How Much Does It Cost to Move Into an Apartment? 9 Hidden Fees to Consider
Congratulations! You’ve found the perfect apartment — the one with the cozy nook for your beloved reading chair and enough closet space to satisfy even the most dedicated fashionista. But before you start putting together your furniture budget, you might want to ask the question, “When you rent an apartment, what do you pay for?” Spoiler alert: it’s not just rent and utilities.
Hidden Fees When Renting an Apartment
1. Application Fee
The hidden fees start before you even sign your new apartment lease. Many landlords require you to pay an application fee — a one-time payment that proves you’re serious about renting the property and covers:
- The time and effort it takes to process your application
- The cost of potential background and credit history checks
- Not considering other renters while the property is being held
Fortunately, most application fees are affordable, and many states have laws that keep them that way. California’s civil code, for example, caps application fees at $59.67. Generally, you can expect your application fee to cost between $20–$60.
2. Administrative Fee
What is an admin fee for an apartment? An admin fee is essentially an application fee but on a larger scale. It’s a one-time charge you might have to pay if a property management company, rather than an individual landlord, is in charge of the property.
Like application fees, admin fees cover the cost of paperwork, background and credit checks, and holding the property throughout your application. They are typically non-refundable charges of $50–$200 and are paid when you apply to rent the property. Some states, like Vermont and Massachusetts, prohibit charging an admin fee, so it could be worth checking your state’s laws before agreeing to pay one.
3. Security Deposit
When you move into your new apartment, you’ll likely have to pay a one-time security deposit. Typically equivalent to one to two month’s rent, this deposit serves as a form of insurance for the property owner. It acts as a financial safety net to cover potential damages or excessive wear and tear on the property during your tenancy.
Often, your safety deposit will be partially or fully refunded when you move out, depending on the condition you left the property. To maximize your chances of a full refund, it’s best to leave your apartment squeaky clean when you move out.
4. Move-In Fee
Move-in fees are sometimes confused with security deposits, but they are not always the same. So what is a move-in fee? It’s a one-time fee that covers various move-in expenses, like:
- General repairs
- Re-keying locks
Move-in fees are generally non-refundable and vary greatly in cost, though they’re normally less expensive than security deposits.
5. Parking Fee
If you live in a densely populated area or are moving into a popular apartment complex, you may also need to pay a parking fee. These fees cover renting a parking space and related materials like garage door openers or parking passes. Depending on your arrangement, this fee may be a one-time charge or a monthly payment. Parking fees also vary in cost, depending on factors like location, amenities, and the level of security provided.
6. Pet Fees or Pet Rent
If you’re bringing a four-legged roommate along, you might have to pay a pet deposit or even make monthly pet rent payments. Here’s the difference:
- Pet Deposit: Much like a security deposit for humans, a pet deposit is a buffer for any damage your furball might accidentally cause. It’s like saying, “Hey, here’s some extra cash just in case my pet thinks your drapes are a jungle gym.” Pet deposits are typically non-refundable, and you can expect to pay anywhere from $100–$600 for this one-time charge.
- Pet Rent: As the name suggests, pet rent is a monthly charge that covers wear and tear and offsets any property damages your pet might cause. Pet rent typically costs an additional one or two percent of your monthly rent. Like pet deposits, pet rent is usually non-refundable.
7. Renter’s Insurance
Renters insurance offsets the cost of damage or theft of your belongings. Though there aren’t any federal or state laws that require you to get renters insurance, your landlord may require you to have it while you’re living on their property. Even if your landlord doesn’t require it, $15–$30 a month might be worth it to sleep tight on your comfy memory foam mattress worry-free.
8. Utility Activation Fees
Woo hoo! You and your furry friend have a place to stay. Now, you just need to have your utilities set up. Even if a worker doesn’t have to come over to physically hook things up, service activation often has a fee. You’ll want to budget for small activation fees for these utilities:
9. Maintenance Fees
You may also have to pay a monthly maintenance fee, depending on your lease agreement. This fee helps your landlord offset the costs of things like landscaping, pool cleaning, small repairs, and general upkeep. The cost of these fees varies greatly depending on the size and fanciness of your new abode — they can be anywhere from an affordable $50 to a sizeable $1,000 a month.
How Much Money Should I Save Before Getting an Apartment?
Phew, that’s a lot of fees! Before you move out of your current living arrangements, you’ll want to ensure you can handle these new financial obligations. The general consensus is that your monthly income should be three times your rent. From there, it’s a good idea to save $5,000 to $10,000 to cover hidden fees and unanticipated expenses.
Need help saving money? Check out our guide to reducing household spending.
Offsetting Costs with Rent-A-Center
So, you’ve covered the hidden fees and are finally ready to start picking out furniture. If those fees did some serious damage to your budget, don’t sweat it — make moving into your new apartment more cost-effective than ever!
Rent-A-Center can make your transition less daunting. We offer flexible payment options on practically everything you need to make your new space truly yours. Shop rent-to-own appliances, furniture, and electronics today — browse online or at your nearest Rent-A-Center!