Find the True Cost of Renting Your First Apartment

Posted by Pekin Insurance on Sep 05, 2018

Budget for these essentials before you rent your first apartment.


You finally graduated from college and landed a “real” job. You take one more step toward adulthood when you start searching for your first apartment. Do you know what you really need before you move in, though?  

Read on to find items overlooked by many first-time apartment renters. You’ll also discover costs that you should take care of before you sign a lease.  


Upfront Costs 

You need to calculate your monthly income and your monthly expenses, which include rent, utilities, groceries, gas, and more. If you’ve never lived on your own, you’ll probably need to research and estimate these costs.

To figure out how much money you’ll have left over every month, subtract your expenses from your income. Don’t forget to factor in recurring payments such as student loan debt.


Rent, Security Deposit, and Realtor Fees
If you expect to pay $1,000 in monthly rent, you might be responsible for fees of $3,000 or more before you move in. Some states allow landlords to request your first and last months’ rent up front, along with a security deposit. Other states only let landlords ask for the first month of rent and a security deposit before you move in.

According to, you could pay between 25% and 50% of a single month’s rent if you hire a real estate professional to help with your search. You might be on the hook for a higher Realtor fee if you move to a city where living space comes at a premium (see: Los Angeles and New York). 

Some landlords will cover the Realtor fee, so it never hurts to ask.


Utilities and Monthly Costs
When you rent an apartment, your monthly expenses could include any of these utilities:

  • Air conditioning/heat
  • Electricity
  • Natural gas
  • Trash collection
  • Water/sewage

Before you sign a lease, make sure all parties agree on who’s covering which bills. Know that your utility costs will vary based on the weather, how often you use certain devices, and the efficiency of your building’s furnace and air conditioning unit.

When you get internet hooked up, you’ll likely receive a bill for service charges and installation fees. According to, the average monthly cost for internet service is $50 during promotional periods, and that price typically moves up to $60 per month after the promotion ends. These costs vary by region.

You can wait to have your internet set up, but make sure your gas, water, and electricity are good to go before you move in. You should contact the utility companies a few weeks in advance to do this.



Don’t Overlook These Essentials


Make Your List

Now that you know how to budget for upfront costs, consider these items many first-time apartment renters forget.


Bedroom Items

  • Bedside tables and nightstands
  • Heavy blankets for cold weather
  • Heavy curtains
  • Lamps for bedside tables and nightstands
  • Shoe rack


Bathroom Items

  • Plunger
  • Shower liner
  • Three sets of towels
  • Toilet scrubber/brush
  • Toothbrush holders


Kitchen Items

  • Dish towels
  • Drying rack (if no dishwasher)
  • Oven mitts
  • Spice rack
  • Tupperware


Living Room/Dining Room Items

  • Coat rack or wall hooks
  • Curtains
  • Extra lamps
  • Power strips
  • Area rugs
  • TV stand


Cleaning Supplies

  • Broom
  • Bucket
  • Dust pan
  • Garbage bags
  • Garbage can
  • Mop
  • Vacuum


Make the Next Move

If you’ve reached this point, you have what you need to create a realistic budget and a longer list of items to purchase for your first apartment.


Before you get comfy, protect your possessions from damage and theft with renters insurance. Contact your local Pekin Insurance agent today for more information on renters insurance.



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