How Much Should You Budget for Utilities?
Today, we have a question from our MyFirstApartment mail bag.
The short answer is — anywhere from $75 – $200+ per month. What’s the long answer? In terms of possible utilities, here’s a comprehensible checklist: electric, water, heat, trash pickup, gas(**HEAT), cable, internet, and telephone. Off the bat, water and trash-pick up should be included in your rent; if it’s not, you very well may have a landlord who’s not abiding by the letter of the law — so definitely check into that. Now, let’s break down the remaining list.
Gas: Usually ranges from $15-30, depending on how much you cook. The more you use your burners/oven, the higher the cost. Also, know that gas includes costs for HEAT, which can go as high as a few hundred dollars in the winter if you like to stay super toasty! If possible, I’d recommend trying to find an apartment with radiator heating, as these kind of apartments usually include free heat!
Cable/Internet/Phone: Approximately $100. Be sure to call up your cable company and ask if they have any specials — they usually do and you’ll get the best new customer deal by calling up and sweet talking the sales associate at the other end. If you’re looking to go bare bones, ONLY internet usually runs about $30-$50.
The hidden expense in living on your own is being responsible for all the utility costs; if you’re worried about costs, I’d seriously consider finding a roommate to help share the load! In other words, $200/3 people = pretty sweet 3-bedroom.
Also, so you know, the exact amount of utilities is impossible to pinpoint as it really depends on your energy usage. The U.S. Department of Education has a decent budget calculator, and they recommend putting aside 2-10% of your net income for utilities. However, they also ask you to seriously consider cost of long distance phone calls(hello, cellphone!) so. . .it kinda sounds like they’re living in 1973. That said, cellphone bills can be a doozy.
P.S. If any of you fellow readers have any questions you’d like answered specifically, please feel free to send me a note at editor [at] myfirstapartment.com
“Dear My First Apartment,
How much do you pay for utilities in an apartment? There are so many factors to consider. Would you be kind enough as to give me some pointers as what to look for or avoid? A little advice would go a long way right now.