Affordable Rent Calculator

Click Yes or No below to open calculator.

Do you have an annual salary?
What is your annual salary?
Do you get paid weekly?
What was your after-tax pay last week?
Previous Week?
Previous Week?
Previous Week?
Do you get paid every other week or twice a month?
What was your after-tax pay last pay period?
Previous pay period?
Total after-tax pay for a 4 week month: xx
Total per 2 pay period month: xx
Affordable Monthly Rent: xx
Estimated Utilities: xx
Maximum Affordable Housing Expense: xx
Target Savings To Move Out: xx


Description of the My First Apartment’s Affordable Rent Calculator:

1.) The above easy-to-use calculator uses the formulas from this post for calculating your maximum affordable rent. (Note: If you are paid hourly, you should also check our post How Much Rent Can I Afford on My Hourly Pay?)

  • If you have a fixed salary, the calculation is pre-tax annual salary divided by 40.
  • If you are an hourly employee and get paid varying amounts on a weekly, every other week, or twice a month schedule, the calculator works from your after-tax take-home pay, by multiplying your monthly take-home by 0.35 (=35%).
  • If you are paid weekly, the calculator uses a 4-week take-home total. Since there are 52 weeks a year, this leaves 4 weeks of pay every year that is not in the calculation and we recommend that you budget those extra paychecks for savings or paying down loans.
  • Similarly, if you are paid every two weeks, we use a 2-pay period take-home in the calculation, leaving two paycheck every year for savings or loan reduction.

2.) The calculator assumes utilities at 20% of rent. This is slightly higher than the average of 18% we found in our recent utility cost survey, but in line with costs in many areas of the country.  However, keep in mind that in high-rent urban areas, utilities typically run closer to 10% of monthly rent.

3.) The third number you get is the amount you need to save before you can move out on your own. We estimate that you’ll need at least three times your monthly rent to cover first month’s rent, one month security deposit, miscellaneous moving costs and some basic furniture.

P.S. Double- check your numbers:

After you calculate your maximum affordable rent and housing costs, you should double check that you can afford that rent even after deducting from your take-home all your other fixed expenses (car loan, insurance, student loan, credit card, etc.).

We’d love to get your feedback about this calculator. Does it work for you? Any recommendations for changes.


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Author My First Apartment
MFA Editors

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Comments (60)

  1. Tyler

    Hello, thank in advance for your time.
    I get paid $20/hr Bi-weekly, and usually work 80hrs. My take home pay after taxes is around $2400-2500. monthly. Transportation cost is $140 Monthly, student loan $100, cell phone $30.
    How much can I afford on rent and still be able to save money ?
    Thanks again

  2. Stella

    Hi, I make $17 a hour & work 40hrs a week. I applied for an apartment that is $1150 a month. The $1,150 includes, rent, heat, electricity & hot water… I think I can afford this, as my only other major bill is my daughters child care which is $86.40 every week/$340 a month…

  3. Lynnette

    I applied for low income housing in July when I was working full time. I was contacted in March that an apartment was available to me. I filled out more paperwork and submitted my unemployment information showing I get 361.00 every week. The woman at the office tells me that my last years income is how my rent in calculated. Now this means I am living on 1,444 a month. She tells me I qualify for this apartment and rent will be 1,66.00 a month! I couldn’t understand why they would go by last years income for my rent when I an out of work? I need this apartment. I hope you can help me.

    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Lynnette,
      Housing vouchers and benefits vary by state and city, so we are not able to give you any guidance on that. Perhaps one of our readers has some experience and can advice. It does seem that you should be able to pay that rent of $166 very comfortably with your unemployment compensation. Good luck!

  4. Etienne Le

    I have very limited to NO budgeting experience. I am looking to move to a very expensive area because my work is there. I make $3,520/month after tax and have $20,000 saved. I will likely have to exceed the suggested $1,200/month rent because the area I’m in averages $1,600+ for a decent place.

    Am I in decent shape to last a couple of years here even though I’m going over the calculator’s rent suggestion?

    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Etienne,
      Let’s first assume that you have actually scouted out some places in various price ranges and actually know that you’d need to spend $1,600. It’s an average, so there maybe decent options at $1,400 or $1,500. What you can afford ultimately depends on what other fixed bills you have: car? credit cards? student loans? If you have no other monthly bills, you could make it at $1,600 living frugally – aka being rent poor – paying 46% of your take-home on rent. You do have a nice amount of savings, but we’d hate to see you deplete it on rent. For typical apartment living expenses, check out this post.
      On the other hand, you don’t want to live in misery. Make a really detailed and careful budget for yourself, with all expenses and see what sacrifices you’d have to make to live in a $1,600 place: no vacations? no weekend ski trips? no guys nights or date nights out? Maybe being happy to walk into your own place after a long day at work is worth some sacrifices, but only you know for sure. Good luck! Let us know what happens.

    • J

      I live on Long Island and I make roughly 70K for 11 months work. My income varies every month as I am an independent contractor for special ed services. Some months I make $5,500, others I make only $2,000. I would say though, that I average around the same as you… maybe a little more, at 3,700. I have an apartment that costs $1,775. Initially my boyfriend and I were supposed to be splitting that. But he was laid off and then injured so I was supporting the two of us for a very long time. I still made it work. $1,775 alone is 48% of my income. lt included utilities, but not cable/internet. That’s another $120, so thats $1,895, or 51% of my income. I did it. And really I never felt rent-poor. I still made bad decisions at Target one too many times, and never had to worry about gas or food. I also have a $380 a month loan payment. Yes, there were some months where I got hit with major expenses like medical issues, and a miscarriage. There was also a car accident, etc. THOSE months I just felt POOR and screwed, not just rent poor lol. $1,600 is a lot, if it doesn’t include utilities, and then + cable/internet, which is always a total rip. So really figure you’re more at $1,800-1,900. We’re pretty close in salary so I think you can manage it. Plus, I assume your’s is much more consistent than mine. I had a to budget months in advance when I knew a bad month was coming up. Hopefully you don’t need to do that. I don’t think youd be poor or feeling poor, as long as you dont have other crazy expenses. Hope that helps

  5. Samantha S

    My wife and I are fixing to move out on our own May 1st. The apartment is 575 a month. The calculator says we can do it and it fits our income. But since we both make decent amount of money I think we can. I’m just scared. Her paycheck will be 1,000$ or so every two weeks and mine will be 600+ every two weeks. I’m just scared and because I haven’t lived on my own before and not having the opportunity of paying bills and rent at all. I have no idea what I’m getting into. I’m moving in the city of high point and they have a deposit for the bills. We also want to have the bills in my name as well, but I have no credit history. Please help me out and respond, would appreciate it. Thanks.

  6. PWach

    Hi. I’m thinking about moving out in a couple of months. I take home around $1500-1700 a month. I also pay a car note that’s $343 a month. I found an apartment that’s $550 with water included. Do you think I would be able to afford it?

  7. Will

    I’m somewhat confused by the maximum housing expense number , does that mean rent plus other things or just rent, because I just got a quote for 682, and the calculator told me 672 for the maximum housing expense

    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Will,
      Maximum housing expense is the total of maximum rent + estimated utilities. Max. rent is calculated at 35% of your after-tax take-home pay or, if you have a fixed annual salary, at your annual pre-tax salary divided by 40. See an example below. Did you maybe mix two different parts of the calculator. If you get paid hourly, also check this post. These formulas do not include any other expenses you will have living on your own, such as commuting to work, food and clothing. Hope this helps.

      Affordable Rent Calculator
      Do you get paid every other week or twice a month? Yes
      What was your after-tax pay last pay period?
      Previous pay period?
      Total per 2 pay period month: $1,600
      Affordable Monthly Rent: $560
      Estimated Utilities: $112
      Maximum Affordable Housing Expense: $672
      Target Savings To Move Out: $1,680

  8. leilagoreil_

    I used your calculator and that is what I estimated on pen and paper. I’m finding that I am cutting at the edge of a maximum monthly rental budget. Thanks for the website assistance.

  9. Jesse Hartley

    Hi I live in Portland OR and while this calculator is pretty good it is impossible for me to find anything in 828.00 I make roughly 2400 after take home pay. I am not shy about how much I make or disclosing that info. Most apartments start out at 1100 and go up so I actually just rented my very 1st apartment ever 1100. That is almost 300.00 of what I should be paying but that is the cost to live in Portland. So is there any way I can save money in utilities. My W/S/G is 57.50 and a forgoing cable but will be getting internet. Any Help anyone can give would be great. I really nervous about doing all this.

    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Jesse,
      The sad truth is that in many markets, such as yours, there is an imbalance between what young people earn and rents. There is no way you can save enough in utilities to make up the gap. You just have to learn to live extremely frugally, or if you can, take a roommate. Cook your meals, find free entertainment options and hang out with people who are in the same boat, financially, so you are not tempted to overspend. Just try not to fill the gap with credit card debt. Good luck!

  10. Skylar Salinas

    Hi. I’m about to move into a 1br/1bath 700sf apartment I pay cable already which is 151 a month. I use my computer 8 to 9 hours a day because I work from home rent is 850 a month. I use the tv at least 10 hours a day. ac on auto and I use a energy saving fan. I stay in Texas Beaumont, south east of texas. How much would my lights and water bill be a month.

    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Skylar,
      Check out our utility survey results in this post. Since you use a lot of electricity you should estimate at double the average, or around $110, to start with. For water, the average would be around $30 a month, but it will depend on your usage and water rates in Beaumont. Ask your landlord for an estimate. Good luck!

  11. Daja Day

    Don’t pay attention to the negative comments this calculator is for exactly what it says its for not about other expenses in your life you got to work that out for yourself. Negativity all over the internet smdh… This is a really good tool.

  12. Melinda States

    This only takes into consideration the roof over your head. Not food, gas , doctor bills , things you need etc etc etc

  13. Salina

    What about transportation costs, cell phone, student loans (hell, groceries)? Without those factored into your monthly expenses then your “pre-tax annual salary divided by 40” does not accurately represent how much rent you can afford. While this is the ratio most landlords will use you determine eligibility, the rest are factors to consider before signing a lease.

  14. Alex

    So, making about $280 a week after taxes I can move into a $392 apartment? I’m not so sure, considering I also have weekly car payments, and monthly payments on student loans and car insurance, not to mention I have to feed myself

  15. Andrea

    I find these calculators to be misleading and inaccurate. Personally, I use my tried and true Excel worksheet. I enter my net monthly income and all of my fixed and non-fixed monthly expenses and calculate the totals. Then I subtract my expenses from my net income to see what I have left to live. I am currently looking for an apartment and have a good idea of what I can pay and still maintain my way of life because of the Excel method.

    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Andrea,
      We totally agree that a detailed Excel budget worksheet beats any calculator. You clearly have a good handle on your finances!
      Our calculator is aimed at someone who is just looking at renting their first place and does not yet have any actual expenses. It is not a perfect tool, but can give someone who just got their first job an idea of how much rent they might be able to qualify for. Did you notice, we also have another post that shows how much rent someone could afford based on their hourly pay and weekly hours worked?

  16. Diamond

    I’ve been with my new job for 90 days. I’m making 15/hr at 40 hrs a week and additional overtime if available. The calculator isn’t working out for me I’m looking to rent a place in a nice area not super nice but less crime.

    I don’t want a roommate last 2 I had were terrible towards me. I live in a state that has a cheap cost of living I have money saved up from my previous job of 2 yrs saved above 7 thousand. I’m wondering if I am good to move? Where I live most apartments look for 6 weeks of paystubs some 6 mos. I know I really need to work on my budget sheet more to get a better idea. I’m looking for 600 to 630/mo in rent is that possible with my pay?

  17. Adam

    So if I am looking for an apartment to live while going to school and working, the monthly total cost; with all paid utilities and being fully furnished, will cost about $1,095/month and including a $60 recurring expense of a parking permit, should I plan to save more so that way the $60 fee is included if it’s a monthly fee

    • Adam

      Also would it be cheaper if I knew someone who was going to be in that same area and we decide to split the difference of the 2 bedroom apartment? The 2 bedroom apartment itself is about $890/month with all utilities included and it is fully furnished, it is also cheaper by about $200 including the $60 recurring parking pass fee.

      • MFA Editors MFA Editors

        Hi Adam,
        Splitting a bigger apartment among roommates is almost always less expensive than each having to pay for their own smaller place. Living in a roommate apartment is the usual first apartment experience for many (probably most) of our readers. Go that route, save aggressively and your second apartment will be your very own place. Good luck!

  18. Quinn

    Could you please check how calculator is working on Google Chrome?.. Mine keeps redirecting to the same page but without the calculations.

    • Quinn

      What seems to be happening is that when I go to the page all the questions appear for the calculations then they all disappear redirecting to page that asks only one question and giving a calculation based on amount filled in. This confused me at 1st because why is it only asking me one question vs all the questions that originally appeared?..and what were the other questions? Wanting to know, i hit the back button – then the forward button…to be able to get just a glimpse of all the questions before they’d disappeared again. Now i see that it only asks you one question if youre paid salary and the others if paid weekly, bi-weekly, etc. No longer an issue Thanks I like your site

      • MFA Editors MFA Editors

        Hi Quinn,
        Thanks for for question.

        The calculator asks one question at a time and you move to the next one only when you click no to a question.

        When you open the calculator on Chrome, it seems to flash all the questions first for a second or two, but then start with just one question. If you want to see all the question, just answer no and it will take you through the options
        1.) if you get an annual salary (pre-tax)
        2.) if you get paid weekly (after-tax)
        – then past 4 weeks of take-home pays
        3.) if you get paid every other week or twice a month
        – then past two take-home pays.

        Many of our readers work multiple part-time jobs or projects, so we wanted the calculator work for many different work scenarios.

        Hope this helps.

  19. Natasha W

    I personally do not find this accurate. If I made, say a total of, $2000 a month it claims I could only survive with a rent of $600.

    If i add it up myself i can survive with a higher rent then that. and someone try to correct me because I think this calculator will not help those first starting off and I’d hate for them to get out there then realize the truth.

    Here’s my example.
    With a monthly income of 2k you have to add all the extra expenses beside the rent

    Monthly phone bill: $45 (mine)
    Car insurance: (differs by state, here is an average of) $166 a month
    Utilities: (average around) $250 a month.
    Food: $100-250 a month (depending on your eating habits)

    That comes to a rough estimate of $711 without the total on your monthly rent.

    Now if I made $2000 a month minus the extra expenses that leaves me with the highest possible rent of $1189. But I’d round down to a rent of $1000 to leave extra money.

    So if i rented an apartment or home for $900 a month plus the $711 estimate on extra expenses that would be $1671 that I’d be paying a month. Minus that from my income of $2000 which would leave me $329 for anything extra that may be needed.

    So please explain to me how $600 dollars would be the highest rent I’m supposed to pay.

    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Natasha W,
      Thanks for your comment. Here are a few words about the calculator:
      1.) Basically, it is built so that people who work either in salaried positions or on an hourly basis can estimate what level of rent they could comfortably carry on their income. (You maybe a student who does not have all the expenses someone working and living on their income would have and you could spend a disproportionate amount of your income on rent.)

      2.) If you have an annual salary the target rent is salary (before any deductions for taxes) divided by 40. This is the generally accepted guideline used by many landlords, who require you to make 40 times the monthly rent.
      You used that part of the calculator but did not take into account any taxes and other deductions that normally come off your salary.

      3.) If you click “no” the annual salary question on calculator, it takes you to section that estimates your target rent based on your after-tax income. This is the section you should have used if your $2,000 a month will not have any taxes taken out of it. That part of the calculator gives you target rent of $700 (see below).

      So, if your $2,000 a month is tax-free, and you have no work-related expenses, such as commuting, work lunches, etc., and you have someone available to bail you out if you get overextended, you could spend half of your money on rent (and many people do) but it is not a realistic scenario for majority of My First Apartment readers.

      Hope this helps you to understand where the calculator comes from.

      Total per 2 pay period month: $2,000
      Affordable Monthly Rent: $700
      Estimated Utilities: $140
      Maximum Affordable Housing Expense: $840
      Target Savings To Move Out: $2,100

    • Ta

      You still have to have money to buy clothes , transportation and unexpected expenses 600 dollars the safe zone if you decide to spend more than that on rent you will be living pay check to pay check with no money to play with.

  20. Gearoid

    I have a problem with this calculator. Based on my annual salary, it is calculating 1900 dollars a month on rent and utilities to be “affordable”. I take home 3200 a month after all deductions. I think it’s appalling that you would consider what’s left over to be living comfortably considering all other day to day living expenses, car payments, travel costs, savings for the future etc. This is a poor calculator and sends the ignorant in the wrong direction.

    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Gearoid,

      Thanks for your comment!
      Did you check the calculator with your take-home pay? It shows that your max. affordable rent is $1120, with utilities $1344. (See below) You must live in a high tax tax state because based on the number you got from the calculator ($1900 with utilities) your salary must be in the $63000 range and you pay about 40% in taxes to net $3200.

      It’s always a good idea to run the calculator for both annual salary and monthly take home pay to double check.

      Total per 2 pay period month: $3,200
      Affordable Monthly Rent: $1,120
      Estimated Utilities: $224
      Maximum Affordable Housing Expense: $1,344
      Target Savings To Move Out: $3,360

  21. Angie

    This is right about the correct budget after my personal calculations. I like that its a bit on the higher side vs. some other calculators it allows you to prepare for your rent to be a little higher and still be able to live comfortably. This was very useful good job!

    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Thanks Angie for your nice words.
      We planned the calculator to show the maximum rent you could reasonably afford on your pay. Of course, people have to keep in mind their individual situation. If you have high car payments or heavy student loans, no calculator enough and you have to adjust the rent target to your circumstances.

  22. Butternut Nutbutter

    This calculator makes me sad ): With my graduate school stipend it says I can only afford 450$/month of rent but the city I’m moving to doesn’t offer anything below 800$/room.

  23. Merrideth

    After making multiple budgets and calculating a bunch, this is right around the numbers I came up with. So that’s a good sign (:

    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Thanks Merrideth. Happy to hear that the calculator works for you! Good luck with your first apartment.

  24. Teresa

    Move out costs should also have something along the lines of utility deposits. These can get quite expensive with some companies/areas needing full deposit and not allowing payment plans. Advice on checking with landlord of location is good for answers on that issue. Calculator is great otherwise!

    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      We just tested the calculator and it works fine. If you have trouble it may be your browser. Let us know which one it is and we’ll check.

  25. Lisa

    Awesome tool! Helped a great deal planning out my first apartment expenses. It let me know I was in the right direction as far as what rent cost I should be looking for. Thanks a lot!

  26. Christina

    The calculator worked perfect for me. Good to know I got rent cheaper than what it said I can afford :)

    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Maggie,
      We have just tested it on Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Silk and iPhone and it worked on all. Which browser were you using? Do you have a slow internet connection? If you do, it may take couple of seconds to load.
      Please let us know which browser is not working. And thanks for your feedback. MFA Editors

  27. MFA Editors MFA Editors

    Sorry about the problems some of you have had with the calculator. We have found and fixed the bug and it should work now on all popular browsers. Please let us know if you still experience problems.

    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Rachel,
      Sorry the calculator did not work for you. It had a problem with some browser, but our webmaster has fixed a bug, so try again. MFA Editors

    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Heather,
      Sorry about that. Our webmaster is working on it. Meanwhile, try another browser. Firefox seems to work best.
      Best, MFA Editors

  28. Kellie


    The calculator doesn’t seem to be working for me. I marked No on the first two questions and Yes on the third question (I get paid bi-weekly). I entered the amounts of my last two pay periods. None of the bottom numbers are showing up for me; all I see are xx next to each.