When you are budgeting for an apartment, don’t forget about all of your monthly expenses. In addition to your rent you will probably be responsible for several hundred dollars worth of bills.
If you don’t plan on these expenses beforehand you can be caught completely off guard. Your rent may be $600 a month, but after all of your other apartment costs are tallied up you could easily be nearing a grand.
- Phone (landlines and cell)
- Gas (heating and cooking)
Some apartments cover certain utilities, but be sure you know exactly which ones you are responsible for paying before you sign a lease.
Also be aware of installation fees. Several of your utilities (most likely cable and electricity) will charge a one-time installation fee that can be over $100.
- Snow removal
- Lawn maintenance
Another thing to ask before you sign the lease: are you responsible for maintenance fees at your apartment? Another heads up, if you are renting a condo be aware of HOA (Homeowner’s Association) fees which the condo owner might want to pass on to you.
- Renters Insurance. Some management compaines require their tenants to pay for renters insurance. Even the cheapest renters insurance is still a monthly expense.
- Parking is usually a monthly fee. In the city I usually hear about $75 – $100 a month for a parking spot.
- Pet fees are typically a one-time cost, although having a pet is certainly not. Make sure you know the pet policy at your new home. If you haven’t spayed or neutered your pet, make sure you consider that expense, depending on the policy of your property’s management you might have to get a pet fixed to keep it there.
- Don’t forget about groceries or your credit card bill! Those are big monthly expenses, and if you’re not careful they can drain your bank account before you realize. Budget for weekly groceries and try to use as many coupons as possible. Avoid using your credit card for small purchases and be sure you are checking the balance frequently and planning accordingly.
Having roommates will definitely cut down on your monthly costs, but you still need to budget for them and make sure everyone understands how much they owe every month and when payments are due. To make managing the payments easier, my roommate and I are each in charge of one of our utility accounts. However, be sure to put your roommate’s name on the account so they can access information like balances.