Ready to move out from your parents and get your own place? Budget for surprise expenses now.

4 minute read

When you move into your first apartment, you’ll finally hold the key to not only your own front door but also complete independence. However, your new apartment comes with first-time expenses easy to overlook while daydreaming about lounging by the complex pool.

Hopefully, your budget easily covers monthly rent payments. But first apartment costs can mount quickly if you’re caught off-guard along the way or after you move in.

1. Application fee

Application fee

Private landlords, property management companies and apartment complexes often charge an application fee, ranging from $35 to $75, to apply to rent an apartment. Even worse, the fee is usually nonrefundable, so if you don’t get the apartment, you’re still out the money.

Since you’ll compete with others eyeing the same apartment, especially in highly desirable locations, look for apartment rentals with no application fee or a nominal fee.

2. Security deposit

Most apartments require a security deposit equal to at least one month’s rent or more. For example, in a city such as San Francisco, where the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment runs around $3,300, your deposit could be thousands of dollars.

A security deposit is generally refundable if you’ve met the terms of your lease and leave the apartment in good condition when you move out. If you have a dog or cat, however, you may have to pay an additional nonrefundable “pet deposit.”

3. Utility deposits and fees

Utility deposits and fees

Utility deposits typically transfer when you move and continue to use the same gas, electric or cable company. However, a utility company may require you to pay a deposit when ordering utility services for your first apartment.

Your credit history can also determine whether you pay a deposit, with poor credit making a utility deposit much more likely.

4. Cleaning supplies

The days of grabbing Mom’s bottle of Windex to swipe the bathroom mirror are over when you’ve got your own place. In fact, you’ll need a whole slew of cleaning supplies now.

Prepare to buy cleaning products for the kitchen and bathroom, including cleaning cloths or paper towels, laundry detergent, and dish or dishwasher soap. You’ll also need a broom, dustpan, and mop.

5. Laundry

Cropped image of beautiful young woman is smiling while doing laundry at home

No more tossing clothes into your parents’ washer or dryer without caring about the utility bill. If your apartment comes with a washer and dryer, you’ll pay for electricity, gas and maybe water costs for doing laundry.

If the apartment complex has a community laundry room, start socking away quarters and dollar bills now. You’ll need them later.

6. Vacuum cleaner

You’ll need to buy a vacuum cleaner, especially if your apartment has carpet or you have a pet. You can go expensive or cheap with this appliance.

You can pick up an inexpensive vacuum for under $100 or pay as much as $600 or more for a fancy upright that promises to suck up furballs and dog hair better than the rest.

7. Kitchen appliances

Kitchen appliances

Your first apartment might come with a microwave, but does it come with a toaster oven, coffeemaker, blender, food processor and other appliances that you need?

You may have to buy some new appliances. First, though, hit up your parents, friends and coworkers for any appliance castoffs.

8. Cookware, dishes, and utensils

You can pick up a cheap set of flatware for under $20. But no one can live on flatware alone. Even if you don’t cook much, you’ll need pots and pans for simple meals like scrambled eggs or pasta.

If you cook a lot, you can run up a daunting bill for knives, spatulas, cookware, cutting boards, colanders and anything else you’ll need to make the most of your first kitchen.

9. Renter’s insurance

Renters insurance

You may not have much in your first apartment but what if your few possessions are destroyed by a fire or other disaster? Renter’s insurance is inexpensive but it’s still one more cost you should think about before signing the lease.

The U.S. average cost of renter’s insurance is $326 annually, or about $27 a month, according to Insurance.com. That premium is based on coverage of $40,000 for personal property, a $1,000 deductible and $100,000 of liability protection.

10. Storage space

If you need more room than your first apartment offers, you may have to pay for monthly storage space. The average monthly cost to rent a storage unit in the U.S. is nearly $90, according to self-storage blog Sparefoot.

To save on storage cost, ask your apartment manager whether the complex or building offers free storage space or a storage bin you can rent.

11. Parking

Underground parking/garage

Most apartment complexes offer parking for tenants. However, if you’re renting in a big city, you may have to pay extra for a place to park your vehicle.

Consider costs for garage or lot parking and even the expense of potential parking tickets if there is no off-street parking available.

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About the Author

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp is a full-time freelance writer based in Kansas City, Mo. Deb went from being unable to get approved for a credit card or loan 20 years ago to having excellent credit today and becoming a homeowner. Deb learned her lessons about money the hard way. Now she wants to share them to help you pay down debt, fix your credit and quit being broke all the time. Deb's personal finance and credit articles have been published at Credit Karma and The Huffington Post.

Published by Debt.com, LLC