Renting an apartment for the first time can be an exciting experience! However, it is important to also keep in mind that there will be different costs associated with renting. Keep reading to find out about the monthly bills you will have to pay when renting an apartment.
Your Rent Payment
Once you move into your apartment and have stayed there for a month, you will need to make your first rent payment. Rent is usually due the first of the month, every month, at the agreed-upon rent amount listed on your lease. Most landlords/property management companies will ask that you pay rent via a check, or through an online portal. Some places may allow you to make a cash payment for rent, but that is not too common.
Most leases are year-long or more, while others can be six months or you may be able to rent from month to month. The good thing about a longer lease is that your rent amount will be locked in until renewal. But you will not be able to move out without breaking the lease agreement—which can be very expensive. A shorter lease will give you more freedom to move, but rent may go up quickly.
Your monthly rent will vary depending on where you are and the type of property you are renting. For example, renting a unit in an apartment complex is usually cheaper than renting a single family home. Rent in New York for a one bedroom apartment usually ranges from $2000 or more, while rent for the same-sized apartment in Columbus, Ohio, may be as low as $900.
Sometimes your landlord or property manager may take care of some of the utilities, but that is never guaranteed. And so, it will be smart to budget all utility costs into your monthly bills. Each month you should budget for:
- An electric bill (including heating and cooling).
- A natural gas bill.
- A water bill (you’ll be paying for hot water).
- Trash and recycling.
- An internet bill.
- Laundry services.
- Streaming services or a cable bill.
Average utility costs in the US are around $240 for apartments. You can definitely cut down on these costs once you move in, but it will be helpful to factor these averages into your budget before you commit to a lease. It is important to pay your utilities on time, because utility payments may show up on your credit reports.
A Security Deposit
Your security deposit will be a one-time cost you must pay when you first move in. It will be close to one month’s rent. This deposit will be returned to you when you move out, as long as there isn’t any damage to the property. If your landlord/property manager determines they need the money to take care of significant repairs, they have the right to keep that money. This will likely be the most expensive of other upfront costs when renting. When paying your security deposit, most places will also ask you for the first month’s rent.
Renter’s Insurance (If Applicable)
Some landlords may require their tenants to pay for renter’s insurance. And even if they don’t, you should definitely consider it. Renter’s insurance will protect all your personal belongings in case of things like a fire, natural disaster, or burglary. Renter’s insurance usually ranges from $15 to $20 a month.
Pet Fees (If Applicable)
If you have any furry friends you are bringing into your new apartment, there may be monthly expenses attached when you pay rent. Pet fees, a monthly fee for having pets are more common in apartment complexes and condos than in homes. They can range anywhere from $20 to $50 per pet per month. There may also be an additional fee added to your security deposit if you have pets.
Parking Costs (If Applicable)
Depending on where you live, you may need to pay for a parking space. These costs can range anywhere from $20 to $200 a month.
How To Be Successful When Renting Your First Apartment
If this is your first time renting an apartment, there will definitely be new monthly expenses and costs to juggle, which may be challenging on your first go. The good news is that with the right tools and strategies, you can ensure getting through a lease successfully. Here are some things you should consider doing before or after moving in:
Create a Budget for Your New Living Expenses
A budget is a great way to organize your finances, and you can choose to follow an annual or monthly budget. To create a budget, you’ll have to track your income and expenses to get an idea of your spending.
From here, you can start taking control of your money to get your bills paid on time and save for any short-term or long-term goals. Before you commit to an apartment, you should definitely factor in how much rent, utility bills, and other expenses will take up your monthly income.
Consider Your Lifestyle
Most experts recommend that your monthly rent should not exceed more than 30% of your monthly income. And even if your monthly income is enough to affordably cover rent, think twice about whether it fits your lifestyle. If you are someone who likes to go out a lot, has expensive hobbies, or likes to travel, then you should consider those things when choosing an apartment community to move into. You’ll still want to be able to do some of these things while taking care of renting costs. And so, finding a balance between the two is key!
Build an Emergency Fund
Another thing to help you get the best experience when moving out is building an emergency fund. Ideally, your emergency fund will cover at least three months of expenses; however, having any amount saved will be helpful! With an emergency fund, you can rest assured that you’ll be able to cover any unexpected costs or take care of bills if you lose your primary income source. And with savings, you won’t have to turn to high interest lending when you need help paying rent. For example, many people who need fast cash often apply for a payday loan or a cash advance, which can be extremely expensive.
Be Transparent With Your Landlord if You Can’t Pay Rent on Time
Last, you should consider how you will handle things if you cannot pay rent on time, because it may happen! Being transparent and honest with your landlord or apartment management company will be the best way to move forward. Chances are, you can make a late payment with an additional or no fee if you have never missed a rent payment before.
Ways To Save On Your Monthly Bills With Apartment Living
No matter where your apartment is located, there are things you can do to save money on your monthly bills. Some are a little more extensive than others, but either way, they will help you save:
Get a Roommate
In many major American cities, it will be tough to live without sharing expenses. And so, if you have an extra room at your apartment, consider getting a roommate! Even with one roommate, you’ll be splitting rent and all the bills that come with renting in half! This can help you save a lot of money every month.
Be Smart About Your Utilities
Switching to energy efficient fixtures and appliances, being conscious about electricity use, taking cold showers, cutting down on subscription services, etc., are just some ways you can save on your utilities. You could see a massive difference in your monthly utility bills each month, even with some minor changes.
Bundle Your Insurance
If you are required to have rental insurance, then bundling it with your car insurance, life insurance, etc., can save you money! Talk to your current insurance company about adding rental insurance to your insurance account.
Take Advantage of a Move-In Special
Many apartment complexes have move-in specials, which could save you a good amount for your first year or the first few months. Often, these specials include a waiving of base rent for the first month or a reduced rental rate if you sign a lease for a specific amount of time.
Ask Friends and Family To Help You Move
Moving expenses may not be something you think about when you consider additional costs of renting. But whether you are moving out from your parent’s house to rent your first apartment or have moved from one apartment to another, there will be moving expenses! Asking friends, family, and even neighbors for help can be a great way to save hundreds or thousands of dollars.