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12 Expenses When Renting Your First Apartment

Kiara Taylor

Nov 22, 2022 8 min read

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Monthly expenses

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If you are moving into your first apartment, there are a lot of expenses to be mindful of. Typical expenses when renting an apartment include an application fee, renter’s insurance, a security deposit (usually equal to one month of rent), a pet deposit, and utilities, among other costs. 

This article will walk you through the 12 most common expenses you will encounter when renting your first apartment.

Application Fee

When finding a new apartment, it’s common for prospective tenants to have to pay an application fee. These fees typically start around $20, but they can be as much as $75, depending on where you live and the rental company.

Unscrupulous landlords will sometimes use these fees as a way to skim extra money from applicants. But when used appropriately, application fees pay for a background check that allows a property manager to find out about a tenant’s credit history, eviction history, and criminal background.

An in-depth background check will also verify your employment and income. Property managers will aggregate this information to determine if you qualify to rent an apartment. 

Remember, application fees are non-refundable because they are used to pay for a background check. Even at $25, the fees can add up quickly if you apply for multiple apartments. If your rental application is denied, be sure to take the proper steps to determine why.

Rent

The next primary expense to take into consideration is the actual rental costs.

Financial experts recommend spending no more than 30% of your monthly income on rent. So, for example, if you earn $5,000 a month, your rent shouldn’t cost you more than $1,500. When evaluating how much to spend, consider where you’re renting; rent costs can vary greatly depending on the area. 

Some rental contracts will also vary in their term lengths. In some places, rental lengths are on a yearly or month-to-month basis. If a renter chooses to utilize a yearly contract, their rental payments will remain the same for the whole year. Choosing a month-to-month lease can be convenient if a renter wants the freedom to move in the near future. Unfortunately, monthly contracts can also come with rent increases. 

Remember, your rental costs are likely to be the highest expense in your budget, so plan accordingly. The good news is you can use this monthly cost to improve your financial health or build a credit score from scratch if you don’t have one yet, by using a rent reporting service that will record all your on-time payments and report them to the credit bureaus.

Monthly rent

Renter’s Insurance

Another important cost associated with renting an apartment is renter’s insurance or tenant’s insurance. Renter’s insurance is a special type of insurance that protects your personal property. Unlike homeowner’s insurance, which protects the physical real property, renter’s insurance covers things like furniture, electronics, jewelry and possessions. These types of insurance policies will also provide a certain level of liability coverage, so if someone gets hurt in your house and sues you, you’ll be covered.

Renter’s insurance is usually not mandatory, but it can cost as little as $15 a month. In Canada, the average cost of renter’s insurance is just under $200 a year. 

If you live in a high-crime area that’s prone to break-ins, renter’s insurance can be an excellent way to protect yourself. Remember, in addition to your monthly premium, you’ll also have to pay a deductible any time you file a claim for reimbursement.

Security Deposit

Security deposits are another expense renters have to account for. Besides rent and application fees, a security deposit will be due before you can start occupying your new apartment. A security deposit usually equals one month of rent, but a landlord may require more if you have too many negative factors on your background check. 

Security deposits are required as collateral to pay for any damages that might happen to the apartment while it’s occupied. Similarly, if you fail to pay your rent and end up getting evicted or breaking your lease and leaving early, a security deposit will be used to reimburse the landlord.

Typically, a security deposit is paid when you sign your lease and is returned when you move out. Any costs of repairing your apartment after you leave will be taken out of the security deposit.

Basic furniture

Pet Deposit

Related to your security deposit is a pet deposit. If you have any pets, your property owner will probably require an additional deposit. Pet deposits are used to offset the wear and tear that results from tenants owning pets. Sometimes, pet deposits may actually be a type of fee, so it’s important to read your lease terms carefully. If you are paying a pet fee, this will be non-refundable.

Pet deposits usually cost from $50 to $500, depending on the animals you may be keeping. Also, bear in mind that there may be additional restrictions on what breeds or types of pets are allowed. In the end, pet deposits and fees are a way for property owners to offset the costs associated with allowing pets to stay with you.

Furniture

Apartments and rental properties will either come furnished or unfurnished. Furnished apartments are more common in Europe and larger cities where people move more frequently. If the apartment you are renting comes with furniture, you won’t have to pay the costs of buying furniture when you move in.

If you have to purchase furniture, there are a few ways to save money on that too. First, see if there’s any furniture you already have that you can take with you. Family members, grandparents and your extended family may all have furniture they no longer use or need. Kijiji and Facebook Marketplace can also be good ways to acquire furniture, but be wary of scams.

Finally, if you have roommates, be sure to split the costs of purchasing furniture. 

Utilities and Service Costs

Utilities are another cost associated with moving into a new place, and these costs can vary. For example, if you’re renting a house, you may be required to pay garbage collection costs. Most rental properties require that the tenant pays electric, gas and water services.

Additional fee

Laundry

Experienced renters are familiar with the high costs of paying for laundry when renting an apartment. Many rental properties lack a washing machine and dryer, so you will have to take your laundry to a laundromat. Laundromats can cost anywhere from $1.50 to $3.00 per wash and dry, so these fees can add up.

Other apartments will have laundry available, but these will often be “coin laundry,” meaning you have to pay for each load like you would at a laundromat. The best apartments come with “in-unit” washers and dryers. You won’t have to pay to use these, but you will have to pay the utility costs associated with the electricity and water to run them.

Parking

Rental properties in urban areas often require a monthly payment for parking. But even if your apartment has free parking, there may not be enough space available for everyone. In that case, you may have to pay for street parking or parking on another property nearby.

Street parking costs will vary depending on where you live. Suburban and rural areas usually permit you to park on the street for free for as long as you like. In other places, you may have to pay hourly or purchase a residential parking permit to park on the street near your home.

Moving Costs

When you move, there are also costs associated with physically moving your things. It’s crucial to budget for moving costs because they can quickly add up if they aren’t accounted for. One way to reduce these costs is to use your own vehicle. If you have a truck or a friend with one, that can help save you some money.

If you don’t have a way to move everything yourself, you will have to rent a moving truck or hire a group of professional movers. The cost of moving trucks and professional movers varies widely. The further you are moving, the more expensive it will be. 

One cost associated with moving that you might not think of is taking off a day of work. Finally, you may also have to eat out and pick up a pizza or some other fast food if you don’t feel like cooking after a long day of moving.

Monthly budget

Cable and Internet

Like utilities, cable and internet are another set of services tenants must pay for. Occasionally, these services are included, but inclusive internet services may not be as fast (or reliable) as you desire. 

Today, most people have cell phones, so it’s unlikely you will need to pay for a landline phone. However, your cell phone bill will still exist when you move, which you should keep in mind when budgeting for a new apartment.

If you have roommates, it’s important to establish agreements beforehand about how costs will be shared. Some services, like internet and cable, can come with a set-up fee, and you will likely want to avoid covering the whole cost yourself.

Pest Control

A final item to budget for when looking for a new apartment is pest control. Depending on where you live, any number of pests can potentially impact your apartment. The number one fear of renters everywhere is bed bugs, which can happen to anyone. An exterminator or treatment for a bed bug infestation can cost hundreds of dollars, so you should establish a savings fund to pay for pest treatments.

Besides bed bugs, mice, termites, ants, and other insects can all impact your apartment. Like bed bugs, treatments for these types of pests can run into hundreds of dollars. The more reputable your property manager and apartment, the less likely these types of pests will be a problem, but budgeting for these issues is important nonetheless.

The Bottom Line

These are just the most common 12 expenses associated with moving into your first apartment. It’s important to keep all of these expenses in mind when planning your move because they can quickly add up. By budgeting for these expenses, you will be better able to manage your finances when living on your own.

Kiara Taylor
Kiara Taylor

Kiara Taylor is a financial analyst and writer with over 10 years of experience in the finance industry. She has contributed to publications such as Investopedia, The Balance, Crunchbase, and Harvard Business Review. Kiara is fascinated by fintech’s capacity to increase accessibility to financial products and services, and she is an active proponent of increased diversity in the finance space.

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