So, you're thinking about renting a place? Well, good choice, because you need somewhere to live. A key element to finding, and maintaining, a place is setting an apartment budget. What do we mean by an apartment budget? Think of it as a guideline to thinking about how much money you can afford to fork out on rent and all the other necessities that come with it. Renting your first place can feel a bit daunting since there are so many factors to take in. Actually, if you haven't found one yet you should go straight to College Life Housing. Luckily, we are your knights in shining armour; here is a detailed description of what you need to consider when budgeting for your apartment. From rent to utilities to pet insurance, find out what you need to calculate:
Budgeting is key
It’s a good idea to have a budgeting system in place already before you start thinking about an apartment budget. You could keep a budgeting journal where you keep track of your monthly income, grocery shopping, and other living expenses. You can also consider having a budget not only for your living situation but for your other living costs too. So, try to save your cash by eating out less, pre-drinking at home instead of buying €6 drinks at the club (ugh) and try to get discounts on your textbooks. You can check out a more detailed guide on what your estimated living costs might be throughout your stay in the Netherlands.
You don’t have to stick to your budget religiously. It’s natural to tweak your budget until it becomes something sustainable and realistic. So try it out for a few weeks or months and see how it goes!
Now to your apartment budget...
When you are thinking about renting an apartment, or house, there are a few things you need to consider. Each of the following are basic costs that apply to any apartment, anywhere.
- Rent: how much rent can you afford? A general rule of thumb that many recommend following is that your monthly income should be 3x your monthly rent. Depending on where you get your income from (work, parents, loan) you can budget your rent.
- Deposits: many landlords or letting agencies require that you put down a deposit before you rent. This is especially the case for students, international students at that because they want a guarantee that you’ll stay there for the whole duration of the lease. You might need to pay a refundable fee or even your first and last month’s rent.
- Utilities: of course, you need to pay for energy, i.e. gas and electricity. There are a lot of ways to save money on your utility bills; read all about it in this post!
- Internet: if you want to get Wi-Fi for your new apartment (don’t we all), then you need to consider what type of deal you get and how much you are willing to spend on it. Want to read about some sweet internet deals? Head on over to this post to read more.
- Home contents insurance: also known as student contents insurance. Contents insurance basically means that you insure your things for their worth. For example, you can insure your laptops and other valuables in case of water damage, a fire, or a burglary. You can read much more about this here.
- Renters insurance: some places will also ask for renters insurance. This is sort of the same as home contents, but specifically for rental properties. Some rental insurance also covers accidents or liability for anyone or anything getting hurt in your apartment.
- Finally, what about moving? When it comes to actually moving into your place, how will you do it? You could hire a van or hire some movers, which will cost you a bit of money. On the other hand, you could ask your friends, drive your own car, or ask your parents to come give you a hand (for free).
There are also some extra costs, depending on the place you rent or the area you live in:
- Parking or extra garage: if you have a car or a motorcycle, for example, you might have to pay for a personal parking space.
- Pets: if you have a cat or dog, for example, you might need to pay a small fee for them or even get an insurance.
Finally, a saving grace. How did we forget to mention housing allowance? Housing allowance, for those of you who don’t know, is a scheme by the Dutch government targeted towards students and other citizens who might not be able to afford their monthly rent. Basically, if you meet the requirements and if you apply, you might be able to get a monthly contribution to your monthly rent.
This housing allowance is a great way to apartment budget; a portion (or all) of your rent can be covered, leaving you more freedom when it comes to spending your money. Depending on your status (whether you are below the income threshold), you can receive different amounts of contribution. You can use College Life's Housing Allowance Calculator to see how much you are eligible for.
When it comes to housing allowance, you need to make sure you know whether you have a toeslagpartner or not. That is essentially a partner that applies for the allowance with you. In your case, being a student, it could be your housemate or maybe a sibling that you are living with. You can read more about toeslagpartners on this blog post, which explains it in more detail.
Bonus tips on setting an apartment budget
- Read our extensive Student Housing Guide to get a detailed overview of what sort of things you should be expecting from living in the Netherlands. Here, we cover where to find a place to live, what utilities you should be expecting to pay for, and much more!
- When you are looking for a place, keep in mind that basement/ground floor apartments and studios are usually cheaper.
- Sharing is caring; splitting rent between friends will be cheaper than doing it alone.
- City centres are always more expensive. However, living further away can mean higher transportation costs (or it just takes longer to bike).
Now you should have a better idea of what to keep in mind when you are budgeting for your next apartment. Apartment hunting can be a really dull process, but with these tips, you can definitely streamline your searching process! Good luck!