July 14th, 2008 Jamie
Just exactly how much does it cost to get your first off-campus apartment? Well, your first month’s costs might be a little bit of a shock if you don’t know what to prepare for–there are a lot of little extras that month that won’t be part of your regular monthly bills (just one more reason to have a roommate or two… or three). Read on to find out what you need to look for to figure out your bills for that first month…
Application - approx $30 to $50 per app
Unlike your parents, your landlord-to-be won’t just take your word that you’re good for the monthly rent-you have to fill out a formal application AND pay a fee so they can check your credit rating. (See, I told you your credit score would be important).
If you don’t fit their monthly income qualifications and need a co-signer like Mom or Dad, he or she will also have to fill out and pay for an application. You (and your roommates if you have any) should foot the bill for your co-signer’s app, too. Since they’re putting their credit score on the line for you, it’s common courtesy.
First Month’s Rent - varies by location and apartment size
Oh the joy of scraping together a month’s worth of rent before you even move in (you’ll probably have to pay this well before your move-in date!). Hopefully you’ve saved your summer earnings, because this could be a sizeable bill.
My first off-campus apartment-a 2br/2ba in San Diego-cost $1,600/month. That meant that I and each of my 3 apartment-mates had to cough up $400/mo. But then again, San Diego is one of the top 10 most expensive cities to rent in, so unless you’re living in New York, LA, or another metropolis, you probably won’t be paying that much.
Security Deposit - approx same cost as 1 mo rent
This is basically security for the landlord–this fee is for any damage you do to your apartment over the course of living there. If you take good care of your apartment, you will probably get a good portion of this amount back.
Last Month’s Rent - same as 1st mo rent
Most apartment complexes in my area don’t charge this, but every once in a while you’ll come across a lease agreement that requires you to hand over the last month’s rent early, too. Personally, I’d recommend looking for an apartment that doesn’t require this fee upfront.
If you plan to have a pet (I’m talking dog or cat, not a goldfish) you’ll probably have to put down an additional security deposit–AND pay extra each month. The initial deposit will probably be a few hundred dollars, but could be up to $1,000; the monthly amount will depend on your apartment complex.
In addition to monthly bills, utilities and such like gas, electricity, water, trash service, internet, phone service, and cable all tend to require start-up fees. Some cable, phone, and internet companies will waive your start-up and installation fees, so be sure to ask them to when you sign up!
You can probably expect the following amounts for the rest of your start-up fees: For gas and electric, you can approximate about $75/ea, trash service will vary (and is sometimes included in your rent). For more realistic pricing for your area, check with your landlord.
You may also have to pay for a parking sticker or parking space assignment. Usually this is a one-time fee, but in larger cities you may see a monthly fee for parking.