Sometimes there’s nothing you can do about the rent you’re paying – except move to a smaller place, one that isn’t as nice, or one that is in a lower-class neighborhood.  But especially when you’re in college there usually are ways to reduce the rent you have to pay, making it easier to get by when money is tight.

(A note to high school students:  the best way to barter for lower rent is to have a marketable home improvement skill.  While underwater basket weaving might seem like an interesting elective (and an easy A), you can help yourself out considerably by  taking a couple of classes in things like electrical work and carpentry.)

Here are 5 ways that you can use your skills to lower your rent.

Improve Your Unit

Let’s say you’re a Florida State student, and you’re checking out Gainsville apartments ahead of your junior year.  Most of the units you see will probably have something wrong with them, which you’ll dutifully note on your lease as pre-existing damage.  If you have the skills, you can often catch  a break by saying, “If I fix that will you give me a few bucks off my move-in?”

Perform Your Own Maintenance

Most apartment rentals include required maintenance and repairs.  That service, of course, costs the owner of your unit money.  If you know your way around a toilet, a faucet, and other features of your place, then you should be able to save money by fixing them yourself.  (Even if you aren’t an expert, you can find a lot of instructional content on YouTube.)

Perform Maintenance on Other Units

Nearly every large complex is going to have an on-staff maintenance crew, but that crew probably doesn’t provide 24-hour service, 7 days a week.  By offering yourself as a fallback, you can provide a valuable service, get a few bucks taken off your rent, and network with the complex’s management.  (The better you know them, the better your life in the complex is going to be.)

Join the Maintenance Crew

Often – and especially at university apartments – an apartment complex will have openings on its maintenance crew for residents.  Usually, working one of these jobs gets you a wage as well as a break on your rent.  Combined, the savings and the income often end up being considerably more than you would normally make doing maintenance work.  Besides, you’ll get to meet your fellow residents.

Show Financial Need

Especially close to campus, FSU apartments often provide rent reductions to students who have a verifiable financial need.  While these breaks aren’t often advertised, just asking about them can create an opportunity to get into a quality place for less than you would expect to pay.  Just be prepared to show the documentation that is required of any other need-based financial assistance related to the University.