How Much Rent Can I Afford on My Hourly Pay?

The basic target rent formula that landlord’s use is annual before-tax income divided by 40. When you are on a straight salary estimating the number is easy. However, if your are getting paid hourly, budgeting your maximum affordable rent is a bit more complicated and you have to factor in both your hours and hourly pay rate.  We have built a simple chart below that does the calculation for you at various hourly pay rates and weekly hours. This rough tool is based on the same landlord’s affordability formula: annual before-tax income divided by 40. (Note: We used in our chart a 50-week year, instead of 52 weeks, to leave a little margin of safety.)

You can also use our Affordable Rent Calculator if you want to estimate your target rent from your salary or your after-tax income, even if your income varies week by week. That calculator also estimates your utilities and amount you need to save before move.

The yellow highlighted cells below show an example of how to use the chart for someone working 35 hours a week at $20 an hour. You can also use the chart to quickly estimate your target rent if you are looking with a roommate who works different hours at different rate, by adding up each person’s target rent numbers.

hourly rent target

When you budget your actual expenses, keep in mind that you also need to plan for utilities (estimate at 20% of rent*, or $100 a month, whichever is higher) and all your other expenses (car loan, car insurance, student loan, cell phone, commuting, food, clothing, entertainment, etc.) In addition, you need to plan to save at least 3 times your target rent before your move, to cover first month’s rent, one month security deposit, other moving related costs and some furniture.

* If you live in a high-rent city (for example, NYC, Chicago, LA, SF) estimate utilities at 10% of rent.

Related Posts

Author My First Apartment
MFA Editors

Leave a Comment

Comments (29)

  1. Teya

    Hello I make 15 a hour 40 hours a week I was wondering would I be ok with a 2 bedroom (900) rent everything included but electric I have a 2 year old I also do hair on the side bringing home 100 in 3 days

    Reply
  2. TY

    Hello,
    Great chart! My question is this. I make 20/hr but 4 is put away for retirement. My hours are 40-50+ per week. I only get paid once a month. It comes halfway through the month plus I get an advance for the last half of the month. My girlfriend is also going to move with me. She makes 13/hr that will be moving to 15 in a couple months. she also works about 35-40 hrs/ per week and works one day on the weekend as a server and makes about 150 cash. what would you recommend as a price range for apartments? We live in Montgomery County which is one of the richest county’s in United States I believe so even really crappy apartments are expensive enough.

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Ty,
      You can calculate your max. rents separately and then add them up for your combined maximum. So, if you look at 40 hours at $16 for you, it’s $800 a month rent. Your GF will make $15 and work 35 hours, with max. rent of $656. Maximum total rent for you two is $1,456. That said, you do not need to go to the maximum, leave yourselves a little leeway for any job hick-ups. Also, try to save the extra you make on bigger weeks and weekend gigs. Good luck!

      Reply
  3. TC

    hi i make $13.75 an hour 40 hours a week. i wanted to know if i could afford a apartment $807 a month i would have to pay electric and gas heat only. my other expenses are 75 for car insurance a month and 25 for phone bill a month. as well as food. will i be ok?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi TC,
      Our formula max. rent for you is about $675, so $807 is pushing it. However, your other monthly bills are on the low end, so you probably could make it. Add up your after-tax take-home pay for the last month, deduct the rent, deduct about $150 for utilities and all your other monthly bills. If you still have at least $200 a week left for food, commuting, clothing, entertainment and savings, you should be OK. Let us know how your calculation works out. Good luck!

      Reply
  4. Jose

    Hello everyone,

    I recently picked up a position for 55k yearly. Around $26.50 hourly (gross income) will I be able to live comfortably in a Suburb for 1,100 monthly rent? I have to pay insurance, student loans, utilities, phone, benefits, *No car payment*. Will I be able to live an ok lifestyle?

    Thanks

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Affordable Rent Calculator

      Click below to open calculator.
      Hi Jose,
      Did you see our Affordable Rent Calculator. It shows that at your salary, with typical expenses, your max. rent is $1,375, so $1,100 should be well withing your means. But only way you can really tell is to do a budget that starts with your take-home pay, deduct rent, about $200-$250, depending on where you live, for utilities (including cell phone), your loan payments, and all monthly fixed expenses. If you end up with $1,000 or so left a month you should be able to save some money and still have OK lifestyle. One piece of advice: learn to cook. You’ll have a lot more money for fun if you don’t spend it all on eating out. Good luck!

      Annual salary $55,000
      Affordable Monthly Rent: $1,375
      Estimated Utilities: $275
      Maximum Affordable Housing Expense: $1,650
      Target Savings To Move Out: $4,125

      Reply
  5. Eric

    So what about 2 people getting a place? I know that complicates things heavily, different hours and all… but assuming they got the same number of hours, and both worked at 8$ an hour, can I simply follow the price guide for 16$ an hour?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Eric,
      The simplest way two roommates can figure out combined rent is to look each roommate’s number in the chart separately and then add up the two rent targets.
      If the rates are same, like in your case, you can also add the hours up and get the rent target that way. Good luck!

      Reply
  6. tyrye jenkins

    Hello, I make 10.50 an hour 40 hours a week get paid every 2 weeks. I’m looking for a one bedroom apartment.My car insurance is 60 every month phone bill 150 and credit bill is 25 a month.

    Reply
  7. Researcher

    Hello,

    I live in Texas and recently got a job paying $18/hr and will be working a minimum of 40 hr/wk. Paychecks are bi-weekly with a calculated annual gross salary of $37,440. (Side Note: With the nature of my job I expect to work overtime at 50-55 hr/wk from February to July which will give me extra money to save.)

    I am a single person looking at 1 bedroom apartments on the west side of Dallas that are $700 to $800 a month, but all the apartments that can accommodate for my disability and are within 30 minutes to work are $900-950 excluding utilities. It should be noted that I do have student loan to consider along with of course various insurances and I need to move within two weeks.

    Needing to settle my family’s peace of mind,
    Researcher

    Reply
    • Researcher

      Will I be able to live in the $900 to $950 a month with added utilities for the year while I look for another during that time?

      Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Researcher,
      Based on your income, our formula says that your max. rent is $936 or $37,440/40. Not knowing how much your student loans are, it’s hard to know if $900 rent is doable. Do the calculation starting with your take-home income, deduct rent and maybe $150 utilities, your loans, your car cost and see what you have left. If you have couple of hundred left each week for other living expenses, you should be OK, particularly in light of your upcoming overtime that you can bank for an emergency fund.
      Because you have to also deal with accommodating a disability, you may have to spend that $900 anyway, even if it means skimping on other expenses. Your heavy overtime opportunity makes even that less risky. Good luck!

      Reply
  8. Desi

    I have no car payment, no debt and my work pays for me to travel back and forth. I make 13.09 a month at my job I just started and have a chance at a raise in 4 months. What would you suggest for someone who lives in a high rent area. For a apartment in the Beaverton area that is safe the rent is going to be 1,100( this includes water,sewer,garbage) I also have a large savings. What would you suggest ? Getting a roommate isn’t an option for me either.

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Desi,
      If you work 40 hour week, at $13 an hour, you could afford a place up to $650 a month. $1,100 is far above your means. In your case, with savings and no other bills, maybe you could stretch the rent to $750, but anything more would be precarious. If moving from your current place is a must, roommate share is your best option. Roommate share is also flexible option. If things don’t work out you can move on. The fact that you have large savings is great, but do not waste your savings on rent on an apartment you cannot afford. Good luck!

      Reply
  9. Bahtia

    I get paid 12.39 a hour but I only work 20 hours a week , I want a two bedroom apartment b/c I have a child . What should I be looking for

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Bahtia,
      If you look at the chart on this post http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2016/07/how-much-rent-can-i-afford-on-my-hourly-pay/
      at $12 and 20 hours you can only afford $300 a month rent. That will not get you a 2BR place anywhere we know. Now, many babies share a room with a parent and grow up to be perfectly normal people. How important it is for you to move? Maybe you should try to get more hours or boost your pay before you move. If you can work 40 hours, then you could maybe afford a 1 BR place, but your childcare cost would go up. Have you checked with social services if you’d be eligible for some help with rent, because you have a child? Good luck!

      Reply
  10. Cruz

    Hello! This is super helpful considering I am planning on moving into a studio apartment soon. Would you be able to break it down for me ? I am currently getting paid 13.50 working about 40-50 hour a week. (And almost getting a second job which pays about 11/12 an hour, 36 hours a week.) Thanks!

    Reply
  11. Lynn

    Hello! I had my costs all planned out then saw this chart, if I’m making $9 an hour and work for 30 a week and renting a place for $1000 a month (Splitting the cost with a room mate, say they have the same pay; maybe a little more) and say we were to split costs such as furniture, groceries, internet, gas, heat, whatever apartments don’t cover + only 1 car to make payments on, and if I had 1-2 years worth of rent saved- would it be a good decision to get my first apartment? And what expenses would add up? Thanks! Trying to figure out if this would be a good situation or not

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Lynn,
      $500 a month rent is steep on your income. Of course, if you have 1-2 years of rent saved, you could make it, but we hate to see you use your savings on rent. Our formula on the rent chart (http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2016/07/how-much-rent-can-i-afford-on-my-hourly-pay/) says you should not spend more than $338, so with typical expenses you’ll be pulling couple of thousand a year from your savings for rent. And when the savings run out where are you then? Here’s what your numbers looks like at $500 rent. We’d like you to boost your hours or pay rate so you can comfortable afford to move out before you do it. Good luck!
      Lynn’s Budget:
      Hours 30
      Pay/hr $9.00
      Total/yr (50 wks paid) $13,500
      Est. taxes 10% ($1,350)
      After tax take-home – $12,150

      Per month take-home $1,013
      Rent -$500
      Utilities (20% of rent) -$100
      Cash after fixed exp. $413
      Per week $103

      Reply
  12. James C. Rives

    Hi!

    I’m working 2 jobs currently– both part time. One pays $12/hr for 25/week and the other is $7.75 for around 15-20/hrs a week (I’m new and it’s retail). I was wondering how to accurately portray my income, given my expenses. I have a $50 phone bill every month, $150 loan interest payment with full loan payments starting in November. My grocery expense is generally $80-140 a month, given I’m 22 and still live at home with my parents so we share everything. I don’t think it’s accurate to add my incomes and hours to say I make $19.75 for 45 hour work weeks, so how would I best combine them to accurately see what I can afford? By my calculations, adding up my potential incomes separately, I’d be making around $1800 a month gross and assumably around $1400 net.

    Reply
    • James C. Rives

      After reviewing a different source specifically made to calculate multiple hourly incomes, I’ve discovered that it averages out to $10.11/hr for a 45 hour week, making my income approx. $1819/mo gross.

      Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi James,
      You have to calculate first the amounts you earn from each job separately and then add them together. 12 X 25 = $300 plus 7.75 X 15 = 116, totaling $416 a week, or $20,800 a 50 week year (we don’t use 52 week year in the calculation, because hourly workers often don’t have paid vacations or sick days.) With our max. rent formula, your rent is $20,800 divided by 40 = $520 a month. If you pay about 15% in taxes, you take home about $17,600 a year or $1,470 a month. Your income calculation is right on.
      To figure your monthly budget:
      Cash in $1,400
      Less: Rent $500, utilities $100, phone $50, loan $150 (in November more??), groceries $140, totaling $940
      Money left for other expenses: $460 (car, commuting to work, clothing, entertainment, etc.)
      You need to decide if that is enough. Your groceries and other supplies will certainly be higher living on your own.
      Good luck!

      Reply
  13. Scarlett

    Hello I already checked out the chart but do you mind going into depth for me, I want to make sure that I will be able to move out next year. I make 13 dollars an hour and work 40 hours a week. In November I will be getting a raise for 15 dollars and hour and still working my 40 hours.

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Scarlett,
      After your raise your max. rent target is $750 = $15 * 40 hours * 50 weeks divided by 40. (We use a 50 week year in the calculation because many hourly employees do not get any vacation or paid sick days, so they tend to miss a few days’ pay during the year.) Your minimum savings target is 3*$750=$2,250. If you start right now saving $600 a month, you’ll have $2,400 by the end of the year, enough to move out in the new year. Good luck!

      Reply
  14. Danielle Ruggiero

    thank you! I’ve been waiting for an hourly paid article for a while.

    Reply