Planning for Your First Apartment

Like most recent college grads, you’ve probably been dreaming of the time that you can move into your own place.

For many young adults, getting your own place is a way to achieve a measure of independence from your parents, both symbolically, and in a real sense. When you get your own place you will be taking responsibility for your own expenses: rent, bills and groceries. For many people, the first year out of college is the time when you take this important step into adulthood.

But how exactly do you plan for moving out to your own place? If you have no experience with budgeting, you may have no idea what you will need in order to set up house. You will need to learn how to manage your money and plan ahead. When planning to move into your own place, here are a few basic rules of thumb that will be helpful.

Step One: Get Money for Your Apartment

First of all, before you go anywhere, you’re going to need the first month’s rent and security deposit in order to move into your new apartment. The security deposit is typically equal to a month’s rent, and will be held for you until you vacate the apartment.

At that point it will either be returned to you or, if the apartment is damaged in some way, it will be used to pay for damages. So you should probably plan to spend a few months working while you live at home, or in your dorm room, while you save up the first month’s rent and security.

Step Two: How Much Can You Afford?

Speaking of work, how much will you need to make in order to survive? That’s a tricky question. How much you spend on rent will depend upon where you live, but if you can estimate that expense, as well as your expenses for utilities such as gas, electric, telephone and internet access, you will have a basic idea of your monthly apartment expenses.

What about cable TV, or other important monthly payments such as a car payment, student loan, or credit card? You’ll also have groceries and gas to pay for, and other periodic expenses for clothes, laundry, dry cleaning and grooming. Don’t forget to budget in pocket money and entertainment.

Add up those monthly expenses, and add about 35 percent for taxes that will be taken out of your paycheck. Then you will have a good idea of how much you need to make a month.