It’s difficult to budget for a rental when the monthly utility rates are unknown. While a unit may have an ideal price tag, utility costs can add up quickly.
Renters need to consider these additional expenses before deciding if they can afford a particular unit.
Here are seven utility costs to budget prior to searching for an apartment.
What’s the fun in renting the perfect apartment if it’s going to be unbearably cold? Tenants in cold-weather climates should plan ahead for monthly heating costs.
Multi-unit buildings equipped with radiators don’t typically charge extra for heating because the fees are included in the cost of rent. However, detached houses require oil burners, gas or forced air to keep rooms at comfortable temperatures.
Heating a single-family home can run tenants anywhere from $100 to $300 per month. For roommates sharing financial responsibilities, heating costs can be split up to avoid significantly increasing monthly expenditures.
Landlords and previous tenants are the best resources for heating cost estimates, so establish a solid line of communication to prepare adequately.
Some buildings with gas ranges in kitchens require natural gas for cooking. While $15 per month is minor compared to other utility costs, charges can increase for renters who spend a lot of time in the kitchen.
Electricity in apartments usually costs around $30 to $50 per month, but can fluctuate depending on how much time is spent indoors. Leaseholders who use their rental spaces as offices might end up shelling out more cash to local electric companies.
In addition to lifestyle, the time of year can affect the price of electrical bills. Units with air conditioning have higher electric bills in the summertime.
Also, rental units equipped with energy conserving appliances such as high-efficiency washing machines and refrigerators require less electricity. As long as tenants are careful about turning their lights and electronics off when away from home, electricity costs shouldn’t be astronomical.
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Air conditioning is an expensive, but often indispensable luxury. Lessees can be charged as much as $300 per year to keep their apartments cool and dry.
Depending on location and weather, air conditioning is typically only operated during late spring, summer and early fall. Larger apartments require heavy duty air conditioners that cost more to run. On average, it costs around $50 per month to have A/C during the summer months. Living in warmer climates means higher air conditioning fees for longer periods of time.
For instance, Houston apartments may cost as much as $80 to $90 per month to keep cool. However, Texas residents don’t have to worry about heating expenses often, so they spend less during the wintertime to balance out their utility fees.
Internet service providers differ in the cost of their monthly subscriptions. Depending on packages or promotions offered, renters can expect to pay around $45 per month. However, the bill can be easily split up evenly amongst roommates. Consider bundling Internet with phone and cable for a cheaper price.
In addition, many Internet and cable providers are part of the same corporation. As long as tenants are using the same company for their cable and Internet, they can bundle for about $90 per month. Again, splitting bills with roommates significantly lessens the impact it has on an individual’s budget.
To keep costs low, invest in high-definition televisions equipped with digital antennas for basic television channels.
Insurance isn’t considered a utility fee, but is a highly-recommended and sometimes required monthly expense. Most multi-family apartment buildings suggest tenants protect themselves with renter’s insurance before signing leases. At $150 per year on average, renter’s insurance is well worth the price to protect personal belongings in case of break-ins, fires or floods.
While some of these fees are optional, prospective tenants are wise to take them all into consideration when budgeting for rental properties. Even if leaseholders don’t purchase Internet or air conditioning now, they may reconsider during tenancy.
How much do you spend on utilities each month? What do you do to lower your utility expenses?