When to Choose a Short, Long or Month-to-Month Apartment Lease

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Depending on your life situation, you may not be in the market for a traditional twelve month apartment lease. Fortunately, you have options. Know when to choose a short, long or month-to-month apartment lease by reading below.

When to Choose a Short Lease

Short leases are typically offered in three-month increments (three months, six months or nine months) and are a nice option if you know you will not be residing in an apartment for an entire year. Many apartment complexes offer short leases to accommodate students during the school year, hence the nine-month option. While the monthly rent on short leases is likely to be more expensive than the rent on a year-long lease, short leases provide you with more flexibility. No one ever wants to sign a long lease if life circumstances within the next 12 months are uncertain. You should opt for a short lease when you’re in a transitional or uncertain phase in life. Examples of situations where you may want to consider signing a short lease are when there is the possibility of moving in the near future, when you only need a place to stay for a few months or when you’ve moved to a new city and are just familiarizing yourself with the area.

When to Choose a Long Lease

Long leases are the most common type and are for the duration of 12 months. They’re great if you’re planning to stay in one place for awhile or if don’t foresee any drastic life changes in the near future, such as job relocation, graduating from school or purchasing a home. It’s best to be almost 100 percent certain of your plans for the next year before signing a long lease. While you can’t control unforeseen circumstances, you should have a general idea of your plans for the months ahead before signing one. There’s no reason to sign a short lease or month-to-month lease when you’re fairly certain you’ll live in the place for a year, as your monthly rent payments will most likely be less. Many times landlords will also offer you an incentive to sign a long lease, such as a month of free rent. There’s no reason to pass up the savings if you’re looking to settle in one place for awhile.

When to Choose a Month-to-Month Lease

Month-to-Month leases are the most flexible, but are also the most expensive. They’re best chosen only when you need extreme flexibility. For example, if you’ve been applying for jobs in a different city than where you currently reside and think something might come through, you’d probably want to opt for a short three or six month lease instead. However, if you’ve interviewed with a company and have been told a position is likely to open up anywhere from one to six months, you’ll need the flexibility of a month-to-month lease. Month-to-month leases are great if you think at any given time you may have to pick up and go. Unlike a short term lease, where you’re anticipating a change a few months ahead, month-to-month leases are for when you’re anticipating a change at any given moment.

Give some thought to where you plan on being over the next 12 months to choose the lease option that’s best for you.


Rachael Weiner: I’m a communications professional for a non-profit, which financially necessitates my status as an apartment dweller. Constantly “on-the-go,” I’ve resided in five different apartments across the United States over the past five years. Roommate issues, budgeting, organizing and handling problem neighbors are my specialty.

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