Budgeting utility costs is always tricky for first-time renters. In order to help My First Apartment readers, we have now surveyed actual costs twice, covering both summer (July 2015) and winter (January 2016) utility bills of our readers. Our January survey results are detailed below. Our July survey results are here.
If you compare the two survey, keep in mind that many of the January survey participants seemed to live in low rent, large apartments or houses, likely in off-campus student housing based on the email addresses. Therefore, the average rent levels were lower and utility costs were much higher relative to rent for the 2BR and 3BR+ categories.
Every survey participant had to pay for electric and cable/internet, about 4 in 10 had to pay for water (mostly in Southern and Western states) and less than 3 in 10 for heat or garbage collection.
Typically, renters living in apartment buildings pay only for electric and cable/internet, with heat, water and garbage collection included in rent. However, those living in large group houses have to be prepared to pay for all utilities that can add as much as 18-32% to rent, seasonally. In major metros, rent levels are higher, while utility costs remain on average levels, so the ratio of utilities to rent is much lower, only 11-15% seasonally.
Summary of January 2016 survey results:
Average Utilities for Studio/1BR
- Electric $55 vs. $60 in July
- Cable/Internet $57 vs. $68 in July
- Water $24 vs. $32 in July
- Heat, if billed separately, $53 vs. 0 in July
- Garbage collection $4 vs. $22 in July
- Total $193 vs. $182 in July
Average Utilities for 3+BRs
- Electric $166 vs. $172 in July
- Cable/Internet $95 vs. $142 in July
- Water $63 vs. $98 in July
- Heat, if billed separately, $166 vs. 0 in July
- Garbage collection $27 vs. $25 in July
- Total $517 vs. $437 in July
Average Utilities for Major Metros
- Electric $86 vs. $86 in July
- Cable/Internet $82 vs. $84 in July
- Water $39 vs. $29 in July
- Heat, if billed separately, 0 vs. 0 in July
- Garbage collection $3 vs. $26 in July
- Total $210 vs. $225 in July
January 2016 Utility Cost Survey Full Results