As a tenant, your highest cost will almost always be your rent.
After rent, the main expense is usually apartment utilities (think electric, sewer, water, gas (if applicable).
These utilities may or may not be included in your rent.
Some people believe that ‘apartments with utilities’ included are cheaper because it is — “included”.
However, this pretense is not necessarily true.
In traditional apartment housing in the U.S., someone always has to pay for the utilities, it is just a question of whether you are paying the utility company or the landlord.
Let’s dive a little deeper.
What are Apartment Utilities?
Apartment utilities typically mean water, sewer, electricity, and gas (if available).
In some instances, you may see a listing as “apartment with utilities included,” which essentially means that the apartment price should include virtually all of the main utilities.
You’ll still want to confirm what is and is not included. Ask about internet and trash too as these might not be considered “main utilities.”
Is it Cheaper When Apartment Utilities Are Included?
There is a common misconception that apartments “with utilities included” are cheaper. This is not necessarily true. You need to pay for utilities one way or the other, so it is a matter of paying the utility company or the apartment complex. That being said, you should understand who you are paying and the approximate costs. So you should ask:
- What apartment utilities are included and how much?
- What utilities am I responsible for paying for?
- What about trash and internet service? (these are usually separate)
What are the Benefits of Having Apartment Utilities Included?
While it may not be cheaper, some benefits to having apartment utilities included are:
- You don’t need to set up anything with different service providers
- You pay just one bill (simpler)
- You know how much you are paying every month (good for budgeting).
Which Utilities are Included?
Which utilities are included will depend on your apartment complex.
Some may include just electricity, while others may include electricity and water, etc. Some may not include any utilities.
For this reason, it is important to check your lease agreement to find out exactly what is included and what isn’t. Now when hunting for an apartment complex, you can search for apartment with utilities included, but make sure you don’t necessarily exclude apartments without utilities included, because it may not be more expensive.
How Do I Compare Prices of Apartments then?
Now, this is a little more advanced topic. And requires time. But if you really want to compare apartment prices, you need to subtract the sum of the utilities from the monthly rent to get a true base rent. Then compare, base rent to base rent (apples to apples comparison). See this article for detailed way to compare apartment prices.