How much rent can you afford?

Looking for a new place to live? You might think working out if you can afford the rent is easy, but from bills to travel expenses, there are plenty of costs that could change when you move.

Working out what you can afford
Start by drawing up a budget of everything you spend at the moment and everything you earn. Include bills, food and drink, going out and any debts you have. You can use the Money Advice Service Budget planner to do this, and it will work out most of the maths for you. At the end you’ll have a rough figure of what you have left to spend each month.

The next step is to get more accurate figures for the costs that can change when you move home. We’ve broken down the key ones for you below. You can ask the agent, landlord or current tenants to give an estimate of some of the different costs. For others you’ll need to do your own research.

Council Tax
This changes depending on the size of the property and the local council, so it’s possible it could be more – or less – than your current place. In Northern Ireland you pay a rates bill instead.

Gas & Electric Bills
Find out if the property has a prepayment meter or standard billing. If the bills are in your name then you will be able to switch provider and hopefully find a cheaper deal.

Water rates
Most people pay a flat rate but if you are on a meter you will be charged for what you use. That means probable savings for individuals or couples, but possible increases for bigger families.

Other Bills
You’ll probably want a phone line and broadband services, and maybe digital or satellite TV. All of those can come with extra set up charges, and you’ll need a TV licence too.


Buying contents insurance will protect your belongings from theft or damage. Ask yourself what you would do if you lost everything and then work out if you can afford to cover the risk.

If you have a car you might find your policy increases too as your post code will have an effect on how much you pay. You can get a quote online to get an idea.

Will the new home have any repercussions for travel, such as a longer drive to work (and more petrol), or having to take the bus rather than walk? If so you’ll need to factor in the added expense.

Other upfront costs
Don’t forget the upfront costs too, such as the deposit, agency or moving fees and buying new furniture.

All information accurate at time of publication