NEW YORK ( MainStreet) — While an improving economy and job market is welcome news, the soaring rent prices accompanying it isn't. In places like San Francisco, you can now expect to pay three times the national average in rent, thanks in part to the red-hot tech sector. Renters in other major cities, such as Miami, Seattle and Houston are also seeing their rents grow beyond the annualized 2.4% national average, according to real estate website Zillow.

But you don't have to consign yourself to living with ten roommates or perpetually couch-surfing in order to get cheap rent. There are legitimate tools and techniques renters can use to save big when it comes to finding their own place, says real estate professional Adriana Galicia of Venterra Realty. Read on for some of our favorites.

Rent Off-Season

Landlords and property management companies know most of us move for new jobs or school over the summer, and they take advantage of this by jacking up rental prices during the warmer months. (The exception is places like Miami, where the high rental season is in winter.)

Rents can be 20% to 40% lower if you lease during the low season -- such as late winter, in most of the country -- when few people are moving and landlords are desperate to fill units. If you're renting from a professional property management company, its computer systems will automatically re-price units based on availability and the desired move-in date. When you find an apartment you like, ask what the price difference is during low season. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Property Renovations and New Constructions

Properties under renovation stir up dust and can look disheveled, turning off potential renters. To compensate for the inconvenience, rental offices often offer concessions -- including cheaper deposits/fees, free gym passes and discounted rents -- to new renters. The renovation may be completed in a couple of months, but new renters willing to tolerate the mess can enjoy a full year of cheaper rent.

The same principle applies to new properties under construction. Renters may have to tolerate some noise, or pre-renting a unit off a floor-plan before it's fully completed, but the pay-off can be a big discount. Leasing offices for properties under construction generally open a few months before the property is ready, so check early to inquire about rents.

Pet or House-Sitting Arrangements

Websites like MindMyHouse.com and TrustedHouseSitters.com enable willing house- or pet-sitters to advertise their services, often in exchange for free or sharply reduced rent. Granted, this usually requires you to care for someone's fully-furnished home or apartment while they're away, so it's not a traditional arrangement. But in desirable cities such as New York and San Francisco, rents well below market rates can be had for those willing to care for others' property while they're away. Galicia advises clarifying your status as a legal renter or guest, and signing a formal agreement for services prior to entering such a situation.