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Independence—it’s something that we all want. But of course, it comes with a cost. Moving to a place of your own means you’ll encounter new expenses. Knowing the entire scope of the costs will help you budget for them and help you avoid an unpleasant surprise when bills pop up later down the road. How much does it cost to live on your own? We discuss below starting with the initial costs and the continuing costs.
Studies show the median rent in the U.S. is $1,025 per month for a one-bedroom and $1,255 for a two-bedroom place. How much you pay will depend largely on the area. Places with the highest rental prices like San Francisco and NYC have one-bedroom apartment averages of $2,800+. In comparison, low rent places like cities in Montana, Indiana, and Kansas have a rental average less than $600.
The best way to get a deal is shopping around and looking at multiple apartments. Spend a few weekends price hunting so you can find a place that’s within your monthly budget. You may even want to consider getting a roommate or subletting a place.
Rental cost summary: Apartment prices can range greatly depending on where you live. A one-bedroom can be less than $1,000 if you live in more affordable states or closer to $2,000 if you live in a more expensive rental market. The median, however, is $1,025 for a one-bedroom and $1,255 for a two-bedroom.
The Application and Security Deposit
An application fee is a fee that a landlord or rental company may charge to process your application before approving you for a place. The application fee usually ranges from $25 to $100.
If your application is approved, the security deposit is often the first month and last month’s rent. The security deposit is to protect the landlord or rental agency from loss if you damage the apartment or skip out on the rent.
Say you rent a place for $600 per month. The security deposit would be $1,200. You get the security deposit back at the end of the lease (if there are no damages when you leave, of course), but this is money you need to save up for upfront.
Application and security deposit cost summary: $25 to $100 for rental application fee and first and last month’s rent for security deposit.
Next, let’s talk about how much it costs to move. The cost of moving depends on how much stuff you plan to take with you.
- For a small haul—Try borrowing a truck or van from a friend or family member. This way you only have to pay for gas. If you can’t borrow a truck or van, a cargo rental van from U-Haul starts at $19.95 plus miles and fees. Shop around with moving companies as well to see if you can find a deal on a van or truck.
- For a mid-size or larger load—A truck may be necessary. 15′ trucks for local moves from U-Haul start at $29.95 plus miles and fees.
- For moving far away—This will obviously be the most expensive. You may need a larger truck and you need to factor in gas and several days of truck rental for driving.
According Home Advisor, going with experts and hiring movers can cost $527 to $1,447 or $25 to $50 per hour.
The moving costs summary: The costs of moving will vary depending on where you’re going and how much stuff you have. If you have just a few things and you’re starting from scratch, the move can be affordable. Borrow a truck or van and skedaddle out to your new place. Moves with more stuff and farther away will get more expensive. Shop around with multiple moving truck companies and movers to get the best price.
Filling your place with stuff is a sneaky cost that can creep up on you. ForRent.com says that the average person spends $8,176 on apartment furniture. That’s quite a bit of money.
There are ways to reel in these costs. You can shop for used furniture on sites like Craigslist or OfferUp. You can also fill up your place slowly. There’s no need to buy every piece of furniture at one time on a credit card. Instead, you can slowly save up for the furniture.
Thinking about rental furniture? Be careful. Renting furniture may seem cheaper upfront than dropping a grand on a couch, but it can end up costing you an arm and a leg. The average cost of a living room set may cost $200 to $300 per month, plus possible delivery fees, insurance, and other costs. You have to worry about keeping the furniture clean as well. After 12 months, you could spend $2,400 for a rental stuff!
The furniture summary: Furnishing every room of an apartment can collectively cost over $8,000 on average. Have no fear. You don’t need to buy everything at once. You can take your time furnishing your place and you can look for more affordable secondhand items.
Rental insurance isn’t usually expensive but still a cost to consider. Insurance covers your belongings in case of fire or theft. According to ValuePenguin, the average cost of rental insurance per year is $187 or about $16 per month.
The insurance summary. Insurance is pretty affordable, but an expense is an expense so it’s noted here. Expect to spend below $20 per month for it if it’s required.
Utilities Set Up
The next thing is setting up your own utilities like gas, electric, and water. Depending on your credit history, you may be asked by the utility company to put down a security deposit. The security deposit may cost you a few hundred dollars.
The U.S. Department of Energy reports that the average household spends $2,060 per year on utilities including heating, cooling, lighting, and electronics (telephone, etc.). This works out to be $172 per month. On top of this, consider your other recurring bills like Netflix, Hulu, and other monthly bills related to the home.
The utilities set up summary: Utility set up may cost a fee depending on your credit. The fee may be a few hundred dollars. On average, utilities cost $172 per month but will vary depending on where you live and your usage.
A person’s got to eat. The cost of feeding yourself and others will also depend on your shopping habits. CreditDonkey has a cool report breaking down the average costs for different household sizes.
- One person: $250 per month on average when on a “moderate” budget
- Two people: $554 per month on average when on a “moderate” budget
- Four people (two toddlers): $712 per month on average when on a “moderate” budget
These are on average if you keep a fairly tight budget so your cost may be higher than this. Something to think about on top of this is how often you eat out and how often you indulge in adult beverages.
How Much Does it Cost to Live on Your Own?
The exact cost for living on your own will vary widely across the U.S., but the post above gives you a starting point. Shop around to look for affordable apartment rentals. Make sure to save a bit of money for your security deposit, movers, and furniture. Financially preparing beforehand will make it so you can make a smooth transition into having your own place.