Deposits protect landlords from tenants who don't pay or who damage the apartment, so finding an apartment that doesn't require a deposit typically requires have a strong rental history and good credit score. Apartment complexes sometimes run specials for new renters that may include a waived deposit.
In most cases, landlords are responsible for covering the cost of minor wear and tear once the tenant leaves, but bigger problems might require the tenant to pay for repairs. Deposits cover some of this cost and allow the landlord to recoup at least some of the expense without having to send the former tenant a bill. Prospective tenants with a strong rental history and recommendations from past landlords might be able to reduce the amount paid as a deposit. Complexes that advertise waived deposits generally have income and credit requirements.
People looking for cheap apartments might want to look in less popular areas. However, it's important to consider the cost of increased transportation prices. Shopping for smaller apartments can save money as well. People who need a place quickly but who don't have enough to cover a typical deposit might want to consider renting a single room. The terms of most subleases are often not dictated by landlords but instead by tenants, and some might not ask for a typical deposit.