How Much Rent Can I Afford?
Use the guidelines below to help you with your budget decisions. If your rent payment is greater than your Living Expenses guideline, you may want to look for an apartment with a lower monthly payment.
X,XXX / mo.
X,XXX / mo.
X,XXX / mo.
You’ve found the perfect apartment… what’s next?
You’ve found the apartment you want. But before you sign the lease, there’s plenty to think about. The most important thing is affordability. A lease is a contract between you and the apartment community, and they’re going to expect you to uphold your end of the bargain.
Luckily for you, financial planners have worked out methods for you to easily calculate rent affordability. Stick to them and you’ll have nothing to worry about other than how you’ll decorate your new home.
How much rent can I afford?
Apartment communities look for an annual income that is 40 times your monthly rent. So if you have a $35,000-a-year job, the maximum rent you can afford is $875 per month. Others look for 30% of your monthly income, but in reality, these two methods are just two different mathematical ways to get to the same place. Use whichever calculation is easier for you to figure out.
This is not to say you should look for an apartment that is $875 per month. There are reasons why you might want to look for something cheaper than that, as well as reasons for maybe something a bit over that price range. That’s going to depend on your desired lifestyle.
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How much should I pay in rent?
If you’re a person who’s really just looking for a place to crash and not much else, try to look for apartments that are between 15% and 20% of your monthly income. In the above example, that’s an apartment in the range of about $450 to $600 per month.
However, if you think you can live more minimalist and want to enjoy a little more in the way of features and functionality, you may find an apartment community that will allow you to rent a place that’s as much as 35% of your monthly income. Using our example, that would be about $1,000 per month on an annual salary of $35,000.
We recommend staying in the 25% to 30% range to get the best of both worlds: affordability and a good number of features.
Do apartment communities count my roommate’s income too?
Generally, when apartment communities rent out to two unrelated renters, both of your incomes are considered. So if you both make $35,000 a year, you’d likely have no problem finding a property manager who will rent a $1,750-per-month apartment to you. But not so fast; think this one through carefully.
Keep in mind that should something happen to your roommate where he or she stops paying rent, as a co-lessee, you are still responsible for the full amount of rent. So pick your roommates (and even the apartment you decide on) wisely. Here, it may actually be smarter to stay well below 30% of your combined income, if at all possible.
What other ways can I figure out how much rent I can afford?
There is another often-used financial plan that is known as the “50/30/20” rule. This takes into account more than just the rent itself. Using this system:
- 50% of your income is for fixed costs. This includes rent, utilities, monthly bills and transportation costs;
- 30% is for day-to-day expenses, including entertainment, shopping and eating out; and
- 20% is for savings. This is for saving towards an emergency fund, retirement, investments and so on.
The 50/30/20 rule might help you think more broadly about what you’re spending money on while putting some of it away.