How Much Rent Can I Afford on My Income? – Two Simple Ways to Estimate

We get questions all the time about how much rent should you pay based on your income.

how much rent can I afford

For example, here is a recent comment from 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 is doable ? Thanks in advance.”

And another one from 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 paid 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 us out.”

There are two simple ways to estimate how much rent you can comfortably afford on your income, depending on whether you have a fixed salary or are getting paid variable amounts, based on hours worked at different jobs, or tips earned.

Calculation 1 – Salaried Employee:

Take your annual salary – before taxes or any deductions – and divide that amount by 40.  That is the standard measure many landlords use to decide whether they’ll rent to you.  This number varies somewhat by market and by landlord. For example, in New York City some large rental companies divide by 45, requiring higher income for the same apartment, while some landlords in other markets may use 35, giving you the apartment with lower income.

In Jude’s example above, the couple makes $3,800*12= $45,600 a year. Divide that by 40 and their target monthly rent is $1,140.

This formula shows that they should not rent a $1,700/month apartment – it is more than $500 over their limit.  With utilities, their monthly housing expense would be approaching $1,900, half of their pre-tax income. Even worse,  their rent and utilities costs would take more than 60% of their after-tax paychecks.

In addition, Jude and bf should plan to save an amount equal to 3 times their expected monthly rent before the move. This will cover the first month’s rent, one month security deposit and other moving related expenses, and even leave a little money for some basic furniture.

For Jude, a target rent of $1,100- 1,200 would be more reasonable, particularly in light of the bf’s car payments.

Calculation 2 – Hourly Employee:

Take your average monthly take-home pay and multiply by 0.35.  With this formula you’ll spend 35% of your cash income on rent. If your pay fluctuates widely, calculate an average monthly take-home over 2-3 months, or if you want to be really safe and conservative, use the lowest month.

In Alen’s example above, $1,139*2 monthly pay periods = $2,278* 0.35 = $797.  So, the $800 a month apartment is affordable and leaves enough money to pay utilities, other living expenses and savings.

If you get paid every two weeks, like Alen does, using this formula you’ll be able to save the 2 extra paychecks you get each year. (Check the calendar and you’ll see that there are two months in every year with 3 pay periods.) You can use those extra paychecks to start saving for your own place. (If you get paid on the 15th and the last day of the month, there are no extra pay periods.)

Click here for a longer post on the costs of living on your own.

 

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MFA Editors

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Comments (165)

  1. Whitney

    Hi! I was looking at apartments and make 930 every 2 two weeks. Car is paid off, only thing I really pay that’s big is school loans. Which is 150 a month. What kind of rent do you think I would be able to afford while still saving money? Thank you!

    Reply
  2. Amber B

    Hi i make $500 a week consistently and the place im looking to rent is $750 including all utilities, the only actual bills i need to pay is car insurance which is $100 a month and food. Will i be able to afford this place?

    Reply
  3. J

    I make 11hr and work about 37-40hr a week. And want to rent an apartment that’s 540 a month. Will I be able to rent this?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi J,
      It depends what the landlord’s guideline is. If they just look at your annual income and your tax returns show that you make somewhere around $22,000 a year and use the formula that you must have income 40 times your rent, then you should get it. But it will be a little tight managing all your monthly fixed and discretionary costs, but if you know how to live frugally it should be doable. A few hours of overtime would be a good help. Good luck!
      J’s Budget:
      Hours 38.5
      Pay/hr $11.00
      Total/yr (50 wks paid) $21,175
      Est. taxes/deductions 20% ($4,235)
      After tax take-home $16,940
      Per month take-home est. $1,412
      Max. rent -$540
      Utilities, incl. cable/internet (20% of rent) -$108
      Car payments $0
      Car insurance $0
      Gas est. $0
      or Commuting est. -$125
      Groceries/food est. -$300
      Laundry/dry cleaning est. -$40
      Cell phone -$80
      Credit Cards $0
      Health Insurance $0
      Student Loans $0
      Savings (target 10% of take-home) $0
      Cash left for all other expenses/Month $219
      Clothing, entertainment, vacations, etc.

      Reply
  4. Ricky

    Me and my girlfriend are looking to move into our own place sometime this winter. My pay varies due to working an odd number of overtime hours weekly, but on average I bring home about 1400-1700$ biweekly while my girlfriend brings home about 800$ biweekly herself. My other expenses add up to around 800$ monthly while hers add up to around 400$ or so. The apartment we are looking into at the moment runs about 1200-1300 includes water. Would we be able to afford this?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Ricky,
      Looks like you are in good shape even with the $1,300 rent. We estimated that with your relatively high fixed expenses you would still be able to save 15% of your incomes. And that is with your lower paychecks. When you have the higher paycheck months, you should put all that extra into savings. Make sure you mind your credit score so that in a couple of years you’ll be ready to get a place of your own. As always, double check the numbers. Good luck!
      Ricky’s Budget:
      After tax take-home – Ricky (50*$700) $35,000
      After tax take-home – GF (50*$400) $20,000
      Cash take-home -combined $4,583
      Rent -$1,300
      Utilities, incl. cable/internet (20% of rent) -$260
      Ricky’s fixed payments -$800
      GF’s fixed payments -$400
      Gas est. ($50 each) -$100
      or Commuting $0
      Groceries/food est. for 2 -$450
      Laundry/dry cleaning est. for 2 -$60
      Cell phone est. $0
      Credit Cards $0
      Student Loan $0
      Target savings 15% of take-home -$688
      Amount left for discretionary expenses $526
      *Clothing, entertainment, vacations, etc.

      Reply
  5. Austin

    I am 20 years old, I average 55k a year. My car payment is $350, insurance $200, phone bill $60 and my other bills include groceries $400, $150 for credit card payments. How much can I afford on an apartment?

    Reply
  6. Brenda

    I will be making 19 an hour.looking at a great rental for 850 all bills included . Is this doable
    Gotta pay off credit card and save for retirement I am 55

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Brenda,
      Check out this post https://www.myfirstapartment.com/2016/07/how-much-rent-can-i-afford-on-my-hourly-pay/ that estimates max. rent based on hours worked and pay rate.
      We did your rough budget on 40 hours, but it may be too much. Also, the two missing pieces of your expenses are 1.) health insurance premiums, since unlike many of our readers you are not on your parent’s plan, and 2.) credit card payments. Use the budget below as a starting point and adjust it for your actual take-home and expenses. Overall, based on the limited information you gave, you should be able to afford the $850 rental and save for retirement. Good luck!

      Brenda’s Budget:
      Hours 40
      Pay/hr $19.00
      Total/yr (50 wks paid) $38,000
      Est. taxes/deductions 25% ($9,500)
      After tax take-home $28,500
      Per month take-home est. $2,375
      Max. rent -$850
      Utilities, incl. cable/internet (20% of rent) $0
      Car payments $0
      Car insurance $0
      Gas est. $0
      or Commuting est. -$125
      Groceries/food est. -$300
      Laundry/dry cleaning est. -$40
      Cell phone -$80
      Credit Cards ?
      Health Insurance ?
      Student Loans $0
      Savings (target 20% of take-home) -$475
      Cash left for all other expenses/Month $505
      Clothing, entertainment, vacations, etc.

      Reply
  7. Karla

    I make 13.00 work 32to 30 hours .my rent 900
    Cable $150 light $100
    Phone bill $80 and car insurance $190
    Also am having a baby
    What can I do to help myself?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Karla,
      Does you baby have a daddy who will be able to help? Right now you cannot afford on your pay the expenses you have, let alone childcare and other baby costs. You need to cancel your cable and take a roommate to share your rent, immediately. Even then you’ll have under $200 left for discretionary expenses. If possible, you may need to move in with your family for a while after the baby comes so that you can get back on your feet financially. Good luck with everything!

      Karla’s Budget:
      Hours 30
      Pay/hr $13.00
      Total/yr (50 wks paid) $19,500
      Est. taxes/deductions 15% ($2,925)
      After tax take-home $16,575
      Per month take-home est. $1,381
      Max. rent -$450
      Utilities, incl. cable/internet -$100
      Car payments $0
      Car insurance -$190
      Gas est. -$50
      or Commuting est. $0
      Groceries/food est. -$300
      Laundry/dry cleaning est. -$40
      Cell phone -$80
      Credit Cards $0
      Student Loans $0
      Savings (target 10% of take-home) $0
      Cash left for all other expenses/Month $171
      Clothing, entertainment, vacations, etc.

      Reply
  8. Nick

    Hi! My brother and my friend are looking for a place. We all work the same job and each bring home about 1600 every month. I also have a $280 car payment and my insurance is $220. What can I afford?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Nick,
      Our basic formula estimates that your max. rent is 35% of your take-home, or $560. However, your rent money is going to your car payment, insurance and gas, estimated at $550 a month. With typical living expenses, and leaving some money for discretionary items, it looks like you can only afford about $250 a month for your share, maybe $300, if you really try to economize. Even that does not leave any room for savings. If your brother and friend have lower fixed expenses than you, they maybe able to pay more. If they also have pretty high car cost, you should look for a place in the $750-$900 range.

      Nick’s Budget:
      Per month take-home est. $1,600
      Max. rent -$250
      Utilities, incl. cable/internet (20% of rent) -$50
      Car payments -$280
      Car insurance -$220
      Gas est. -$50
      or Commuting est. $0
      Groceries/food est. -$300
      Laundry/dry cleaning est. -$40
      Cell phone -$80
      Credit Cards/ Gym Membership $0
      Student Loans $0
      Savings (target 10% of take-home) $0
      Cash left for all other expenses/Month $330
      Clothing, entertainment, vacations, etc.

      Reply
  9. Emily

    So I plan on getting a job at a bookstore that pays $10.10 a hour..and there’s a place I’m eyeing that’s $600 a month in rent. I’m going to be in college part time and only have online classes. I have nothing else to pay for except food (I ride a bike and don’t really go out much and my parents pay for my cell phone bill, I also go to my parent’s to do laundry) will I be able to afford it?

    Reply
  10. James C.

    My girlfriend and I are currently searching for an apartment to rent this summer. This will be our first time living on our own. I current bring in about $3000-$3600 and she’s current at $2300-2600 a month. Together I guesstimate we are about $5700 a month. How much do you think we should spend on rent? 1B+1B. We bother also are saving 5k a piece before moving. DMV AREA

    Thank you, MFA Editor

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      First, a reminder to all our commenters. Just give your first name, or a name your pick, and limit disclosing identifying information. This is the internet, after all!

      Hi James,
      You live in one of the most expensive rental markets in the country. (I checked DMV and found that it’s shorthand for the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia.) Luckily, both you and your SO make good money, so you can afford a $2,000 a month apartment and still be able to continue saving 10% of your incomes. You also have nice savings. You ask how much you should pay for rent. You should pay enough to get a nice, safe place with a reasonable commute to work, and that you’ll be happy to come home to. You may be able to get the right one for less than $2,000. We estimated that you have two cars with typical expenses, but you should do your own real budget with actual expenses. Good luck!

      James’ Budget:
      Cash take-home $5,700
      Rent -$1,995
      Utilities, incl. cable/internet (20% of rent) -$399
      Car payments -$600
      Car insurance payments -$300
      Gas est. ($50 each) -$100
      or Commuting $0
      Groceries/food est. for 2 -$450
      Laundry/dry cleaning est. for 2 -$60
      Cell phone est. -$160
      Credit Cards $0
      Student Loan $0
      Other fixed monthly bills $0
      Target savings 10% of take-home -$570
      Amount left for discretionary expenses $1,066
      *Clothing, entertainment, vacations, etc.

      Reply
  11. Kira

    Me and my boyfriend are looking to get a place together I make roughly 1400 a month and he brings about 1600 a month the only other priority bill we have is his car not that is 285. so how much should we spend on rent?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Kira,
      Using our max. rent formula, take-home * 35%, your rent should not be more than $1,050 a month. It should work in your case because you don’t have high other fixed expenses. But your question is how much you should pay in rent. You should pay just enough to get a place that decent, safe, meets your main requirements and makes you happy to come home after work, but no more than the formula maximum. Depending on where you live, you may get a really nice 1BR for well under $1,000 or cannot find anything but a roommate share for even $1,050. Good luck!

      Reply
  12. Jeramiah Nguyen

    I make about $1,400 a month after taxes. How much should I spend on rent? Giving that water and trash and sewer are included in the ren?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Jeremiah,
      You should not spend more than 35% of your take home pay, or $490, on rent and $400 range would be a safer level. You’ll have to also budget for electric and internet, about $100 a month and make sure you include in your budget all your other expenses. See rough budget below. Like most first time renters, consider starting with a roommate share. Good luck!
      Jeremiah’s Budget:
      Per month take-home est. $1,400
      Max. rent 35% of take home -$490
      Utilities, incl. cable/internet (20% of rent) -$98
      Car payments $0
      Car insurance $0
      Gas est. $0
      or Commuting -$125
      Groceries/food est. -$300
      Laundry/dry cleaning est. -$40
      Cell phone -$80
      Credit cards $0
      Student loan $0
      Savings (target 10% of take-home) $0
      Cash left for all other expenses/Month $267
      Clothing, entertainment, vacations, etc.

      Reply
  13. Kayla R

    I take home about $2,964 a month. The problem I’m running into is the area that I live in (Washington DC) I know my max that I can pay on rent is around $1250. But that’s nothing in the DC area. I’ve been renting a room out for $700 a month and have saved a little over $5,000. Do you think with how I’ve been saving I could afford something a little more? Like in the $1,300? Or should I try to keep it simple and find a studio around $1,200.

    Reply
  14. Luz

    Hi. Me, my sister and boyfriend are trying to rent out an apartment for 900 max a month. I make about 1,400 or a but more a month. He makes about 1,200 a month roughly and she makes 2,000 roughly a month. We will be splitting the rent three ways. Is this doable?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Luz,
      At $300 rent plus maybe $50-$75 more for utilities, internet, etc., you should all be able to make it. The BF will have most trouble carrying his share, but your sister will have no problem. It might get a little tricky if your sister wants to do things with the apartment that the other two cannot afford. Good luck. Let us know how it works out.

      Reply
  15. S

    I make $15/hr car payments $200 daycare $130 phone $126 insurance $100 how much in rent ?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi S,
      Did you see the post http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2016/07/how-much-rent-can-i-afford-on-my-hourly-pay/. You can check your max. rent from that chart – at $15/40 hours it’s $750. However, the numbers will be really tight for you because of your other expenses. Here’s how it looks, under $170 a week to cover all your other expenses. It’s not a lot because you have two to support. If you can find a place in the $600 range a month, you would have more breathing room. Good luck!

      S’s Budget:
      Hours 40
      Pay/hr $15.00
      Total/yr (50 wks paid) $30,000
      Est. taxes 15% ($4,500)
      After tax take-home – $25,500
      Per month take-home $2,125
      Max. rent -$750
      Utilities (20% of rent) -$150
      Car Payment -$200
      Car insurance -$100
      Daycare -$130
      Phone -$126
      Cash after fixed exp. $669
      Per week $167

      Reply
  16. Nick

    was wanting to know If I’m making $800 a month Should I be looking for something in the $500 or less range

    Reply
    • Matt

      According to this algorithm you are looking at a $80 a month apartment. I think you need another job.

      Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Nick,
      If you take home $800 a month, you should be looking for a roommate share in the $250 range and even with that it will be tight. Good luck!

      Reply
  17. Peach

    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?

    Reply
  18. Diddles

    I take home 1450 a month after taxes and a 228 car payment. What could I afford?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Diddles,
      If you want to have about $200 a week or $800 a month, after rent, utilities and car payment, let’s see how it looks: $1,450 – $800 = $650 – $228 = $422 max. rent and utilities. Looks like you should be looking at roommate shares, unless you live in a really low cost housing market. If you think that you can manage with $150 a week or $600 a month for all your other expenses, then $1,450-$600-$228 = $622. You’d be looking at about $500 in rent and $100 or so in utilities. Just remember, when you are on your own you have to pay for everything, including laundry detergent and toilet paper. Make sure you have saved $1,500-$2,000 before you move. Good luck!

      Reply
  19. James

    My question is about buying a coop. Me and my girlfriend are interested in possibly taking over my uncles coop which I have to talk to him about. The only problem is that I have a jail record and bad credit but I had an idea of just putting her name on it and not mine. I know she would have to go through background checks and credit checks but I’d like to know that would this work or would I also have to go through a background and credit check check?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi,
      Just couple of pieces of advice from a layman’s perspective. If your girlfriend’s name is the only one as an owner in the legal documents, the coop is hers. If you ever break up she can kick you out. If she has good enough income, assets and credit rating to pass the coop board, she should be able buy the coop without you. What would she say if the board asks who will be living in the place? That might bring out your name and bring out your background. Talk to a lawyer who can advice you about all the legal ramifications of this potential deal. Good luck!

      Reply
  20. Bunch of Daisies

    Hi there, thanks for the easy formulas…but what about those who are self employed? I’m a sole proprietor and my gross annual income averages $128,000. My net annual income is about $99,500. Could I rent an apartment that is $3200 a month?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Bunch of Daisies, (Love that email handle!)
      When you are self employed you need to jump through some extra hoops before landlords will rent to you. If you have 3 years of tax returns that show steady income at the level you mentioned, the landlord will most likely approve you based on your net income of $99,500, after your business expenses, or at about $2,500. However, if that income level is recent, you may need extra support, maybe letters from steady clients stating that you continue to work for them and statement from your accountant outlining your current business income and expenses. Another way to ease landlord’s worries is to prepay some rent or give extra months of security deposit. Good luck!

      Reply
      • Bunch of Daisies

        Thanks so much for answering my question so quickly! And glad you like a “Bunch of Daisies” :)

        You answer is so helpful! So for the self employed, take your total profit for the year and divide by 40 to get the recommended monthly rental.

        And thanks for the extra tips! I have enough saved up to pay for a whole year, as I thought the only way I may find is place is to pay it all up front.

        Reply
        • MFA Editors MFA Editors

          Hi Daisies,
          Just wanted to clarify one item. The formula rent is maximum rent you should pay, not recommended. If you can get a nice place for less, more power to you!

  21. Dario8676

    Hi MFA Editors, my girlfriend and I have a combined salary of 86k per year, approximately 63k after taxes and deductions. Our monthly take home is about $4850/month. We both have 0 debt. Our communiting costs to work are a little high. She spends about $320/ month to commute and I’ll be spending about $250. We are looking at an apartment that is $1700/month utilities not included. Given our combined take home is this reasonable or a bit on the higher end?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Dario,
      If we use our formula for max. rent on take-home pay, or 35%, the amount is $1,698, so $1,700 is doable at the high end. If we start with your combined salaries, a typical landlord would be willing to rent you a place up to $86,000 divided by 40 or $2,150. It looks like you’ll be able to easily manage that $1,700 rent and have almost $2,500 a month after rent, utilities and commuting for all your other expenses and savings. Good luck!

      Reply
  22. Autumn Casper

    Hi, my boyfriend and I are considering moving to a 3B/2B apt. for $1200/month. We currently live in a 2B/2B and pay $1166.44 total with water included + approx. $120 more for electricity, also a washer and dryer is included here as well as a microwave. The new place will not include water or a W/D or a microwave and will only have a refrigerator upon move in. We both take home approx. $1300 a check bi-weekly with approx. $600 in bills a piece/ month (high car payments, car insurance, etc.) besides the rent we currently split as approx. $500 for his and approx. $600 for mine. I pay an extra pet fee of $25. He has excellent credit, mine is fair. Would we be foolish to move to this more expensive place for the extra bedroom we so desperately need?

    Reply
  23. Lindsey harrison

    My husband takes home about 3400 a month after taxes and we are looking for a new place to rent . How much can we afford a month ?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Lindsay,
      Our basic formula is that you should not spend more than about a third on your rent, max. 35% In your case that is $3,400 * 0.35 = $1,190. Of course, you need to budget in all your other expenses to see if you can manage the formula rent and everything else. We often see that people’s budgets are blown up by high car payments and insurance costs, and student loan payments. Good luck!

      Reply
  24. Tiana Bell

    I make about 1700 a month. I want to rent a 2 bedroom for $825 and lights are the only thing I would need to pay, should I be able to afford this?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Tiana,
      With your take-home of $1,700, your max. rent target is 35% of that or $595. At $825, at least $900 with electric, you will be severely rent challenged, with more than half of your income going to housing. Do you need a 2BR? With your pay, 1BR would better fit your budget. Good luck!

      Reply
  25. Manuel

    hi im about to be hopefully to be making 10an hour this september i m 24 year. old. im lookin at an aprtment thsats 649 i make 9.50 an hur right now working full time is it a possibility at all

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Manuel,
      Did you see our post about estimating affordable rent when you get paid hourly. http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2016/07/how-much-rent-can-i-afford-on-my-hourly-pay/
      If you work 40 hours/week and get paid $9.50/hr, then your max. affordable rent is $450-$500. $649 will be really pushing it. You’ll be “rent poor” and have really live frugally. Have you considered starting out with a roommate share? In any case, try to save a nice nest egg before you move, at least $2,000. Good luck!

      Reply
  26. Esmeralda

    Hi my name is Esmeralda and I work full time with $10 an Hour , i work 36 hours a week and I get payed every other week . Would I be able to rent a $465 studio apartment ?

    Reply
      • James Green

        I just got this job paying $7.80 an hour and am anticipating becoming a first apartment renter of an apartment estimated $385 a month….Can I Go Thru With It. What Are My Options/Obstacles??

        Reply
        • MFA Editors MFA Editors

          Hi James,

          Did you see this post http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2016/07/how-much-rent-can-i-afford-on-my-hourly-pay/ that has a chart showing your max. rent at various hourly wages and weekly hours? Your max. rent falls in the $350 range so $385 is not a big stretch. Our rough estimate is that you’ll have about $120 or so a week for all your other expenses (commuting, food, clothing, etc.). Only you know if that’s enough. Good luck!
          James’ Budget:
          Hours 35
          Pay/hr $7.80
          Total/yr (50 wks paid) $13,650
          Est. taxes 12% ($1,638)
          After tax take-home – $12,012

          Per month take-home $1,001
          Max. rent -$385
          Utilities -$100
          Cash after fixed exp. $516
          Per week $129

  27. Athena

    I make 50k a year. About $3,098 after tax a month. How much in rent can I afford if I have about $300 credit card debt?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Athena,
      One way is to estimate on your salary – $50,000 divided by 40 = $1,250. Or take 35% of your take-home pay – $3,098*0.35 = $1,084.
      If you don’t have car payments, student loans or other big bills, you could even spend the higher amount, but why don’t you aim at rent in the $1,000 range and put all extra money towards your credit card debt. Get that stone off your neck as quickly as possible. Carrying a balance and paying high credit card interest is one of the worst financial moves you can make. Good luck!

      Reply
  28. imzuzujulie

    I make roughly 500 dollars a month working part time ( i got to college as well) my boyfriend works a 9-5 job and makes 25.00 and hour working monday through friday. what would our maximum budet be for renting a house or appartment ? keep in mind his car payment is 515 a month… i dont have car payments its paid off.

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Imzuzujulie,
      Did you see our post on how to calculate your affordable rent when you have hourly pay. In your case it would be safest to base the rent target on his pay only, since your work is more uncertain and you may not be able to work during exams. Also, that approach would give you two a little extra safety because he has high car payments. If you look at the chart on the above mentioned post you’ll see that your max. rent is $1,094-$1,250, depending on if he gets paid for 35 or 40 hours a week. Good luck!

      Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Marvin,
      You might not get approved in a very competitive rental market, where your max. rent would be $1,050 on your salary. If there are many rentals available in your market, try to negotiate with the landlord for a little break in the rent. You never know- it could work. Tell them you love the place, you have a good steady job, but you don’t want to spend more than $1,000. Maybe you split the difference at $1,100. Just make sure you have other options if the answer is no. Or maybe the landlord could sweeten the deal with free parking spot or another amenity. Let us know what happens. Good luck!

      Reply
  29. Marissa

    My fiance and I are young adults with a beautiful daughter and are trying to get our own place. Together we make 1,217 a month will we be able to afford living in an apartment?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Marissa,
      Your max. rent at 35% of your take-home pay is only $425. Depending on where you live that may or may not be enough for any rental. If you live in a high rent area, there maybe some rent assistance available to your family. Check with local social services. Good luck!

      Reply
  30. Korki

    I make about 1350-1400 every two weeks. I am looking at a studio costing 625. I also pay about 550 in student loans along with other bills. Is renting an apartment for 625 decent For what I make?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Korki,
      Assumimg that what you make is after taxes, your formula max. rent is as much as $945, so $625 is well within your means, even with your loans and other bills. See below. Plus looking at this from the point of 4-week months, you’ll still have the 2 extra bi-weekly paychecks a year to build an emergency fund.
      Korki’s Budget:
      Monthly take-home $2,700
      Rent $(625)
      Utilities (20%) $(125)
      Monthly bills $(550)
      Cash for other expenses $1,400
      Per week $350

      Reply
  31. Rokia

    Ok, so I’m starting a new job where I should be getting paid $45/hr. I will get paid biweekly. How much do you think I can afford in rent?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Rokia,
      First, congratulations on getting a highly paid job!
      Your target rent depends on how many hours a week you work.
      Take a look at the chart in this post http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2016/07/how-much-rent-can-i-afford-on-my-hourly-pay/. It will show your maximum affordable rent at various hours. Since the chart does not go up to $45 an hour, you can add together $15 and hour and $30 an hour estimates or use this formula (hours/week * $45 * 50 weeks)/40. So, at 35 hours, you’ll get ($45*35*50)/40 = $1,968.75. The reason we like to use a 50 week year in the formula is that many hourly workers do not have paid vacations or sick days, so they end up getting paid for fewer than 52 weeks each year. It look like you can go close to $2,000 a month in rent, but as we always point out, if you can get a place you’ll be happy to come home to for less, it’s better for you and let’s you save more.
      Good luck!

      Reply
  32. Caleb

    if i make to 2,800 a mouth and my girlfriend makes 1,000, with a grand total of 3,000 a month, could we afford a one bedroom apartment for 2,000 a month.[keep in mind we live in Mass.] in other words. after car insurance and phone bills that leaves about 800$ dollars to use for gas,food and other things. is this a realistic budget.

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Caleb,
      $800 a month for 2 people is too little. We like to see at least $200 per person per week for living expenses and savings after all your fixed bills (rent, utilities, car, loans, etc.). Based on your combined income, if your numbers are after tax, you should be looking for places in the $1,300 range. Good luck!

      Reply
  33. Steven

    Question,

    I take home $3,270.00 a month in NYC. I’m looking for a studio. I currently have a personal loan payment of 220 a month and school loan of 160 a month and I like to pay down my CC balance about 250 a month. What can i afford?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Steven,
      If we use the formula max. rent of 35% of your take home, and 10% or so for utilities and deduct your other fixed payments, you would do OK. See below Budget 1. (Re: utilities – in NYC, your rent typically includes heat, water and trash collection, so you only pay for electric and cable/internet, therefore we use lower % estimate.)
      However, you are not likely to find a studio in NYC for $1,145. You’ll probably find a roommate share with a lengthy commute to Manhattan, if that’s where you work. To get a studio, you need to increase your rent target to closer to $2,000, which we estimate leaves you only $130 a week for food clothing, commuting, etc. (see budget 2.) Another problem you’ll have is finding a landlord who would rent to you a clearly unaffordable apartment. Can you find a guarantor who makes at least $160,000 a year (80 times your rent)? Do you have high savings to have as an emergency fund? Most young people moving to NYC start with a roommate share and it looks to us that it would be the best option to you also. Good luck!

      Steven’s Budget 1:
      Per month take-home $3,270
      Max. rent -$1,145
      Utilities (10% of rent) -$114
      Credit cards -$250
      Student and Personal Loans -$380
      Cash after fixed exp. $1,381
      Per week $345

      Steven’s Budget 2:
      Per month take-home $3,270
      Max. rent -$2,000
      Utilities Est. -$120
      Credit cards -$250
      Student and Personal Loans -$380
      Cash after fixed exp. $520
      Per week $130

      Reply
      • nyja Stewart

        Hello my name is nyja Stewart I am a crossing guard I work for the city

        of new York I make 400 every two weeks how can I get an apartment with that someone please help I really need a place of my own.

        Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      OK, Amanda, that changes things quite a bit. You and your BF, make 2 * $1,850 or $3,700 after taxes in a typical two pay check month. (You have an extra pay period twice a year, but use that money for savings.)
      If you pay maximum 35% of your take-home for rent, or $1,295 a month, plus up to 20% for all utilities, below is your starting monthly budget. It looks like you two would be safe to spend in the $1,300 range for your rent and would qualify for that with most landlords. My question is, do you have to spend that much in your area for a place that you’d be happy to come home to? If you can pay less, you can save more, which is always a good thing long term. Good luck!
      Amanda’s Budget:
      Per month take-home $3,700
      Max. rent -$1,295
      Utilities (20% of rent) -$259
      Car Payment -$339
      Car insurance -$260
      Cash after fixed exp. $1,547
      Per week $387

      Reply
  34. Amanda

    My bf and I are planning to move together 2017 do you think we can afford it I work 36 hours a week a full 6day check is around 1050 and my bf full time 40 hour check is 800 and I have a 339 car payment and he has a 260 car insurance payment. What would be our limit

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Amanda,
      We have to do this two ways, because it’s not totally clear if your pay is pretax or after taxes.
      If after taxes, you net $1,850 a week, or $7,400 for 4 weeks. If you spend 35% on rent, or $2,590, you’ll still have plenty of money for your car, etc. other payments and savings.
      If the number are before tax, $1,850 *52 weeks = $96,200 /40 = $2,405 max. rent. Either way, it looks like you could afford up to $2,500 or so in rent. Depending where you live that may be enough for a 4BR home or a studio apartment. Either way, you can definitely afford to move in together. Good luck!

      Reply
  35. Tim

    I my wife and son are thinking of renting a place for 325 a month. I make about 1100 monthly do yo think this is doable on my income?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Tim,
      If you used our rent
      rent calculator, see results below, it says that you could afford as much as $385. However, you have family to support, so you need to look carefully at all your expenses. If you take the $325 apartment and add about $100 a month for utilities, you have only $675 a month or $168 or so a week after housing costs for all your other bills. It seems tight for 3 people. You do not mention if you have any savings. If not, can you delay your move, until you have saved $1,500 – $2,000 or so for initial moving/security deposit, etc. expenses, with a little emergency fund left over? Of course, whether you move now or later depends also on what’s your living situation right now. If it is untenable, you may have to take the apartment and live super-frugally, while you build up your family’s income. Perhaps you’d be eligible for some housing assistance. Good luck!

      Total per 2 pay period month: $1,100
      Affordable Monthly Rent: $385
      Estimated Utilities: $77
      Maximum Affordable Housing Expense: $462
      Target Savings To Move Out: $1,155

      Reply
  36. J

    Hi. My girlfriend and I are thinking about moving out together. We both make 12.50 and hour and each get about 35-40 hours a week. Apartments in my area seem to range from around 1100-1300 a month. I’m a little stressed about how much money we would have to spend. Is this doable?

    Reply
  37. Melissa

    I get payed every two week and only get $287 pluse I have to small chihuahuas and I’m looking for a one bedroom can someone please help me

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Heidi,
      If all your obligations (car, loans, cell phone, credit cards, etc., etc.) are truly paid, then plan to target at least $200 a week free cash after rent and utilities. If you pay $650-$700 in rent and $100 or so in utilities, you’ll have $200 a week left. That should be enough to cover all your other living expenses, such as food, clothing and entertainment plus leave something for savings. Good luck!

      Reply
  38. Megan

    Hello! I get paid every 2 weeks (my pay has been 640 per paycheck). I am thinking about moving into an apartment that’s $691 (sewer, garbage, and cold water is included). Do you think this is doable? Thanks

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Sorry to break it to you Megan, but no, we don’t think it’s doable. You would be paying more than half of your income income in rent, even before electric and internet, making you “extremely rent-burdened.” Can you find a roommate share in the $450 range. That would leave you enough money to enjoy your first apartment experience rather that always live in stress about having the rent money. Good luck!

      Reply
  39. Logan

    Hey me and a friend of mine is trying to get an apartment for 750 we both on disability. We will be getting 1506 a month would we get the apartment

    Reply
  40. Cynthia smith

    I am planning to rent a 2 bedroom apartment with 3 roommates . The rent is 1,445 . We will be splitting the rent 3 ways. My income is 1,283 . They both make 500 every two weeks is it possible to get the apartment?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Cynthia,
      It looks like your incomes combined of about $3283 a month (excluding from calculation the 2 extra paychecks your roomies get each year in a 3-paycheck months). If that is after tax, then your max affordable rent $3283*0.35 = $1149. If that is before tax, your annual combined incomes are $1283*12=$15396 + 1000* 26 pay periods =$26000, totaling $41396. If landlords in your area require you to make 40 times your rent, then $41396 divided by 40 = $1035.
      So, the rent is too high based on our standard formulas. However, your market may have more apartments than renters so landlords may be more flexible. The only way to find out is to talk to several landlords and see what they say. Just keep in mind that even if someone rents you a place at $1445, each of you will be spending almost half of your income in rent and utilities.
      Good luck!

      Reply
  41. Sara

    So I’m 20 years old and go to college full time and have two part time jobs. I am a busser who makes tips that add up to about $10-$12 hourly. I just got hired and this is my third week and plan to get about 20+ hours there a week and am paid weekly. My other job pays $9 an hour and I get about 15 hours a week there and is biweekly pay. Roughly 35 hours a week. I am also looking to move out in the next month, two months at the latest. I have $4k saved up to pay for next semester which is about $2700 including books and such. Whatever is leftover will go towards a down payment on an older car I’m looking to finance. Based on all that, is it possible I can afford an apartment where my half would be $415-$490? Plus a $70 monthly phone bill and car insurance around $150? Opinions are welcome since I have no idea what I’m doing and don’t know how to calculate everything to see if I can even do it. I’m on my own with this moving out thing so…:/

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Sara,
      Full time college and 2 part time jobs is heavy load. Kudos to you for managing all that. Let’s say you make 20 * $10 = $200 week in job 1 and 15 * $9 = $135 in job 2, or $335 total per week or $1,340 a 4 week month (we leave a little slack for days you may miss for exams, etc.). See below for a rough budget. It looks too tight to us. Do you have to have a car to get to your jobs? Can you stay where you are one more semester and continue to save aggressively? If you can save a good emergency fund ($1,000) before your move, we’d feel a lot better. Good luck!
      Sara’s Budget:
      Monthly pre-tax $1,340
      Taxes 10% ($134)
      Per month take-home $1,206
      Max. rent -$450
      Utilities (20% of rent) -$50
      Car insurance -$150
      Est. car loan -$100
      Phone -$70
      Cash after fixed exp. $386
      Per week $97

      Reply
  42. Desiree

    Hello! I work 8:30-4 for full time at $11.25 a hour. I was looking for a apartment for myself for 800. Would that be too much? Thank you

    Reply
  43. Veronica

    Hi there!
    With my current income at $1400 I know I can’t afford to rent an apartment in Manhattan,NY but I am looking to rent a room. The max I will be paying for a room is $700. Nothing more than that and I have pretty good credit. Is this possible???

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Veronica,
      You should be able to find a roommate share for $700, but it will be in the outer boroughs. Check out for shares in Upper Upper West Side (Hamilton Heights) and Bronx. Be prepared for a 45min to 1 hr commute if you work in Manhattan. While rents are high in NYC, there are so many things that you can do free or cheaply that you should be able to manage, even if you pay half of your income in rent. Get a monthly Metrocard, don’t Uber or taxi, cook at home, and hang out with people in your income bracket. You’ll have a great first apartment experience. Good luck!
      You’ll

      Reply
      • Veronica

        Hi MFA,

        You are soo right. Manhattan is where I plan on being and she told me today that upper Manhattan will be the only locations in Manhattan to rent a room for that price. She mentioned Hamilton heights, west Harlem and Washington heights which is located in upper Manhattan and also the other boroughs. Thanks!

        Reply
  44. Todd

    Hello there, I live in New York City where the rent rule is you gota make 40x the rent. And since I have no personal guarantor, I discovered a guarantor agency where you pay a one time fee and as long as the guarantor makes 50x a year with good credit, it’s almost guranteed youl get an apartment. Also the person renting an apartment has to make at the least 27k with good credit. That’s a huge break since the average person doesn’t make even close to 40x the rent. Of course it depends on which landlord accepts it. It’s almost like hiring a guarantor.

    With that being said, my question is, if my income is 2,200 a month can I rent an apartment that’s $1500 or is that stretching it

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Todd,
      $1,500 is definitely stretching it!! Even if that $2,200 is after tax, it will be tight. If it is before tax, even worse. But we do understand NYC rental market. $1,500 is not much here, but you probably can get a roommate share for $1,000 or less, especially if you don’t mind a longer commute.
      Do you know how to cook? Do you plan to brown bag lunches? Do you shop for clothing at thrift stores? Do you always travel by subway or bus (monthly pass $116.50) or Citi Bikes ($14.95/mo.), never Uber? Do you hang out with people in your income bracket? Do you look for free or cheap entertainment option? Can you budget your expenses to the penny?
      If you answer yes to all these questions and $2,200 is after taxes, you might make it even at $1,500 rent, but you’d have to put Scrooge to shame with your frugality. Good luck!

      Reply
      • Todd

        Hi MFA Editors

        Thanks for the response. To answer your question I make a bit over 2,200 AFTER TAX. I do buy a monthly metro card but that’s just for work and coming home. I guess if I was 21 years old who goes out every weekend, then yes I agree that’s stretching it. But in my case, I’m a home body so I don’t go out a lot. So I’m not worried about entertainment since I really don’t go out a lot. Plus by the time I’m ready to rent, il have over 20k in my account and I’m willing to negotiate a deal with the landlord where I might be willing to pay some extra security deposite. And my credit is great. Please tell me your thoughts on this.

        Thanks again

        Reply
        • MFA Editors MFA Editors

          Todd,
          You need to get out more! There are tons of things in NYC you can do that don’t cost any or very little money. Are you participating in the Broadway ticket lotteries? If you are lucky, you can 2 tix to Hamilton for $10 each.
          I does look like you will be able to handle that $1,500 rent with your quiet lifestyle. You’ll also have nice savings account in case of an emergency. Just don’t spend all those savings on rent. If you prepay rent, make sure you put each month the rent money back into savings account. And finally, congrats on your great credit score. It will help you in so many places, even get you a good rate on renter’s insurance. Good luck!

      • Todd

        MFA Editors,
        Yes maybe I should go out more but right now saving for that great apartment is my number one priority. I’m so grateful to the person who told me that there are places where I can get a guarantor for a one time fee since in my case, I don’t know any relative or friend who’d be able to meet the requirements. If it wasn’t for the guarantors office people like me would never be able to rent an apartment here.

        Reply
  45. Dee

    Hello MFA, me and my fiance are both employed, with 37,560 being our annual income. We’re looking at a 1362 figure for a rental. Water/heat and gas are included in the rent. Would we be able to make it work? We have approx 375 in car ins bills together, cellphone bills at 100 aprox together, a bank bill at 50 approx, gas at 60, internet/phone at 80. Groceries at 100-200. We are not sure at electric so we’re assuming 200-300. Thank you in advance.

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Dee,
      According to our basic formula, your max. rent is $939 on your combined incomes,so you are looking to pay more than $400 more. With the expenses you have that makes your budget far too tight. See below. You have little room for saving an emergency fund and what will happen if one of your cars has a problem? You might be able to get by for a little while, but any little hick-up will put your over the edge. Cutting it so close, moneywise, will also put extra stress in your relationship. We hope there are more affordable options in your area. Good luck!

      Dee’s Budget:
      Total/yr – Combined $37,560
      Est. taxes 15% ($5,634)
      After tax take-home – $31,926
      Per month take-home $2,661
      Max. rent -$1,362
      Utilities (20% of rent) -$200
      Car -$375
      Gas -$60
      Phones/internet -$180
      Groceries -$200
      Loan -$50
      Cash after fixed exp. $234
      Per week $58

      Reply
  46. MN

    Hey MFA I live in Texas my brother and I was thinking about moving into a apartment that monthly rent is $980 and we split it we have no other bills just electric bill and we both make $9 a hour , is that possible? To do

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi MN,
      It depends how many hours your work a week.
      Check out our rent table for hourly pay. http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2016/07/how-much-rent-can-i-afford-on-my-hourly-pay/
      You can see that your each have to work 45 hours a week to afford comfortably $980 rent. You could squeeze by even at 40 hours, but less than that it would be iffy. You must have other expenses than electric. How about commuting to work? Make sure you take all of those kind of bills into account before you sign the lease. Good luck!

      Reply
  47. Jessy

    Hello. I make 10.50 an hrs full time (40 hours). I am looking to rent a place that runs 649. This is a little over (maybe by 100) but is it doable?

    Reply
      • Mark

        I make 10.50 a hour 40hrs.. With no other bills except for $50 phone bill.. Will I be able to handle $800 a month rent.. Untilites not included?

        Reply
        • MFA Editors MFA Editors

          Hi Mark,
          $800 in rent is far too much on your income (see below). You hardly have enough for basic necessities (food, gas, clothing, etc.) and no safety margin. You should look for a place in the $500 range. Good luck!

          Mark’s Budget:
          Hours 40
          Pay/hr $10.50
          Total/yr (50 wks paid) $21,000
          Est. taxes 15% ($3,150)
          After tax take-home – $17,850

          Per month take-home $1,488
          Max. rent -$800
          Utilities (20% of rent) -$160
          Phone -$50
          Cash after fixed exp. $478
          Per week $119

  48. Tony

    Thanks Danny and mfa for the feedbacks. So as I stated earlier all I can do for now is rent a room. My current salary is about $1400 a month so I’m looking to rent a room between $650 and $700. I’m willing to pay a bit higher for a room because I personally don’t want to live with a whole bunch of people. Just one or MAYBE two people will be ok for me but no more than that. Here in New York City, rent is crazy high so I’m guessing that if I pay something like $650 or higher, chances are good it will be one person or MAYBE two people ….vs rooms that are $500 or below, more people would be living there. And I’m looking to rent a room in an apartment in Manhattan…….. My question is, with my current salary, ($1400 a month) can I rent a room that’s between $650 and $700?
    Thanks again

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Tony,
      The answer is yes, you should be able to rent a roommate share in an apartment where someone else is the tenant on the lease. Then it’s just up to you to explain your roommate(s) how you will be able to pay your share of rent & utilities and still cover all your other living expenses, such as food, commuting to work, etc. The fact that you have nice savings will help you to convince them. As we answered to Danny’s comment:

      “You have the greatest flexibility if you look to take over a share in an existing group house where your “landlord” will be the roommates whose names are on the lease. Renting in NYC you also have to be on the lookout for scams and never hand over money until you know for sure that the rental is legit. Scammers have been known to rent airbnb apartments for a weekend and advertise bargain priced roommate shares to rent, collect deposits and disappear.”

      Good luck! Let us know what happens.

      Reply
      • Tony

        Good evening MFA Editors,
        I deeply appreciate your tips and advice. You’ve been a great help. Just a couple more questions that I have.

        1) I guess depending on who I rent the room from, would I be able to lease the room for atleast a year or more? I’m assuming that I can do it since I’m going to be saving more than a years worth of room rent. That would help me a lot in saving money until I get my own place.

        2) I noticed that many rooms come furnished, however I’m looking to possibly get into an unfurnished room since I’m not that comfortable sleeping on a bed that someone else used. Do some rooms come unfinished ? And if so, how do I find them and if you know of a website that lists unfurnished rooms, that would help me a lot!

        3) Finally, I understand exactly what you mean about scams that are out there. Would you happen to know the best websites that I can use to find rooms for rent when I’m ready to make that move. Last thing I want is to be scammed.

        Again, thank you so much for your tips. I will certainly keep you updated on everything and I will save this website on my computer so that I can ask you more questions if I need to. Have an awesome evening!

        Reply
        • MFA Editors MFA Editors

          Hi Tony,
          In reply to your questions:

          1) I guess depending on who I rent the room from, would I be able to lease the room for atleast a year or more? I’m assuming that I can do it since I’m going to be saving more than a years worth of room rent. That would help me a lot in saving money until I get my own place.

          When you rent a roommate share, and you are not a tenant on the lease, you just have to negotiate the length of your stay. It can be month-to-month but continue for years if everything works out. Or you may hate the situation and move out next month. Just have a clear understanding, preferably in writing (for example, as an email confirmation of what was agreed when you took the place. Check out this post http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2005/11/roommate-agreement-checklist/ about what types of things you should discuss before taking a roommate share.

          2) I noticed that many rooms come furnished, however I’m looking to possibly get into an unfurnished room since I’m not that comfortable sleeping on a bed that someone else used. Do some rooms come unfinished ? And if so, how do I find them and if you know of a website that lists unfurnished rooms, that would help me a lot!

          Have you ever stayed in a hotel? Anyway, some rooms come furnished, some unfurnished. Just keep in mind that having your own furniture means moving costs, especially if you have a large mattress. When your search for a roommate share look for unfurnished. We don’t know of any site that would specialize in them.

          3) Finally, I understand exactly what you mean about scams that are out there. Would you happen to know the best websites that I can use to find rooms for rent when I’m ready to make that move. Last thing I want is to be scammed.

          There are so many apps for apartment hunting, like the ones mentioned in this post http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2013/05/rating-the-best-apartment-hunting-apps/. We have not rated roommate hunting apps separately, so your best bet is to ask your friends what they have used. Just be careful!

  49. Danny

    Good evening Mfa Editors,
    For the most part, you’re right about everything except for one slight thing. When renting in the borough of Manhattan, for the most part, you do have to make 40x the rent. That part we can agree on. However, if one is planning to move further uptown in Manhattan, that 40x rent rule gets a bit more relaxed simply because those areas are a bit sketchy. Not dangerous by any means, but just a bit sketchy. Because of this, uptown Manhattan is also more affordable. Especially when you’re talking about areas such as Harlem and Washington Heights……… Now when we are talking about downtown Manhattan, that is a whole different ball game. To rent in downtown Manhattan, not only do you have to make 40x the rent, but the rents are just ridiculously high and to me, you don’t get what you pay for. I personally would never pay $3500 or more to live in a tiny closet. That’s just nuts. Most areas of downtown Manhattan are just that…apartments the size of closets with very high rents….vs…..uptown Manhattan the rents are more affordable and the apartments there are much bigger. But again like I said, anybody wanting to only live in Manhattan and don’t want to pay high rent, your best bet is to look into uptown Manhattan. Neighborhoods such as Harlem and Washington Heights would be your best bet. Areas there are more affordable AND some landlords don’t care if you don’t make 40x the rent.

    Reply
  50. Tony

    Im going to tell you just a bit about my situation so that you can answer my questions and I have a few questions. In my case, I am currently working for a temp agency which seems to be the “norm” now a days for MANY people since most companies refuse to hire people straight off the bat. Apparently millions of others are in the same boat as I am. However this agency always finds me work. Some lasting a few weeks, some lasting several months depending on what’s available. When a job is complete, the longest I’ve been out of work is only a couple of weeks and then they find work for me again. Again, before you answer my question, I would appreciate it if you don’t judge me for working for temp agency or say something like…….”why are you choosing to go through temp agencies instead of through the company?”…………because as i stated before, now a days it’s EXTREMELY difficult to find work within the company itself.

    My current situation is as follows: I have no car, my credit is great, I have no debt, I hardly go out and spend money. I’m planning on saving up to about $13,000 before I start room hunting.

    So in my case, I know for a fact that for now, I have no choice but to rent a room. Relocating from where I am is not an option, and has to be done, My monthly pay check at this temporary job is about $1385 a month (almost $1400) when you round it off. My price range for a room that I believe would work is between $600-$750. Would that work or is it cutting it a bit close?

    My other question is, are there some owners that would be understandable with me working through an agency being that I have good credit, I pay my bills on time or have enough money in the bank?

    When I can afford my own place I’m looking to move in the Washington Heights area in New York City. I heard from people that in this particular area (especially west of Broadway) you have to make 40x the rent…vs..areas east of Broadway, the landlords or owners may not care as much about that. My question is, if I want to live in an area where I have to make 40x the rent but don’t make that yearly income, and if my credit is good and I can put down a large deposite (maybe even a years worth of deposite) would some landlords make an exception?

    Thank you!

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Tony,
      We know that NYC is crazy expensive and many people pay half of their income in rent, which is what you think you’ll be paying. You probably cannot afford your own place even at $600-750, so you should look for a roommate share in an existing group house. Then you don’t have to deal with the landlord and make 40X rent and you might get something by just paying couple of months of security. You have done well with savings and getting your credit score up. That’s great for your next step, when you find a permanent job and can look for your own place. Good luck!

      Reply
      • Tony

        Lol I feel like I’m not talking to a real person here because you didn’t answer all my questions. Are you telling me that every single landlord will reject me because I’m at a temp agency, even if I’m making much money per month? I also hear that more private owners are more lenient with people who work for temp agencies and who don’t make 40x a rent. Is this true? Thanks

        Reply
        • MFA Editors MFA Editors

          Hi Tony,
          A typical NYC landlord will want to see your last 2 tax returns, last couple of months’ bank statements and pay stubs plus a letter from your employer attesting to how much you make. The fact that you are long-term employed by a temp agency should be fine, if you can prove that you your income is steady and you make 40 times your rent. If you don’t clear that 40X hurdle it does not matter if your income comes from General Motors. The landlord’s main concern is that you can pay your rent on time, in full, every month. There are rental markets where you might be able to negotiate, but not in NYC, where the the landlord knows that he can always find another tenant who’ll meet the guideline.
          If you don’t make 40X your rent, you can find a guarantor for your rent, but they have to make 80X the rent. Or you can pay a year of rent in advance. It a cruel world out there for first time renters.
          PS. Danny is right that some private owners may rent to you even if you don’t meet the guideline, but even those apartments are expensive and would cost most of your income. A large majority of young first time renters in NYC start out in roommate apartments that are less expensive and more flexible.

        • Danny

          Hello MFA Editors,
          I actually have a comment about Tony’s post. As far as the 40x rent rule, I hear that the 40x rent rule is a general rule to rent an apartment here but at the same time, every landlord is different. Not all landlords here in New York City require you to make 40x the rent. But those landlords are usually more private owners. Those you can probably find on Craigslist. However they might look at other things such as your credit score, employment history etc. remember, every landlord has different requirements. One just has to shop around. The ones that have that 40x rent requirements are usually real estate offices where they are strict on that rule . However I’ve heard that even with some of those real estate offices, you can put down a larger deposit if you don’t make 40x the rent. Many landlords and real estate agencies accept a larger deposit if you don’t make 40x the rent but not all of them do. Thats like a 50/50 deal that you can get away with putting down large amount of deposit. Also having good credit is very essential to renting an apartment. The ones that say “Bad credit is ok” are usually scams and I would stay away from those ads

        • MFA Editors MFA Editors

          Hi Danny,
          Yes, there are some private landlords that do not use the 40X formula. For example outside Manhattan you can find basement apartments (many illegal conversions) for rent in single family homes. But even those landlords want to see income and, as you rightly point out, credit scores that I high enough to show your ability to pay your rent. However, they may be more amenable to overlook things if the renter pays several months in advance or extra months of security deposit. And these apartments are not cheap either. Therefore first time renters moving into the city typically go for a roommate share. You have the greatest flexibility if you look to take over a share in an existing group house where your “landlord” will be the roommates whose names are on the lease. Renting in NYC you also have to be on the lookout for scams and never hand over money until you know for sure that the rental is legit. Scammers have been known to rent airbnb apartments for a weekend and advertise bargain priced roommate shares to rent, collect deposits and disappear.

  51. Karen

    I make $2400-$2500 a month after taxes (paid biweekly). This is just an internship for a few months, so I’m not taking out a 401K or insurance or any thing else unless required. Will a $1092 rent with about $100 in utilities be affordable? I spend about $300 on public transportation and $400 on food per month usually

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Karen,
      If you have only an internship for a few months, how will you pay your rent after the internship is over? Even if the internship would continue or turn into a job, $1,192 housing expense would take half of your take-home. and after food and transportation leave you only about $125 a week for other living expenses. Why don’t you save the rent money while you have the internship and plan to move when you get a permanent job. You’ll have by then nice savings and you’ll be in a much safer position to move. Good luck!

      Reply
  52. Chris

    I currently bring home $3100 a month. I found a really nice spot for $1300/month.
    I’ve already saved up about 40k for my first home but I need to rent for a year.

    Do you think I should find a place cheaper?

    Reply
  53. Chris Moreno

    I’m planning to move with my girlfriend into at least a studio in LA. We both make a monthly income of about $800. I get paid biweekly and she gets paid weekly. All i have is car insurance to pay which is $100 for now. What do you suggest

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Chris,
      Assuming that your pay is after taxes, your combined monthly income will be $1,600. You should not pay more that 35% of your take-home in rent, so your max rent is $560. You also need to budget at least $100-120 for utilities. If all you have in terms of other monthly bills is your car insurance, maybe you could push the rent to $600. However, if you have cell phone, credit card payments, long commute to work or any other fixed type of expenses, then stay in the $500 range. Good luck!

      Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Jasmin,
      The typical landlord formula is that you have to make, before tax, 40 times your monthly rent. So, $24,900 divided by 40 = $622.50.
      That is the maximum. Good luck.

      Reply
  54. John

    Hi, I make around $1900-$2000 a month. Would it be safe to go after a $900 a month apartment or should I stay in the $800 zone? This will be my first house/apartment that I’m renting by myself and I just want to be sure I have everything I need.

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi John,
      You should budget your rent based on the lower month’s income or $1,900. If that is your after tax take home, then 35% or max. you should pay for rent, is $665. If the $1,900 is before tax, or you make $at least 22,800 a year, then your max. rent is $22,800/40=$570.
      You need to make sure that after paying rent and utilities you still have enough left over for all your other living expenses (car, insurance, food, clothing, entertainment, etc.) and even a little left for savings. Good luck!

      Reply
  55. Joseph Weil

    Hi! I am looking to move into a new place and my friend is looking for a roommate in her affordable $600 a month 2 bedroom apartment. I currently (looking for other career related jobs) work at a retail store and make, after taxes, anywhere from $255-$280 a month. I wanted to know, in your opinion, if this would be a safe start as a first apartment as well as any other input. Thank you!

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Joe,
      If you really make under $300 a month, you clearly cannot afford to pay $300 in rent. If, however, you make $255-280 a week, you can do it. You should not spend more than a third of your take-home pay on rent, so if you get $1,000+ a month, $300 is doable. Good luck!

      Reply
  56. Brandon Brown

    Hi me and my girlfriend both make around $750-$800 we found a place for $525 a months and she has a car payment $325 so we would split it and each pay about $163 a month. We plan to save about $3,000 before moving out. Please. What’s your input on this?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Brandon,
      It looks really tight, especially in the lower income months. We assumed that your numbers were after tax. If not you need to take off another $150 or so a month for payroll taxes leaving you too little for food, etc. We added car insurance into the budget even though you did not mention it.
      Can you boost your hours at work so you each get closer to $1,000 a month before you move. Saving $3,000 before moving is a great plan, but don’t get a place where you use your savings for rent. After paying first month’s rent and security deposit and basic furniture, the rest of the savings should be for your emergency fund (car breaks down, doctor bill, or like unanticipated expense.) Good luck!

      Brandon’s Monthly Budget:
      After tax take-home – Brandon $750
      After tax take-home – GF/Wife $750

      Per month take-home $1,500
      Rent -$525
      Est. Utilities (20% of rent) -$105
      Car Payment -$325
      Est. Car insurance -$125
      Cash after fixed exp. $420
      Per week $105

      Reply
  57. J

    I’m moving out in 3 months, but I’m still trying to figure out a comfortable rent amount. I bring in an average of $2800 monthly after taxes. My car note is $336 with plus $100 insurance. Thanks for the help!

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi J,
      Here’s what our Rent Calculator says:

      Do you get paid every other week or twice a month? Yes
      What was your after-tax pay last pay period?
      $1,400
      Previous pay period?
      $1,400
      Total per 2 pay period month: $2,800
      Affordable Monthly Rent: $980
      Estimated Utilities: $196
      Maximum Affordable Housing Expense: $1,176
      Target Savings To Move Out: $2,940

      J’s Monthly Budget:
      Per month take-home $2,800
      Rent -$980
      Est. Utilities (20% of rent) -$196
      Car Payment -$336
      Est. Car insurance -$100
      Cash after fixed exp. $1,188
      Per week $297

      Looks like you can afford about $1,000 monthly rent, but it does not mean you should do it. Rent below your means and boost up your savings so you can get your own place in a few years. And if your company offers a 401K match, make sure you save enough to get the full match. Good luck!

      Reply
  58. Chris

    I am 26 and net about $2548 a month (50k salary). I am looking at getting an apartment next year for about $1000/month. I don’t have a car payment, and by next year all of my student loans will be paid off. Could I afford the rent?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Chris,
      The short answer is yes, you can afford $1,000. If we take $50,0000/40 your max. target rent is $1,250 a month.
      Your monthly net indicates that you have about 40% taken from your salary for taxes, insurance and other deductions, so you are probably also putting some money into a 401K account. At 26, you are in a good financial shape for future.
      Good luck!

      Reply
      • Chris

        Thanks. I know I could afford to pay $1000/month, but how much would you recommend?

        Reply
        • MFA Editors MFA Editors

          Hi Chris,
          As little as you can pay and still feel really happy with your place every time you open the front door. It’s not just a question of money. There is such a thing as quality of life also. Since you obviously have plenty of flexibility in picking a place that is right for you, why would you want to live in a place that you don’t like? Good luck!

  59. Michael

    I am a minimalist, and I make 104K. I dont want to buy a house and I am trying to get a $600-800 dollar apartment. Is it even possible for me to get a lease for one or am I forced to get my own property.

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Michael,
      Congratulations for picking a field that pays really well. Any landlord would love to rent to you a $2,500 a month apartment, let alone a $600-800 one.
      However, you are in a perfect position to buy your own property and get a nice tax benefits of mortgage interest and real estate tax deductions because with your income your are in a relatively high tax bracket. Save $20,000, buy a $100,000 starter condo and you’ll probably pay after taxes less than $800 a month, while building equity. (Check out our other site MyFirstCondo.com for advice on buying a condo.). Meanwhile, you’ll let someone who can only afford a $600 place get it.
      Good luck!

      Reply
  60. Tori

    I’ve also been apartment searching. I currently rent an apartment for $499… 2 bedroom. (I got it on a deal, originally for $699 a month). I make about $1,787 a month. No debt, excellent credit, no car insurance or car note. I’m trying to find just a one bedroom. What should be my max?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Tori,
      Did you try our rent calculator http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2015/09/rent-calculator/?

      If you plug your 1787 in (click NO until you get to place that asks do you get paid every two weeks. Then input the take home $ from last two paychecks. If that number is $1,787, then you Max. rent is $625.
      You are in good position because you don’t have other fixed monthly expenses. Keep up your good credit rating and keep up your savings. Good luck!

      Reply
  61. Kay

    Hi I have been apartment searching and I found a nice one in a nice area for 1085. I bring home 2400+ a month, I have zero loans, great credit, and about 11k saved up. Can I afford this place?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Kay,
      That rent is $245 more a month than our maximum rent target for your income. Because of your nice nest egg could probably carry the higher rent, but why take the risk of having to use your savings for everyday living expenses? Look for a place in the $840 range, continue saving and buy your own place in a few years. Good luck!

      Reply
  62. Jordan

    Hello,
    Wanting to rent a nice cabin on our cities lake. They are asking $600/month without utilities, but use their own well, which makes water cheaper. It’s small in size, so the electric won’t be as high either. I get paid monthly, a little over $2000 a month with about $12,000 saved up. I don’t have any loans or other payments that are needed to be paid. Would I be able to afford this place for at least a year?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Jordan,
      $600 a month rent is within guidelines on your income, even with $100-120 in monthly utilities. Congratulations for having managed to save a nice nest egg, which will back you up in case of any emergency.
      Re: well water. Make sure you have it tested, so it’s safe to use for everything including cooking and drinking.
      Good luck!

      Reply
  63. sheree wilson

    I am currently bringing home 920 after taxes,I was thinking of saving about 4000 before moving out and i also pay my car note which is 335 and insurance which is 100.00 how much could i afford for rent monthly?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi,
      Is the $920 after taxes per week? every 2 week? per month? We need to know that before we can estimate.

      Reply
  64. Jay

    I am currently bringing in about $2890 after taxes per month, or $4000 before taxes per month. Also I have a $410 monthly payment for my vehicle. While still being able to save about $500 a month, how much should I look to be able to pay for a decent apartment? This will be my first apartment.

    Reply
    • Jay

      I have also saved $5000+. I do really like an apartment that is about $1200 per month buy am worried about being apartment poor…

      Reply
      • MFA Editors MFA Editors

        Well done on the savings front! See our full answer to your rent question below.

        Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Jay,
      Did you check out our Affordable Rent Calculator?
      You can let it estimate the rent for you both from pre-tax and after-tax incomes.
      Here’s the pre-tax base on annual salary of $48,000 ($4,000* 12):
      Do you have an annual salary? Yes
      What is your annual salary?
      $48,000
      Affordable Monthly Rent: $1,200
      Estimated Utilities: $240
      Maximum Affordable Housing Expense: $1,440
      Target Savings To Move Out: $3,600

      Based on after-tax the calculation is:
      Do you have an annual salary? No
      Do you get paid weekly? No
      Do you get paid every other week or twice a month? Yes
      What was your after-tax pay last pay period?
      $1,445
      Previous pay period?
      $1,445
      Total per 2 pay period month: $2,890
      Affordable Monthly Rent: $1,011
      Estimated Utilities: $202
      Maximum Affordable Housing Expense: $1,213
      Target Savings To Move Out: $3,033

      If you target your housing costs at no more than $1,200, including utilities, you’ll have $780 a month left after your car payments and $500 into savings or about $200 a week. You should be OK, especially since you have already $5,000 in savings (great start!), but only you know what other expenses you have. If you have student loans or other debt that needs to be factored in, too.

      You are definitely ready for your own apartment, with your healthy income and diligent saving. Congratulations and good luck!

      Reply
  65. chanel

    I currently make 1912 a month. I am on disability and the rest of my income is from the GI bill. How much apartment can I afford.

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Chanel,
      We are assuming here that all your income is tax free.
      If you use our Affordable Rent Calculator (http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2015/09/rent-calculator/), here’s what you see:

      Do you have an annual salary? No
      Do you get paid weekly? No
      Do you get paid every other week or twice a month? Yes
      What was your after-tax pay last pay period?
      $1,912
      Previous pay period?
      $0
      Total per 2 pay period month: $1,912
      Affordable Monthly Rent: $669
      Estimated Utilities: $134
      Maximum Affordable Housing Expense: $803
      Target Savings To Move Out: $2,007

      The calculator says that your maximum target rent is $669. Hope this helps.
      Good luck.

      Reply
  66. Jared

    If i make about $2600 a month and my girlfriend makes about $500 (so $3100 before taxes), what amount for rent would you say is reasonable? Thanks

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Jared,

      If the two of you make $3,100 pre-tax in salary, that is 12*$3,100 = $37,200 a year. If you input that number to our Affordable Rent Calculator http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2015/09/rent-calculator/
      here is what you see:
      Do you have an annual salary? Yes
      What is your annual salary?
      $37,200
      Affordable Monthly Rent: $930
      Estimated Utilities: $186
      Maximum Affordable Housing Expense: $1,116
      Target Savings To Move Out: $2,790

      Note: Because you gave pre-tax numbers you need to use the salary-based calculator. If you want to double check, click No to the first question, Do You Have an Annual Salary? and go down to a section that calculated the max. affordable rent on after-tax take-home pay, which you need to input from your pay check stubs.

      It looks like a safe rent zone to you is somewhere in the $900 a month range. Good luck!

      Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Elizabeth,
      You really cannot afford your own place or even a roommate share on $400. Have you considered becoming a companion to an older person and getting a room in return of helping your “roommate” with some tasks, such as grocery shopping, or walking the dog.
      Hope you are able to stay in your current place until you make more money or find a suitable alternative arrangement.
      Good luck!

      Reply
  67. Camille

    I receive a monthly income from social security once a month getting 1,236.00 every month what kind of apartment would i be able to afford.

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Camille,

      Assuming you owe no taxes on your income, below is what our rent calculator says: max. affordable rent $433. Depending where in the country you live, you may be able to rent a small apartment with that, or at least share an apartment with a roommate.
      Good luck!

      Total per 2 pay period month: $1,236
      Affordable Monthly Rent: $433
      Estimated Utilities: $87
      Maximum Affordable Housing Expense: $520
      Target Savings To Move Out: $1,299

      Reply
  68. Karteka

    I get paid 598 twice a month sometimes over that but nothing less. what rent cost can I afford

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Karteka,

      Check out our Affordable rent Calculator. http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2015/09/rent-calculator/
      See below how it calculated your max. rent of $419 a month, which most likely means that you look for a roommate share.
      Good luck!

      Do you have an annual salary? Yes No
      Do you get paid weekly? Yes No
      Do you get paid every other week or twice a month? Yes No
      What was your after-tax pay last pay period?
      $598
      Previous pay period?
      $598
      Total per 2 pay period month: $1,196
      Affordable Monthly Rent: $419
      Estimated Utilities: $84
      Maximum Affordable Housing Expense: $503
      Target Savings To Move Out: $1,257

      Reply
  69. Serena Smallwood

    What advice can you give a person who looking for an apartment in she or she make 345 a week which adds to 1450/month. Is moving on he or her own going to be difficult because of this sort of income?

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Serena,

      Assuming that the salary you gave is after taxes. here is what our Affordable Rent Calculator says: your maximum affordable rent is $483. See below. Unless you live in a very affordable community, your salary level means that you need to look for a roommate share to start with, and move into your own place as your income increases.
      Good luck to you from the MFA Team.

      Do you get paid weekly? Yes No
      What was your after-tax pay last week?
      $345
      Previous Week?
      $345
      Previous Week?
      $345
      Previous Week?
      $345
      Total after-tax pay for a 4 week month: $1,380
      Affordable Monthly Rent: $483
      Estimated Utilities: $97
      Maximum Affordable Housing Expense: $580
      Target Savings To Move Out: $1,449

      Reply
  70. Susannah

    So I have a question as well, since I don’t really understand what the formula you used means. Before taxes, I make about $555 a month, since I work 15 hours a week (I’m also in school) and make $9.25. My girlfriend, who makes $8 an hours, makes $480 per month before taxes. With that combined income, could we move into an apartment that costed $650 a month in rent? Split two ways that’s $325 a month, but it’s the cheapest apartment I’ve been able to find. I don’t know how much to expect to pay for electricity, I only know that internet will cost $20-$50 a month, depending on how fast we want our internet to be. And the rent of the apartment includes AC, water, and trash collection, I believe, and we’re both aiming to save up $2,500 before moving out.

    Reply
    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Susannah,
      The short answer is no, you cannot afford $650 a month rent if you also have to cover all your normal living expenses, such as food.
      Let’s say your electric and internet come $100 a month, or $50 each. Your total housing cost of $750 split two ways is $375. Even only taxes you pay are your portion of social security and medicare taxes or 7.65% of your pay (your employer pays the other half) and you qualify for free health insurance, your take-home after-taxes is $512 and your girlfriend’s is $443. After rent and utilities, you’ll have $137 a month or $34 a week and your gf has only $68 a month or $17 a week.
      Right now, for you two an affordable apartment would rent for $300-350, or $150-175 each.
      Your savings target is good, but you need to double your incomes before you can afford a $650 place.
      Good luck from the MFA Team!

      Reply
  71. John Donovan

    By using a simple formula, it’s possible to determine how much rent you can really afford. When looking for an apartment, affordability is definitely a consideration! Living within your means is an important part of building a stable future.

    Reply