Leasing and moving into your first apartment is fun and exciting. Living on your own means freedom but it also means responsibility, and when you get your own place you also get the bills and rent that go with it.

Before you rush into looking for a place of your own, you need to realize that renting your first apartment isn’t cheap. There are some substantial expenses that need to be paid upfront; security deposit, first and last month’s rent, application fees and broker’s fees, amongst other things.

The New Street Realty Team can help you realize your dream of living on your own, but first, you’re going to have to save some money. This may seem like a daunting prospect, and when you start you might think that you’re never going to make it, but with good planning and strict discipline, you can get together the money you need to move into your own place.

1.         Do your homework
Know how much you need to cover all the upfront expenses. Don’t just look at the monthly rent, but make sure you have enough to cover the security deposit, the first and last month’s rent and the utilities. Before you even start looking at apartments, you need to be sure that, with your income and expenses, you can afford to live on your own. 25 to 30% of your gross income is a good rule of thumb to use when determining how much rent you can afford to pay.
2.         Work with a plan
Saving starts with a good plan. You need to draw up a monthly budget so that you can see where your money goes and where you can save. Once you have taken a close look at your expenses you will quickly be able to identify places where you can save; like walking to work instead of taking the bus, eating in instead of eating out and jogging in the park in place of an expensive gym membership. Once you’ve created your budget, draw up your savings plan and stick with it.
3.         Set realistic goals
Goals only work when they are realistic and attainable. Unattainable goals are just wishes and wishing isn’t going to get you an apartment of your own. When you draw up your savings goals you need to build some leeway into your budget. You have to plan for unexpected expenses and the odd night out. You can’t just sit at home in the dark for months, and you need to treat yourself occasionally or you will quickly become demoralized and give-up on your savings plan.
4.         Use a budgeting app
If you’re not great at budgeting or if it’s a new concept for you, then find a budgeting app to help you stay focused. There are hundreds of apps out there that can help you track your income, expenses, and savings. Make sure the app allows you to set up savings goals and can offer you advice on areas where you can save.
5.         Be practical and redefine your necessities
There are a lot of things that we consider necessities but when you get right down to it, they are actually luxuries. These are things that make your life more comfortable but that you can actually live without, especially if it helps you reach your goal sooner. Ask yourself, how much data you really need on your phone or do you really have to have a cable? Go through your budget critically and identify things that you can cut off, reduce or replace with a less expensive alternative.
6.         Learn to cook and eat smart
Take out is convenient and going out to eat is a great treat, but if you want to save money you need to learn to cook for yourself and you need to be smart about it. Batch cooking is not just a good way to save on electricity and dishes, but it also means that you always have something easy and convenient to warm up on those nights that you don’t feel like cooking.  Taking leftovers to work is also a good way of saving on lunch costs. When doing your food shopping look for specials and bulk saving offers, especially on non-perishable items.
7.         Clear out your cupboards and sell things you don’t need
Everyone has things they no longer need or use, but that will be of value to someone else. Look through your cupboards for gently used clothes, electronics or appliances you don’t like or use anymore and sell them online or at your local resale store.
8.         Plan ahead and be creative with furniture
Part of moving into a new place is budgeting for furniture. You will need to buy stuff for your new apartment and this needs to be part of your budget from the very beginning. Be smart about furniture and start slowly collecting things that you know you will need. Look for free things, and second-hand items, on sites like Craigslist that you can easily upcycle or repurpose. Also think carefully about what you need in your new apartment. If you don’t like to entertain at home then you don’t need a large dining table but if your family lives out of town, and plans to visit often, then you’ll need a sofa bed.
9.         Lower your bills
Passive savings, like paying off small high-interest debts and credit cards, can give you more money in your pocket every month. The fewer fixed expenses you have the more money you will be able to save.
10.       Find ways to earn more money
If you can’t make your budget work and you can’t find enough places to save money, you need to look for opportunities to make more money. Take on a second job or freelance work if you can.

Leasing your first apartment  is not easy these days with rents continuously increasing, especially in the Greater Toronto Area, , it takes time, discipline and commitment but if you set realistic goals and stick to your savings plan then you will soon be able to afford a place of your own and the freedom that comes with it.

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As the Founder of New Street, Robert is passionate about optimizing the customer experience. He is a stickler for real-world business results. Rob has developed deep insights into the market and an insider perspective of what homebuyers are looking for these days. When he’s not helping New Street clients, he’s probably catching a run while purposefully ignoring the stop signs. Follow robertj.ca on Instagram.