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Just Graduated College? Here’s How to Know How Much You Can Afford to Spend on Rent

It’s important to make sure your rent payments are manageable when getting your first place. Read on to learn more.

A couple smiles as they enter their new house carrying moving boxes.

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Just as it's gotten very expensive to sign a mortgage, so too has it gotten expensive to rent a home. The median U.S. rental cost $1,937 a month in March, according to Rent. But as you may be painfully aware, if you're looking to move to a large city, your cost might be a lot higher.

In the coming months, many recent college graduates will no doubt be looking for rentals to live in. And you may be one of them.

Now ideally, you'll only first rent a place to live once you've actually secured a job. In fact, you may not even get approved to rent a home until you can show proof of a steady income.

But even then, you'll need to determine how much money you can afford to spend on rent. And the answer is, you should aim to limit your rent to 30% of your take-home pay or less. So if you bring home $3,000 a month, you should be looking to spend no more than $900 a month on rent.

Of course, as your salary increases, you might have the leeway to spend more. But many recent college graduates are looking at entry-level salaries, so finding a rental that works for your budget could be tough. Here are some things you can do, though, to save money on rent.

1. Get a roommate

If you spent the last four years of college sharing a dorm room or cramming into a college house with seven other people, then you may be eager to live on your own post-college. But the reality is that living with a roommate is a great way to keep your rent costs down. And if you have other large bills to pay, like car insurance, groceries, and healthcare, then it makes sense to bunk with someone else for a period of time.

2. Give up some amenities

You may want your first rental to come with a balcony or patio. Or you may be hoping for an apartment in a building with a fitness center and doorman. These perks may be nice to have, but they're apt to drive the cost of your rent up. If you're willing to rent a more basic home right out of college, you might have an easier time keeping your costs down.

3. Be willing to walk

Renting a home in the center of a city where you're blocks away from restaurants, stores, and public transportation is apt to cost more than renting a home that's a bit farther out. But if you're willing to, say, walk half a mile to the closest cafe or bus stop, you might manage to lower your rent costs substantially. As a plus, living farther from the center of town might be a great way to seamlessly get more exercise so you don't have to spend money on a gym.

Rent can be a big expense for workers at all stages of their careers. But if you're a new graduate, you may be looking at a more modest salary due to your lack of experience. So it pays to do what you can to keep your rental costs down so you don't struggle financially.

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