Consider the costs after the initial move-in. You need enough money to pay for the security deposit and first month’s rent, but the cost of renting does not end there. What good is it to rent a space only to have nothing in it except space (i.e., no furniture, no silverware, no plates, no bed, etc)? In addition to your monthly rent, you may also be responsible for utilities. If the apartment is unfurnished, then furniture and appliances may also be an additional cost. Other monthly costs to consider are groceries, toiletries, transportation expenses (if your commute is longer), parking fees and pet fees. Include these amounts in your monthly test run.
Here’s how it all came together for me. I decided that I wanted an unfurnished apartment that already had appliances. I also wanted an apartment that came with an assigned parking spot and where the only utilities that I had to pay for were heat and hot water. So I went online, specifically to the Bob’s Discount Furniture website, to get the estimated cost of furniture. Then, I went on the Comcast website to see the cost of cable and internet plans. While these were not my exact numbers, I came up with an estimate similar to this:Rent $1,250 (including heat and hot water)Internet 95Groceries 150Total monthly costs 1,495Bedroom set 750Mattress 700Sofa 400Love seat 350Dining set 500Plates, cups, pots & silverware 3001st Month’s rent 1,250Security deposit 1,875 (one and half month’s rent)Total one-time costs 6,125
Based on the above, I needed to put aside at least $1,495 a month during my test run, without spending it, to see if I could realistically afford to spend that much each month. In addition, I needed to save a total of $6,125 to be able to move in and have my apartment fully furnished.
Since I planned to stay at my parents’ house for one year, I could potentially save $17,940 (i.e., $1,495 x 12 months). Of that $17,940, I would only need to keep $6,125 to furnish my apartment, leaving an additional $11,815 for me to use towards paying down student loans, building an emergency fund, saving for travel, etc. instead of paying a landlord during the 12-month test run.
Also, if I wanted to move out earlier and do my test run for only six months, I would have saved a total of $8,970 (i.e., $1,495 x 6 months). Of that $8,970, I would only need to keep $6,125 to furnish my apartment, leaving an additional $2,845 for me to use for whatever I wanted.
Planning for my move in advance allowed me to learn what I was truly able to afford in a safe space and without the fear of viction. When I finally moved out, I felt capable of taking care of myself on my own. I was ready for the financial responsibilities that came along with renting, and I had a reserve for financial emergencies.