How Much Rent Can You Afford? – Budgeting for an Apartment | The Light Lab

How Much Rent Can You Afford? – Budgeting for an Apartment

If you’re currently living at home, with a friend or family member or are in the college dorms ready to spread your wings and get into your own independent space, you might be ready to look for an affordable apartment for the first time .

To determine if you can afford an apartment, follow these tips:

  • Weigh your current and future expenses against your income
  • Consider additional expenses that can come with an apartment
  • Consider ways to cut down on your spending

Ask yourself, “How much rent can I really afford?”

Stepping out on your own requires more than just having to pay the rent. Utilities are one expense, internet is another, and then there is the reality of affording the apartment to begin with alongside all your other daily needs and costs.

These tips will help you see just how much an apartment costs, what the expenses involved are, whether you can truly afford your own apartment and ways to consider making it happen when at first it looks too challenging. While you won’t need to be rich to get your own place, you’ll surely need more than a few hundred bucks in the bank.

How Much Rent Can You Afford? – Budgeting for an Apartment | The Light Labb

Start with a Budget

If this is your first time to budget in regards to your living situation, understand that the reality of branching out on your own requires you to bring in more income than what your apartment living will cost.

Take a look at your bank statement and calculate what you’re spending each month in your current living situation, and compare it with your take home pay.

What is your phone bill each month? Are you paying separately for your internet? Do you owe money for your car, and how much is the insurance each month? What on average does gas cost you each month? How much are you spending on health insurance, entertainment, and food and beverages?

Take a look at what you are bringing home with your job and possible student loans combined. Do the simple math of subtracting your expenses from your income and see whether you’re able to realistically afford a place on your own. Budgets are not fun to do, but they’re a crucial necessity.

How Much Does An Apartment Cost?

To answer this question would be like answering how much a pair of shoes costs. Everyone has their own needs and wishes when it comes to where they’re willing to call home. You’ll have to decide what is most important to you and narrow these items down in relation to what you can afford.

The cost of rent is genuinely reflected with these considerations:

  • which part of town it’s in
  • whether it’s a gated, secure apartment facility with an active security guard at all times
  • when the complex was built
  • whether or not pets are allowed
  • availability of an onsite conference room or sitting area featuring free coffee, or other social recreation room activities like ping pong or a pool table
  • whether or not your balcony will overlook the sights of a cityscape or perhaps a mountain view
  • whether or not you have a pool and spa
  • whether there are walk-to amenities downstairs or even attached to the apartment foyer
  • what the kitchen appliances look like and how new they are

How Much Rent Can You Afford? – Budgeting for an Apartment | The Light Lab

Apartment Expenses and Responsibilities

  1. First and last months’ rent. Most complexes require at least the first and last months’ rent, as a security for how you’ll leave the apartment when your lease is up.
  2. Parking. Apartments in desirable cities might even require you to rent a car parking space for more than one car. You’ll want to find this out prior to signing any lease.
  3. Internet, cable and amenities. Some apartments will offer community gym memberships, and internet and cable included in your monthly rent. These and other discounts will add up over a 12 month period. Consider finding a complex offering those amenities to save you from signing up for them individually and paying additional bills.
  4. Pet deposit and rent. Are you bringing your cat or dog with you? Most complexes that allow pets to live there require you to pay for a pet deposit. This covers any damage your pet might do to the walls, cabinets, carpets and doors. Some apartments also require pet rent.
  5. Furniture. Is the apartment furnished? If not, you’ll need to consider buying some furniture up front. If this will prohibit you from getting into a place from the start, see if you can find anyone around you that has a hand-me-down until you get up on your feet and are able to buy something new.
  6. Lease breaks. Also check out what it costs to break your lease. Life can sometimes throw us curveballs that require us to relocate sooner than expected. An emergency won’t cause a land lord to forgo your lease breaking, so make sure that if you needed to break your lease, you’d have the money to do so.
  7. Cleaning and maintenance. Keep in mind that when you hold the responsibility to rent an apartment, the landlord and leasing office will expect the apartment to stay in mint condition, otherwise you won’t receive your deposit back. If you’re not used to cleaning and maintaining a space, now is the time to learn! You always want to leave your apartment in good standing as it does affect your credit and your rental history moving forward.

How Much Rent Can You Afford? – Budgeting for an Apartment | The Light Lab

How to Save on Rent

Consider A Roommate

One way to instantly reduce the cost of your monthly rent is to live with a friend or two.

Living with roommates will slash the monthly cost and utilities in half. Maybe your cousin has been considering a move out on their own and would entertain the idea of living together. Put your feelers out, and see if there’s someone you’d want to peacefully live with, and be comfortable enough to discuss bills with. Communication is number one when it comes to living with another person.

Reduce Spending

If affording an apartment is not on your radar because of your current monthly spending, then consider shaving off the odd expense or two.

  1. Eating and drinking out. For example, how often are you eating out? It’s no secret that eating out and drinking at bars or coffee shops costs a lot of money. That $4 latte that you buy 4 times a week adds up to roughly $65 a month without tip. Each time you spend $10 on lunch or a cheap dinner, little by little you’re diminishing your monthly budget to put toward your own place.
  2. Car expenses. If your car payment and insurance premiums are out of this world, how about considering buying a bike instead, and riding public transportation? Depending on where you may work or attend school, it’s a strong possibility to find affordable apartments within the vicinity you need to be located in.
  3. Gym membership. Is your gym membership also eating into your budget? Consider finding an apartment complex that has a gym and a pool. If you’re a true workout junkie, then you know you don’t always need the massive gym to get the workout in.

Good luck on your new move!

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Born in Australia, Ebony has been in Texas long enough to consider herself a Texan-Aussie. Ebony has been writing for magazines, newspapers, and blogs, for more than 10 years. When she's not writing she's building quilts, growing her own food, or camping with her family somewhere far from the sounds of the city.