Gainesville and Alachua County participate in the federal Section 8 program that provides housing assistance for qualified low-income renters. Through the program, renters receive housing vouchers that cover a significant portion of the rent. If you qualify for the program and find approved housing, you can expect to pay about 30 percent of your adjusted monthly income on rent.
Getting on the list to receive Section 8 assistance can be tricky, so it’s best to talk to a local housing authority official to determine whether the waiting list is open or closed. Gainesville uses a pre-waiting list system. Your name advances from the pre-waiting list to the waiting list when your name is selected by the random lottery system.
The city and county also operate public housing developments for low-income renters. Waiting lists for these communities open and close at various times of the year, so it’s important to check in frequently with housing authority staff.
Affordable Apartment Alternatives
If your income isn’t low enough to qualify for Section 8 or public housing options, you still have many affordable options in Gainesville and near UF. The city’s housing cost is very low, about 14 percent below the national average.
Local apartments can be more affordable when you make the most of the area’s student-centered apartment options near UF. For instance, sharing a two-bedroom apartment with another person is often more affordable than renting a one-bedroom apartment for yourself. Sharing an apartment also ensures that you split the cost of utilities and amenities for greater economy. Many local apartment communities can help you find a suitable roommate, and a number of them also offer three- and four-bedroom apartments that are perfect for sharing with multiple people.
In student communities like Gainesville, many cheap apartments are only needed for the length of the school year, leaving apartments unoccupied for summer months. A few apartment developments accommodate this need with shortened lease periods. To keep cheap apartments occupied year-round, some apartment managers will give you a discount if you sign a full-year lease.
Crunch the financial numbers carefully if you are considering an all-inclusive apartment option. Sometimes, these all-inclusive units are a great deal, giving you access to needed utilities, Internet service and parking. They only make sense, though, if you actually need the included amenity and if the rent is comparable to non-inclusive apartments. You can usually compare costs and expenses with local utility companies online.
Many of Gainesville’s apartment communities offer furnished apartments that can save you money if you’re starting from scratch. Again, weigh the value of the furnishings against comparable rents to ensure that renting a furnished unit makes sense.
Watch for move-in specials and certain promotions. These move-in specials can range from very low or completely free rent for a month or two to reduced down payments. These specials can save you significant amounts on the front-end of your lease, but make sure you aren’t paying for them in the long run.
It’s easily possible to live inexpensively in Gainesville if you have low income. Take your time, do some research and weigh your options carefully, and you should be in a prime position to make the most of your local opportunities.