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How Much to Save Before You Rent Your First Place

As great as it may be to live with mom and dad, or still share an apartment with your friends from college, you may want to eventually get a place of your own. The question is what will that cost, and can you afford it? 

As a rule of thumb, your income should be three times your rent. That means if you take home $3,000 each month, you can afford $1,000 in monthly rent. That can vary based on any debt you may be paying off. If you have debts such as a car payment or student loans, that may impact the amount of monthly rent you can afford. Many landlords will consider your income to rent ratio when deciding whether to offer you a lease. 

Your available savings may also be a factor in getting your first apartment. Many landlords will ask for the first and last month’s rent as part of the lease agreement. Some may also require security and pet deposits and expect you to pay for your utilities like water, electricity, internet service, and possibly parking. 

According to rentdata.org, Colorado has the 12th highest rent in the country and the average 2022 Fair Market Rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,659. Four-bedroom houses are averaging $2,501 and efficiencies and studios are not much cheaper averaging $1,236 per month. 

Knowing how much rent and utilities arefor potential apartments in your  is a good way to begin calculating if you can afford to move out, if you will need a roommate or if you have realistic expectations for your first place. Rent may vary by neighborhood – Is it a safe neighborhood, close to transportation, shopping, or restaurants? These considerations may impact how much an apartment will rent for in your area. Most leases last for at least a year, so it is important to know if you would feel comfortable there and could afford the total cost of your own place before signing a lease. 

After you’ve determined how much you can afford for an apartment, you should also consider how you will furnish it. While it may be possible for some people to furnish an apartment with all new furniture, it’s not the only option. You may want to consider donations from family members or furniture from online marketplaces or secondhand stores to get you started. Managing your cash flow will be important as you start out on your own. Limiting big purchases at the beginning may help get you started on a successful path.