Rent Calculator – How Much Rent Can You Afford?

Enter your monthly income and the percentage of income you want to allocate to rent to find how much you should plan to spend on rent.


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How to Calculate How Much Rent You Can Afford

One of the most significant expenses many people have is the cost of housing. For some, this is a mortgage, but for many, this expense is paid in the form of rent.

Deciding how much you should spend on rent can be challenging, especially if you’re not sure what your budget should be, how much you can afford, or if your financial future is uncertain.

As a general rule, most experts suggest that you should aim to spend around 30% of your total income or less on rent.[1] In fact, many landlords won’t even consider your application if that number is above 33%.

You can calculate how much you can spend on rent by following a few easy steps.

Step One: Determine your Income

Before you start calculating your budget for rent, you need to determine how much money you have available each month. This means looking at your income and understanding how much you have available to spend after taxes, debts, and other expenses are factored in.

For example, if you earn $4,000 each month and have $1,500 in bills and expenses, then you have $2,500 left to spend on rent, food, luxuries, and other necessities.

Step Two: Calculate Your Expenses

Before determining your rent budget, it’s crucial to take into account all your expenses, such as groceries, transportation, utilities, and other bills. You’ll also need to account for any recurring debt, such as credit cards, auto loans, or student loans.

The difference between your income and expenses is the money you have available to spend on other things, such as rent.

Step Three: Calculate Your Housing Requirements

What you need in a home is also a crucial factor when deciding how much to spend on rent. For instance, if you live alone, you may only need a small apartment, whereas if you have a partner with children, you may need a larger space with a few bedrooms.

You’ll also need to factor in where you work and what your commute needs to be to locate an area that makes sense to live in. In some cases, it may make sense to spend more on rent to find a location closer to your workplace so you spend less time and money commuting.

Step Four: Consider a Savings Buffer

It’s always a good idea to keep an emergency fund available for unexpected expenses that may arise, such as car repairs or medical bills. When planning how much you can budget for rent, it’s a good idea to consider a buffer to account for unexpected bills.

A good emergency fund should be able to cover at least three months of rent and expenses.

Step Five: Determine Your Rent Budget

Now that you know how much your income, expenses, and emergency fund are and have some basic requirements for housing, it’s time to plan your budget for rent.

A good starting point is to subtract your expenses and emergency fund or buffer from your monthly income.

Then, multiply your income by 30% to identify your baseline maximum rent budget.

If your remaining monthly income is larger than the 30% rent level, then you’re probably ok to set this as a budget. If the remaining income is less than the 30% rent level, then you may need to reduce your budget for rent until it fits in your budget.

Step Six: Research the Rental Market

The final step is to research the rental market in the area you want to live to see if there are any places that meet your housing requirements and fit into your rent budget.

If there are no properties available in your budget that meet your requirements, then you need to consider altering your requirements to meet your budget. That may mean sacrificing a prime location or reducing the overall size that you’re looking for in order to find a place in your rental budget.

Remember that even if there are rental perks or if the first month’s rent is prorated, you’ll still need to be able to afford the rent in the coming months. You can use our net effective rent calculator to find the average rent per month after accounting for leasing perks, such as a free month.

Deciding how much you should spend on rent requires careful consideration of your income, expenses, housing needs, and the rental market. By following these tips, you can find a comfortable living arrangement that fits in your budget and allows you to enjoy your new home without stressing about your finances.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much of your income should go to rent?

As a general rule, most experts suggest that you should aim to spend around 30% of your total income or less on rent.[1] However, determining your total income, expenses, and emergency fund are critical factors in determining if you can afford to spend 30% of your income on rent or if that number needs to change.

Is it okay to splurge on rent?

Whether you are comfortable spending more than 30% of your income on rent or not is a personal decision. However, spending more than 30% of your income on rent means that you have less money for other things, such as extracurricular activities, food, and vehicles, to name a few.

If rent is more important than these other things, then splurging may be worth it for you. However, if these other things are more important, then you may want to stick with spending 30% of your income on rent and not splurging.

Is it smarter to rent or buy?

Whether you prefer to rent or buy is also a personal decision. It’s important to consider the location, rental market, overall housing market, interest rates, your financial position, and how long you are planning to live in a certain area before you decide to rent or buy.

Although renting provides more flexibility, if you plan to stay in an area for 5 or more years, it may be smarter to buy.


  1. Lake, R., Rule of Thumb: How Much Should You Spend on Rent?, The Balance,