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A couple looks over apartment bills

10 Bills You Will Pay When Renting an Apartment

Ever wondered about the array of bills that come with renting an apartment? You're in the right place. Regardless of your location, renting involves a monthly financial commitment covering rent, electricity, security deposits, pet fees, and more. While it may seem expensive, there are ways to trim costs, and we'll explore them here.

Key Takeaways

  • Renting an apartment means dealing with various costs like monthly rent, a sizable security deposit, and fluctuating utility bills (electricity, gas, water).
  • Tenants can cut expenses by adopting energy-saving habits, exploring internet service deals, and being mindful of water usage.
  • Additional costs like trash fees, renter's insurance, pet-related charges, and parking fees may apply, depending on the lease terms. Understanding these helps plan finances for apartment living.

Apartment bills to pay

1. Rent Payment

After a month of living in the apartment, you'll need to make your first rent payment. Generally speaking, it's due on the first of every month at the previously agreed rate. However, some landlords will allow you to change the due date before signing your contract. 

While cash was once the go-to payment option, both property managers and landlords require checks or payments through online portals nowadays. The specific amount varies depending on your lease length and state. For instance, renting a one-bedroom apartment in New York may cost you $2,000 or more, while a similar unit in Columbus, Ohio, runs as low as $900. 

2. Security Deposit

This isn't an ongoing bill, but it's undoubtedly the most expensive upfront cost you'll need to stump when renting an apartment. As the name suggests, it gives landlords security they'll be able to pay for damage to their apartment (if necessary). It's as close or equal to one month's rent, meaning you'll pay near-double your typical monthly rent price before you've moved in and started living there.

However, in recent years, some landlords have reduced this cost to a nominal amount depending on the renter's credit score. This means that you'll see tiered deposit costs depending on your credit score. In short, you'll pay less for a lower credit score and more for a higher score.

Luckily, your landlord will return your security deposit if you haven't damaged the property once you move out. 

Unlike your rent and security deposit, your utility bills will change each month. While you might be able to secure a fixed tariff for electricity and other bills, apartment renters generally pay for their specific usage. Therefore, you won't necessarily pay the same from one month to the next.

Note: Some lease agreements roll utility bills into the rent payment, meaning you won't have to worry about paying electricity, gas, and other essentials separately. Just keep in mind that such contracts hike the rent cost to guarantee landlords can cover all expenses.

3. Electric Bill

Electricity's intrinsic place in society means it's one of the most expensive yet ever-changing bills you'll have to pay when renting an apartment. From light switches to phone chargers to TVs to refrigerators to stoves, almost everything in your home requires electricity.  

What Is the Average Electric Bill?

According to data provided by EnergyBot in June 2023, the average electricity bill is $117 per month. However, the price varies drastically depending on your state. In Hawaii, for instance, electric bills average a whopping $162 per month, while Utah's monthly average is a mere $80.

How To Save Money on Your Electric Bill

Don't let the above figures put you off. There are plenty of ways to save money on electric bills when renting an apartment, such as the following tips and tricks:

  • Change HVAC filters. Worn-out filters force your HVAC system to work harder by drawing more power (and money from your bank account). It's worth checking vents and ducts for debris buildup, too. 
  • Unplug devices. Every device plugged into the wall costs money. So, if you have appliances/electronics plugged in that you don't use often, unplug them to unlock considerable savings.
  • Use energy-efficient light bulbs. US Department of Energy data shows 5% of American household's energy consumption comes from lightbulbs. Switching to long-lasting LED lights helps you reduce consumption, saving money in the process. 
  • Do large laundry loads. Your washer and dryer use the same amount of energy to wash/dry a small and large load. So, you can lower your bill by running full loads less often. 
  • Alter kitchen habits. The heat output from cooking can boost your AC costs more than you realize. Use the microwave to heat liquids and aim to cook in the evenings when it's cooler to save money.

4. Gas Bill

The US Energy Information Administration notes roughly half the homes in the country use natural gas to heat water and buildings, dry laundry, and cook food, with the former being the single biggest user. 

What Is the Average Gas Bill?

Americans pay an average of $100 per month for gas heating, as publicized by Inspire Clean Energy and The Energy Professor. However, households should expect to pay more or less depending on a myriad of factors, such as their state, apartment size, apartment building age, appliances, thermostat settings, and more. 

How To Save Money on Your Gas Bill

Unfortunately, gas bills can run pretty high, especially if you're renting an apartment in an older building or your appliances aren't as efficient as they could be. So, here are some tips that may help lower the monthly cost:

  • Tune in to the seasons. Even though it's tempting to ramp up the thermostat when it's cold outside, try to resist. Wear sweaters and socks around the apartment and leave your thermostat alone. If there's one tip you take to heart, make it this one!
  • Spot heat. Despite using electricity, space heaters are much cheaper to run in your most-used locations compared to heating your whole apartment.
  • Reduce hot water use. Most households lose a lot of gas money to their washers. Therefore, washing your clothes on cold (or warm, at the very least) can save a load of cash.
  • Switch gas companies. If you have multiple gas suppliers in your area, it might be worth switching. Not only can you get access to new customer deals, but competitor plans may be cheaper in general.

5. Internet

These days, a reliable internet connection is a non-negotiable requirement for everyone. Whether young professionals who need it for work, grandparents who want to FaceTime their relatives, or families who want to snuggle on the couch and stream Netflix shows, it's nearly impossible to live without it. But sadly, it isn't free.

What Is the Average Internet Bill?

An Allconnect analysis of over 250 plans from the nation's top providers in 2023 showed residents pay $92.22 per month on average. But Consumer Reports noted that customers often choose cheaper plans, sliding the country's average to $74.99 per month, with half of all households splashing $60 to $90 monthly on the internet.

How To Save Money on Your Internet Bill

To keep your budget in check, use the below suggestions to reduce your monthly internet bill:

  • Bundle services — Some providers give you a discount for adding internet or home phone lines to your cable bill. Even if you don't use your landline (it's 2023, after all), you might save a few dollars.
  • Negotiate — Call your provider and tell them you're switching providers. They'll undoubtedly lower your bill to retain your business. It's a proven strategy that's aged like fine wine.
  • Try low-cost internet options — Search for government programs that help cut internet costs. Lifeline is perhaps the most popular one, offering a reduction of $9 a month to low-income households. If you qualify, you'll also be able to access the Affordable Connectivity Program.

#6 Water Bill

Your monthly water bill is based on usage; the more you use, the more you'll pay. However, most providers make it easy to control your spending by supplying your household's usage trend and handy tips to cut back. 

What Is the Average Water Bill?

Data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states an average American uses roughly 82 gallons per day per person. Thus, a family of four uses approximately 10,000 gallons per month. 

Statista shows the average water cost in 2023 varies drastically by state. West Virginia takes the number one spot as the most expensive in the country, averaging $91 per month. It's followed by California, Oregon, Washington, and New Jersey with averages between $72 and $77.

As for the other end of the spectrum, Vermont and Wisconsin both have averages of just $18, while North Carolina, Louisiana, and Mississippi have averages of $20, $21, and $23, respectively. 

How To Save Money on Your Water Bill

Keeping water and its costs at the forefront of your mind works wonders to change habits and save money. Try these easy tips to get started:

  • Collect extra water. Whether collecting cold tap water while waiting for it to heat or putting water butts outside to collect rainwater, this otherwise wasted or free water is perfect for watering plants, cleaning, and more.
  • Take advantage of dishwashers. Washing dishes by hand isn't as efficient as using a modern dishwasher. Despite older models utilizing upward of nine gallons of water, newer versions average about four gallons (i.e., the amount gushing from your faucet in just two or three minutes!). 
  • Check for leaks. Stay on top of faucet and pipe maintenance to avoid slow leaks draining dollars from your bank account and resources from the planet.
  • Cut back on the shower singing. Shaving just four minutes off your shower time saves roughly 4,000 gallons per year, keeping your bank account flush and the environment protected. 
  • Get a new showerhead. Alongside shortening showers, purchasing a low-flow shower head has the potential to cut water consumption by two gallons per minute, contributing to significant cost savings.

Other Bills You'll Pay

As an apartment renter, your bills don't stop there. Depending on your landlord, you may have one, some, or all of the following to fund:

7. Trash

Always check your lease agreement to confirm whether you're expected to pay extra for services like trash collection. Some cities allow landlords to pass refuse collection costs on to their tenants, which can add an average of $40.36 to rent prices.

8. Renter's Insurance

Some property managers/landlords require you to pay renter's insurance. It protects your belongings in case of natural disasters and theft, costing you $15 to $20 per month.

9. Pet Rent or Fee

You might have to pay extra monthly fees for furry friends. Known as pet rent, it's common for apartment renters and can range from $20 to $50 per pet per month. Landlords may add money to your security deposit, too. 

10. Parking Costs

Depending on your location, you might need to pay for parking. This monthly fee can run as low as $20 per month to as high as $200 a month.

In summary, renting an apartment entails a range of monthly bills and upfront costs. The primary ongoing expense is rent, varying by location and size. The security deposit, a significant upfront payment, safeguards against damages. Utility bills for electricity and gas, influenced by location and habits, can be reduced through energy-saving practices. Internet services incur an average monthly cost, but bundling or negotiation can lower bills. Water bills are usage-dependent, and awareness and simple measures contribute to cost savings.

Additional expenses may include trash collection, renter's insurance, pet-related costs, and parking fees, depending on the lease agreement. While renting involves financial commitments, understanding, and proactive measures can help manage and potentially reduce costs, allowing tenants to make informed decisions about their living arrangements.

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