10 bizarre yet practical things you can rent

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3 Surprising Things You Can Rent

Why buy when you can rent?

Want that? Not sure you can afford it? You can probably rent it.

For years, the rental industry was mostly limited to cars (now a $24 billion industry) and apartments ($1.3 trillion), but as the economy has evolved, so too has what you can rent, which today is just about everything. Proponents of this new and innovative rental movement point out that using something briefly and then sending it back makes a lot more environmental sense than paying more for something, hanging onto it forever and then someday tossing it into a landfill.

With that in mind, here are 10 surprising items (not all of them things) that you can actually rent:

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Bizarre things you can rent
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10 bizarre yet practical things you can rent

Chickens

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Friends

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Caskets

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Dresses 

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Toys 

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Tools

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Christmas trees

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Art

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Goats

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Bathrooms

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Chickens

Ever dreamt of raising chickens and collecting fresh eggs every morning, but suspected the startup costs would be too much? (The average chicken coop costs $500, according to BackyardChickens.com.)

Well, you can rent them. You heard us: Services like RenttheChicken.com, RentaCoop.com and Rent-a-Chicken.net allow you access to all the supplies and chickens you need to get going. Prices vary, but Web searches indicate you can expect to spend about $90 a month, give or take, depending on what service you choose. Going this route will give you a taste for the lifestyle before you commit to launching your own operation and perhaps discovering you hate raising chickens. Obviously, you may want to check with your city, homeowners association or another governing body before inviting live poultry into your backyard.

Friends

Making friends is tough. It takes time. Time to find quality people. Time to cultivate relationships. Time you may not feel you have. That's where RentaFriend.com comes in. Think we're kidding? For about 10 bucks an hour, you can get a date for a wedding, say, or a pal to catch a movie with; some people will waive the fee, depending on the activity involved. After all, if you're going to pick up the movie tickets ...

Caskets

This may sound a little out there, and perhaps like the beginning of a horror movie (if you're picturing a fresh corpse emerging from the grave to return a rental casket). But because caskets can be expensive, some funeral homes are giving folks the option of renting one for a fraction of the price. That means your loved one will get something fancier for the funeral service, but the body is actually kept in a wooden box. Later, when the guests leave, the body is buried in the box, while the expensive casket is returned for someone else to rent.

Dresses

Need a one-time fancy dress for that cocktail party or wedding but don't want to make a permanent investment? Check out services like RenttheRunway.com and WearTodayGoneTomorrow.com. The good news: Prices are far cheaper than buying something new off the rack. The bad news: If you're renting, say, a $1,000 dress, you still may be looking at a $300 or $400 price tag. But for those who know the $1,000 dress would forever be relegated to the closet, $400 could still seem like a bargain.

Toys

Kids tend to eventually tire of certain toys – and will certainly outgrow them – which has led to a crop of toy rental services. Prices vary. Pley.com, for instance, offers a subscription service for $19.99 and $44.99 a month, which allows kids to play with a toy from brands like Lego and American Doll (the higher price gets your kid access to more toys and ships faster). ToysTrunk.com, meanwhile, enables kids to play with a toy for a month before the return due date, and typically runs $10 a pop.

Tools

Don't aspire to become a carpenter? Only need a power saw for that one DIY project? You could rent one. It's easy to forget, but your neighborhood hardware stores will typically rent out power tools. Just go in and ask if your store of choice has a rental program.

Christmas trees

Bookmark this one for the holidays. If you like real Christmas trees but are a Grinch when it comes to schlepping one into – and out of – your home, you can apparently rent one. California seems particularly fond of this trend, with stores like RentXmasTree.com, LivingChristmas.com and OurCityForest.org all serving various corners of the state.

Art

For as little as $15 a month, you can rent artwork, according to TurningArt.com. The company says you can find it, hang it and swap it out. It may seem impractical to do this on an ongoing basis, but if you really love art or want to impress some friends, well, you can see the appeal. The company also caters to businesses and health care facilities.

Goats

Until robot lawn mowers really take off, who knows, this could be the next big thing for those who loathe the chore. Quite a few services will let you rent a goat to graze on your lawn for the day. Goats are cute, and this is an eco-friendly way to trim your grass (no gas required). RentaRuminant.com may be worth checking out. WeRentGoats.com is another popular site. And even Amazon.com rents out goat grazers. The websites are shy about offering prices, which vary depending on the size of the lawn, and some of these sites will even lend you their own goat wrangler for the day – if for instance, your yard isn't fenced in – to ensure the animals stay safe.

Bathrooms

Need to find a bathroom but there's nowhere to go? You're in luck. People have begun renting out their household bathrooms through the app, Airpnp. Weird as this sounds, the service allows you to find a bathroom in cities where public restrooms are lacking. You will generally be looking at paying a buck to maybe $5 to do your business. Speaking of business, restaurants often use the app to broadcast that their restrooms are free – if you buy a drink, which may, of course, lead you back to where you started.

Copyright 2016 U.S. News & World Report

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