If you've moved to a new city or just rented your first apartment, it may be difficult to know whether the rent you're paying is too much. The cost of rent varies dramatically among cities; an amount that gets you a three-bedroom house in Richmond, Virginia, might barely get you a studio apartment in New York. Use your income as a factor to help determine if your rent is too high, but also check the market in your area.
Calculate 30 percent of your income. Multiply your gross income by 0.30, and the result is the most you should be paying in rent. If your rent is higher than 30 percent of your income in most cities, you're paying too much.
Consider transportation issues when calculating your available rent allotment. If have a long commute to work, include the cost of gas and car maintenance in your budget, which may reduce what you can afford to pay in rent. If you live close to work or to public transportation, this may free up additional money each month you can put toward rent.
Research nearby properties. Call other apartment buildings or houses close to yours and ask what they charge for rent. Some may be slightly higher or lower, depending on the amenities they offer, but they should fall within a similar range to the rent you pay. If all the nearby apartments charge considerably less for a similar apartment, you're likely paying too much.
Call an apartment broker to ask about the standard rent for your area. Especially in larger cities, apartment brokers know the rental landscape well and can give you helpful information on how much you should be paying in rent and if your rent is too high. A broker might be able to suggest other properties that meet your needs at a lower monthly rent.
Compare all aspects of the apartments or homes in your area, not just the monthly rent. If you pay more than tenants in other residences but you get a free gym membership, free parking or other perks, your rent may be right on track. On the other hand, if you pay more in rent that doesn't come with any extras, you are paying too much in rent.
- Most landlords check your credit report. If you have bad credit, you might have to pay more per month or a higher security deposit to get the apartment you want.
Based outside Atlanta, Ga., Shala Munroe has been writing and copy editing since 1995. Beginning her career at newspapers such as the "Marietta Daily Journal" and the "Atlanta Business Chronicle," she most recently worked in communications and management for several nonprofit organizations before purchasing a flower shop in 2006. She earned a BA in communications from Jacksonville State University.