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What Should The Budget For A First Apartment Look Like?

Patryk_Kosmider on Deposit Photos

We all look forward to the day when we finally leave our parents’ homes. We know we’re the generation that stays at home longer than previous generations, so it can seem daunting to strike out on our own at first. How will we afford rent? Furniture? Fun? Understanding what a first apartment budget should look like will make that first leap a little less terrifying.

Initial prices

We know how much rent is. But do we factor in the other costs? Often, when signing a new lease, you’ll need to pay an application fee, the first month’s rent (sometimes the last month’s as well) and a security deposit. In cities such as New York, you may even pay a broker’s fee, which can be up to 20 percent of your yearly rent. Your first apartment budget needs to account for these variables, as well as other initial costs such as furniture, especially if you can’t bring any from home.

If you have the support of your parents, this is going to be simple. Many apartments will accept a guarantor — someone who is financially responsible for rent — if the primary applicant (you) doesn’t make a certain amount over the rent. But that’s not an option for many young people, who may be better served by subletting. You won’t be signing the lease in this situation, and often if your credentials aren’t strong enough to get a lease, you can sublet with no problem … provided you can actually afford the rent.

In addition…

Rent and costs related to rent are one thing, but you need to consider the costs of everyday living in your first apartment budget. It’s easy to forget, but your parents have had to stock cleaning supplies and food on a consistent basis. You need to be able to do this to live on your own, and a portion of your budget should be devoted to that regular stocking of food and cleaning supplies. Consider also a fund for repairs in case your landlord won’t foot the bill. You’ll find that some landlords are more proactive about maintenance, while some simply don’t care.

Utilities, including power, water, gas and internet, can be another unexpected cost. The prices for these utilities will fluctuate from month to month, so it’s best to leave room in your budget just in case of an especially hot summer or cold winter. If you have roommates, you’ll find that splitting utilities will greatly reduce these costs. Having roommates in general is a great idea for the first time you move out on your own, especially if you’re in a city with more expensive rent. What’s more, you’ll be able to divide up responsibilities and chores, as well as home purchases.

There likely will be more costs you’ll need to consider, including your personal budget for things such as clothes, health care, transportation and other miscellaneous costs. But you should already be aware of those; these new items just will be more things to consider as you plan a budget.


To recap, you’ll need to account for these things: rent itself, application fees, a security deposit, possible broker fees, kitchen and home supplies, furniture, utilities and extra money to set aside. These costs can really add up, so it’s wise to carefully plan out a budget for an apartment in an area you know you can afford, alongside roommates who also can afford your living situation. It may be a challenge initially, but smart planning of your first apartment budget will get you one step closer to your dream apartment.

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