How Much Should You Budget for Utilities?


Today, we have a question from our MyFirstApartment mail bag.

“How much should you budget for utilities?


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!

Electric: Usually around $30 — but can get much higher in the summer with AC’s running. So, do consider adjusting your budget to around $50-$70 in the summertime.

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.

Good luck!

P.S. If any of you fellow readers have any questions you’d like answered specifically, please feel free to send me a note to

“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.

Author My First Apartment

Posted by

I've lived in apartments in 6 cities (including 2 foreign countries). Does that make me an expert? As of now, my ceiling isn't leaking and I don't have rodents (knock on wood) -- so I'm going to say yes . . . but ask me again tomorrow:) These days, I'm enjoying life Chicago style, but my years in Brooklyn are never far from my mind. P.S. By day I work at, but these opinions are totally, 100% my own.

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Comments (67)

  1. dana

    Hi. I am about to move out on my own for the first time. i make approximately 45000 a year. rent at the apt complex is going to be 1010 a month which includes cold water, sewage, trash, maintenence, landscaping. i have to pay for cable/internet and electric. the apt is 814 sq. feet. im curious about how much electric may cost? my only concern is the whole apt is ran on electric (stove, heat, hot water) theres no such thing as gas. i know obviously it can vary a lot per person so just a little idea on how i live: i would definitely use the stove/oven on a daily basic for bfast/dinner. im not big on the place being really cold in the summer, i am always cold as it is but that means in the winter i hate being in a cold place so id say like 65-70 would be the range i would have the heat at in the winter. and of course ill run the blowdryer/hot iron for 2-3 hrs a week. so im trying to have an idea of what that electric bill may look like.. i guess on the lower end and on the higher end. thanks!!! :)

    • MFA Editors

      Hi Dana,
      Our rule-of-thumb for utility costs is equal to 20% of your rent. However, if you have an all electric building and have to also pay for heat, you might want to budget 30%, especially during the coldest months.

      Here is a report by Duke Energy that lists how many kWh (kilowatt hours) each electric appliance uses in typical use. You can try to estimate what your usage may be from the chart, keeping in mind that many of the estimates are for a family of 4. The chart is a little out of date as it related to cost per kWh. They use 8.2 cents, but our cost in NYC is 25.8 cents and upstate New York 19.2 cents. You can find out what your utility charges per kWh and use that to make your own estimates.

      Running basic appliances is not that expensive and does not vary much, but heating the apartment can get costly if the building is poorly insulated. Here is another article that discusses that point.

      In any case, with your good income and reasonable rent you should be fine. Remember to turn your heat way down when you are at work.
      Let us know what’s your actual usage so other readers will learn and good luck! MFA Editors

  2. Julia

    Hi! My friend are going to move out into a small two bedroom apartment in Ohio. We are paying $550 and we were wondering what our utilities are going to be like. Can anyone help?

  3. Maria

    Hello, Im moving into my first apartment. It’s a studio in springfield ma, im trying to figure out around what my basic utilities will cost me. I have gas which the bill will be for my stove and hot water, and electricity which is lights and heat. its a very little studio apartment but trying to figure out what to budget

  4. Ruby

    Hi Katie,
    I live in Beloit, WI and I’m thinking about moving to an income restricted apartment. It would be my 2yr old son & I. I would be paying $552 a month & $552 for the deposit appliances are included washer and dryer as well. She said no utilities were included which seems kind of odd to me. Where do I go about checking to see if there’s some kind of catch to this ? Also how much do you think I would be spending a month on utilities

    • Admin

      Hi Ruby,
      It’s so great that you and your son will have this apartment, including a washer/dryer, to boot!
      You need to find out what exactly she means with utilities that are not included. She may be only referring to electric, phone and cable TV/internet which are rarely included in the rent. Or is she also talking about water and garbage collection. Always ask specific questions, when something is not clear. Electric/mo. is probably in the $40-50 range, at least double that if you use air conditioner in the summer. Cable/internet/cell phone bundle would be close to $100, but you’ll probably find internet only service for as low as $20-30/mo.
      Good luck from the My First Apartment Team!

  5. Katie

    Hi, I live in Oregon and I’m looking for an apartment. I frequently visit craigslist looking for availability’s. When I’m looking I see people saying that most of the rental companies are doing illegal things, like keeping security deposits for example, and other things too. They often post state laws in their complaints but I don’t understand what I’m looking for in the tenant-landlord laws. Can you help? Do you know any obvious illegal things landlords do and get away with often because people don’t understand?
    Also, another quick question. I paid an application fee and they never called me back saying if I did or did not get the apartment. Is that illegal? Taking my money and never telling me I didn’t get in? It was about $70 total.

    • Admin

      Hi Katie,

      We are not lawyers, so we can only give you common sense advice. First of all, Craigslist is a jungle, so be extra careful. Here are a few posts that help you avoid common scams. Don’t pay any application or other fees until you know that you are dealing with a legitimate agent/broker. Visit the broker in his/her office when documents are signed and money changes hands. Check with Better Business Bureau and just Google their name to see what pops up. Unfortunately, that $70 is gone for good, but consider it an educational expense.

      As to landlords, most are honest and reputable, but, as in every profession, there are some bad ones. In order to avoid losing your security deposit you need to take some steps in the beginning of the lease, in order to protect yourself on the back end.
      Good luck from the MFA Team!

  6. Sarah

    You’re so awesome at replying to people on here. I also really need help.

    I’m moving into my first place with a roommate in Austin, TX! It’s a duplex 1900 sq/ft just us girls.

    What do you think our bills will be? (excluding google fiber because its not here yet sad face)

    Also, the lease says that the landlord does not pay any expenses but you mentioned: “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.”

    Why is that? Best wishes!

    • Admin

      Hi Sarah,
      1900 sq/ft duplex for 2! How lucky can you get.
      First of all, before you sign a lease (or any other legal document) you need to ask if there is anything you don’t understand. The landlord should explain what is and what is not covered in your rent.
      Typically, water and trash collection are included in your rent. However, because you live in hot and dry climate in Texas, you may have to pay for water usage, if it is sub-metered for each apartment. This is becoming increasingly common in drought areas. As far as garbage collection, is your apartment a separate unit with its own trash area or are all the garbage cans in a common area? If you have your separate cans, then it would be possible to bill you separately for garbage collection, which could run maybe $20 a month.

      Regarding utilities, cable $20-$50/mo, depending on speed of connection and provider. Electric we really cannot estimate other than say it will be pretty pricy, maybe even several hundred a month, because you have a large apartment and you live in hot climate so A/C will be running a lot. Ask the previous tenant, a neighbor or your landlord for an estimate and call your electric utility’s customer service. Luckily, you have a roommate to split the bill.
      Good luck from the MFA Team.

  7. kurt

    Hi my name is Kurtis, i am currently 17yrs of age ,my 18th birthday will be approaching in the next two months,i currently make roughly around 1200$ a month.i have found an apartment that prices around 500$ a month.One of my peers told me when renting an apartment that i would have to pay first and last rent is that correct? if so how much should i budget for my utility bill,i honesty do not watch TV but i do want internet ,the summer is approaching and i’m not a fan of the heat will that affect my utility bill

    • Admin

      Hi Kurtis,
      Yes, your friend is right. When you rent an apartment you typically have to give two months of rent on signing of the lease – your first month’s rent and one month security deposit. You’ll get your deposit back when you leave, as long as took good care of the apartment. Many people apply the security deposit to their last month’s rent, although you are not supposed to use it that way, but wait for your landlord to release the money after inspecting the apartment.
      A good rule of thumb is that you should have an amount equal to 3 months of rent saved before you move – to cover rent, security deposit, utility deposits, moving costs and/or couple of pieces of furniture (bed, table, couple of chairs.)
      Regarding utilities, you may be able to get internet only for about $20/month, plus another $30-50 for electric, double that during summer.
      $500 a month rent is little high on $1,200 take-home pay, particularly if your pay varies month to month. We recommend that you should try to keep the rent to no more than 35% of your monthly after-tax pay, or about $420 in your case. That said, many people manage even if their rent is higher, as long as they don’t have a lot of other fixed expenses (car, student loan or credit card payments, for example.)
      Happy upcoming birthday and good luck!

  8. T

    Hi, I have a question. Do you usually pay your electric and heat bill together or can they be seperate? Thank you!

    • Admin

      Hi T,
      If you have electric heat then it will be in one bill with your lights, etc. The electric company typically meters for all usage in one meter. If your apartment gets heated with radiators, it’s usually included in your rent. Good luck with your apartment from The My First Apartment Team!

  9. j

    I live in Charlotte, NC. I am looking to live on my own, I have been living with a roommate for a year and I am ready to probably never have to do that again. I am currently paying about $445 for my half of rent and water and trash, about $40 in electric, $40 for internet, no cable and we use our cell phones, and my bill is $45 for a prepaid.I don’t have a car, but I use public transportation and the monthly pass is $70. I found a two bedroom 900 sq. ft duplex for $450/ month. I don’t think water or trash is included, but since it’s just me, I don’t think that my water bill will be that high. I think that it has central air. As far as utilities go, I plan on continuing using my prepaid phone, internet with no cable. I honestly don’t even think that I will have a TV. I don’t really care for TV that much and when I do want entertainment, I use my laptop to watch netflix and youtube. Also, I am not a great fan of the A/C in the summer, I am cold most of the time and I prefer ceiling fans if I am hot. But I love to stay warm in the winter. With that information, about how much should I expect my utility bills to be if I move there?

    • Audra Audra

      Hi J,

      Great question! Based on the information, this is roughly what I think you might end up paying in utilities:

      Internet: $30 – $60 per month
      Electricity and/or Gas: $100 – $200 per month
      Water: $30 – $80 per month (if you live in the city, there’s likely to be a “sewer fee” which will make your bill on the higher end)
      Trash: $10 – $40 per month

      All of this of course depends on your usage, your location, and the company you end up using, but I’d say this is a pretty good rough estimate. Of course, there are plenty of things you can do to keep the electricity bill down, but based on the fact that you aren’t much of an AC user, it sounds like you’re bill will be on the lower end of the scale above.

      I hope this helps!

      Audra & The My First Apartment Team

  10. Amelia

    Hey there

    I live in the upper part of Florida, right by the Georgia line. I make roughly $1,300 – $1,600 a month. I do have a car which is about $280 a month and I have car insurance as well but I’m not quite sure how much it is a month since it’s set up in like 2 payments a year which you can do 50-50 payments on which turns out to be like $275 for one of those 50-50 payments. Anyways, I’m looking to finally move out of my parent’s place and get out on my own. I’ve looked at some places and I have quite a few options. Bottom line, I’m curious on what rent price range I should look into. Like one apartment in my area is $694 which includes water. Then there’s another that doesn’t include water and it further away from my job which is $565 a month. So what do you think I could afford, or do you think I can even afford to live on my own?

    • Admin

      Hi Amelia,
      If you take-home is $1300-$1600/ month= $1450 average and you’ll spend 1/3 for rent, or about $480 that would leave you just under $1,000 a month for all your other expenses, or just over $800, during your low income months. Your car+insurance payments look high, especially if your insurance is 4 payments of $275/yr, or almost $100 a month. (It is a little unclear what you mean above.) You also need to plan for utilities, gas, medical insurance premiums, food and all the other expenses you have to cover living on your own.
      Why don’t you do a 3-month test and save $700/month while living at home. If you can easily manage it, you can then start looking for a place for under $500 (probably a roommate share) and use your savings for moving related costs and as a cushion to help during your low income months. Moving out on your own may also inspire you to look for a higher paying job, or otherwise try to boost your income. Good luck! Let us know how it works out.

  11. Taylor


    I live in NC and my boyfriend and I want to move in together soon. We have checked out some apartments in our area and found two that we like, each $500 a month with water included. We each make about $1000 a month and when we figured up utilities we had money to spare, but being as we’ve never done this I’m worried we may have left some things out or priced some things wrong. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • Admin

      Hi Taylor,
      Spending half of your take-home pay for rent is a big hunk, more than the 1/3 we would normally recommend.
      The only way you can figure out if you have money to spare is to take a piece of paper and pencil and add up all your monthly expenses: rent, utilities (electric and internet), car or public transportation, health insurance, food, clothing, entertainment, etc. If you feel comfortable with the amount left over, or even better, if you have savings equal to couple of month’s of rent, then you should be OK.
      Let us know what you decide and good luck!

      • Otis

        You know clothing doesn’t have to be a monthly expense , right ? $500 dollars a month ? Yeah maybe if you want to live in some rat hole in the ghetto . However, if you want to live comfortably and not have to worry about your car radio going missing overnight , I’d suggest no less than $600 a month for rent , not much difference price wise but trust me it will be a BIG difference in the long run . The cheapest route isn’t always the smartest route . Not suggesting anyone live outside of their own means but don’t settle for crap either .

  12. Alex Lowe


    In all states are the apartment landlords suppose to pay for water? I live in North Carolina and was looking at some places and I believe she told me that we had to pay for water electric cable and internet.

    • Admin

      Hi Alex,
      Submetering water usage and having the tenant pay for their use is more common in the South than in the Northern states. Check out if there are other places that don’t charge for water separately and then compare rents. The cost of water is somewhere, either in your rent or as a separate charge. Before you sign the lease, ask what the typical water bill would be, so you can budget for it in your expenses.

  13. Amethyst Midnight


    Soon I’ll be going to a University located in the city and instead of making an hour commute I’m thinking of getting an apartment with one or two roommates. I make only $500 a month working 20 hours a week, but we were thinking that we may be able to pull it off by splitting the rent three ways. Is there any advice on how to go about finding the right apartment?

  14. Kaitlyn


    I am looking to move out and am really excited but also terrified about the process! I’ve been commuting an hour and a half each way to my job for about 2 years. My bosses really like me and the time has come for me to move closer to work and start making a life for myself. My bosses are willing to work with me and they want to help me out as much as they can so they have asked me to come up with a ball park sum of what I will need so we can determine how many hours I would need to work to sustain a living.

    I haven’t found an apartment yet (not for lack of trying!) but I would feel more comfortable if I knew exactly what I would need to spend. It is just me, so it will be either a studio or one bedroom, and I am trying to determine how much I would need to spend on utilities. I can definitely live without a landline or cable so I’m pretty sure all I would really need is electricity, water, gas, trash, and internet. I’m looking around Bergen County NJ if that helps! Any advice or guidance at all would be really appreciated!!!

    • Audra Audra

      Hi Kaitlyn,

      Excellent question! The blog above is a bit dated, so I’ll give you a breakdown of what I’ve paid for utilities over the past year or so. I’m located in Georgia, but I imagine the rate will be about the same.

      Internet: $30 – $50 per month
      Electricity & Gas: $100 – $200 per month (depends on the season and your usage)
      Water: $30 – $80 per month (most likely will be included in your rent price; sometimes included as a flat rate rather than based on usage)
      Trash: $10- $40 per month (most likely will be included in your rent price)

      Overall, I’d say be prepared to spend about $300 on utilities per month. That way, if they run low you have extra money. But if they run high, which they sometimes can, you have plenty to cover your costs.

      Hope this helps!

      Audra & The MFA Team

    • Admin

      Hi Kaitlyn,
      Just to add to Audra’s detailed answer, one quick rule of thumb regarding utilities is estimating that they’ll be somewhere around 20% of your monthly rent if you live alone, and around 10% if you live with roommates.

  15. Alex

    My boyfriend and I are trying to move out of our parents houses soon. We both make about $740/month. We have been looking into studios because most of the time utilities are included except for electricity which we will have to pay ourselves. The apartments range anywhere from $760-$800/month here in California. Do you think that we would be able to make it? I figured that since we both work and go to school in the same area that we won’t be using our cars a lot which = less gas.

    • Sarah Sarah

      Hi Alex!

      It may be best to wait until your income is a bit higher so you won’t have to spend more half of your combined money on rent. Writing it out will help you see that $1480 – $800 (rent) – $60 (approx. electricity) only leaves $620 for EVERYTHING else. TV and internet is expensive ($100+/month), food and groceries ($400/month), incidentals/apartment necessities (~$200/month), fun/dates (~$100/month), savings for college/house/car/travel (~$50/month)…it adds up much faster than you expect.

      I moved out of my parents house this summer and the costs were shocking. There was a lot I didn’t think about that I took for granted (a full pantry, internet, long showers). To be honest, living with a BF on a VERY tight budget will be hard. Way harder than you think, because money is so complicated and sensitive. Make sure you’re 100% positive you and this guy are a good fit (especially that you have similar opinions about money). Living together makes your money his and vice versa. If you don’t like the idea of thinking of your incomes as ONE income, you should definitely wait.

      All that said, I also think that if there’s a will, there’s a way. With moving out though, you need to have “The Way” planned out PERFECTLY, especially when money will likely be so tight for you two.

      My advice is to write out a very specific budget with your boyfriend. Make a budget for your first few months together, just to try it out (and be HONEST. Do you love your Starbucks every morning? Does he enter fantasy sports’ bets every month? Include that!). We have some awesome resources on MFA to help you think of everything. List everything you’ll spend money on (and the cost) and do some math to see where you would be at the end of your first month.

      If you’re coming up with extra money at the end of that budget exercise, you may be ready. If you’re negative, it’s a definite no-go until you can make a little more. It seems, based on my math problem at the beginning, that you should probably wait for now, unless you can pick up an odd job or find a cheaper apartment. Even with utilities included, there are many more expenses with your first apartment than you may realize.

      Good luck!
      Sarah & the My First Apartment Team

      MFA budget help:

      PS: I went through exactly what you’re trying to this summer. You can click on my name to learn more about how it went for me! Wishing you the best!

  16. Deanna

    So what do you think the electric bill would be for a 800 sq ft apartment that is ALL electric. This is going to be my first apartment and I’m nervous about the utilities, def with it being all electric.

    • Admin

      It depends very much on where you live. Will you be needing a lot of heat or a lot of air conditioning. Just as a starting point, figure out about $50 a month for basic lights, appliances and electronics. Then add the heat and a/c costs that could easily run another $100-200, depending on your location.
      However, your best source for a realistic estimate is your local electric company. You could also try to contact the previous tenants to find out what they paid. Let us know what you find.
      Good luck in your first apartment!

  17. Lori

    Hi I just received a letter in the mail today from my rental office informing me that if I decide to renew my lease, in lieu of a rent increase I will be responsible for paying for my water usage which is included right now. Even though my lease isn’t up until 3/1/14 I need to let them know by 12/1/13 if I want to renew under those terms or terminate my lease. Does any of this sound strange to anyone? Also how much could I expect to pay for water in a 1 br apt. with a w/d and dishwasher? Would my rental office have an estimate for what I might pay a month for water?

    • Alex Alex

      Hi Lori,

      This does indeed sound strange. I would talk with them. First, ask they why they’re making this change. Also ask how they intend to measure what water you’re using vs. what other apartment units are using. (Usually, to my understanding, there’s not a gauge on each unit.) Also ask who’s responsible if there’s an exterior leak to the building, who detects it and how it’s dealt with — certainly you don’t want to be on the hook if some utility sink in the communal basement is dripping, for example, or if the grounds keeper forgets to turn off the hose. Finally, ask what they estimate the water bill would be per month. If you want to stay, and if the amount extra is reasonable, volunteer to pay instead the flat fee per month added onto your rent. If this doesn’t work, or if their answers are fishy, I would seriously consider moving. It seems something is up.

      • Mj

        More and more landlords are actually taking this approach to pass water bills onto tenants by installing separate meters, so that they don’t have to pay the expense of a tenant who takes 3 showers a day for example. While asking how they’ll meter the apartment is good advice, it shouldn’t be a deal breaker unless you can find nearby apartments whose Net rent is far less when taking the total cost of rent and water together. It could actually be a good thing since you’ll be able to control the amount of water (and therefore $) that you use, especially if rents around you are rising. I’d ask that they install more efficient low-flow faucets and toilets before making any change if you can get them to.

        • Alex Alex

          Hi MJ,

          Thanks for the tip and keeping us updated. We agree that if done properly and fairly, charging for metered water can be completely legitimate if still unusual in the U.S. If change is coming (certainly charging for water is common in Europe, so it can be done), it’s something our readers should keep their eyes out for.

  18. Krystal z

    Hi I’m going to be renting a guest house with my boyfriend and I’m happy but also nervous. He isn’t worrying about expenses too much but I am. So far I estimated we would be spending about $890. Probably tmi but I generated a list
    Rent: 400
    Utilities:200 max
    Personals: 80
    Dog: food15,shampoo10, flea medicine25
    Average total 890
    If u can help with some advice or give me any tips would be really great. I just don’t want to move and then be stuck moving back home because I could pay my bills. I also would want to get wifi and possibly cable is that a bad choice or is that okay cuz on average we would both have over $2000 to apply to the house and every day living

    • Alex Alex

      Hi Krystal,

      It’s a good sign that you’re thinking of these things. As for your expenses, I think you’ll find that groceries will probably be more per month, and that utilities (if you don’t include cable or internet) will be less. That said, if I understand correctly, both your boyfriend and you have around $2000 per/month/per person in take-home income. With that amount of income, you should be fine. As for cable, we recently posted an article on the subject:

    • Lindsey

      Hi Krystal,
      I have been living in a one bedroom (in MA) with my boyfriend for over 4 years. Here is a breakdown of the average monthly expenses (this is total not per person)
      rent: 1,000
      electric: varies from 25$ (in winter) to 90$ in summer with AC going
      Internet: started at 37$ per month, but now is up to 78$ I can’t afford cable, but when I used to have it the bill for tv and internet was about 160$ Keep in mind if you have HD and DVR’s with multiple boxes you’re bill will be way higher. If you’re on a budget Netflix will become your best friend!
      food: easily $250 sometimes closer to $300
      personals: $50-60
      Heat (gas): it’s included in my rent now but my old apartment went anywhere from $30- $150 in the winter (that was the highest it went)

      Some other things to think of when your budgeting:
      Credit card bills
      Gas for the car- I always figure out the millage from home to work and try to average what I’m spending a month on gas. If your moving further away from work this will add up!
      Cell phone
      Laundry- if you’re going to the laundromat or have coin-op add that to your monthly expenses. I spend about $40-60 a month on coin-op laundry for the 2 of us.

      Good luck!! Moving in with the boyfriend is a big step! He’s gonna drive you crazy at times, but it’s still awesome living with the one you love. If you and your boyfriend each have 2000 per month (making 4000 total) you should be fine!

  19. mercedes

    Hi I live with my mother I have a 3year old son im 21 I think its time for me to move I will be moving in 15 days im renting a 1bedroom nice small apartment it’s a duplex on the second floor I was just wonder how much will my gas in electric be? Thanks

  20. rusty

    Do you have to have the water and lights switched over into your name? And if so how much does that cost?

    • Alex Alex

      Hi Rusty,

      First off, water should be taken care of by your landlord. (If it’s not, be suspicious.) You shouldn’t need to worry about that. As for electricity, yes, you need to have it in your name, unless it’s included in the rent. (If it’s included in the rent, your landlord will be paying for it.) Switching it to your name should be easy. Just call up the electric company and explain that you’re moving in, and that you need to make a switch. You may have to furnish some sort of proof that you live in the new place (a bill or your lease would work) and then it’s done. There shouldn’t be a fee, provided the electricity was in use when you moved in. If the place had no electricity when you moved in, there might be an activation fee. Hope this helps.

  21. gettingreadytomoveout

    Good evening I first want to say thank you for all of this advice! I am looking to move out of my parents house within the next 6 months: I am NOT a tv-watcher so will not need cable. I am curious if I will have to pay for cable no matter what? For example what if my apartment comes with a TV yet I won’t use it, is this something that could happen?
    Can someone help me with this? Thank you for your time

    • Alex Alex

      Hi Getting Ready to Move Out,

      It’s very rare for an apartment to require a cable subscription. On occasion, fancy buildings will have it included in the monthly rent as an amenity, but this is for *very* high-end buildings. You should have no trouble finding a place where you won’t have to subscribe to cable — in fact that’s the norm in the vast majority of apartments. So, no worries there.

  22. SMT

    Im tring to move into an apartment. My spending limit is very short I can only afford a 1 bedroom but I need a roommate. If I get one I still cant afford the 2 bedroom. What do I do?

  23. Shelley Crocker

    Does anyone pay for gas heat and dryer(hot water,cooking and washer is electric) in the NE (PA ? it is an upstairs apt. and has new windows.Is not an end unit. Our Apt complex just informed us that we are having a meter installed and will now have to apy for gas which was previously included, when our new lease begins in a month. We’re living on a pretty tight budget, so I was curious how much it might run. Does $70-$100 sound reasonably close in winter months? Our heat hardly never runs, only at night when it is very cold out.It must be a really well insulated apt. though almost 30 years old.

    Thanks for any input anyone has, be glad to get it!

    • Alex Alex

      Hi Shelley,

      Based on what you describe, $70-$100 sounds reasonable for the winter. If you’re upstairs and surrounded by other heated apartments, it’s quite likely that your place won’t need much heat, particularly if your place is well-insulated.

  24. LALA

    HEY!!ill beh qettinq my place next month and i waas wonderinq… if any one noes about haff pricinq with a roommate.. see, tha thinq is
    im havinq a 5 bedroom apartment, if not more!!!!
    how do i split the payment.. holla bac!!!!
    thank you!!!!! bye
    ~ranqer qanq~

  25. Samantha

    This is really helpful. I’m moving out of my parent’s house in the next year or so, I know that’s not very soon, but I was just wondering about how people go about finding a roommate? A friend was asking about my plans and he said I will for sure need a roommate, but somebody I can trust and deal with and that sounds hard to find in a new city. I’m thinking about maybe moving to Philadelphia.

    • Alex Alex

      Hi Samantha,

      This a great question. And it’s true — you save significantly by having a roommate. How to find one? We may have a full article on it next month, it’s such an compelling topic. The short answer is, there’s no easy way. Talking and networking via email, friends, and colleagues is one way. Really working your connections can be surprisingly effective. Or, if you’re a college grad, you may also consider reaching out to the alumni association in the city you’re planning on living in. Often they’ll have message boards and other ways to contact alums in the area who may be looking for a roommate, or who have suggestions. Craigslist is another route — if you search for “shares” on Craigslist, you can move into an already-occupied place as the new roommate. This can be stressful (and you should do your homework on the people/place you’re considering moving into) but it’s very common in big cities, where many renters need roommates. I’ve used craigslist for this, both as a new roommate, and as the guy searching for a new roommate, and have been very successful. Hope this helps!

  26. Randell

    My question is about the electric deposit that Columbus OH electric charges? How much is this deposit? and is there a way around this? Also when should I expect my first electric bill to arrive after I move in?
    I am not sure why you feel the cellphone is exorbitant, unless you use AT&T, as Virgin Mobil has a good 3g (now 4g) which I bought for $150 2 years ago and I am paying $40 month for unlimited everything. Its crazy to get a phone on contract and then pay out the yazoo as AT&T and some other cell companies charge. VM has been great for me and I also tether to my home PC with my cell phone so I have no internet bill. Unless you watch online movies and have to buffer the tethering actually plays the nfl games on my PC at a decent rate.
    Also I am seeing that Time Warner has basic Cable/Internet for $20 per mo. No premium channels of course but 20 bucks is sweet.
    Thanks for the article, very good subject as Electric rates are such a variable, and never seem right for the amount of electric used by a single person. I went from 3 apartments from $35 to $65 to $120! Single with same everything except different apartment buildings. The first apt. used steam heat and as you stated was very cheap and good.

    • Alex Alex

      Hi Randell,

      Thanks for your thoughtful reply. In answer to your question, it appears that the deposit is 1.3 times the average monthly bill for your property, and you’ll need to provide it if you’re new to the area, or have had some outstanding or late utility bills in your past. You can get it waved with a letter of credit from a previous utility company. That said, if you go a year without any late payments, the security deposit will be automatically credited to your account, and so you’ll end up just having a free month of utilities a year down the line. As for when to expect your bill, usually you’ll get a notice that you’ve signed up shortly after you’ve arranged for the service, and then a bill approximately a month after the service begins.

      More information is available here:

  27. Keyarra

    Hey , my parents have been driving me insane. and I’m ready to move out I just was wondering if I don’t make a certain income would a apartment complex not consider letting me lease an apartment?

    • Alex Alex

      Hi Keyarra,

      Thanks for question. The answer: it depends. Some management companies are more flexible than others. After I graduated college, I moved into a place without any job at all and it wasn’t a problem because I had good credit. That said, not all companies are so forgiving. A good workaround is to have your parents agree to be co-signers … or, if you know you need a roommate, make sure your roommate has a steady income above the required threshold. Often, if you ask management companies directly, they’ll tell you their policy, and let you know what solutions are available to you.

  28. Terrance

    Im a 19 year old TRYING to get outta my aunts house. Im also planing to collect money so I can rent out an apartment and get out by june.
    SO….im trying to figure out what is required for wannabe first time renters like me. Do I have to pay taxes as well along with my rent too? thats a good question and do I have to have credit in order to rent out an appartment? Im pretty serious about getting an appartment.

    • Alex Alex

      Hi Terrance,

      Thanks for your question. First, you should not have to pay taxes on your rent — in fact, if you live in some states (such as Minnesota), you’ll get a tax rebate for having paid rent, if you make under a certain threshold per year. However, that can be figured out once you’ve scored a place.

      As for what you need to get your first apartment, good credit certainly helps, but it’s not totally necessary. If you don’t have any, you may have to have a relative co-sign for you, or you may have to pay more up-front to give the landlord piece of mind. Check out our tips for first time renters as well as our article on renting and credit scores and our article on how to impress a landlord. We have many other articles on related subjects, so please feel free to use our search functionality to find all the information you need.

  29. Katelynn

    Thank you! My parents are gettinig divorced and I’m losing my house :/ so I had to find a place, fast. I don’t really have much help, but this was SUCH a relief. I was scared I wouldnt be able to do it, or I would call the wrong people and get ripped off or something, but this helped! I am now on my way into a very nice apartment, knowing exactly what I’m getting into. THANK YOU!!! :)

    • Alex Alex

      Hi Katelynn,

      You’re welcome; it’s great to hear from our readers, and thanks for the kind comment. We’re happy to help.:-)

  30. chelsea

    hi i am looking at 2 diferent 2 bedroom apartments one includes water,trash,internet and cable its $600 a month and the other is also $600 a month includes heat,water and trash i was wondering which is better and which would save me more money the one that pays heat,water and trash or the one who pays water,trash,cable and internet???

    • Sisko

      Hi Chelsea,
      Since water and trash are included in both, all you need to price out is the difference between internet/cable vs. heat. You can probably get a basic internet/cable package for $60-75 a month, without HBO or other pay channels. If you live in a cold climate, heat can get pretty pricy. If it is natural gas or electric heat, you need to get an estimate from the gas or electric company. Also, you can call your local cable company for an estimate. But remember, if money gets tight, you can cut off cable, but you cannot do without heat. Take the heat option, pay for the internet yourself, but skip the cable. For $50 you can buy Roku or another device that let’s you stream TV programs free to your TV via the internet. Let us know what you picked. And good luck!

    • Gail

      slumlords sometimes do not supply the proper amount of heat and it’s a pain because you have to keep following up with a local government agency if they have one to enforce it. And they can drag it along if they are behind and don’t have things properly repaired and you will freeze to death I would go for a place where you control the heat.

  31. Anonymous

    This is a great article and I would have been useful two years ago when I first moved. My suggestion for your electic bill is to try level billing. In NY we have Con Edison and they can evenly split your payments up into 12 equal payments and can be adjusted for large spikes and decreases. It takes the guess work out of figuring out how much you're going to have to pay. I got sick of the shock and awe of waiting for and opening my electric bill. Hope this was helpful.