So the two of you have decided that it's time to build a nest together. After taking inventory of what each of you owns, it's time to figure out what essentials you'll need for the new place, from can opener to bath towels. And that's just the start. While love may be free, an apartment costs money ... and more than you probably think.
Furnished one-bedroom apartments come with the bare basics of a sofa, chair, coffee table, side table, lamps, dining-room table, four chairs, bed and dresser. If that's enough for you, great. However, you'll still need linens, towels, cookware and dishes. That will run you about $500. It adds up fast when you have two sets of sheets for $50 each, four sets of towels at $50, cookware another $100 and dishes and cutlery for $50. And let's not forget food: It's not cheap to stock a pantry from scratch. Your bank account will take another hit of $150 to $200. While you probably already have your own personal-care items, you'll need cleaning and laundry supplies, another $50 to $100 worth.
This is where you can blow the bank account. New furniture can cost from $1,000 for low-end pieces to the sofa alone costing more than $1,000. If your budget is limited, shop consignment stores, thrift stores, garage sales and your parents' basement, attic and spare room. If you're lucky, maybe they'll let you take your old bedroom furniture with you.
First and Last
You might think all you need is your first month's rent, a smile and proof of employment, but you'd be wrong. The apartment complex will most likely require not only your first month's rent but the last month's, plus a security deposit which could equal another month's rent and a nonrefundable cleaning fee. The last month's rent is only applied when your lease is up and you've given your 30-day notice. You may be looking at several thousand dollars as move-in costs. If the apartment rents for $750 a month, your out-of-pocket cost could be as much as $2,500.
Some apartments include utilities, but many don't. This means you'll have to put up money for deposits for the electricity and other utilities, especially if it's your first apartment and you or your sweetie don't have a track record or credit history. If you have a cell phone you can skip the landline. Your laptop and WiFi connection means you don't have to have another method of Internet access. Cable may or may not have an upfront installation cost. All in all, this could be another $200 to $500.
All the financial gurus will probably tell you it's essential to have renter's insurance. You might not. Take a hard look at what you actually own. If it's all second-hand and wouldn't cost you more than $1,000 to replace, it may not make sense to pay $25 a month for insurance.
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