What Percentage of My Income Should I Be Spending on Rent? + Other Considerations When Apartment Hunting

Updated March 18, 2019
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Are you starting to look for a new apartment? Apartment hunting can be fun, but also a little stressful because of the number of factors you need to consider before you sign the lease. To help you out, here are some important questions to ask before officially deciding on your new apartment.

What Percentage of My Income Should I Spend on My Apartment?

No matter where you look for answers on this question, you’ll likely find that 30% of your gross monthly income (before taxes) is recommended for how much you should spend on monthly rent for an apartment. So if you’re making $5,500 per month, then you’d take $5,000 x .3, which equates to $1,500. But, that formula might not work great for those with heavy student debt. If you are fresh out of college and are making large monthly payments for your student loans, then use the 43% rule. This rule says that your monthly house costs plus your monthly debt payments should not be any higher than 43% of your monthly income.

How Close is the Location to My Work, School, Etc?


This is an important factor because it can help you decide how much you should spend on rent. If you pay for a more expensive apartment but can walk or bike to work, you may save a ton on monthly transportation costs. On the other side, if the apartment is farther away and you have to drive or take the bus, but the monthly rent is cheaper, then you may be able to make it work. Or, maybe one apartment is closer to your favorite coffee shop, but the rent is $50 more, so you have to decide if the cost is worth the reward. Location is a big factor. You don’t always want to take the cheapest option if you don’t think you’ll enjoy living in that location.

What Are The Terms of the Lease?

Before you put your name on any dotted lines, make sure that you thoroughly read the lease. Look for early termination fees, the renewal process, pet fees and deposits, who pays for carpet cleanings, late fees, and subletting guidelines. Make sure that you read the lease a couple of times and ask for clarification on anything you don’t understand. And, if there is something you disagree with, bring it up to the property manager.

How Much Will I Be Spend in Utilities?


Within the lease, you should also see which utilities you are responsible for, and which the landlord or management will pay. This will be a large factor in deciding which property is right for you. Even if an apartment has a smaller monthly rent than another option, if you are paying for more in utilities each month then the more expensive rent apartment may be the way to go.

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Are There Any Reasons For My Landlord Evicting Me?

It’s important to understand what the big no-nos are when it comes to your apartment complex. For example, if you are late on your rent for a certain amount of months, it may be outlined in your lease that that is cause for eviction. Each apartment complex will have different rules and regulations, so make sure that you understand what they are so you can avoid running into any trouble.

What Are the Policies About Breaking the Lease Early?

If on the other hand, it is you who would like to break the lease, then you should ensure that you understand what the process is for leaving before your lease is up. You may be able to get out fairly easily, as long as you can find a subletter or someone to sign a new lease in your spot. Other apartments may have different guidelines and steps to follow before you can break a lease. In any event, make sure that you understand the process, because even if you aren’t planning on breaking your lease, life sometimes happens and it is good to know just in case.

How is Rent Paid?

This is good information to know so that you aren’t scrambling to figure out how to make sure you get your rent in on time last minute. Some apartments will only take checks, while others allow you to pay online through a resident portal.

When is Rent Due?


Also important when it comes to rent is when is it due? Most apartments will set up the rent to be due by the first of each month, however many apartments allow for a grace period (usually 3-5) days. Grace periods allow you a few extra days to pay your rent without being charged a late fee. This is important information to know, especially if you have to mail your rent.

Does The Unit Currently Have Damage?

This is one thing that many new tenants forget to check. Make sure that you take some time to look around your apartment and look for anything that is damaged, especially if fixing it would require funds from your security deposit if management thought that you caused it. Bring any damage to management’s attention and make sure that they know that it wasn’t you who caused it.

If You’re Currently Hunting for Apartments, Check Out Our Available Properties!

At Bigos Management, we offer a wide variety of properties, each with their own set of amenities to fit your lifestyle. Find your new apartment today with Bigos! The Twin Cities and surrounding suburbs are an excellent place to live, no matter who you are and what you enjoy doing. There is something here for everyone!

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