How Much Should You Plan for Utilities?

To find out what our readers actually paid for utilities in July 2015, check out these results of our online survey.

Our readers often ask how much they should budget for utilities, so we thought we’d give a brief refresher course. We’ve listed some usual utility categories and some thoughts/pricing for each. At the end, you’ll find the estimated total cost per month. (The cost estimates are for a typical one to two BR-sized first apartment.)

Heat

The cost of heating can vary wildly, and can make-or-break the cost of an apartment. So let me break it down by types:

Radiator-Based Heat in Multi-Unit Building: if you are in a multi-unit, radiator-based building, there will almost certainly be no extra charge for heat. This is because there is no way for the landlord to determine which unit used how much heat, and therefore, the landlord will pay the building’s heating bill in total. In this situation, the cost of heating is built into the rent.

Radiator-Based Heat in a House: if you and some friends decided to team up and rent out an entire home, you may then be on the hook for the radiator-based heat. Heating a whole house could cost over $300 a month, though this would likely be split three or four ways.

Gas or Forced-Air Heating: In the winter months, this can be quite expensive. Budget at least $100 a month in the deep winter, though the cost can vary based on the size of the apartment, the quality of insulation, and the efficiency of the heating mechanism. One good way to find out is simply to ask the landlord or previous tenant, since each building will be different in its heat costs.

Summary: Heating can be a bug-a-boo, and can effectively raise your rent by $100 or more a month in the winter. Make sure you know how much you will have to pay before you sign the lease.

Electricity

utilitiesBefore we consider the cost of air conditioning (which is usually included in the cost of electricity), let’s just focus on the electric bill without A/C.

During winter months, or if you don’t use air conditioning, it is reasonable to pay between $30-50 a month in electricity. There are ways to lower this bill, such as turning off lights, fully powering down appliances, and using compact fluorescent light-bulbs. However, a lot of your bill will simply depend on how much you’re home, how much you watch television (tube TVs are big electric drains), how efficient your refrigerator is, and how careful you are about turning off lights.

Summary: Electricity is necessary, and it will cost you about $40 a month, if you’re an average user with an average unit.

Air-Conditioning

This expense can be a real wild card – and it all depends how much you use. Unlike with heat, in most places in the country, you don’t need air conditioning, though it’s nice to have, especially when a heat wave hits.

According to the website CarbonRally, the average American’s AC system costs about $280 a year to run, though the website notes that many systems cost much more. This seems about right to me, when you factor in a few things: first, most people only use their A/C about three to five months a year. And, in some places, like Minnesota or Maine, you may only use it a few times a summer, which averages out with the southern US, where you’d use it much more. So, for people who live in places with average weather, you’ll really only be using it May-September, which means about $56 a month extra on your electric bill. This seems about right – I’ve had my total electric go up to $100 dollars on particularly hot months.

Summary: A/C isn’t strictly necessary, but if you want it, plan on spending up to $60-70 extra a month during especially hot months.

Cooking Gas

In a lot of buildings, if you have a range stovetop, you’ll have to pay for the natural gas that you use during cooking. (And in some buildings, the natural gas will also provide your heat.) As regards cooking, the cost is very minimal – $20 a month at most, usually quite a lot less. It really all just depends how much you cook at home – and, even if you’re spending a little extra to use your gas at home, you’re almost certainly saving money by not eating out.

Summary: Gas is a negligible expense when used for cooking – it’s usually around $10 a month, and by cooking at home, you’re saving money anyway.

Internet

Forty-five dollars a month is roughly average. Keep in mind that you can split the cost with as many other people as are using your connection. For example, when I lived in Minneapolis, my next-door-neighbor and I set up the wireless router so that she could get a signal, too, and then me, my roommate, and her were all using one forty-five-dollar signal.

The other thing to consider is bundling your internet with your cable. You can often get a deal that way …. See below for my thoughts on cable.

Summary: These days, internet is a necessity. It’ll run you about $45 a month, but that will provide a signal for everyone in the apartment, and perhaps some friends nearby.

Cable

I personally don’t have cable, and don’t really miss it. This is an optional expense. Especially with the new high-definition televisions, and their digital antennae, it’s easy to get great reception on network TV, and then you can use Roku or Netflix streaming (or HBO On-Demand, or whatever) for the rest of your needs, though this will cost you about $20 a month, if you subscribe to two services.

If you simply must have cable, look for a deal. They come along frequently, and can save you some money. But be careful – often they’ll have add-ons like free HBO for three months, which will then become charged to your account if you don’t cancel it when the preliminary deal expires. So make sure to read the fine print, and to keep active on your account, so you know what you’re being charged for.

Summary: While it’s not a necessity, it is nice to have cable, and you can usually find introductory deals that include cable and internet for about $90 a month, or you can use a streaming service or two for about $20 a month.

Renter’s Insurance

As Alissa touched on, renter’s insurance is worthwhile. Think of it as protecting your stuff, come what may. It’s also affordable, at only about $150 a year, or less, depending upon where you live.

Other Add-Ons

Some things you’ll only need if you live in certain areas of the country, but it’s worth touching on them here:

Parking

In some neighborhoods (namely, in big cities, where parking is hard to find), parking will cost extra. In my neighborhood (Lakeview, Chicago), it’s about $150 a month for a parking spot, though there’s enough street parking that it’s not a necessity. In other places, such as Brooklyn Heights, NYC, or Lincoln Park, Chicago, it may very well be necessary, unless you want to spend an hour a day driving around, looking for parking (I’m serious). So know whether you’ll need this before you get a place.

Doormen

If you’re lucky enough to have a doorman, you’ll have to tip him during the holiday season. Usually, it’s about $50-100 per doorman, so if the building had three doormen, it’ll be $150-300. It’s expensive, but it’s also important you do it – you want to be on the good side of the doormen, since they watch your packages, greet your guests, and keep a set of your keys.

Air-Conditioning in Sweltering Locations

I know I touched on it already, but if you live in a really hot place, like Phoenix or Dallas, you’re going to be paying a lot more per month, for more months. Say, $80-90 a month (plus regular electricity costs), for eight months a year. So keep that in mind.  Your silver lining is that you don’t have much heating costs.

Adding It All Up

The good thing is you use your A/C in the summer and the heating in the winter, so the overall cost on that evens out some, though heat is generally more expensive. If you get what I mention above, and go with Roku over cable, and don’t have any add-ons, your total utilities cost comes to roughly $200 a month. Keep in mind, though, that this is for the apartment as a whole – so if you have roommates, divide by the number of people living in the unit, though, of course, if you have a very large unit (say for four people, or more), the heat, electricity and A/C will be a touch higher, so add 20% to my estimate, and then divide.

If you want a rough rule of thumb, expect to spend on utilities an amount equal to about 20% of your monthly rent if you live alone, slightly less if your live with roommates.

Author My First Apartment
Alex

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Alex has rented in Minneapolis, Queens, Brooklyn, and now Chicago. He can kill rodents and roaches when required, and loves picture-hanging projects. If you're ever in town, give him a shout.

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Comments (151)

  1. Jordan

    I’m not sure, but I think I just fell in love with this website. :-D I wish I knew about this with my first apartment. Still helps now though, because I’m still poor (albeit, less poor than a few years ago. lol)

    Reply
  2. Susan

    Hello i have an 8 month old and i make about 2,000 a month what should i be looking at for ranges in rent? I was thinking $750 no utilities included. Would i be able to affors this?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors

      Hi Susan,
      $750 will be tight, especially with the extra necessary expenses the baby adds to your budget. The basic formula for max. affordable rent is 35% of take-home pay. In your case that would be $700 and you need to estimate another $120-$150 for typical utilities. With the baby you cannot skimp on utilities, either, the apartment must have heat and light. If you can find a place where only utilities you have to pay are electric and internet (no cable TV), then you could afford that higher rent.
      Good luck from the MFA Team!

      Reply
  3. sophie

    hi i’m doing a moving out thing with school and i just needed some help with what i might need or are the payments for the week

    Reply
  4. Mark

    Im planning on renting an apartment with a friend for 620 a month without ultilities (Electricity, heat, etc.). We both make roughly 800 per month after taxes. Is it possible to live off this? Also being considerate about power consumption and such… Thanks

    Reply
    • MFA Editors

      Hi Mark,

      It seems too tight for your incomes. Take a look at our recent utility cost survey. If your electric and internet/cable will run at least $60 each and if heat is not included in rent, your utilities will easily exceed $200 a month. This would mean more than half of your take-home pays goes to housing, leaving your less than $100 a week for commuting, food and all your other expenses.
      Continue saving and try to find ways to boost your incomes.
      Good luck from the MFA Team!

      Reply
  5. Hoang

    Hello, I am a recent graduate who just moved to Chicago. I just got approved for an apartment that is $1195, gas and electric not included. I have to factor in internet and renter’s insurance as well. I will be making about $3000 a month after taxes. This will be the first time I will be living on my own and I have never had to pay any sort of bills. Your article was super informative! I am just wondering if this was doable?

    Reply
  6. Tyana G.

    Hi! I am a student in Tallahassee, FL and I am planning on getting an apartment next year as a junior in college. With 3 colleges, Tallahassee is a college town so there are plenty of apartments made for student housing with single person leases. I would be paying for the apartment with my school scholarship that allows $2500 for housing a semester which totals $5000 an entire year. I could also potentially be bringing in an extra $300 a month during school months with an on campus job so I wanted to know what my bottom line monthly budget should be including rent, utilities, and cable/internet.

    Reply
    • MFA Editors

      Hi Tyana,
      Can you find something that rents in the $300 a month range. That would leave you enough room to pay for electric, est. $50, internet, est. $20-30, and possibly another $40 for water and garbage collection, because you are in Florida. Skip cable TV, you cannot afford it. Use the campus job as an emergency fund, not to pay for a rental you would not otherwise afford.
      Good luck from the MFA Team!

      Reply
  7. Katherine Ramicone

    Hello! I make about 2500-3000 a month and my best friend makes 2000-2500 a month (after tax). We’re looking at an apartment listed at $1000/mo. Heat is included. We pay electric, and the landlord pays other utilities. We each pay about $30 commute to the city for work. Would we be able to afford this, or should we be looking at a lower rent cost?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors

      Hi Katherine,
      With your combined monthly income of $4,500 you could easily afford a $1,000 rental. It costs you less than a quarter of your income, so you’ll be in good shape to cover all your other expenses, too. Check out this post to estimate your electricity costs.
      Good luck from the MFA Team!

      Reply
  8. reina

    I make about 2500 a month after tax. I live in the NJ/NY area and am looking to move out within a year. I have to pay up to $600 in student loans a month, as well as $200+/month for commuting into the city where I work. What sort of rent price range should I be looking for, and is it even possible to find? Thanks.

    Reply
    • MFA Editors

      Hi Reina,
      NYC landlords are tough. They want you to have an annual salary of 40 times your rent. If you make $2500 after tax your salary is probably about $3000 a month or $36,000 a year, which would qualify you for an apartment that rents for $900. Alternatively, you’d need to find someone to guarantee your rent. That person needs to have an annual income of 80 times the rent.
      In your case you also have the high student loans in the equation. If you’d find a $900 apartment, plus pay about $100 in utilities, you would have $900 after your loan and about $700 after commuting. It seems like that should be enough, especially with all the free activities and entertainment available in NYC. You’ll most likely end up with a roommate share somewhere in Brooklyn or Queens, but the commute will be still better than from NJ.
      Good luck from the MFA Team.

      Reply
  9. Timothy

    I am looking into an apartment for $525 a month. I bring in 800-900 a month and my roommate brings in roughly 1500. Could we manage this? What would our estimated costs including utilities be split evenly?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors

      Hi Timothy,
      You two can certainly afford the $525 rent and another $100 in utilities, or more if you have to pay for water and garbage collections in addition to electric and internet.
      If you split the rent and utilities evenly, let’s say about $325 each/month, you’ll still have about $500 left for all your other expenses. Your roommate will have about $1,200 left, so there will be a big disparity in what each of you could afford for entertainment and other discretionary expenses. Budgetwise, you are both OK, as long as you’ll feel comfortable to say no when your roomie wants to do something you cannot afford.
      Good luck from the MFA Team!

      Reply
  10. Kevin

    Hello, me and my roommate are looking at an apartment for $775 a month, without any utilities included. I make about 1200 a month as does my roommate. With 2400 a month after taxes, would we be able to afford it? We also will be spending about $150 each on gas. How much extra money do you think we would have to save each month? Would this be doable? Thank you for your time.

    Reply
    • MFA Editors

      Hi Kevin,
      First, check out this posts about actual utility costs. You should plan to pay an amount equal to about 18% of your rent or $140 for your utilities, even more if you live in the South or Southwest.
      Overall, it looks like you should be able to handle your rent, utilities and gas, with close to $150 left per week for each of you for savings and other expenses. You should be able to save at least $50 a month, as long as you avoid high-maintenance girlfriends!
      Good luck from the MFA Team

      Reply
  11. Joey

    Hi, me and my roommate are looking for an apartment at about $800 dollars a month. All utilities are included. I make $750 a month and my roommate makes $800 a month. We also both pay about $160 a month on gas money. He seems confident we would be able to make it by and save a bit, but im not so sure, what do you think?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors

      Hi Joey,
      Your roommate is too optimistic. When you have to pay more than half of your income for rent, you are in a risky territory and any unexpected little mishap, like car trouble, will throw your budget off. Why don’t you look for a place in the $600 a month range and learn to handle your rent and all your other expenses you’ll have living on your own without going so far out on a limb.
      Good luck from the MFA Team!

      Reply
  12. Sean

    Hi I live in wisconsin and me and a friend are looking to move to colorado springs, colorado sometime in the next few months. The apartment costs $800 a month and the electric and heating are both not included. Would we be able to afford all costs including food, etc. We both make about $600 dollars a month and have to pay about 200 a month for gas. Would we be able to afford this?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors

      Hi Sean,
      If the two of you make $1,200 a month, combined, and pay $200 a month for gas, there is no way you can pay $800 in rent plus utilities. You would have no money left over for such pretty important expenses as food!
      You need to be looking for a very inexpensive roommate share.
      Good luck from the MFA Team!

      Reply
  13. Olivia

    Hello, I live in Georgia. I make about $1,000 a month. I was looking into getting my first apartment that is 410 a month. I have no car payments except for gas which is 240 a month, 120 from each paycheck. I am transferring with my job to another location that is closer to the apartment. So gas would probably go down to just 150 a month. My phone bill is 63 a month. I have two other bills that adds up to 80 a month. I am also getting a raise next year which would make my income go up to about 1200 a month. Would I be able to make this move?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors

      Hi Olivia,
      If you take your income of $1,000 and deduct rent $410, utilities about $80, gas $150, phone $63, other bills $80, you have only $217/mo. left for all your other expenses. It seem too little for comfort. Why don’t you continue saving, wait until you get your raise and then run your numbers again. Then your rent starts to look manageable.
      Good luck from the MFA Team!

      Reply
  14. Tangi

    Hi me and my boyfriend and 3 kids (my1) his 2 on weekends I bring home a boy 6-800 every two weeks and 400.00 in child support he brings around 480 (aftercs) and between 25&139 from a second job the apt we are looking at is 575 + utility can we do it

    Reply
    • MFA Editors

      Hi Tangi,
      Assuming your BF’s income of $480 is per month and your child support of $400 is per month, you make about $2,100 in a low month (600*2+400+480+25) and about $2,600 in a high month. The formula for max. rent of 35% of take-home pay shows your low month rent max. at $736, so you should be Ok paying $575 and still having enough left over for utilities (assume about 20% of rent or about $120/month) and all your other costs. During your high income months your should have some extra money to put towards savings for an emergency fund.
      Also check out this average utility cost survey we just posted on the site. It will help you to estimate utility costs based on where you live.
      Good luck from the MFA Team!

      Reply
  15. Meg (@meggyhertz)

    Hi I think this is a great post. I live in Miami, making 2500/mo. No car payment, but insurance is 90 and so is phone bill (total $180). I don’t have to worry much about heat. I’m looking at spending $900/mo on rent. Assuming I spend $250/mo on food and $80/mo on gas. Should I be alright? I’m expecting some help from by bf with food and the electric or cable/internet bill, but I don’t want to rely on it per se. What are your thoughts?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors

      Hi Meg.
      You are lucky with the heating costs, but you’ll get hot with big A/C bills unless you have central air included in your rent.
      $900 rent is just a little more than we’d recommend for someone making $2,500/mo after-tax. (If your $2,500 is before tax, then you are definitely too high.) Overall, though, it looks like you are in a reasonable ballpark, even if you have to cover your utilities of $150 or more month. To double check, look at your last couple of months of income and expenses and see if you would have been able to cover your rent and utilities in addition to all your other necessary cash outlays. That’s your answer!
      Good luck from the MFA Team

      Reply
  16. Kadrian

    I make, roughly $1000 a month. My best friend makes around $500 a month while going to school. I want to buy a car and the payments will be about $250 a month plus $100 in insurance and gas money. The apartment were looking at is $540 a month. Will we be able to afford it?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors

      Kadrian,
      Just looking at the formula of paying no more than 35% of your take-home pay in rent is not going to work in your case. While 35% of $1,500 monthly pay is $525, close to the $540 your are looking to spend, your other expenses will be so high that there is not enough money left over for such basics as food and clothing.
      Deduct from your $1,500 rent $540, utilities est. $100, car expenses $350 and you’ll have $510 left each month for 2 people. That’s $17/day or $8.50/per roommate. Can you cover ALL your other expenses on that? We’d say, no way. Looks like it’s either a car or the apartment. And even without the car expenses, it will be tight.
      Let us know what you decide. Good luck! MFA Editors

      Reply
  17. Ruby

    Alright so, I am 19 working two part time jobs and going to school full time. I get paid bi-weekly at both jobs on the same day, if that makes sense. and all together my checks combined come to like 750 on a good two weeks. I pay my own phone bill which is about 50, my car insurance which is 120 a month. and I also do payments for school but they’ll take anything I can give. I found an apartment for 530 a month, will I be able to make it every month?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors

      Hi Ruby,
      It’s going to be tight, but you can probably make it. If you deduct your fixed expenses (including est. $100 for utilities) from $1,500, you’ll end with $700 to cover all your other expenses. That should be enough for one person.
      We are just a little concerned when you say your make $750 on good two weeks. How bad are the bad two weeks? Your landlord will not care that you had a run of bad paychecks. Before you sign the lease, figure out how much money you’ll have after your fixed expenses in a bad month. Only you will know if that is enough. You do have that little cushion of the two extra paychecks each year that can help in a pinch.
      Good luck from the MFA Team!

      Reply
  18. Jaralyn

    I currently bring home $3300 a month. The apartment I’m interested in is $1015 and I must pay all utilities. I have a car note of $400 and $150 insurance. Will I be able to afford this by myself?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors

      Hi Jaralyn,
      If we use the basic 35% of take-home pay formula for max. rent, your number is $1,155. While you do have high car expenses, your total pay is enough to cover your $1,015 rent, utilities (est. at $200) and those car payments, with about $1,500 left over for all your other expenses and savings.
      Good luck with your new apartment from the MFA Team!

      Reply
  19. Glen

    Okay so I bring in about 2,500-2,700monthly and want this apartment that is 910 a month(not including utilities) and have a car note/insurance of 500. Is this doable?

    Reply
  20. nancy

    Hi, I have a question. I am renting this place for 1175 a month I only have to pay electricity and gas. It is me and my partner living alone. Every two weeks I get paid 800 and my partner gets paid 800 every two weeks as well. I have 100 to pay for car insurance and 100 for phone bill. Will we be able to make it for a year? Just concerned that we wont be able to afford it

    Reply
    • MFA Editors

      Hi Nancy,
      Assuming your numbers are after tax, if you do the math from Calculation 2 in this post you maximum rent target is $1,120, but it sounds like you have very little other fixed expenses, so you should be OK at $1,175. You also have a cushion with the two 3-paychecks months you have during the year.
      If your numbers are before tax use the Calculation 1. It will show that your target rent is $960 and $1,175 is over $200 too high for your combined incomes.
      Good luck with your apartment from the MFA Team!

      Reply
  21. Zaynah

    HI I’m looking to get an apartment with my boyfriend. He usually makes $1100 a month and I make around $800-$900 a month. I don’t have a car payment. We’d just be paying for my cars gas, utilities, and rent. What would be our price range for an apartment be?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors

      This recent post shows two ways to estimate how much rent you can afford on your salary. You should use Calculation 2, if you are on hourly pay, calculation 1 if you have an annual fixed salary.

      If you average $1,900 net take-home pay combined in low months, then your max. rent is $665. You can estimate the amount yourself, by following Alen’s example in calculation 2.

      Since you don’t seem to have other heavy expenses, $650-$700 should be safe rent range and you’ll still have money left over for all other typical apartment and living expenses.

      Good luck from the MFA Team!

      Reply
  22. Matt

    Okay so I make about 400-500 dollars bi-weekly. My soon to be roommate makes 400 bi weekly. We are looking at apartments for about 600-675 a month. I have to take out 100 dollars almost every check for car insurance and I will need gas money. Do you think we can afford to get an apartment in this price range?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors

      Hi Matt,
      The basic max. rent formula = 35% or your monthly take home, has max. rent at $560 ($1,600 * 0.35).
      Let’s say your rent is $600, $700 with normal utilities, so you each have to shell out about $350 a month for housing. That’s almost one paycheck each month. That leaves you a little more than one paycheck for all other expenses, car insurance, gas, food, clothing, entertainment, etc. It looks to us like it could get really tight. You need to look at your typical expenses and see if about $100 a week is enough to cover it all. Maybe, if your $500 paychecks are frequent, you could squeeze by, but your roomie might have trouble paying his share.
      Try to look for something a little cheaper, or continue saving until you have at least 3 months of rent in savings before you take the plunge.
      Good luck from the MFA Team

      Reply
  23. James Bosley

    Hi I’m currently looking for an affordable apartment. I make about $2500-$3000 a month. Been looking at an apartment for about $700 a month but I also have to pay for utilites. I also pay about $500 a month for both my car and insurance. Will I be able to afford this?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors

      Hi James,
      Use your low months as the basis for calculating the max. rent target. If $2,500 is the after tax number, then your max rent is at 35% is $875. If it is before tax number, then your annual salary is $30,000 divided by 40, gives your max. rent of $750. Either way, you should be OK at $700 a month, even with your car payments. Try to budget to live on $2,500 a month and bank the extra money during the $3,000 pay months for emergency fund and savings.
      Good luck from the MFA Team!

      Reply
  24. Faikoeli

    Hi i’m curtently living with my parents but want to move out. I make 800 per week and looking to just get out of my parents wing. I have found a 2 bedroom apartment for 230 per week i have no idea about utility bills, my car is paid off, no ph bill and no intension to have cable, internet, t.v etc as i am a workaholic. Do you think i would be able to handle that?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors

      Hi Faikoeli,
      $230 weekly rent is only 29% of your weekly (after-tax?) pay of $800, well below the max. target of 35%, so you should be OK with that apartment. If your pay is gross= before tax, you’ll be well withing the guidelines even then.
      $800 * 52 weeks = $41,600 divided by 40 = $1,040 max rent/ month.
      Good luck from the MFA Team.

      Reply
  25. Katie

    Hello,

    I make about 500.00 every other wed. my husband brings in about the same or a little more. our rent will be 701 plus we have to pay our power and water. This is after taxes are taken out. How much does it cost to turn the utilities if we have 0 credit? Will we be able to afford this?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors

      Hi Katie,
      Your $701 monthly rent is just at the top of the recommended maximum, but you should be OK because you will have two months during the year when you actually get a third paycheck. You can bank those into emergency reserve.
      As far as turning on utilities when you don’t have a credit rating, call the electric company and find out what they recommend. You may have to be prepared to make a larger than normal deposit.
      Good luck with your apartment from the MFA Team!

      Reply
  26. iambrittknee

    Hello.
    I’ve been at my job for about 3 months. I make between 2,500-3,000 a month. i would like to purchase ab 800.00 month studio apartment. This is how i set up my budget
    Rent 800.00
    Electricity 50.00
    Heat/air 70.00
    Internet/cable 70.00
    Water 40.00 3 months
    Renters insurance 15.00
    I live in the md/dc area. Is this a good budget? I calculated it costing about 1,020 monthly

    Reply
    • MFA Editors

      Hi iambrittknee,
      Budget looks good and $800 rent should be affordable on your pay, leaving even some room for savings in your higher pay months. Your heat/air will fluctuate with weather, so your may see a little higher bills in the middle of winter and for hottest summer months, but you have room in your budget to cover that.
      Good luck from the MFA Team!

      Reply
  27. Ana

    My brother and I are looking to move into a house for 950-1100 rent. I make 2500 and he makes 2400. I have a high car payment and am a single mother to 1 no child support.. He has a child support payment of 500 a month. I am not sure how much his car payments are. Do u think that we would be able to afford this?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors

      Hi Ana,
      Looking at two basic formulas for maximum target rent: 1.) annual pre-tax salary divided by 40; or 2.) 35% of your monthly after-tax pay, rent in the $950-1,100 looks very affordable.

      However, only you two know what all your other expenses are. You need to put your math skills to work and do a little budgeting. Take a piece of paper and pencil, or open a spreadsheet program on your computer and add up $1,100 rent + est. $200 utilities + your health insurance payments + car payments + credit card payments + child support + student loan payments + any other fixed monthly payments you have to make. Next, deduct that total from your monthly take-home pay. The balance remaining has to be enough to cover all your other monthly expenses, such as, food, clothing, childcare, commuting, entertainment and leave something left over for emergencies.
      Hope the numbers work out and you and your brother are on your way to getting your own apartment! Good luck from the MFA Team.

      Reply
  28. Tiana

    My best friend and I are looking to rent a home for about 1100 – 1200 between the two of us to rent. I make approx. 2400 a month and she is at 2000 a month. Does this seem doable for us to split. I have a car paym of 380/mo and hers is 410/mo, insurance for me 125/mo. Not sure about hers. I also have twins 1 year olds. Their dad and I split costs for them.

    Reply
    • MFA Editors

      Hi Tiana,
      Assuming the monthly incomes were after-tax, you should be OK in your $1,100-$1,200 range. Just remember to factor into your budget utilities of about $200 a month. The basic formula that budgets maximum of 35% of your monthly take-home for rent, would let you go as high as $1,540 ($2,400+$2,000=$4,400 *0.35).
      However, that would be too much for you two to carry because you have high car payments and other large expenses, including childcare.
      Good luck with your apartment from the MFA Team!

      Reply
  29. paula

    I’m looking to rent an apartment for 600-700 I make 680 every two weeks plus another 446 a month. Do you think I can afford this rent with utilities or look for a cheaper apartment.

    Reply
    • MFA Editors

      Hi Paula,
      Assuming the numbers you gave are post-tax, your monthly take-home is $1,806 * 0.35 = $632, so the formula works for a $600/month rent, with typical utilities, but don’t stretch it to $700.
      Good luck from the MFA Editors.

      Reply
  30. Kiley bond

    Hello, my fiance and I are trying to rent a 2 bed 2 bath apartment at just under $600 a month. He will bring in approximately $1,800 a month before his comission checks. It would be us two and our two very small children. We’re in Michigan so A/C is not used for the majority of the year. We plan on Internet and Netflix, but no cable. The utilities we are responsible for are water,heat,trash,electric and gas. Do you think $600 a month is unreasonable?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors

      Hi Kiley,
      According to the basic formula $1,800*0.35 = $630, that apartment looks doable. While A/C is not a big expense for you, heating bills could get high in the winter. You should find out from the future landlord how much he thinks your water, heat, etc. will run a month. You do have a safety in that the commission checks will help cover high utility bills in a pinch, so it looks like you should be able to handle the $600 a month rent and still keep the babies in diapers!
      Good luck from MFA Editors

      Reply
  31. Connie

    Hi
    Three of my friends and I, all college students, are about to rent a two bedroom apartment that costs $1000 a month. We are new to the United States and so we do not know anything about paying for utilities and even how it works. Could you please view the details of the listing on this link http://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/10-S-3rd-St-Apt-A_Oxford_PA_19363_M33976-83983?row=2 please help me. I don’t know how much I should be estimating for utilities every month. Thanks… Thanks a lot.

    Reply
    • MFA Editors

      Hi Connie,
      As a rough rule of thumb you should expect that your utilities (internet, cable, electric) run about 15-20% of your monthly rent. Looks like water & sewage and heat are included in rent in this case. Your phone, cable TV and Internet bundle should run around $100 a month. Your biggest wild card is electricity for cooling during hot months, but you are looking in Pennsylvania so it’s only the summer. So, budget for $200 a month, and be happily surprised when the winter months come below.
      Good luck from MFA Editors.

      Reply
  32. Michelle

    My fiance and I are looking to rent an apartment that is exactly $750 monthly. My income after taxes is 498.00 twice a month and he has two jobs and they both pay him roughly between 300-500 every two weeks after taxes also. Will we be able to afford $750?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors

      Hi Michelle,
      I’m assuming your BF makes $300-500 in each job, not combined. With that assumption, even on the low end of your BF’s paychecks your maximum target rent is $761. ($498+300+300=$1,098 every 2 weeks = $2,176 each 2 paycheck month, times 0.35 = $761) Plus you each have a cushion of two extra paychecks a year not in the formula.
      However, if you BF’s numbers were total for both jobs, then your max. target is only $551 and $750 is far too much.
      Good luck from MFA Editors!

      Reply
  33. Mike

    So I am looking at a an apartment that is $1,202 monthly and it will be getting split up with 3 other roommates. I make 320 a week and my girlfriend makes 220 a week, and the two other people make 360 and 380. What will we be looking at when you factor in all of the utilities.

    These numbers are post taxes.

    Reply
    • MFA Editors

      Hi Mike,
      Your groups maximum rent target is $1,792 (add up all weekly pays, times 4 weeks = $5,120 * 0.35) so even if your combined utilities run as high as 15% of your rent or $268, your total housing would be still under $1500 a month and well below your max. rent only target. (Plus each of you has a cushion of 4 extra paycheck a year that were not even in the formula.)

      Also check out this post about how to split rent and this one about roommate agreements.
      Good luck from MFA Editors!

      Reply
  34. zia

    After reading your post I feel like this will be cramped as in financially. If I make 175 a week, and my boyfriend makes 400 a week is it possible to rent a place for $600 plus electricity.

    Reply
    • MFA Editors

      Hi Zia,
      We are assuming the numbers you show are your net pays after taxes. $175+$400=$575 total a week, times 4 weeks = $2,300/month, times 0.35 = $805 maximum target rent. $600 is well withing your means. (Note: this formula leaves you a cushion for emergency fund, because four times a year you’ll have a 5-paycheck month. Just check your calendar.)
      If the numbers are pre-tax, then $575 times 52 weeks = $29,900/year divided by 40 = $747 maximum rent. So either way $600/month rent is affordable.
      Good luck with your first apartment from MFA Editors!

      Reply
  35. Mia anderson

    I get 226 dollars every two weeks and my boyfriend gets 300-500 every two weeks. We are trying to get an apartment for 400-700 dollars do you think it’s possible for me to get?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors

      Hi Mia,
      A $400 apartment is doable, but do not go much over it, otherwise you’ll be in trouble in your lower-income months. See Calculation 2 in
      this post.

      Good Luck! MFA Editors

      Reply
  36. lola

    Hi Alex,

    I am looking to rent an apartment for $890 a month, utilities are not included. I make about $720 net every week. I pay about about $500 for car payments and insurance and about $200 a month on student loans. Do you think this is feasible?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors

      Hi Iola,
      You make $2880 net in a typical month, so using the Calculation 2 from
      this post your maximum rent is $1,008, and $890 looks doable. However, you have some high car and loan expenses, so make sure you have enough left over for utilities (est. 15-20% of rent) and all your other expenses. Good luck! MFA Editors

      Reply
  37. Tiaire

    I am looking at a one bedroom apartment thats cost from 450 to 510. It is an all electric apartment. I make 656 every two weeks but work overtime so sometimes it will go up. Do you think its doable?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors

      Hi Tiare,

      Check out this post and use Calculation 2, if you are talking about take-home (after-tax) pay. Using the formula, you maximum rent is $459, so $450 should be doable, but watch out for those heating an cooling electric bills.
      If $656 is pretax pay, then look more in the $400-$425 rent range.
      Happy apartment hunting from the MFA Team!

      Reply
  38. Brittany

    Husbad and I found a place for 1175. He makes about 1800 a month before tax and I make 1092 a month before tax. Is this doable

    Reply
    • MFA Editors

      Hi Brittany,

      Check out this recent post that gives two simple ways to estimate what is the maximum you should pay for rent on your salaries. Use the calculation 1, since you are looking at pre-tax incomes.

      Formula is $1,800+$1,092=2,892/month * 12 =$34,704/year divided by 40 = $868 target rent. Maybe you could stretch it a bit to $900 if you don’t have big credit card or other bills, but $1,175 looks too high on your incomes. Good luck with your apartment hunt from the MFA Team!

      Reply
  39. Sue

    Hello I make 22.50 and hour the apartment I want is 1500 and the utilities are NOT included . Do you think I can make it ? I also have a 1 year old . No car note or cell phone bill

    Reply
    • MFA Editors

      Hi Sue,
      Check out this recent post that gives two simple ways to estimate what is the maximum you should pay for rent on your pay. Use the calculation 1, since you are looking at pre-tax income.

      If you work a 40-hour week, the formula is, $22.50 * 40 hours=$900/week * 52 weeks =$46,800/year divided by 40 = $1,170 target rent. Maybe you could stretch it a bit to $1,200, but $1,500 looks too high on your income. Even though you do not have cell or auto loan expenses, you need to factor in the expenses of raising a 1 year old. Good luck with your apartment hunt from the MFA Team!

      Reply
  40. Hannah

    Hi my boyfriend and I are currently looking at an apartment that costs 950 a month. Heat, hot water, and electricity is not included. I make about 1200 every two weeks (sometimes more depending on how much I work) and my boyfriend makes about 400-500 dollars every week. I pay 60 dollars for car insurance and about 130 for my cell phone bill. He also pays about the same. Do you think it is possible for us to afford this place?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors

      Hi Hannah,
      We just published a post on that exact topic. Use the Calculation 2 to figure out your average monthly after-tax take-home income and multiply by 0.35. It looks like $950 is clearly doable for you two. Assume about $200 for utilities, until you get a closer estimate from your potential landlord. Good luck from the MFA Team!

      Reply
  41. Alen

    I have found a apartment for 800 a month with hot water and water included I make 1139 net pay every two weeks . Do you think this doable ? Thanks in advance

    Reply
    • MFA Editors

      Heat and hot water are usually included in your rent. However, if your apartment has electrical heating (or heating/AC units) units and your electricity is sub-metered, so that your exact usage can be calculated, you may have to pay for heat. It would be unusual to have to pay for hot water, unless you have your own separate electrical water heater unit.
      If you do have separate units and sub-metered electric, the cost depends very much where you live and the size of your apartment. A one bedroom apartment in temperate zone could be under $100/mo. or it could be $200+/mo. in winter in Northern states. Always ask the landlord for an estimate.

      Reply
  42. Jude

    Hi, my bf and I are thinking about moving into our own place. We found a loft we really like to rent but we are trying to figure out if we are able to make that step. The monthly rent is $1700 w/out utilities . Combined we bring in $3800 before tax. Also we will be splitting rent and utilities. I’ve saved up about $2700 so far. My car is payed off and my parents pay my phone and car insurance. My bf makes his car payments so that will be an extra expense. Will a place like this be affordable to us? I appreciate if you can help is out.

    Reply
    • MFA Editors

      Hey Jude,
      Sorry, but we are making you sad. That $1,700 apartment is too expensive for you and your bf. For all the details and calculations see this post where we used your situation as an example. Your don’t want to overextend so much that you have no money left for fun or to cover any unexpected expenses.

      Good luck for finding a great affordable apartment!

      Reply
    • Admin

      This is what our blogger Audra, who lives in Georgia, said to another reader:
      “In my experience, water has been fairly inexpensive, averaging anywhere from $20-$30 a month. However, in some parts of the south, especially in the city, a sewer fee is tacked on to your water bill that can be pretty hefty. If that’s the case, expect to pay around $50 max for water.”
      Hope that helps.

      Reply
  43. johnboone215

    Hello my name Is john and I work anywhere from 40-60 hours at a factory I make roughly around 300-500 a week 300 when I work 40 and 500 for 60 I live in somerset ky and the 2 bedroom apartment I’m looking at this 450 a month I have 5k in savings and my wife makes 1200 a month. Now my question is can I afford something better or should I go with this place and save for when I have to move to south Carolina? I am in college which is played for in full and I keep 4k each semester for grants that go to my bank account. My wife’s aunt is a boss of a huge tech corp in south Carolina and I need a bachelor’s degree I will have my AA in December so I will he living here for three years. What’s the best choice for me also I’m only 20 so not sure on what’s the best decision. Thanks for the reply.

    Reply
    • johnboone215

      Also just thought about this. I own two cars no monthly payment bought them with my last 4 semesters of college. 6 month premium on car insurance is 758 and water will be on me also but the water company is next door to where I’m looking and they said averagely its 15-30 $ a month and electric averagely its 30-120$ depends on how hot or cold it is. If that helps at all.

      Reply
      • Admin

        Hi John,
        First of all, congratulations. You are in a great financial shape for a 20-year old college student. It also looks like you could comfortably afford more than $450 in rent and since you will be living in the apartment for 3 years, it makes sense to get a place where you’ll be happy, as long as you don’t overextend your finances.
        Even the conservative calculation shows that you and your wife could qualify for a $750/mo. rental (see below.) We would not recommend that, though. However, would another $100-150 month in rent get you a much better commute and/or much nicer place than $450? Even if you decide to finish your college in two years, and cut back work hours, with your grants and your wife’s income, you could still manage and be able to save for the move to So. Carolina. And then start earning a higher salary sooner with your Bachelor’s degree. Good luck from the MFA Team! Let us know how things work out.

        Setup:
        John makes $300-500/wk = $15,600-$26,000 a year
        Wife makes $1200/mo. = $14,400 a year
        Total annual income $30,000-$40,400
        Max. rent target (annual income /40) $750-$1,010
        Car Insurance $758 for 6 months =$126/mo.
        Savings $5,000
        Grants $4,000*2=$8,000 a year

        Conservative Monthly Budget at 40-Hour Month:
        Income – John $1,300
        Income – Wife $1,200
        Total $2,500
        Less:Payroll & Inc.Taxes(Est.20%) -$500
        Take-Home Pay $2,000

        Housing + Utilities:
        Rent -$750
        Electric – high – $120
        Water – high -$30
        Internet/TV -$75
        Total Housing + Utilities -$975

        Cash available for other expenses $1,025

        Reply
  44. nicholas

    hi my name is Nicholas I have a job but its work part time is now the best time to move out or should I wait.
    and for socal whats a good amount to have saved up????? thank you

    Reply
  45. Robert

    Hi, I plan to move out and have about 10k saved up and make 54k a year. After tax, i take about 2800 home per month. How much should I monthly rent be including utilities in Southern California? I received a job offer down south and kind of nervous about renting my first apartment.

    Reply
    • Admin

      Hi Robert,
      Sounds like you are in a great position to move into your first apartment. If we use the annual salary, i.e. $54,000 divided by 40 formula for maximum, your rent could go as high as $1,350, add another 15-20% for utilities and your housing cost will take close to 60% of your take-home pay. This is too much, so start with your take-home of $2,800 and try to spend no more than 35% of that in rent, or $980. Add about $150-$200 for utilities and you will still have over $1,500 a month left for all other expenses and savings.

      With your nice amount of savings, you could even go a little bit higher for rent if that’s where the market is. Assume that your initial cash outlay will be 3 times your rent: 1st month rent, security deposit, moving costs and minimal furniture (at least a bed). Good luck from the MFA Team!

      P.S. Your situation is a perfect example of how no formula works for everyone and why first time renters have to look carefully at their own finances before taking the plunge.

      Reply
  46. Patrick

    Hi all!

    I’m preparing to move into a Loft Apartment in July, and the rent is $860 a month ($850+$10 for pet), and I currently make $2024 roughly a month. I’m curious as to what we pay for water in the Southeast typically, if it’s included in the rent or not? I need to see if I can afford the place on my own, or if I need financial assistance.

    Reply
    • Audra Audra

      Hi Patrick,

      Congratulations on the new apartment! To answer your question (I’m a Southeast girl myself), water typically isn’t included in the rent. But, every apartment is different, so it’s best to contact you landlord and ask if the water bill is included, and, if not, what it typically costs others tenants.

      In my experience, water has been fairly inexpensive, averaging anywhere from $20-$30 a month. However, in some parts of the south, especially in the city, a sewer fee is tacked on to your water bill that can be pretty hefty. If that’s the case, expect to pay around $50 max for water.

      Hope this helps!

      Audra & The My First Apartment Team

      Reply
  47. Noel ngai

    Hi, I am renting in maine, and many apartments include heat and hot water in the rent. So do I pay for cold water?

    Reply
    • Admin

      We have never heard of a case where hot water is included and not cold water. In the Northeast, water and heat (unless your apartment has electric baseboard heating system) are typically included in the rent.
      Good luck with your apartment from the MFA Team!

      Reply
  48. Alex

    Hi
    My name Alex,I get the utility bill and the higher cost was sewer 75$ is that ok?
    The water. Cost me 35 so why sewer cost 75

    Reply
    • Admin

      Hi Alex,
      More than twice your water bill for sewer does not sound right. Check with you utility and have them explain how they calculate the sewer charges. Also, ask your neighbors what they pay. Maybe there is new sewer construction and you are getting an assessment.
      In general, if you get an unusual jump in any utility bill always ask the utility to explain why. You maybe victim of utility theft, and someone nearby has tapped into your line. This can happen, particularly with with electric lines.

      Let us know what you find out, so your fellow MFA readers know what to watch out for. Good luck from the MFA Team!

      Reply
  49. Kellsey

    I’m trying to get an apartment in the Sacramento California area. My fiancé and I both work two jobs getting roughly $600 dollars each bi-weekly. We are trying to move into an apartment that is $908 per month. Would we be able to easily afford it? A long with food, and utilities? (We would pay for ALL utilities. Water, gas, electric, trash, etc..) we would still like to try and save up for a car while there as well…

    Reply
    • Admin

      Hi Kellsey,
      If we understand you correctly, you take home after taxes is about $2,400 a month, 2*$600*2 pay periods (and extra $1,200 in two months, when you get 3 paychecks.) You need to budget based on your $2,400 months, so your rent of $908 will take about 38% of your monthly take-home. It is a bit higher than our target of 35% or $840 in your case, but should be doable if you do not have many other fixed expenses.
      Take a look at this post for typical expenses you may incur. Keep in mind these are per person, so you should double them.
      You also need to save well over $2,000 before you are ready to move. (Rule-of-thumb: have savings equal to times your rent before moving.)
      Good luck from the MFA Team!

      Reply
  50. Sky

    Hey wusssuuuuuuuup my name I sky I live on Washington state I plan on getting an appartment that’s $870 a month I don’t have a job yet and was wonder ing what type of job would be best for me to pay this it has wifi sewer garbage water included I’d have to pay for electricity and heat I have $4,800 saved but if you could tell me what job would be best form to pay or if u think I should look into another appartment

    Reply
    • Admin

      Hi Sky,
      First, the good news. With $4,800 saved you are in great shape when the time comes to get your first apartment. Nice work saving!
      Now, the bad news. You are not ready to get any apartment because you don’t have a job. With the typical landlord’s guideline of requiring you to earn an annual salary of 40 times your monthly rent, can you get a job making $34,800 a year?

      If you were (un)lucky enough to find someone who would rent to you without a job, they would probably want you to prepay several months of rent, so there goes your $4,800.

      Why don’t you go and find a job first and then figure out how much you can afford to pay for rent. If you make a fixed annual salary, divide the number by 40. That’s your target monthly rent. If you work on hourly basis and your hours are not fixed, average couple of months worth of after-tax paychecks, and only spend about a third of the monthly average on rent.
      Good luck from the MFA Team!

      Reply
  51. Alisha

    Hi, my name is Alisha and I just had a question that I was wondering if you could answer? My apartment agreement states that the landlord pays for heat, water, sewer, and trash. It’s a gas heater, and the apartment has a gas stove. So does the landlord pay for the gas stove or do I? I was thinking that since the landlord pays for the heat (which is gas) that they might pay for the stove (which is also gas). What do you think?

    Reply
    • Admin

      Hi Alisha,
      Cooking gas is usually included in rent. In fact, we have never heard of a landlord charging separately for gas for the stove.

      Reply
  52. Rose

    Hey my name is Rose and I stay in Florida I work two jobs one I bring about $600 bi weekly other job I make $224 weekly my insurance is $250 monthly my boyfriend pays my car i pay my phone $50 monthly can I afford a $500 or less rent?

    Reply
    • Admin

      Hi Rose,
      It looks like you make (take-home?) about $2,096 a month ($600*2+$224*4) (plus two extra paychecks a year that you can save, since you get paid bi-weekly.) $500 a month rent is only 24% of your take home, well below the the 35% target. Even with the $300 of monthly expenses for insurance and phone, you’ll still have $1296 left to cover all your other expenses and put a nice amount into savings. Good luck in your first apartment from the MFA Blogger Team!

      Reply
  53. Vic

    Hi,

    My name is Vic, I’m looking into renting a studio apt which is $514 a month. I take home about $750 every two weeks and have a monthly student loan payment of $130. I plan on not getting cable and my car is paid off. I currently have about $3,500 in savings. Can I afford to move out on my own?

    Reply
    • Admin

      Hi Vic,
      Based on your numbers you are ready to move out on your own. Your rent should not be more than a third of your monthly take home and you are at 34% ($514/$1,500) for 10 months out of the year. The other two months have a bonus third paycheck that almost total your annual student loan payments. (When you get paid every 2 weeks, there are 26 paychecks a year, not 24. Check your calendar!) Plus the fact that you have $3,500 in savings that you can use for first month’s rent and one month’s security deposit and still have $2,000 left, gives you an extra financial cushion. Go for it and good luck in your first apartment from the MFA Blogger Team!

      Reply
  54. Lena

    Hi, I’m looking for apartments now and I’m not sure exactly what ballpark I should be looking at for price. I currently bring home 1500 a month. What should I be looking for in terms of a monthly rent? thanks!

    Reply
    • Admin

      Hi Lena,
      Your rent should not be more than 1/3 of your monthly take-home, so aim to spend max. $500. But before you sign a lease, add up all your other fixed expenses to make sure that you have enough money left over for basic living expenses (food, clothing, etc.) $500 rent budget will probably mean a roommate share to start with, unless you live in a very low cost area.
      Good luck from The My First Apartment Team!

      Reply
  55. Christopher Lewis

    Hi,
    My name is Chris and I live in southwest Missouri. I’m recently been trying to do some research on how much I should expect to pay for utilities so I have a better guess as to where I would land on how much rent I would be able to pay. I will be living on my own and it’s going to my first time. I’ve seen that a lot of the place I can rent would be about $700 or less which I’m pretty sure I could afford but as everyone knows this kind of thing can raise anxiety. I plan on getting internet but not cable. if you can help me out a little it would be appreciated.
    Thanks.

    Reply
    • Christopher Lewis

      Also, if I estimated right I should be making about 1,900 a month. At current though, I will be only paying $50 a month for my phone but depending on how far I would have to travel for work depends on how much I would have to pay for gas for my truck which only gets about 10-15 mpg.

      Reply
      • Admin

        Hi Chris,
        It is not clear if your $1,900 a month is pre-tax or after tax. If it is pre-tax, then you should be looking to spend no more than $600/mo. in rent. (The target rent is your annual salary divided by 40 or $1,900*12/40=$570.) Even if it is your take-home amount, try to keep your rent under $700.
        Regarding utilities, the big money items are what size apartment and how you’ll get your heat. Does it come from a radiator and is included in your rent or do you have an individual unit for heat and a/c. If the latter is the case, it could run you as much as $200 a month in the coldest and hottest months. You need to ask your future landlord how much heat and a/c runs typically in that size unit.
        Other than heat, your electric should be in the $50-60/mo on a studio or 1BR unit, plus $50 for internet. Other possible add-ons are water, if it is separately metered and trash collection. Again, your landlord could estimate typical usage.
        Net/net, you should budget about $150-200 for utilities and add $100 to the amount if you have to pay for heat separately. Let us know how it goes and good luck!

        Reply
        • Christopher Lewis

          Thank you. I was wanting to confirm what I thought. The info wad very helpful. This site will definitely be a big resource for me on taking a good amount of anxiety out of the picture.

  56. Sammy Rae

    Hello(: my name is sammy. My best friend and I are getting ready to head off to college. We live in Montana. And of course coming out of high school it’s all kinda frightening to us. I’ve been doing a lot of research trying to figure out how much our heat, electricity, and water bill. We are looking at an apartment that is around 700 w/out utilities. I’m just hoping that it would be afforadable for the two of us in the end. Please help. We really need all the help we can get (:

    Reply
    • Admin

      Hi Sammy,
      The best way to find out how much the utilities might be is to ask the previous tenant. If that’s not possible ask the landlord. If the apartment is recommended by the college, their housing office should be able to help. Living in Montana, I’d guess the heating bill is the biggie. Electric (other than for heat) is typically not be much more than $50-$60/month for a small apartment plus another $50 for internet. As far as water and heating, you need to get an estimate locally. Good luck!

      Reply
  57. Ally

    Hi so I’m about to graduate college and I got a job offer to start at $47,000 a year. What do you suggest on how much I should spend in rent and you said before utilities should cost around 250 but I also have my car payment which is around 218. I also pay insurance which is 145. And of corse student loans as well. I was just wondering what you think I would need to budget exactly and what would be a good rent payment for my salary.

    Reply
    • Admin

      Hi Ally,

      Congratulations on your job offer. Here are a couple of links that will help you figure out how much rent you could afford comfortable.The basic rule is your monthly rent should not be more than your annual salary /40, or in your case 47,000/40=1,175. Your utilities will depend on what size place you get and what part of the country you live, but use $50-$100 for electric and $100 for cell phone/internet bundle as a rough estimate. You may also have to pay for water in some areas. Check out this MFA post for some estimates of various expenses. Also check this ADP calculator for a rough estimate of what your take-home may be. Remember to add health insurance premiums to expenses.
      Good luck! (With $47K salary you can get a nice first apartment, unless you are heading to SF or NYC where you’ll be talking a roommate share.)

      Reply
  58. Kaydee

    Hi, I’m looking for a place in NYC. I’ve never paid utilities before and I just want to know on average how much it would cost for electricity per month. I’m the only person who will be occupying the apartment. I work during the day and would be using AC during hot months. Would my electricity bill be really out of hand every month? More than $100?

    Reply
    • Admin

      Hi Kaydee,
      We asked two New York apartment dwellers what they actually pay for electricity. One lives in a LES studio and pays about $60/mo, the other splits an UWS 2br brownstone apartment and pays about $40/mo. So, estimate that yours will be in the $50-60 range, up to double that for hottest summer months.

      Reply
  59. Michael

    Hi, I’m looking on renting my first apartment, one bedroom. I make roughly $525 every week and have $1,000 in my savings. Rent is $825 a month. Would I be able to afford it?

    Reply
    • Admin

      Hi Michael,
      If you get the apartment you’ll be spending close to 40% of your monthly take-home on rent. A safer rent on your income would be in the $700/mo range or about a a third of your take-home. It’s great that you have some savings, but those will be gone when you pay your security deposit and moving costs. How about money for the first month’s rent? That’s also payable before you move in. You’ll need to have close to $2,000 available to cover all your upfront expenses.

      It’s hard to answer if you can afford $825 rent without knowing what other expenses you have. Student loans? Car payments? Commuting? Credit card bills? If you don’t have any other major expenses, you could probably do it. Check by adding up all your fixed monthly bills plus the rent plus utilities and see what’s left for your all other living costs (food, clothing, entertainment). Only you can judge if that’s enough. Good luck!

      P.S. In high-rent markets, such as NYC and SF, young people sometimes have no choice but pay up to 50% of their income for rent, knowing that it severely limits their lifestyle.

      Reply
  60. Alex

    I make $325 every week, Rent is $725 (bills not included). I don’t watch cable I only use Internet as entertainment and truck paid off could I make it need a second opinion.

    Reply
  61. Cody

    I am looking into moving into a house completely on my own where I do not have to pay any sort of rent but I will have to pay for utilities. The house is a 2 bedroom 1 bathroom and not very big. My only expense is gas for my car. I do not pay insurance or my phone bill, it all gets payed. My problem is that I am attending college which is all payed for by financial aid for now, but I only get paid $250 every 2 weeks. From what I found I should be okay but just wanted a second opinion.

    Reply
    • Admin

      Hi Cody,
      If you only need to pay for electric and internet (maybe $100/mo combined) you should be OK. If you also have to pay for heating and you are in the Polar Vortex country, that could be another $100++/month. However, you have the second bedroom you could rent out if things get tight, so it looks like you’ll be OK in either case.
      Good luck!

      Reply
  62. Jon

    Im just a nervous wreck when it comes to renting an apartment with a room mate but im going for it anyway! My question is, if me and my room make make about 2700 a month combined and rent is 760 a month but we have to pay water and electricity do you think we would be in a comfortable spot?

    Reply
    • Admin

      The basic recommendation for maximum rent you should pay is your annual salary divided by 40. You and your roomie make $32,400/year between the two of you. $32,400 / 40 = $810, so your rent of $760 should be very doable, even with having to pay for utilities. However, you should consider all your other expenses also. Do you have student loan payments? Car payments? Big credit card bills? You need to look at your total financial picture, not just rent. Good luck!

      Reply
  63. Fernando

    Moving out to Fresno with two roommates, first time renting a house so I would appreciate some advice. We were planning on renting a house for around $1250. Which means around $450 each , I was wondering if anyone could help me out on an estimate to see how much all other utilities and things around the house would average out to. That way I can estimate how much we would all be paying a month and how much spending money we’d have left. Help would be much appreciated. Thanks !

    Reply
    • Admin

      Hi Fernando,
      Because you’ll be renting a house there could be more expenses you and your roomies have to cover than in renting an apartment. Are there outside plantings, for example, you’ll need to maintain? The best place to get a good estimate of all the utilities and other costs you need to pay is the previous tenant or the owner of the house. You’ll need to plan at least for seasonal heating/cooling, electricity, internet, water, garbage collection. Meanwhile, assume at least $100 a month per roommate, until you get a better estimate from someone in similar situation. Good luck.
      PS. You had a typo in the rent amount that we fixed. (Changed $12500 to $1250.)

      Reply
    • Admin

      Hi Crystal,
      Having to pay for water separately depends on the region where you rent. For example, in New York City water is included in your rent.
      If you are looking on the West Coast or in the South you may get a separate water bill. Your best bet is to ask the previous tenant or the landlord. Good Luck!

      Reply
  64. Kahlil Garcua

    So theres a place I’m looking at and I’m just talking it up with a friend and said we should look into it. He’s having a kid and I’m about to get a job that pays about $600-$700 every two weeks. The place costs $785 and 3 different people will be tending to the bill so around $261.66 per person in a perfect world. The apartment is 1000 sq. ft. 2 bed 2 bath and plenty of living room space and room for his kid, his lady, and himself. It seems like a decent deal and I would think we can do it. Not only that would it be a good idea to even move in with them if a baby was involved, I’m not bothered by that fact at all, but just in general? I don’t have many other things I HAVE to pay for but I think it would be good for all of us.

    Reply
    • Admin

      Hi Kahlil,
      It sounds like a good deal for you, moneywise. Just realize that little babies are noisy, so consider how close your bedroom will be to theirs. When it’s you baby waking you up at 3am, you can handle it, when it’s someone else’s it could become a source of conflict. On the bright side, it will give you a lot of insight into what it is to be a parent! Good luck to all you you!

      Reply
    • Alex Alex

      Hi John,

      This is a fairly broad question. My advice is to take it piece by piece. First, determine which utilities you’ll be expected to pay for and how much each one costs. Add up the total cost. Divide by the number of people living in the place and, voila, you have a rough estimate. If you’re asking how to get started moving out, use the same technique, but with more steps. Figure out how much you can afford to pay for living expenses each month. Then figure out what neighborhoods you can afford and so on… Piece by piece you’ll get there. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  65. Denise

    Hello! I live in an efficiency (I like to call it a matchbox) and my gas bill at minimum is around 25-27 a month. This is when I don’t use the stove AT ALL. There is a base charge of 12 but if I don’t use the range at all, shouldn’t it be less than 15? If I turn on the stove even once, during the whole month, I end up paying anywhere from 40-90 dollars. I’m calling the gas company today because I got an extremely high bill in the mail recently and it’s pissing me off. I have used my stove once for about 5 minutes (that’s a stretch) and the oven once for about 10 minutes between April 2012 and now (I either use my crockpot or an electric burner that I have). The range is the only gas thing I have since the property manager pays for heat and water. I know I can’t be crazy right?!

    Denise

    Reply
    • Alex Alex

      Hi Denise,

      I sounds like there is possibly a leak or malfunction, especially if gas doesn’t include your heat, as you indicate. It should not be that expensive; you’re right to call the company and have them take a look.

      Reply
  66. Jessica

    Question I’ve never received any bill regrading what I had to pay the Frits time I paid I call to verify the amount it was 670 all together so that’s what I’ve been payin been there 6 months I just went to pay my bill online and it went up 300 and I’m not understanding? Help

    Reply
    • Alex Alex

      Hi Jessica,

      It sounds like this is a problem that needs to be resolved directly with your utility company. I would recommend calling them and staying on the line until you get all your questions answered.

      Alex

      Reply
  67. christa

    I’d like to comment on what you said about Dallas residents not needing heat. On the contrary, while air conditioning is a must here, so is heat, although granted, the length of time is not great. In January and February (and sometimes December) the daytime temps can routinely be just above freezing when a storm passes through. And who can forget the freak ice storm last year during the super bowl (’11)? Under 20 degrees for 4 days straight with ice on the ground.

    Heat, as well as air conditioning is a must.

    Also, in your addressing of heat above, you did not include electric furnaces as a heat source. Electricity does not just power A/C.

    Reply
    • Alex Alex

      Hi Christa,

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment — we always love to hear what readers have to say on the ground. And we agree, Dallas residents need heat (according to weather.com the average low in January is 37 degrees) — our larger point is it’s a relatively small portion of your overall annual utilities, whereas in a place like Wisconsin, it could be the largest single expense. As for electric heaters, they are generally quite a bit more expensive (70% or so) than gas-run heaters — unless you’re using space heaters, which are still more expensive, but can be used in targeted areas, making them a possible (if inconvenient) economic solution.

      Reply
      • Jonathan

        Hi Alex,

        I’m going to be moving into a 1BR apartment with electricity for everything–(heating and stoves on top of normal electricity usage and AC), and you mentioned that electric heaters are ~70% more expensive than gas heaters, but never gave a specific price for heating in the article (because it’s usually covered by the landlord), and I was wondering what you might estimate for the costs/amount of electricity used total.

        I will try to be as sparing with electricity as I can, as I will not have a television (but will have a desktop). The apartment is in New Jersey, so I hope to use AC only for a couple months (July/August), but I expect to use the heat more for winter months.

        Thanks,
        Jonathan

        Reply
        • Admin

          Hi Jonathan,
          because so many things (insulation, windows, your comfort zone, etc.) can impact the amount electricity your apartment will use, your best bet is to ask the previous tenant, if possible, or your future neighbors. If that is not possible, contact the local electric utility’s customer service and ask for their advice. Just as a very rough estimate, you are probably looking at $150-200 electric bill in the coldest and hottest months.
          Good luck in your new apartment!

  68. Liz

    Great article! What about water? A place I’m considering does not include water in their rent even though most others do.

    Reply
    • Alex Alex

      Hi Liz. This is a great question — it’s rare an American renter is asked to pay for water, and, also, the rate can vary significantly by city. You could be charged anywhere from $25 a month to in excess of $100 a month, depending where you live and your usage. I would ask what the previous renters have been charged … and I would also go to your city’s Department of Water website, which should publish the rates. If you’re still not getting a solid answer, call up the Department of Water and speak with someone — they will be in a position to give you an accurate estimate. Finally, I would be skeptical if a landlord is attempting to pass that cost along to you — it is usually built into the price of rent. So be sure to ask your potential landlord why he or she is charging for water — and make sure that you get a good answer.

      Reply
  69. megan

    When I first moved into my new apartment I set a budget I wanted to spend for my electricity bill and with the increase in prices due to oil I’m paying close to $350 a month just on that. With your budget you have to be flexible as there could be a rise in costs.

    Reply
    • Alex Alex

      Hi Megan! Thanks for your comment; we thought we’d respond directly. While you’re right that utility prices can fluctuate, $350 for electricity raises a red flag. In talking to several of my colleagues, we agree that your bill is so high that there is likely an error. I would recommend calling your management company and your oil and electricity suppliers, and asking them about it. Have them double check that the meters are reading properly, that their computer system isn’t counting you twice, etc … unless you have a mansion to heat and cool, your bill simply should not be that high. And, also, let this be a lesson to our readers: if something seems seriously off with your bill, have it checked out. Don’t just assume that the bill is correct — it might not be.

      Reply