So, you want your own place? Expenses to expect when riding solo

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Moving out on your own for the first time is a big step for many university students. While it does provide independence, it also comes with many hidden and not-so-hidden, costs. It’s important to plan ahead to make sure that you and your wallet don’t run into any  surprises along the way.

The first step is to find the perfect apartment that suits you and your needs.

Take into consideration which part of the city you want to live in and how far your commute to and from school will be. Public transit is accessible from all areas of the city and could save you some big bucks on gas.

The cost of rent varies from $350 for a private room up to $1,000 for a 3 bedroom.

Finding a roommate or two is a great way to split the costs but be sure to choose them wisely. There is nothing worse than being stuck living with people you dislike.

Once you’ve chosen your apartment and are ready to sign the lease, remember that you’re typically going to have to put down a damage deposit. This is usually the same price as your monthly rent and will be returned to you when you move out. It’s easy to overlook this expense, but most landlords require it.

As a student, the internet is crucial part of your lifestyle. Do your research when looking for the best internet provider and find the one that suits your needs. Both Rogers and Bell offer student prices, but you’ll probably have to ask them for the deal.

Cable is less necessary, but often a perk that people enjoy. If you want cable, you’re looking at another monthly expense close to $60. Choosing an alternative to cable such as Netflix for only $7.99 per month will definitely save you some cash.

If heat and lights aren’t included in your rent, you can expect a hydro bill every month. This can range anywhere between $50-$300 a month and varies depending on your usage and the time of year. It’s a good idea to ask the power company what the average power bill was for the previous tenants – this will give you some idea of what you’re in for.

Remember that with all of the amenities that you hook up, there will be installation and activation fees. These won’t occur every month but will add to the initial cost of the move.

Many apartment buildings require that you purchase tenant’s insurance as a way to protect yourself and them, if something such as a fire or flood occurred. This can be purchased from any local insurance agent and costs around $20 a month.

Budgeting for groceries is key when trying to live on your own. Set aside how much you expect to spend a week and stick to it. Your grocery bill will vary depending on your lifestyle, but the cost of food can certainly add up. Keep an eye on the flyers and try to do your shopping during the sales.

Tuesdays are student discount days at Sobeys and Superstore where you can receive 10 to 20 per cent off your purchase.

Plan your meals weekly and avoid making trips to the grocery store often to “pick up a few things.” These little runs can make a big difference.

While moving out may seem like a great idea now, be sure that you can handle the expenses long term before signing that lease. 

Having financial stability is key to living a happy and sustainable life on your own.

Emily is in her fourth year of Political Science. She loves studying and academics which follows into her research work. She's a stern black coffee drinker and is a proud Acadienne. When she's not working or doing school work, you can find Emily listening to 70s music on vinyl and watching Parks and Recreation. If you ask her about parliamentary institutions, she won't stop talking.