What Rent Can You Really Afford? Budgeting for Extra Monthly Costs

What Rent Can You Really Afford? Budgeting for Extra Monthly Costs

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Taryn Williford
Jan 14, 2014
(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

I love my neighborhood, but I don't love my apartment. So ever since I spotted a new apartment building going up close to the action in my 'hood, I've been determined to figure out if I can afford it. And that means taking into account more than just the cost of rent and utilities in my monthly budget.

Anyone looking to move up to a new space needs to consider the added costs. Even if the sticker price on the floor plan is close to what you pay now, you might find there are hidden monthly costs that will easily kick your rent check up. (To discover how much rent you can really afford, try out The Mathematical Approach.)

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but a quick guide to some of the more common costs that might be added on when moving from place to place. Each of these costs can be pretty nominal — we're taking $10 or $20 a month — but they could add up to kick your dream apartment right out of your budget.

Pet Rent
Many apartments charge an extra monthly fee for renters with pets. The amount charged varies from property to property, and might even include tiered rates for certain sizes or breeds.

Transportation
If your future apartment is in a different neighborhood than the one you live in now, your costs for commuting could change — especially if the new place is on a more heavily trafficked road or your route takes you through highway tolls.

Parking
Living with a car in an urban area comes with its own headaches, and sometimes parking spaces are rationed out to renters. If you're moving from two included spaces to one, or from one to none, you'll need to budget for monthly offsite parking fees (if you don't want to hunt for a street spot every day).

(Image credit: romakoma/Shutterstock)

Laundry
I've grown accustomed to having full laundry inside my apartment, but the new building doesn't include washers and dryers in the units. To avoid trips to the laundromat, I'll have to add $30-$50 to my monthly expenses for renting a washer and dryer. If your new place doesn't have washer and dryer connections in the apartment, you'll have to factor in the cost of washing clothes at the laundromat (and transportation there and back).

Utilities
You probably pay for utilities now, but you should definitely investigate if your monthly bill might go up in the new space. Your payments for electricity, gas or water could change thanks to a different company, different floor plan, or less efficient construction.

Cable & Internet
A handful of my friends live in buildings where the cost of internet is included in their rent. If they were to move out and start paying for internet separately, they'd have to budget for the extra cost. Cable and internet are the most common extras added to rent, but consider any built-in costs, like trash or sewer, that aren't included in rent at your potential new apartment.

Gym Membership
If you made use of the included fitness amenities at the old place, you might need to budget for a monthly membership to keep up your routine at a new gym-less apartment.

Are there any other "surprise" costs you've run into as a renter?

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