A Tenant's Guide: How Much Rent Can I Afford?
It's home hunting time, and like the financially responsible shopper you are, you want to make sure you're looking within your price range before you get too invested in any places you find.
Calculating your rent budget can sometimes feel like a daunting task, but it can pay dividends in the long run. A rental budget provides a solid guideline so you can pay your rent while still having enough money for other important expenses like utilities, food, and savings, and still have money left over for fun stuff, like going out with friends and family, without experiencing financial strain.
Want to set yourself up for future financial success? Read on for advice and to use Azibo's own rent budget calculator, and you'll come out feeling better than when you came in -- we promise.
Factors influencing rent affordability
You've found a place that's calling your name. You're ready to sign a lease agreement tomorrow, but first, you have to figure out if you can afford the rent. While the monthly rent might be less than your monthly income, this doesn't necessarily mean that the apartment's within your budget. To determine whether signing on your dream rental is a responsible financial decision, you'll need to take a few factors into consideration, including your annual income amount, your financial obligations, and your cost of living.
Review your monthly finances, including net income, utilities, groceries, minimum debt payments, and transportation costs. Additionally, consider your long-term savings objectives. If you're a first-time renter, remember to account for setup expenses that may have slipped your mind, such as a security deposit, as well necessary expenses such as any equipment you might need, like a router, or furniture you might have to purchase, like a couch or mattress.
Considering the broad scope of your expenses from month to month will help you figure out how much money you can comfortably allocate towards rent, still have enough left over for everything else, and keep your finances healthy.
What percentage of my income should go to rent?
Naturally, determining how much rent you can afford depends on many factors and your income. However, no matter your salary, a monthly rent payment should be around 30% of your total earnings.
For example, if you make $50,000 a year, you can allocate up to $15,000 annually or approximately $1,250 monthly towards rent, leaving you with $2,900 each month to cover other expenses.
The 30% rule is not one-size-fits-all, though. The amount you can afford to spend on rent varies depending on your financial situation and where you live. For example, if you work in an office that provides free meals every day, you might have a little more wiggle room in your rent budget. Or, if you live in an area where rent is relatively affordable while groceries and gas are more expensive, you may want to allocate more of your month's rent budget to other expenses.
Calculating your rent budget
We've put together a few simple steps that'll help you determine your rent budget:
1) Assess your net monthly income
Start with your net income — the total amount earned after taxes and deductions. This figure will serve as the basis for calculating your rent budget.
2) Deduct essential expenses
Calculate recurring monthly expenses (car payments, student loan payments, etc.) and deduct these expenses from your gross monthly income.
3) Use the 50/30/20 rule
According to experts, renters should adopt the 50/30/20 approach. This guideline allocates 50% of your monthly income to cover living expenses. Another 30% should be for daily expenses, and the remaining 20% should be for savings.
As an example, if you earn $3,000 per month, your budget would be:
- $1,500/mo for rent, utilities, groceries, renter's insurance and debt payments.
- $900/mo for daily expenses like entertainment and shopping.
- $600/mo for savings.
Rent budget calculator
So, general rules of thumb are great and all, but you want to know how much rent you can afford. We've got you covered. Our rent calculator can help you estimate your rental budget based on net income, expenses, and other financial factors.
Affordability and comfortability: finding a balance
Figuring out how much rent you can afford will help you find a place that matches your goals without putting you in a financial bind. You can do this using our rent affordability calculator or following general guidelines like the 30% rule.
These guidelines and tools can give you an idea of what you can afford, but always trust your judgment. Take the time to determine a monthly rent budget that covers all your expenses while working towards your other financial goals.
When searching for your dream rental property, balance finding the right place and being financially comfortable. Choose a home or apartment that brings you joy and doesn't break the bank.
Rent affordability FAQs
Is 50% of income too much to spend on rent?
Spending 50% of your income on rent is generally considered too much. Most experts advise keeping housing costs around 30% or less of your income so you have enough money for other expenses and savings.
Is the 30% rent rule realistic?
The 30% rule is just a suggestion, as everyone's situation differs depending on location, available rental options, housing, and cost of living. Making a budget will help you spend the right amount on rent that works best for you.