Level-up your financial literacy by taking advantage of our free blog! Enjoy topics ranging from money lifestyle tips to fun local activities for the whole family. 

Select a category below:

How Much Should You Spend on Rent?

By: American Heritage09.14.23

If you’ve checked out rental listings lately, you know that rents are going up, up, up. Demand for apartments has surged, making many markets super competitive. Finding a place to call home at a reasonable price can be challenging. The burning question is: how much of your income should go toward a rent budget?

In this article, we'll explore some practical guidelines and steps to help you figure out how much rent you can afford without busting your budget.


What Affects How Much Rent You Can Afford?

First, let’s look at some factors that may influence your budget for rent.


  • The cost of living varies significantly from one city to another. If you're looking for a rental in a high-cost area, you might need to adjust your expectations or explore nearby neighborhoods for more affordable options.
  • As your income grows, so does your flexibility in choosing a more comfortable living space. Consider negotiating a raise or exploring career growth opportunities to boost your rent budget.
  • Choosing between a single-family home and an apartment can impact your rent budget. Apartments are often more budget-friendly, but if you prefer a house, you may need to adjust your expenses in other areas.
  • Keep in mind that rent prices can increase over time. Factor in potential rent hikes and ensure that you can handle future adjustments to your budget when figuring out how much rent you can afford.


How Much Rent Should You Budget For?

Let’s look at some popular budgeting rules of thumb.

The 30% Rule

The 30% rule suggests that you should spend no more than 30% of your gross income (your total earnings before taxes and other deductions) on rent. So, if your monthly income is $3,000, try to keep your rent below $900. It’s a straightforward approach that ensures that you have enough left for other essential expenses and savings.


The 40x Rent Rule

The 40x rent rule is more commonly used in cities with a high cost of living, like New York. It involves multiplying the monthly rent to determine what your annual salary should be to afford the rental unit. Using this rule, if you make $36,000 a year, your rent shouldn’t exceed $900 per month (900 × 40).


The 50/30/20 Rule

If you prefer a more comprehensive budgeting approach, the 50/30/20 rule is an excellent option. This rule suggests dividing your after-tax income into three categories: 50% for necessities (including rent), 30% for wants and desires, and 20% for savings and debt repayment. It offers a balanced perspective on managing your finances while ensuring you can still enjoy life’s little pleasures.


Example: How Much Rent Can I Afford with a Salary of $60,000?


  • The 30% rule: If you’re pulling in $60,000 a year, this rule says you shouldn’t spend more than $1,500 a month on rent. (Just take $5,000 and multiply it by 0.3.)


  • The 40x rent rule: With a $60,000 yearly income, you’re looking at a max rent of $1,500 a month. (Just divide $60,000 by 40.)


  • The 50/30/20 rule: If you earn $60,000 a year, this rule recommends about $2,500 a month for all living expenses. But remember, that covers more than just rent, so how much you spend on rent depends on your own situation. (To get this, take $5,000 and multiply it by 0.5.)

Following these rules can help you make a smart call on rent, accounting for your financial situation and what you value most.


Tips for Increasing How Much Rent You Can Afford

If you find that your desired apartment is just out of reach, don't worry! Here are four lifestyle tips to make an apartment affordable:


  1. Get roommates. Sharing the rent with roommates can significantly reduce your monthly expenses, allowing you to afford a more spacious or well-located apartment.


  2. Scale back amenities. While luxurious amenities may be tempting, opting for a simpler apartment with fewer bells and whistles can save you money in the long run.


  3. Try a side hustle. Consider supplementing your income with a part-time job or side gig. It can give you the financial boost you need to afford your dream apartment comfortably.


  4. Reduce spending. Take a closer look at your non-essential expenses and identify areas where you can cut back. Little tweaks can add up and make a big difference in your budget.


Putting It All Together

Finding the perfect balance between your income, expenses, and desired lifestyle is the key to determining how much rent you can afford. Remember, these guidelines are meant to be adaptable, so adjust them to fit your unique financial situation.

At American Heritage, our members’ financial wellness is our priority, and we want to give you the resources you need to succeed. Check out our digital financial management tool, My Money Manager, to create a personalized budget in minutes.

Not a member? Join online today!



Want to stay up-to-date with more financial articles like this one? Join our email list and receive the latest blog articles in your inbox.