With any apartment come various monthly fees… not just rent! When budgeting for your first apartment, don’t forget to consider the variety of fees that might be added to your rent. Be sure to ask your potential new landlord about each fee to confirm if it’s included in rent, required, or optional.
Before digging into the list of potential apartment fees, let’s walk through the fee types:
Included in rent
These fees are built into your rent payment. You won’t pay them separately from your rent payment, but you should ask if they vary month to month. Heat, water and trash are often included in rent if you live in a large apartment building.
These fees are additional, but are required by your landlord to be paid. Electricity is typically paid by the tenant and trash or amenity fees might be required for you to pay, but not included in your rent.
These fees are optional, often things like cable TV or Internet. Your landlord may have preferred or required vendors, but you don’t have to activate the features.
5 Types of fees renters may pay separately:
Gas / Electric / Water
These fees generally work the same way. Ask your landlord how the payments are structured and if you pay a set amount each month (nice because you can plan ahead) or if you pay by usage (nice because you can control your spend to some extent). These may be required or included in your rent, as you’ll have to have them, or you may have to set up an account with each utility provider.
Learn the trash pickup from your potential landlord. Is it valet trash, where you leave full bags outside your door for pickup? Do you have access to a shared dumpster? Depending on the style of trash collection, this might be included in your rent or carry an additional monthly fee.
Television / Internet
In your apartment, ask how television and internet are handled. Is there a required vendor to use? Are the features required in each unit, and if so, what’s the monthly cost? This can be a significant additional expense, so be sure to learn about your options.
Gym / Pool / Shared Common Areas
Depending on what amenities your apartment offers, there may be associated fees for membership at your gym or for use of the pool or spa areas. Be sure to also ask about any shared areas to learn if they cost money to reserve for your friends or family gatherings.
Additional Deposit / Pet Rent
Apartments may also charge fees associated with pets. Many require an additional pet deposit as well as monthly “pet rent” for each large animal that lives in your apartment. Remember to factor these fees into your monthly payments to get a good estimate of your apartment cost.
Based on our surveys, My First Apartment recommends that you start by budgeting 20% of your rent for the various utilities you may have to pay separately. So, if you are looking in the $1,000 rent range, then budget extra $200 a month. Once you find your apartment you’ll be able to adjust that to the actual amount. For more detailed information about typical amounts for each type of add-on item, check out these posts: