How Much Can I Afford for Rent Each Month

Wondering how much you can afford for rent each month?  Here is a simple guideline to keep your rent affordable and the “Rule of 36″ to easily find the answer to “How much can I afford in rent each month?”

1/3 of Your Income Towards Rent to Keep It Affordable

How much can I afford in rentTypically in the Boston rental market, landlords don’t want to see tenants spending more than 1/3 of their monthly income in rent.  Staying at 33% or less of income towards housing is a typical recommendation for sound personal financial management, so in the landlords mind, they feel safe if tenants are under that mark.  The tenants can pay rent, yet still have enough income left over to actually live their life and not be in a huge money crunch each month to pay the rent.  At least that’s the thinking anyway!

To convert this to a simple ”rule” we can see that 33% of your monthly income is just another way of taking your annual income and dividing by 36 to come up with a monthly affordable rent.  Working backwards to illustrate this:

  • If the monthly rent of an apartment is $2,000, then 3 times the monthly rent is $2000 x 3 = $6000 (monthly income required to keep housing payments less than 1/3 of income)
  • $6000 x 12 months = $72,000 (annual income required to keep housing payments under 1/3 of income)
  • Backtracking with the annual income and monthly rent from above, you can see $72,000 / $2,000 = 36
  • Hence the Rule of 36!

Using the “Rule of 36″ To Determine How Much You Can Afford in Rent

Bringing it all back together, to use the “Rule of 36″ simply and quickly, all you need to do is take your annual income (and that of your roommates), and divide it by 36 to come up with your Monthly Affordable Rent!  Simple!

  • As an example, if you make $100,000 per year then divide that by 36 to get $100,000 / 36 = $2777 in monthly rent that you can afford
  • If you have roommates, just add up your incomes and use the total for your combined income, then divide by 36

When looking at it this way, the math is pretty simple, but to make it even easier (don’t worry, you can thank us later! :) ), we created this handy table of incomes and the corresponding affordable rent.  To make it even more useful, if you click the affordable rent number, you’ll be taken to a list of Boston apartments on market right now in your price range!

Combined Annual Income & Affordable Rent Chart

(including Boston apartment listings for rent in each price range)


Annual Income












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Affordable Rent

$972 per month (see all listings in this price range)

$1111 per month (see all listings in this price range)

$1389 per month (see all listings in this price range)

$1667 per month (see all listings in this price range)

$2083 per month (see all listings in this price range)

$2777 per month (see all listings in this price range)

$3473 per month (see all listings in this price range)

$4167 per month (see all listings in this price range)

$5556 per month (see all listings in this price range)

$6944 per month (see all listings in this price range)

$8333 per month+ (see all listings in this price range)


Deciding whether to rent or to buy a home?

Maybe a few of these resources may help:

[ilink url=""]Search all Boston apartments for rent on our incredibly easy to use map based search engine full of details and photos.[/ilink]

What's your comment? Leave a reply here.

  1. Wonderful publish, very informative. I ponder why the other experts of this sector don’t notice this. You must proceed your writing. I’m confident, you have a great readers’ base already!|What’s Going down i’m new to this, I stumbled upon this I have found It positively helpful and it has helped me out loads. I am hoping to contribute & aid other users like its aided me. Great job.

    • This is a very informative article, but I wonder if it takes net vs. gross income into account. There is a huge difference between what you can afford based upon what you actually take home as opposed to your salary.


      A frustrated apartment searchee.

      • I very much agree, Joe. Net vs. gross is very important and I’m actually trying to look that up right now…

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  5. When I was making 40K a year in 2002, after tax witholdings for taxes, I got about $2400 cash to bring home, I was only willing to pay $350 a month for a room back then in someone’s cheap condo in a not so nice part of town in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles…. I would never want to pay $1,111 a month if I were only making $40K a year.

    I recommend people to consider affordable rent expense to be about 1/3 of take home pay instead of 1/3 at gross pay before taxes.

  6. Useful data. Fortunate enough everyone I discovered your web site by accident, for shocked exactly why this specific automobile accident wouldn’t taken place previously! I actually added the idea.

  7. Thank you. I agree with you. I only make 40K a year and would not pay $1,111 for rent, that is more than 2 weeks of my take home pay. I’m already feeling the squeeze at $850. Might be time to look to rent a room from someone. Its sad, I’m in my mid 50′s with little retirement savings and low paying job.

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  9. I dont live in Boston but another town far far away in another country starting with B. But this advise came really handy. I am a single mom looking for rentals and a job at the same time. This has come in handy. thank you

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