls. That’s good news for people who want to buy or refinance and have good credit and steady income. But it’s not much help for renters, those who have lost jobs or anyone having trouble paying their bills. If you’re struggling, check out our COVID-19 resources.
Then we pivot to this week’s question from Ana. They say, "I've noticed that a decent amount of rents have gone down, at least in Brooklyn, New York. And I've been wanting to move for a little while, but then COVID-19 hit. Luckily I still have a job, not married, no debt, no loans of any kind. I even opened up a brokerage account to trade. I know now is the time to be increasing our emergency fund and savings, and I am. But do you think that moving some time in the near future might be a smart move?"
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Rents are declining in many high-cost cities and in areas that have been hit hard by the pandemic. For some, this could be an opportunity to lock in a lower rent for a while and save money. Others might want to upgrade to a better place for the same rent they’re paying now. (They might want to review our resources for making their rental application shine.)
You don’t necessarily have to suffer the hassle of moving to benefit. If you like where you’re currently living, consider asking your landlord for a better deal. With so many people unemployed and unable to pay the rent, your landlord may be willing to make a deal to keep a paying tenant.
If you do decide to move, take precautions throughout the process. Virtual and 3D tours can help you narrow your options without the possibility of COVID-19 exposure. You may have to sign waivers and wear masks for in-person tours. If you’re crossing state lines, you may need to quarantine somewhere, such as a motel or Airbnb, before you can move in. And if you hire movers, ensure they can work with appropriate social distancing and protective equipment.
Determine your goal. Decide if you want to spend less money or score a better place.
Use your leverage. If saving money is your goal, you might start by negotiating with your current landlord.
Know how to move safely. Protect yourself and others with masks and social distancing.
More about renting on NerdWallet: