How to Budget for Moving Into and Decorating Your First New Jersey Apartment

By Amy Wood in Home Design, in Luxury Apartments, in Rental Community, in Timeless Design, in Frenchtown
How to Budget for Moving Into and Decorating Your First New Jersey Apartment | Country Classics

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June
7 hours ago

Are you ready to move into a place of your own but aren’t sure how much you’ll need to put aside for moving, decorating, rental, and living costs? Our budgeting tips will help you ensure that you’re not surprised by any unexpected expenses or bills for your New Jersey apartment. 

Make a List of Income and Expenses 

Before you sign a lease, you’ll need to make sure that you can afford to pay the rent and take care of your other bills. Unfortunately, it’s easy to forget about the little expenses that can take a big bite out of your bank account. You won’t face any unpleasant surprises when you make a list that includes every single one of your expenses and your monthly income from your paycheck and other sources.

Include these expenses in your list:

  • Car payment

  • Car insurance

  • Student loan and other loan payments

  • Credit card bills

  • Food – grocery store (don’t forget to include trips to the convenience store in this amount.)

  • Food – takeout and restaurant meals

  • Gas

  • Public transportation costs

  • Cell phone

  • Medical bills or prescription costs not covered by your health insurance plan

  • Hair salon or barber visits

  • Childcare

  • Clothing 

  • Pet expenses (food, toys, leashes, litter, medication)

  • Fitness club memberships and classes

  • Subscriptions

  • Hobbies

  • Entertainment

  • Miscellaneous

A budgeting app or spreadsheet makes it easy to see exactly how much you spend every month. Apps can track every purchase or withdrawal you make, from the spur-of-the-moment take-out runs on the way home from work to your daily coffee shop purchases. When you take a close look at the app or spreadsheet, you may realize that you’re spending more than you realized on certain categories.

Add Up Rent, Utilities and Other Expenses Related to Apartment Living

Rent isn’t the only expense you’ll incur when you rent an apartment. You’ll also need to budget for these items: 

  • Security Deposit: In New Jersey, landlords can ask you to pay a security deposit not to exceed 1 ½ times the amount of your monthly rent. For example, if your rent is $2,000, your security deposit would be $3,000. Your security deposit is placed in an interest-bearing account and will be returned to you 30 days after you move out of your apartment. Any damage to the apartment will be subtracted from the deposit.

  • Pet Deposit: Do you plan to bring your pet to your new apartment? Many New Jersey apartment communities require pet deposits. You may also pay more in rent if you have pets.

  • First Month’s Rent: Most landlords require the first month’s rent in addition to the security deposit.

  • Electricity, Water, and Sewer: Your leasing agent should be able to provide an estimate of the average monthly electricity, water, and sewer bill for your unit. According to EcoWatch, the average electricity bill in New Jersey is $109.54.

  • Renters Insurance: Your landlord’s insurance policy covers damage to the apartment but doesn’t protect your belongings. Rental insurance is always a good idea and maybe a requirement of your apartment community. The average cost of a renters insurance in New Jersey is $163 per year, according to Nerd Wallet. Your policy reimburses you if your belongings are stolen or damaged by a fire, hurricane, tornado, or another event.  

  • Cable and WiFi: Ask your leasing agent which cable and Internet providers offer service to the building, then check the company websites for information on packages and monthly costs.

  • Streaming: Do you plan to use streaming services? How much will they cost?

  • Parking: Will you be charged for parking? Do you want to rent a garage, if offered by your apartment community?

Break Out the Calculator 

Subtract your rent, utilities, and other monthly expenses from your monthly income. How much is left over? If rent and utilities consume too much of your monthly income, paying your other bills may be a struggle. Chase.com suggests spending 30% of your income on rent or following the 50/30/20 rule. According to the rule, 50% of your income is allocated for groceries, rent, and other monthly bills, while 30% is earmarked for non-essential purchases, and 20% is deposited into your savings account. 

Don't Forget About Moving Costs

How much will it cost you to move? Will you be moving yourself or do you plan to hire movers? If you’re hiring a moving company, ask if middle-of-the-week moves are less expensive than weekend moves. 

According to Moving.com, hiring movers to move a two- to three-bedroom home costs $1,250 on average. You may pay more or less, depending on the number of belongings you’ll be moving and the distance between your old and new homes. 

What About Decorating?

Decorating makes your apartment feel like home, but it’s certainly not cheap. Luckily, you don’t need to buy curtains, a colorful area rug for the living room, a new couch, artwork, or furniture for your balcony immediately. In fact, you can purchase these items gradually and include a special decorating category in your list of monthly expenses.

Many apartment communities display floor plans with room sizes on their websites. The plans will help you decide if your furniture will fit or if you’ll need to invest in a few new pieces. A quick look at a few furniture store websites will give you an idea of how much you’ll need to spend to furnish your new apartment. Since it can take weeks or months for furniture to arrive, be sure to order important items as soon as possible.

Budgeting for Your Moving and Decorating Expenses

The same app or spreadsheet you use to determine your income and expenses can also be used to keep your budget on track when you prepare to move. Budgeting apps send you alerts if you’re about to exceed the maximum limit you’ve set for a particular category and make it easy to instantly see how close you are to paying off a loan or credit card or saving enough for a security deposit or new TV.

When you set aside money for moving, deposits, or decorating, put the money in a separate account. It’s too easy to accidentally spend the money if you deposit it in your usual checking or savings account. 

If it looks like your budget will be a little tight, look for ways to cut costs. Switching to a different cellphone or cable provider might save you money, as can avoiding ATM machines that aren’t operated by your bank. Cashback apps and credit cards that offer cash back on purchases offer another way to save, as long as you can pay off your credit card balance every month.

Are you spending too much money on clothing? Central New Jersey has plenty of consignment stores that offer gently used clothing for both men and women. Consignment stores, thrift stores, online marketplace, and yard sales are also excellent places to find deals on furniture and accessories for your new place. If you decide to buy furniture or a large item from an online marketplace, ask to meet the seller in a public place or take a friend with you when you pick up your new table or couch.

The Internet is an excellent place to find budgeting advice, although many articles are full of obvious tips – like “Give up your daily Starbucks run!” or “Pack your own lunch!” For more offbeat savings suggestions, check out the tips on the Clever Girl Finance website. Potty training your cat so you don’t have to play for litter or selling toilet paper rolls on eBay (people use them for crafts) are among the more unusual suggestions. 

Want a comfortable, modern New Jersey apartment with plenty of amenities? Take a look at the Country Classics rental communities in Bridgewater, Somerset, and Frenchtown.

 

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Amy Wood

Vice President of Operations at Country Classics

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