They say that two can live as cheaply as one, and while that isn’t completely true, there is some truth in the statement. Many of your monthly expenses are the same for one person or two. Even so, if you are planning to take the leap to live on your own, you might be wondering how much does it cost to live by yourself. Here’s what you need to know.
How Much Does It Cost to Live By Yourself
You’ll have a number of expenses when you move out on your own. Housing costs will be your biggest expense, so you’ll need to be careful there when looking for an apartment or house to rent.
Utility bills are your next highest expense and can be quite high if you live where it gets really cold in the winter months.
So, let’s take a look at what you can expect for all the different expenses you will be facing.
1. Your Rent
There are a lot of factors that go into how much rent you will pay such as where you live, how big of an apartment you rent, and whether or not you have a roommate.
The monthly cost of an apartment can be anywhere from $550 dollars to $3,000 dollars.
Just to give you an idea, the average cost of an apartment in California is $1,700 dollars a month. In New York, you’ll pay about $1,500 dollars for a small place.
However, here in Illinois where I live, you are looking at closer to $650 a month.
When I was renting in Illinois I paid between $550 for a house and $650 for an apartment.
I also rented a small home in South Carolina for $650 a month, but prices have really gone through the roof since I lived there.
So, the first thing you need to consider when moving out on your own is how much you can afford for rent.
Unless you live in a big, expensive city, you should be able to find something in your price range.
If you can’t, then you might want to consider finding a roommate to help share costs.
If you are looking to move into a large apartment complex, you can expect to pay an application fee.
This can be anywhere from $25 dollars and up to $100 dollars.
It is a one-time expense.
If you are renting a place from the actual owner, there is a good chance you won’t have to pay this fee.
I know I’ve never had to in all the places I’ve lived in my life. (And that’s a lot of places.)
Just about anywhere you rent, you will need to pay a security deposit.
Most deposits equal one month’s rent, so if your rent is $700 dollars your deposit will be $700 dollars.
As long as you don’t damage the apartment, you will receive this money back when you move out.
Also, you should know that some landlords will require the first month’s rent, a security deposit, and the last month’s rent in advance.
That means with this example you would need to pay $2,100 dollars upfront to move in.
I’ve had this situation in a couple of places I have rented.
I used to live on the beach in Florida and my rent was $800 dollars, so I had to come up with $2,400 dollars before I could move in.
It was a big chunk of change.
So, if you can, try to find a place that doesn’t require your last month’s rent upfront.
Your next biggest expense will be your utilities.
If you’re renting an apartment you will need to pay for heat, air conditioning, maybe gas, and electricity.
The monthly expense for your utilities will depend on the size of your place, but also on where in the country you live.
According to the United States Department of Energy, the average utility expense for a year is $2,060. If you live somewhere that is really cold in the winter your expenses will be higher.
This $2,060 works out to be $172 per month.
I know that here in Illinois my utility costs just for heat, electricity, and gas is about $2,400 per year or $200 dollars per month.
For about three months in the winter, January, February, and March my heat bills can be $300 dollars or more per month.
So, if you live in a cold winter state, expect a higher cost.
3.Water, Sewage, Garbage
Most apartments will cover water, sewage, and garbage, so you won’t have to pay for these separately.
These extra costs will be part of your rent.
I did live in an apartment complex in Arizona where I had to pay the water bill, but that’s unusual.
Now, if you are renting a house, you will most likely have to pay for all of these.
I know I pay $21 dollars per month for garbage and $23 dollars per month for water and sewage.
If you use a lot of water, you may pay more.
These rates are going to be different depending on where in the country you live, but they typically aren’t too expensive.
Utility companies do check your credit history and score.
If you don’t have very good credit, then you may have to pay deposits for your utilities.
These can be a few hundred dollars.
Most of the time, you will receive them back after you have paid your bills on time for a couple of years.
Be sure to do so, and don’t forget to pay these bills or you will end up in hot water, or even worse have no water at all.
4. Internet and Streaming Services
Chances are you will want to have the internet available in your apartment.
The Internet typically runs around $50 to $70 dollars per month.
If you have any streaming service such as Netflix or Amazon Prime you will need to take those into consideration as well.
Amazon Price is about $120 per year and Netflix is around $8 to $12 dollars per month.
5. Cable TV
If you decide to have cable TV or Directv or DISH, you can expect to pay $150 to $200 dollars a month for this service.
While it is great to get all of the hundreds of channels offered, it makes better financial sense to skip cable and use streaming services.
You will save thousands of dollars over the year.
Not to mention, you can get a TV antenna that you can put on the back of your TV to get local stations for free.
6. Moving Costs
There is a good chance it will cost you money to move, but that depends on where you are moving and how much stuff you have.
If you are just moving across town, you can get off pretty cheaply.
If you have a truck or know someone that does, ask them if they will help you with the move.
If they say yes, then it won’t cost you anything except maybe a pizza and some beer.
If you do have to rent a truck, you can get a small U-Haul for $19.95 plus any other fees and perhaps mileage.
A little larger U-Haul comes in at about $29.95.
If, on the other hand, you are moving out of town or across the country, you can expect to pay an arm and a leg for moving costs.
Even if you are doing the moving yourself it can cost you anywhere from $500 to $2,000 dollars to rent the truck.
If you are having professional movers do it for you, you can expect to pay $60 dollars an hour.
Most moving companies also have a two-hour minimum and they start charging by the hour from the time they leave their place of business.
For example, my mother moved from an apartment to a house, in the same town, just about 2 miles away.
All they moved were the large furniture items as I and a friend had moved everything else.
It ended up costing her $640 dollars.
Do what you can to move yourself to save as much money as you can.
7. Cell Phone
If you haven’t been paying for your cell phone up to this point, you might be in the position where you will need to start paying for it now.
Figure a $100 dollars per month for this expense.
8. Renters Insurance
Some apartments will require you to have renters insurance.
Even if they don’t, it is a good idea to have it.
You don’t want to lose everything you own and have no way to replace it.
The good news is renter’s insurance isn’t too expensive.
You can expect to pay around $200 dollars a year for it.
If you’ve been to the store recently, you will have noticed just how expensive groceries have gotten.
And it doesn’t look like they are going to get cheaper any time soon.
Studies show that the average person on a moderate monthly budget spends around $250 dollars per month on groceries.
Honestly, this might be a bit low.
It used to be that I spent around that, but my grocery bills have increased to about $300 dollars a month and I don’t go wild at the store.
Don’t forget about miscellaneous expenses.
Little things that you need each month.
These can add up, so do include them in your monthly bills budget.
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11. And All the Rest
Before you move out, you will want to get any debt you have paid off or paid down.
You’ll also want to have an emergency fund in your savings account, so if something comes up you will be able to cover it and still pay your rent and utilities.
This financial cushion can be really important.
Don’t forget transportation costs.
If you own a car, you already know what those are for you.
If you don’t have a car, be sure to get an apartment close to public transportation.
Make thrift stores your friend when looking for furniture and household items.
Keep in mind that if you live in a major city your cost of living will be much higher than if you live in a smaller town.
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To Sum it All Up:
There are a lot of expenses that you have to deal with when you live on your own. The best thing you can do for yourself is to do some research in your area and know what these expenses will be before you move out on your own. That way you can have a budget in place and will have the peace of mind that you can cover all of them.