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budgeting for an apartment

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doomzarolli
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budgeting for an apartment  Reply with quote  

My wife and I are apartment hunting and debating on a reasonable range for the monthly rent. We want a nice place, but apartments aren't cheap in San Francisco. We know there's a rule about "one-third of your income" but does "income" in this case really mean raw salary, or does it mean take-home pay after taxes etc?

We have a combined salary around 200k, no debts, and no plans for kids. However we might be purchasing a car soon, and we want to be fairly conservative with our finances. What should a couple like us be spending on our monthly rent?
Post Sun Jan 05, 2014 9:46 am
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Wino
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The rule of thumb is 30% of your gross pay as the affordable level. That having been said, your level of income dictates that you have more disposable income than someone making significantly less - still on a percentage basis. So the amount of house you can afford is actually higher than the rule of thumb.

As an explanation of the above, if you were making $50K per year, the 30% rule would be a ceiling; at $200K per year, 30% is a good working figure which you could conceivably exceed, but it might impact your social activities or savings potential. You could afford more, but why would you want to?

Anyway, your 30% is about $5K per month. Personally, I think that's an outrageous amount to pay for rent except in very high rent areas. Were I in your situation, I'd be looking for something in the $3K range or even lower. I live in Dubai (a very high rent area), and $5K per month is high for here, too, but not excessively high.
Post Sun Jan 05, 2014 1:50 pm
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coaster
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You didn't mention age, but the description would best fit a young couple. When you say you're "fairly conservative" with your finances, that particular description would fit someone who manages their finances with the future in mind. What you are currently doing now to plan for the future would also impact what you should be spending now on housing, so if you don't mind sharing, what are your approximate ages and what are you doing, financially-speaking, for the future?

~Tim~
Post Sun Jan 05, 2014 5:47 pm
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doomzarolli
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Thank you both for the responses! We're 35 years old, and the main thing we're doing to save for the future is making contributions towards a 401k plan. (about 10% of our salary)
Post Sun Jan 05, 2014 6:56 pm
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coaster
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10% is good; that's considered a "normal" number for retirement savings; however, future also includes housing ... I'm sure you don't want to have to pay rent forever. I'd suggest another 5% going toward saving for buying your own home. If that's less than five years into the future, that should be going into a fixed-price vehicle: CD, money-market fund, or savings. That savings would be included in the 30% allowed for housing, leaving you 25% for current rent. (Though actually I should have said "housing cost", not "rent"; I think you know that's what the yardstick numbers are for, not just the rent).

~Tim~
Post Mon Jan 06, 2014 5:39 am
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littleroc02us
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I prefer to only spend 20% and under for my housing that way I have more disposable income for investing, giving and gaining wealth. I prefer the freedom it offers.

Risk comes from not knowing what you're doing. (Warren Buffet)
Post Tue Jan 07, 2014 9:07 pm
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clydewolf
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quote:
Originally posted by Wino
The rule of thumb is 30% of your gross pay as the affordable level. That having been said, your level of income dictates that you have more disposable income than someone making significantly less - still on a percentage basis. So the amount of house you can afford is actually higher than the rule of thumb.

As an explanation of the above, if you were making $50K per year, the 30% rule would be a ceiling; at $200K per year, 30% is a good working figure which you could conceivably exceed, but it might impact your social activities or savings potential. You could afford more, but why would you want to?

Anyway, your 30% is about $5K per month. Personally, I think that's an outrageous amount to pay for rent except in very high rent areas. Were I in your situation, I'd be looking for something in the $3K range or even lower. I live in Dubai (a very high rent area), and $5K per month is high for here, too, but not excessively high.

That 30% figure would include utilities, and replacement items, as things wear out and you see fit for your apartment. Also other expenses should you pay someone to do the cleaning or re decorating.
Post Tue Jan 07, 2014 9:48 pm
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