5 Hidden Apartment Costs: Make Sure You Know What Questions to Ask

By Sara


Last Updated: January 31, 2023


Renting an apartment can be a great financial decision for some people, especially if you are a recent graduate.

It can allow you to live in an area you want if you can't afford a home or want a low maintenance type of living. However, apartments have hidden costs, from deposits to utilities, that aren't always mentioned upfront. When looking for an apartment, ask about these five hidden costs of the apartment you are considering. 



5 Hidden Costs of Getting an Apartment

Security deposit and first month's rent.

When you decide to rent an apartment, most will ask you to put down a security deposit and the first month's rent.

Every landlord or complex is different, so make sure to ask about any deposits or initial rent when you are inquiring about the unit. 

Your security deposit can vary depending on where you are renting, your apartment size, and a few other factors. It usually is about one month's rent, but it can be higher or lower.

The landlord will hold the security deposit to cover any damages or unpaid rent when you end your lease. Depending on your landlord's policy, you usually get your security deposit returned back to you if you end your lease and have no damages or unpaid rent. 

If you have a good credit score, your landlord can offer you an option other than a security deposit. It's similar to a security deposit but is usually a lot less than what a security deposit will be. This amount won't be returned back to you, but you won't have to pay anything extra if you do have any damages. 

Depending on your landlord, you may also have to pay the first month's rent. Some even require the last month's rent. This information is crucial for you to know because you may not have enough cash in savings to pay one to two months' rent ahead of time. This will usually be due on the move-in date. 


Application fees.

There is an application fee whenever you apply for an apartment.

These fees are usually non-refundable and are used to help cover the cost of running a background and credit check. In addition, landlords want to make sure their tenants are able to pay their leases. 

The actual application fee can vary depending on the location of the apartment, the size, and other factors. It's usually a one-time fee you pay when you apply. However, some landlords may require a fee per application if you are moving in with friends or a significant other. 

Additional fees can be charged with the application fee, such as administration or processing fees. This varies for each landlord. Always ask if there are any application fees along with other fees related to this when inquiring about an apartment. 


Utilities and services.

Utilities and services are another hidden cost of renting an apartment.

Some apartments are upfront about the utilities you will have to pay, but most do not. Again, you will have to ask about this, but the cost of utilities and services can make an apartment out of your budget. 

Traditional utilities and services for an apartment are usually:

  • electricity
  • gas
  • water
  • internet
  • cable

Some apartments also will have trash, sewer, and the community area under utilities and services. Ask your landlord what utilities and services they are responsible for paying and which ones you are responsible for paying. 

Certain landlords will cover the cost of water and trash, while others will not. In addition, some apartment complexes only allow certain internet connections for the building, which may be out of your budget. Finally, some apartments require you to have cable. 

Ask about any shared community utilities too. Most apartments won't charge for the common space utilities. However, certain apartments do charge tenants for the common space and split the utilities for that area among all the tenants. 

Always ask if any other utilities are shared. For example, some apartments do not charge your water based on your use, but split the cost amongst all tenants. 

While the cost of utilities varies for each city and the size of your apartment, ask your landlord if they know the average cost for monthly utilities. 



Final Thoughts on Hidden Apartment Costs

Whenever inquiring or visiting an apartment, make sure to find out more than just the monthly rent because there are so many hidden costs that can add up.

For example, you don't want to be surprised when you apply that you now have to pay one to two months' worth of rent and a security deposit on your move-in day.

You also don't want to see a shocking utility and service bill after your first month. These things can quickly make your apartment out of your budget. While landlords may not have this information on a website or listing, they will be happy to answer any specific questions to help you with your search.

Photo by Patrick Perkins on Unsplash


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