If you’re renting an apartment in the US for the first time, there may be some confusion about what utilities you are responsible for paying for.
Unlike in a house where you are responsible for paying for natural gas, electricity, internet, water, and trash removal in addition to your rent or mortgage, things can be different when renting an apartment in the US. Depending on your landlord or apartment complex, what is included in your monthly rent can vary.
Obviously, electricity is one thing we cannot live without, and the cost of it will usually fall on you. Because different tenants use electricity in different amounts, most apartment complexes require you to register with the electrical provider and pay them directly each month.
However, in certain apartment complexes, landlords include the cost of electricity as part of your monthly rent. The average price of electricity in a one-bedroom or two-bedroom apartment in the US is about $60-$100 per month. If the apartment is “including” electricity as part of the rent, consider how much extra in rent charges you will be required to pay. If it’s more than cost of paying for the utility yourself, you may be better off in apartment where you are responsible for your own electric bill.
Natural gas is used in many apartments in the US, but not all of them. If the apartment has a gas stove, gas furnace, or gas water heater, then you will be responsible for paying a natural gas bill. If the apartment only has electric appliances and heat, then this utility will not apply.
As with electricity, sometimes natural gas can be included as part of your monthly rent, but it is increasingly rare. You will usually have to set up an account with the gas company to pay your monthly bill. The cost of your natural gas bill can vary considerably depending on the area, climate, and your usage. Expect to pay as little as $35 per month, or in excess of $100 per month for natural gas based on these factors.
Water and Sewer
The cost of water for your faucets and showers and to flush your toilets is billed in one of two different ways. In larger apartment complexes, it is common for water and sewer to be part of your monthly rent. The apartment complex will have a single meter that measures all water and sewer usage, and the cost will be split fairly amongst all the tenants. With others, each apartment may have its own individual meter, in which case you would have to pay for your own usage each month.
Expect your water/sewer bill to run anywhere from $25-$70 per month.
Trash and Recycling
When owning or renting a home in the US, you often have to pay your local government for trash and recycling pickup. However, this is rarely the case with apartments. Most apartment complexes will have communal waste and recycling bins outside for you to use, and the price will be included with your monthly rent. There are exceptions, but this is not a utility you typically have to pay for individually at most apartments.
Internet and Cable
Once thought of as conveniences, high-speed internet and cable television are now considered essential utilities. Whether or not the cost of these utilities is included in your rent will depend completely on the apartment and landlord. Some apartments advertise high-speed internet as included with rent to attract tenants. Others have exclusive contracts with certain providers. Finally, there are certain apartments where you will be free to purchase whatever internet or cable service you wish. All of these factors will affect the service you can receive, and the monthly cost.
How Do You Set Up Apartment Utilities in the US?
When you rent an apartment in the US, you will sign a contract with the landlord or leasing company. Included in this contract will be the utility connections you will be required to set up and pay for.
It is important that you are very clear on what utilities you are responsible for, who provides them, and when you are expected to pay for them. After all, no one likes to return home only to discover their electricity or heat has been shut off due to nonpayment.
Therefore, if you have any questions or concerns, ask the landlord or leasing agent before signing the apartment contract. They should be able to provide you with all the information you need to set up the proper utilities and payment schedule.
How Much Should I Plan to Spend on Utilities in the US?
It is difficult to answer this question, because so many variables are involved. Utility prices differ by region, and fluctuate based on many factors. Your individual usage plays a big role, as well. For instance, if you keep the inside of your apartment at a balmy 75°F (24°C) during the winter when it’s 20°F (-7°C) outside, your electric or natural gas bill will be significantly higher than if you lowered your thermostat.
To be on the safe side, you should plan to spend at least $250 per month for utilities when pricing a new apartment. After a few months of renting, you will have a better idea of the total utility cost, and can adjust your monthly budget accordingly.
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