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  • Lea Simpkins

How to Save for an Apartment


Not sure how to save for an apartment? Well, you’ve come to the right place, friend!

In this post we’ll dig into the details of saving for an apartment:

  • find out what expenses to expect

  • learn a few tricks to save on these expenses

  • create your own savings plan to turn all this general information into actionable steps

So let’s jump right in! Here’s how to save for an apartment.


EXPENSES TO EXPECT

First you need to know what expenses to expect. Your first month’s rent won’t be your only expense! You need money for an application fee, admin fee, a security deposit, utilities, and even utility deposits.


APPLICATION FEE

Unless you’re renting from a family friend or a really trusting private owner, your new potential landlord will want to run a credit and background check - at minimum - before approving your application. Many apartments utilize 3rd party screening services which are very thorough and can analyze the data to determine the risk of renting to you. Apartments will charge a non-refundable application fee to cover the cost associated with application processing.


Most apartments charge between $30 and $125 per person. Some charge a little more or a little less. This fee is non-refundable if the application is denied.


ADMINISTRATION FEE

The majority of apartments in Texas charge an admin fee.


Some apartments charge the admin fee to process the paperwork AFTER approval. If the applicant is approved there is a lot of paperwork that has to be processed including drawing up the lease. If they are charging the admin fee for administrative services that are done after lease approval then if the application is denied you would most likely get the admin fee back.


Some apartments charge the admin fee to cover expenses in association with processing the application. For example they may contact past landlords, current or past employers to get references or verifications. If the admin fee is in association with processing the application then the admin fee is typically non-refundable if denied.


Most apartments charge between $50 and $200 per lease NOT per person. Some charge a little more or a little less. This fee may or may not be refundable if the application is denied.


SECURITY DEPOSIT

The security deposit is an amount of money you give the landlord upfront. This money is to protect the landlord in case you cause damages to the apartment. The security deposit would then be applied to cover the cost of repairs, cleaning, etc when you leave the apartment.


If you leave the apartment in good condition, fulfill your lease, and turn in proper notice - you get your deposit back within 30 days after you move out. Keep in mind...in Texas, the landlord is not supposed to charge you for normal wear and tear. For example if you lived in your unit for 2-3 years and the carpet was showing signs of wear - you should not be charged for the replacement of carpet. On the other hand if you had a pet that soiled the carpet then the landlord could charge you to replace the carpet.


Security deposit can typically be anywhere from $100 - to one month's rent. It is very rare to see an apartment charge more than one month's rent as a deposit.


UTILITIES AND UTILITY DEPOSITS

There are VERY few apartments that include "all bills" in your rent, however, there are some that may pay gas and/or water. You can expect you will most likely be paying all or most of your utility bills each month in addition to rent. Utility rates vary greatly and depend on size of the apartment and how many tenants. Many times the apartment staff will give you an estimate or average cost based on other tenant's utility bills in the community. It is not unusual to be charged deposits in association with starting new utility services.


Utility deposits typically range from $100-$300. These fees could be waived if you have good credit.


LOOK FOR SPECIAL RENTAL DEALS

Apartments offer specials when they have several empty apartments. Or even if they have several scheduled move-outs for the next month. The special could be waived or reduced application and/or admin fee, 1 month free rent, waived or reduced deposit, or a gift or gift card! Our apartment locators are experts at finding the BEST specials!


Newly built buildings usually offer great deals, like 1-2 months free on a 12-14 month lease, because they have hundreds of apartments to fill. The early bird gets the deal! The units will be a little more expensive at a new property, but it might be worth it because the “net effective rent” will be around $100-$300 less per month with the special factored in. Check out our blog on Understanding Move in Specials. Word of warning: Your rent will likely go up at the end of your lease once the building is full. So sign the longest term lease available if you plan to be in the area for a while.


CREATE YOUR SAVINGS PLAN

Creating your own savings plan for your new apartment is as easy as 1,2,3.


STEP 1: ESTIMATE YOUR EXPENSES

Time to do some research. How much are you planning to spend on getting into your new apartment?

application fee: __________

admin fee: _________

1st month’s rent: _________

security deposit: _________

utilities & utility deposits: __________

TOTAL: _______________


STEP 2: ESTIMATE HOW LONG IT WILL TAKE TO SAVE ENOUGH

How much money can you reasonably afford to set aside each week to save for your apartment? Now divide your total estimated expenses by this amount. The result is the number of weeks until you can have enough money saved.


STEP 3: START SAVING

You should keep your apartments savings in a high-interest savings account (which you can open online if you don’t already have one – just Google “high-yield savings account” and select an account with no minimum balance and at least 1.5% interest).


The trick to savings is to set up automatic transfers. You can tell your checking account bank to automatically transfer $x to your savings account right after every payday. That way you never have to remember to save the money. And you never risk spending the money accidentally.


KEEP IN MIND

All apartments have "qualifying rental criteria" you have to meet in order to be approved for a lease. Typically, they require you earn 3 times the amount of the rent (gross pay - before taxes) unless you have a co-signer. The criteria may also include credit requirements, criminal provisions, etc. Our locators are happy to go over the rental criteria with you to make sure you meet it BEFORE you apply. This helps reduce the chance of application and possibly admin fee loss.


Need help finding your next apartment? We would love to assist you! Plus, when you use Texas Apartment Locating’s free locator services you are eligible for a CASH Rebate or Free Move Credit! Best of all, this is in ADDITION to apartment community special offers! And using a locator does not affect your rental rate at all. Start your apartment search today!

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