Whether you can’t afford to put a down payment on a house or you simply don’t know how long you’ll be living in your current area, renting often makes more sense financially than owning a property. On top of that, there are a ton of perks that are unique to renting. For one thing, you’ll never have to worry about what to do when the sink leaks or the refrigerator breaks down, since you know right away that it’s the landlord’s responsibility to take care of it and eat the cost. You’ll also never have to take on the cost of winterizing your apartment, paying for the air filter to be changed, or taking care of the landscaping.
Unfortunately, there are some additional costs to renting that aren’t so obvious. Here are a few of the biggest ones — and how to prepare for them.
When you’re preparing to move into a new apartment, in addition to handing over documentation regarding your rental history, work history, and credit score, you’ll also need to fork over a substantial amount of cash. A lot of that cash will end up going towards a hefty security deposit.
Depending on where you live in the country, this number can range from just a flat fee that the landlord charges to a pretty large number that includes the first month’s rent, the last month’s rent, and a security deposit.
The good news is that if you take good care of the rental while you’re living in it, you should receive your security deposit back in full. Many renters choose to allocate this refund toward the security deposit at their next place.
If you have a dog or cat, you likely set aside a little money every month to cover the cost of their food, vet bills, and any extra grooming or toys that they might need. But if you’re living in an apartment that allows pets, you should also expect to pay for a pet deposit, or in some cases, a monthly pet rent.
The rate of a pet deposit can range depending on where you live, but you can generally expect to pay anywhere from $200 to $500. Look closely at your lease to see what, if any, pet rent you’ll be paying, and be sure to work that into your monthly budget.
You’re not required to insure the actual structure of your apartment, but your landlord’s homeowner’s insurance does not cover your stuff. That means that if there’s a fire, a natural disaster, or a burglary, your landlord cannot be held responsible for the damages your items incur.
Many landlords, however, will require you to secure renter’s insurance before they let you sign your name on the dotted line. Thankfully, renter’s insurance isn’t all that expensive. It’s usually around $10 to $30 per month, depending on how much value you place on your possessions.
When you’re in the middle of moving and the timing of your lease doesn’t work out (your prior lease ended early and your new one doesn’t start until a few weeks after you move out), chances are you’ll need a storage unit to temporarily keep your things until you can get them into your new place.
Depending on how much stuff you’re storing and the average price in your city, you can expect to spend anywhere between $60 and $200 on a month’s worth of storage space.
If you’re moving into an apartment that doesn’t have a washer/dryer in the unit — or if the complex doesn’t offer an on-site laundry facility — you can go ahead and add in the cost of doing your laundry at a laundromat each week.
This cost will largely depend on how many loads of clothes you’ll be doing each week, but you can estimate that it’ll cost you about $4 a load (washing and drying).
Of course, you can always beg your mom or a friend to let you use their machine so that you won’t have to take on that added cost.
Application Fees/Credit Checks
Your future landlord wants to make sure that you are who you say you are — and that you have the goods to be able to pay your rent on time each month. To do this, they’ll ask you to fill out an application and check your credit score.
To even apply for the apartment, you’ll likely be asked to pay a nonrefundable application fee, which can cost anywhere from $25 to $50, depending on the average fee in your city.
Your landlord will often also ask you to pay for the cost of the credit check, which can run you another $30 to $50, depending on the state in which your credit is being checked. This is also a nonrefundable cost — even if the landlord doesn’t end up picking you for the apartment.