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Moving into your first apartment is an exciting experience and marks a significant milestone in life. It also comes with a wide range of financial responsibilities – some of which you may face for the first time. Rent is one of many factors to consider when building your budget for your new place.

In this article, we’ll highlight essential financial components to include when creating a budget for renting your first apartment and provide tips to ensure a smooth transition as you move into your new home.

How Much Rent Can You Afford?

Determining how much rent you can afford is the first step in your apartment hunt. A common rule of thumb is to spend no more than 30% of your monthly income on rent. Sticking to this benchmark helps ensure you have enough funds to cover your other living expenses.

To extend your budget and lower overall costs, consider a roommate. Just make sure to choose a roommate you enjoy being around but who is also fiscally responsible. You don’t want to become accountable for their share of the rent if they fail to pay.

Pro Tip: Use a Financial Calculator

When creating a budget for your new apartment, use online financial calculators to help build your budget. You can plug in your income, debts, and other expenses to determine what you can comfortably afford for rent.

What Other Expenses Will You Have to Pay?

Don’t forget to include the following expenses in your budget calculations.

Deposits & Fees

Many apartment complexes require deposits and fees in addition to rent. Some must be paid upfront; others may be added monthly to your lease.

  • Security Deposit: This deposit protects the landlord against any potential damage to the apartment during your lease. The cost is typically one month’s rent. If you maintain your apartment in excellent condition, your deposit should be returned to you upon moving out.
  • Move-In Fee: Some complexes or landlords charge a non-refundable move-in fee. This covers the cost of preparing the unit for your arrival.
  • Pet Fee: If you bring your pets to live with you, be prepared to pay additional fees for your furry friends. You might be required to pay a pet deposit or monthly pet rent. Some places also require you to have pet insurance.
  • Parking Fee: An additional fee might be charged to purchase a parking pass or decal for your car or to access a specified parking deck.
  • Other Deposits & Fees: You may also have to pay additional fees for keys, mailbox services, access to select amenities or other features.


In addition to rent, you need to factor utility costs into your monthly budget. Some utilities may be included in the rent price, and some you may have to pay for individually. Ask your landlord or property manager how these need to be paid.

Utility costs will vary depending on your apartment and location. However, you can likely contact local providers or ask people in the area for a rough cost estimate.

  • Power: Electricity costs fluctuate monthly depending on usage. Some months or seasons may have higher heating and cooling costs than others.
  • Water: This expense can also fluctuate monthly depending on usage but typically remains within a predictable range.
  • Internet: Costs will depend on the service provider and packages offered.

Renter’s Insurance

Renter’s insurance protects you and your belongings against theft, fire, or other unexpected events. Some complexes may require you to have renter’s insurance. Even if it’s not required, renter’s insurance is still a wise investment – and it’s affordable!

Moving Costs

Moving to a new place can be costly, so don’t forget to include these expenses in your overall budget.

  • Renting a Moving Van: If you don’t have a vehicle large enough to move your belongings or don’t know anyone you could borrow one from, you’ll need to rent a moving van or another vehicle with ample space to pack up everything you need to bring.
  • Thanking Your Helpers: If you’re having friends or family help you move, extend the kind gesture of offering to pay for their gas expenses. You could also treat them to a meal to show your gratitude. Have a pizza delivered to your new place and make some memories while your loved ones help you settle in!

Furniture, Appliances & Essentials

If this is your first time living away from home, you’ll likely need to purchase new furniture, basic appliances, and other essential items. Fortunately, local thrift stores and online marketplaces likely have plenty of affordable options.

Start with these basics for now:

  • Couch, loveseat, or futon
  • Coffee table
  • Dining table and chairs
  • Desk and chair
  • Towels
  • Sheets, comforters & pillows
  • Shower curtain & liner
  • Coffee maker
  • Microwave (if your unit doesn’t already include one)
  • Kitchenware: (Include at least the essentials, such as pots and pans, plates and bowls, cups and mugs, silverware, cooking utensils, etc.)

Remember that you don’t need to be fully stocked right away! You can always start with the basics and gradually buy other items later as your budget permits. And you don’t need to worry about finding top-quality stuff – you can probably find most of these items at discount or second-hand stores.

Don’t Forget These Overlooked Costs

Moving into your place for the first time involves many expenses that you might not anticipate.

  • Laundry: If your apartment doesn’t have in-unit laundry machines or free access to on-site laundry facilities, then you’ll need to budget for usage fees or laundromat expenses.
  • Transportation: Consider the cost of commuting to work or school, including gas, parking fees, and public transportation.
  • Subscription Services: Don’t forget to include the cost of streaming services and other subscriptions. You may overlook these expenses if your parents have covered them in the past.
  • Initial Stock-Up: You’ll need to stock up on household essentials to ensure you have everything you need. These purchases can add up quickly. However, you won’t require many items often after your initial stock-up run.
  • Garbage cans & bags
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Laundry detergent
  • Dishwasher detergent & dish soap
  • Toilet paper & paper towels
  • Hand soap
  • Grocery basics (ingredients, condiments, etc.)

We’re Here to Help!

Moving into your first apartment is a huge step towards independence, but it comes with many responsibilities – including financial ones. Understanding how to budget for rent, account for additional expenses, and anticipate overlooked costs will ensure a smooth transition into your new place.

If you’d like to learn more about successfully managing your finances, then we’re here to help. We offer a variety of tools to help you manage your money independently – from Online Banking to Online Bill Pay. Please stop by any of our convenient branch locations or call us at 1-800-531-8456 to speak with a team member today.

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Each individual’s financial situation is unique. We encourage you to contact United Texas Credit Union when seeking financial advice on the products and services discussed. This article is for educational purposes only; the authors assume no legal responsibility for the completeness or accuracy of the contents.

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