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












Deciding whether to rent or to buy a home?

Maybe a few of these resources may help:

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How Much Can I Afford for Rent Each Month

32 Responses

  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.

    brouse game March 25, 2013 at 11:10 am #
    • 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.

      Joe March 26, 2013 at 11:07 am #
      • I very much agree, Joe. Net vs. gross is very important and I’m actually trying to look that up right now…

        DeeDee June 8, 2013 at 7:35 pm #
  2. I envy your piece of work, appreciate it for all the interesting content .

    send email program April 9, 2013 at 11:43 pm #
  3. I agree with Joe – Is this meant to be gross income, or net of taxes??!!!

    Greg April 11, 2013 at 6:13 pm #
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    on the net. I most certainly will highly recommend this blog!

    Maynard April 14, 2013 at 5:17 am #
  5. very nice, i learned a great deal from reading this

    Ene April 15, 2013 at 7:38 am #
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    lancel bb May 12, 2013 at 2:06 am #
  7. Thanks for another excellent article. Where else may anybody get that kind of info in such a perfect approach of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I am at the look for such information.

    iliving app May 14, 2013 at 12:43 am #
  8. So the government must be using the rule of 57% after all the other taxes,

    Matt May 17, 2013 at 9:36 am #
  9. Hey there, i have faith that i personally noticed an individual seen this site consequently i got below to come back the desire? . I am looking to to seek out issues to raise my website! I guess it’s sufficiently good to utilize a number of your current ideas!

    permutator May 20, 2013 at 1:34 pm #
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    Precio del Bitcoin May 25, 2013 at 2:00 pm #
  11. 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.

    taxsmartcfpa May 27, 2013 at 3:33 am #
    • So where can I find a place for $500 a month?

      shasta jones November 21, 2014 at 1:15 am #
  12. 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.

    bitcoin tool June 2, 2013 at 1:33 am #
  13. 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.

    Mary August 2, 2013 at 4:01 pm #
    • Only 40K? I make a lot less than that. I once made fairly decent money until they fired me. I took a $12,000 a year drop and that was back in 2005. I never have made it up and things are a lot more expensive now.

      shasta jones November 21, 2014 at 1:14 am #
  14. This is not sound advice. I agree with the concerned party’s above.

    Ben Dover January 14, 2014 at 10:54 am #
  15. 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

    Angel January 17, 2014 at 2:39 am #
  16. It’s based on gross income (before taxes)

    Nick January 30, 2014 at 9:50 pm #
  17. This article is not great advice for renters. It was written by a landlord (no offense to landlords). Better advice is to calculate what you can afford based on your take-home pay, not your gross pay. See link here:

    Joe July 15, 2014 at 6:51 am #
  18. I think 1/3 is way too much to spend on rent. 1/4 would be reasonable. The problem is housing is so expensive. Also who makes $35,000 a year. I used to but not any more. There are a lot of people making $15,000 a year–what do they do?

    shasta jones November 21, 2014 at 1:11 am #
    • If my wife and I only spent a 1/4 of our money on rent, the best we wouldn’t even be able to afford a 1 bedroom. And we have 3 kids. We spend over 40% of our income on rent and are doing so comfortably. We are frugal. On the other hand, we have friends who make 2x as much money or more, who spend about the same or less on housing and are constantly stressed about having no money because they spend it all on other things. What people really need to do is use common sense and figure out what they can afford themselves. These rules are thumbs are bogus.

      peter December 26, 2014 at 3:12 pm #
    • We, live in tree’s…

      Usernametoolong June 9, 2018 at 12:24 am #
  19. does this formula also include heat or is that just the monthly rent without heat

    dan ouimette April 28, 2015 at 2:48 pm #
  20. And what, exactly, are you supposed to do if you don’t make $30k/year? Landlords that require a yearly income of 36x the monthly rent only serves to squeeze out anyone who’s working class. Thank God we don’t have this stupid policy in Minnesota. If that were the case in my state, then I never would have been able to afford an apartment. Ever.

    Really, what’s the deal here? My current job pays $28k. According to the “36 Rule,” that means I can afford an apartment up to $777/month. Guess how many apartments now rent for that amount or less? And what about people working at McDonalds or Starbucks? What about people who wait tables? What are they supposed to do? Live under a bridge? Start dealing drugs on street corners?

    Oh, look, Chicago’s South Side is now a full-blown war zone. What a coincidence. This is ludicrous.

    danielvol4 July 19, 2017 at 9:46 am #
  21. The author of this article must not live in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can’t rent a run-down studio apartment for less than $2,000.00 a month. If people followed the 1/3 rule, they would be living under bridges and on the streets.

    Teri October 31, 2017 at 12:53 am #
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