Is anything more exciting than the prospect of renting your own place? Getting excited is one thingmaking it a financial reality is another. Before browsing listings, ask yourself, How much rent can I really afford? Dont know the answer? Heres a great place to start: When it comes to finding the right home, separating dreams from reality will make all the difference.
Five Tips to Determine How Much Rent You Can AffordDo a little budgeting.
This is a tricky tip because everyones budget is different, and there are many different budgeting methods. To simplify, Kelley Long of Financial Finesse suggests you try whats known as the 50/30/20 Rule. In a nutshell, according to Long, Fifty percent of your income should go towards fixed costs and needs like rent, transportation, utilities, groceries, etc., 30 percent toward wants like dining out, entertainment, shopping, Netflix/SoulCycle/Uber/Spotify/Instacart fees, etc, and 20 percent should go toward your goals, like paying down debt and saving for the future.
Keep the number 30 at the top of your mind.
Why does this help you answer the question, How much rent can I afford? Great question! The common recommendation is that housing expenses should not exceed 30 percent of your gross income. So, for example, if you make $60,000 per year, your rent and insurance shouldnt go higher than $18,000 or $1,500 per month.
According to Ryan Coons, CEO of Rentulations, its possible to incorporate the 40 Percent Rule. Under this approach, the asking rent should be no more than 40 percent of the tenants monthly income, minus all other monthly bills such as utility payments, renters insurance, and loans.
That said, there is one other factor to consider: the market norm where you live. For instance, if you are in a high-demand market such as New York, Los Angeles, or anywhere near Google headquarters, you might find the rent far exceeds both the rules of 30 and 40. This means your potential landlord will probably expect their tenants to prove their income (single or combined) is 40 to 50 times the monthly rent.
Keep backup resources out of the equation.
You might have a few accounts that could serve as your ticket to ride, or in this case, rent your dream placebut dont take the bait. Its a no-brainer that you shouldnt dip into your retirement fund, but some people might be tempted to grab some cash from savings and emergency accounts. Resist it. Once you start draining these funds to cover rent, youll be without a safety net in no time.
You should also avoid using credit cards or taking out personal loans in order to cover your expenses. Similarly, if you find yourself charging groceries in order to pay your rent on time, it might be time to rethink your living space.
Stay realistic about your expenses.
Its easy to be dazzled by a beautiful space with the latest amenities and think that if you stretch yourself financially just a little, you can make ends meet. When asking How much rent can I afford? dont fall for the trap! One mistake Long made was justifying a place she couldnt afford because eventually, she would have her car paid off and could put that money toward the rent. What I should have done was rented a less expensive place and then started saving my car payment toward a down payment on a house, she said. I would have been able to afford to buy a LOT sooner in life if Id just sacrificed a couple years in a cheaper place.
Remember: A living space will probably require furnishing.
Nothing is sadder than a beautiful apartment furnished with an air mattress and a coffee table made of milk crates. What good is a spacious view if theres nowhere to sit and enjoy it, right?
It might seem easy to solve a furnishing dilemma by plunking down plastic and charging the costs to defer the price tags. But this can get you into a lot of hot water if trying to pay off those expenses makes covering your rent difficult. Instead of buying things you cant afford, check your local message boards to see if other people might be selling or giving away items you can snag and repurpose.
Know what your landlord expects.
Its amazing what asking a few questions can do. Dont be afraid to pepper the landlord, leasing agent, or broker about what the expectations are in terms of your income-to-rent ratio, if someone can cosign along with you, and if youre allowed to have roommates to defray rental costs. If their expectations are different than the market norms or standard rules, youll save a lot of time applying to places your budget isnt a good fit for anyway.
Want to learn more about how much rent you should be paying each month? Check out our Rent or Buy and Affordability Calculator tools.
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Its no secret that life is full of compromises. But what about when it comes to your living space? Are you willing to trade size for location if the price and location are right? Maybe being in a desirable neighborhood wins out over having a closet. Or maybe proximity to work or school are more key than having an actual kitchen. We spoke with four young professionals who made compromises for their living spaces and learned about their living conditions at the time. We wanted to know if a tiny house for rent is something to jump for or avoid. Heres what we learned.Meet the rentersChristen, 28, marketing manager
The rental:A studio apartment that was turned into a two-bedroom on 2nd Ave in Murray Hill, NYC. Christen rented a room that measured about eight by seven feet.Pros:A short walk to the subway and a new supermarketand the best buffalo chicken slice in all of Manhattan.Cons:No windows in the bedroom, which got extremely hot at night, making it impossible for Christen to sleep with the door closed, and strange glass walls in the bathroom that faced the living room. Because of the close quarters, Christens experience was hampered by a grumpy roommate whose boyfriend was in the apartment a lotand equally grumpy.The price: $1,250/monthWas it worth it: While the neighborhood was wonderful, the tense roommate situation left a lot to be desired. After all, ones home should be a haven. That doesnt include walking on eggshells 24/7.Ryan, 37, teacher/musician, and Wayne, 38, insurance auditor/supervisor
The rental: A furnished, 450-square-foot studio in a basement apartment with a co-op living above.Pros: Free tofu tacos upstairs with the co-op folks anytime (they went once), a four-block proximity to the university Ryan was attending at the time (Wayne had graduated a year prior), three blocks to the downtown area, right across from the public library.The cons: The furnished bit meant the apartment came with furnishings that were left behind by prior tenants, including a twin bed the duo had to share. The apartment got hot in the summers, making it impossible for them to sleep in the same bed, so one person had to sleep on the floor or a tiny couch in the main room of the already-tiny apartment.The price: Under $750/month for two yearsWas it worth it: The duo agrees that one of the best things to come from having to get creative with the sleeping arrangement was the deepening of their relationship. Ryan also gets a big kick out of telling people their survival stories of the tight living quarters. Another bonus: there was nowhere to go but up.Michelle Olin, 34, lawyer
The rental: An efficiency about the size of three parking spaces above the laundry building for a student apartment complex.The pros: Proximity to her law school, her job at a nearby country club, and a beautiful place to go running.The cons: Temperature controlthe heat only came on when it was extremely cold, forcing her to sleep under piles of blankets and with a coat, no stove for cooking, only having a mini fridge, plus plenty of shaking, given the laundry room activity below. Also: vermin.The price: $385/month for three yearsWas it worth it: During the time she spent living above the laundry, Michelle learned just how little she needed to get by. Moreover, she reports now knowing she can be happy under any circumstance.Should You Seek Out a Tiny House For Rent?This is a solid question. While the answer will vary for everyone, the determination often breaks down to this: Will you be spending more time in your apartment, or in the great location it affords you? A student who expects to spend more time studying than entertaining is probably more likely to overlook the fact that there is a bathtub in their kitchen. But a professional looking to relax after work or host dinner parties might be less inclined to appreciate a cramped home.In any case, if the mere idea of small closets, mini fridges and spooning on a twin mattress makes you break out in hives, you might want to skip the small space experience. But if youll be living most of your life in the restaurants, shops, work environments, and open spaces available in your favorite neighborhood, youll never miss luxe apartment amenities anyway.We can help with your home search.Receive weekly news, advice, listings, and neighborhood info by email. Sign Me Up * A valid email address is required.* That email address is already in use. Please log in to update your email preferences.* Something went wrong. Sign up with a valid email address to continue.
These affordable homes prove that great location and style dont always come with a hefty price tag.
The keys to finding a great rental home on a budget are luck, determination, and, of course, frequent, obsessive research. To help with that research part, we gathered together 10 great finds: rental homes under $1000 in cities across the United States. Paying rent may never be fun, but it doesnt have to be painful.
1. Little Rock, Arkansas
Space and style on University Ave.
Park Avenue is one of the newest urban developments in Little Rock, Arkansasan exciting blend of retail, restaurants, and apartment living. In the middle of the action are the Park Avenue Lofts, where your one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment awaits. Dark hardwoods cover the kitchen and living area of this 582-square-foot unit, and youll also enjoy a large, walk-in closet and separate laundry room. Finally, if living next door to a Super Target doesnt sound like a dream come true, we arent sure what does.
2. San Antonio, Texas
Southern charm on Wyoming St.
Lovers of restored homes and old-school charm will flock to this one-bedroom, one-bathroom home in San Antonio, Texas. This cheerful house maintains its original style, but has been updated with fresh paint, new floors, and a renovated kitchen. Beautiful moulding, tons of natural light, and large bay windows set this home apart from most rentals. Local food and retail hotspots like The Pearl and The Alamo Quarry Market are both only a ten-minute drive away, so why not enjoy the privacy of a house and a great location in an exciting city?
3. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
A historic haven on NE 16th St.
This gorgeous, 1,098-square-foot home is a dream come true for medical students or faculty in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Walk to the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center from your two-bedroom, one-bathroom duplexwhich comes fully renovated with gorgeous hardwood floors, plenty of windows, and exposed brick accents. The brand-new kitchen also has granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. With its large, shared yard, this unit has plenty of space, inside and out, for your next big gathering.
4. Raleigh, North Carolina
A tree-lined retreat on Landmark Dr.
Live minutes from downtown Raleigh, North Carolina in this two-bedroom, one and a half-bathroom apartment. The Villages of Lake Boone Trail are surrounded by a lovely natural landscape, and your 1,100-square-foot unit offers a spacious home without compromising on location. Separate living and dining rooms add dimension to the apartment, and three large closets will help you get the most out of your storage situation.
5. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
A Washington Square studio on Clinton St.
Enjoy big city life without breaking the bank with this 250-square-foot apartment in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This upstairs unit has hardwood floors and plenty of natural light, and its windows face the building courtyard. What it lacks in size, this space more than makes up for in location, as this highly sought-after neighborhood features a beautiful park, Washington Square, thats mere steps from historic Independence Hall. If youre more of a foodie than a history buff, stroll over to Talulas Garden for an eclectic, farm-to-table dining experience, or enjoy one of the many other restaurants nestled in Washington Square Wests growing culinary scene.
6. Minneapolis, Minnesota
Uptown amenities on Chowen Ave.
This pet-friendly, 315-square-foot studio is the ideal spot for anyone working in or near Uptown Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Calhoun Greenway packs in every imaginable amenity for its residents, like indoor/outdoor pools and a fitness center, but it also offers perks you may not expect, such as a doggie spa and spin classes. Cooking enthusiasts will relish the two-minute drive to Whole Foods, and exercise junkies will love the easy access to Lake Calhoun for their early-morning jogs. Best of all, this home is still only a 20-minute commute from downtown Minneapolis.
7. Des Moines, Iowa
A peaceful apartment on Park Ave.
The perfect mix of tranquility and excitement waits for you at the Weston Park Apartments in Des Moines, Iowa. This one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment is 690 square feet of sleek modern livingcomplete with granite countertops, stylish black cabinets and appliances, and a spacious balcony. The complex is pet-friendly and comes with communal perks such as a dog park, two swimming pools, a basketball court, and a 24-hour fitness center. When youre ready to venture out, hop onto the 17-mile paved bike trail that weaves through the natural surroundings. The pinnacle of convenience, this rental is a ten-minute commute from the metro, the Des Moines International Airport, and the historic Valley Junction, which is home to several antique shops and a massive farmers market.
8. Phoenix, Arizona
A desert oasis on E Clinton St.
Nestled in the beautiful hills of North Mountain Park, this one-bedroom, one and a half-bathroom apartment in Phoenix, Arizona is anything but ordinary. Enjoy modern luxuries like black granite and hardwood floors in your 850-square-foot home, and take advantage of the fitness center, spa, and outdoor pool. Nature enthusiasts will love that this pet-friendly complex provides easy access to hiking and biking trails, while brunch lovers might be more excited by the proximity to popular joints like Scramble and Rainbow Donuts.
9. Nashville, Tennessee
Suburban living on Jackson Downs Blvd.
With desirable location comes rising rental prices, but its still possible to live within 30 minutes of downtown Nashville, Tennessee for under $1,000/month. Enter the Polo Park apartments, where your one-bedroom, one-bathroom, 612-square-foot apartment has two large closets, a separate laundry room, and energy-efficient kitchen appliances. The complex is packed with amenities from a running trail to indoor racquetball courts, and youll still enjoy proximity to some of the citys most popular sights.
10. Kansas City, Missouri
A renovated, historic apartment on Broadway Blvd.
This one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment offers a truly central location in Kansas City, Missouri. Built in 1925, the Ambassador is a historic apartment building, but recent renovations have given it a contemporary feel. The 563-square-foot space has smart updates like stylish laminate floors, dark quartz countertops, and a walk-in closet. Take in views of downtown from the Ambassadors romantic rooftop deck, where movie stars such as Kim Novak once passed the time. Best of all, the ample location means youll have easy access to downtown and popular retail hubs like the Country Club Plaza.
Where was your last great-deal rental? Share your experience in the comments below!We can help with your home search.Receive weekly news, advice, listings, and neighborhood info by email. Sign Me Up * A valid email address is required.* That email address is already in use. Please log in to update your email preferences.* Something went wrong. Sign up with a valid email address to continue.