10 affordable ways to upgrade your rental property

Stuck in a rental? Here are a few affordable ways to upgrade your home on a budget. (iStock)

The number of people renting a property has increased by an average of nearly 2 percent over the last year, according to Apartment List’s 2020 Rent Report. Big cities like Mesa, Ariz., Henderson, Nev., Nashville, and Phoenix, saw rates increase between 3 and 5 percent.

Continue Reading Below

The national median sales price for a single-family home was $276,900 in December 2019, up 8 percent year over year, according to the National Association of Realtors, and they predict that number is likely to stay the same or increase thanks to a discrepancy in supply and demand.

With housing prices going up, it’s no surprise that more people are choosing rental properties over owning a home. Renting a house or an apartment can be convenient for the budget, but that budget doesn’t always come with modern features. If you’re living in a rental but want to personalize your living space (without getting in trouble with your landlord or spending a lot of money), you might have to get a bit creative.

Here are a few ideas for upgrading your rental on a budget:

  1. Consider curb appeal:  A few simple updates outside can make your rental feel like home. Adding some plants around the porch, changing the light fixtures, painting the mailbox, weeding, are all simple ways you can improve the property for less money. If you have a backyard, consider hanging lights over the sitting area or installing outdoor torches for some extra ambiance.    
  2. Add a fresh coat of paint: For just the cost of a few gallons of paint (and maybe some pizza to enlist your friends' to help), you can make the inside of your rental property look brand new. Choose a light paint color to help brighten up smaller spaces. You may have to repaint the area or pay to have it repainted when you move out. If painting isn’t an option, consider peel and stick wallpaper.  
  3. Deep clean the entire space: One of the simplest ways to make your rental home feel like home is to do a thorough cleaning. Scrub down the walls, baseboards, inside of cupboards and drawers, and wash the windows. Bake some cookies or spray your favorite air freshener for a little extra freshness.ARE MILLENNIALS WITH STUDENT DEBT BUYING HOMES?  
  4. Change fixtures: Consider updating small fixtures like light switches, sconces, vent covers, cupboard and drawer handles, and sink/shower faucets. These simple switches are easy to do on your own and are inexpensive. Best of all, they’re easy enough to change back when you move. Consider checking out thrift stores for unique pieces to make your home one-of-a-kind on a budget.  
  5. Upgrade your flooring: If you have carpet in your rental, consider purchasing a large area rug to add personality and color to a room. For linoleum floors, try peel and stick floor tiles. You can retile a small space for less than $100, depending on the style and shop you use. Make sure to thoroughly clean your floor and measure your space to maximize your funds.  
  6. Update your backsplash: Wallpaper and flooring aren’t the only things that come in peel and stick. You can upgrade your backsplash or behind your stove with some peel and stick tile. There are a lot of design options, including subway tile, marble, and simple patterns.    
  7. Change up your blinds: There’s nothing worse than the slat blinds found in way too many rental properties. Adjust them the wrong way, and they fall to the floor. Swap out the cheap blinds for bamboo or faux wood for a more upgraded look. Alternatively, you could invest in curtains to add color to the room or use a window film and ditch the blinds entirely.  
  8. Update your shower head: A simple way to make your rental feel more luxurious is to purchase a new shower head. They’re easy to swap out, and you can get a nice shower head for less than $50. Don’t forget to store the old one somewhere safe so you can take yours with you when you move.5 DIFFERENT TYPES OF PERSONAL LOANS YOU SHOULD CONSIDER  
  9. Hide the ugly in the kitchen: Most rental properties won’t include upgraded appliances and cupboards. To give your kitchen a more up-to-date look without permanently altering the space, add some contact paper. Choose a solid, matte color for your cupboard doors. You can even apply contact paper to your refrigerator (try a shiny black or silver) for a few dollars.    
  10. Upgrade the bathroom: You can have a significant impact on small rooms, like the bathroom. Since space is typically tight in this room, any changes will make a big difference. For example, you can swap out the toilet seat for $20 to $50, choose a nice shower curtain, add hanging shelves to the wall, and paint your grout for a fresh look.

Just because you live in a rental, doesn’t mean you can’t make your space feel like home. With a few simple changes, you can have a customized living space that fits your needs and your budget.