Is there a general rule or percentage based on gross/net income?

I'm 26 work in as a Software Engineer and do not own a car as my vision does not permit me to drive.

UPDATE: To explain my situation better I live in Huntsville, AL which was just partly destroyed by the recent tornado outbreak in Alabama. Houses for rent in the $1000-$1400 range are going faster than I can apply for them. They are being taken by storm victims who lost their homes. I was told if I want to get a house this summer I need to look at the $1650-$1900 range which is about 35% to 50% of my net monthly income.

3 Answers 3


The common number is similar to what should be a mortgage payment - about one week's pay should cover the rent. So 25%.

But - if one lives in a city and drops the need for a car, they might choose to pay a bit higher rent as they save quite a bit by walking or taking public transportation to work. There's also a lot to be said for first time renters (i.e. new graduates) to find a suitable multi-bedroomed apartment or house and share the rent.

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    I currently do not own a car as my vision is not good enough to allow me to.
    – Chad Moran
    May 15, 2011 at 23:32
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    Keep in mind, it's not a 'recommended' number. If someone makes a great salary and decides to spend a disproportionate amount on an apartment, for whatever reason, that's a choice. I gave the car example as an somewhat obvious tradeoff. If you save by not being able to drive, you may decide that part of your budget can go to rent. Others may choose savings. May 16, 2011 at 0:06

25% is a good benchmark, but you may need to go higher depending on your needs and desires. For example, since you have vision problems, it may be worthwhile to pay a premium to live near a transit hub, bus or train line.


Rent generally should not be more than 25% of your gross monthly salary. And 3-5% of your gross income should be spent on utilities. Most people spend between 30% and 35% overall on rent and utilities.

If you have a good credit and positive references from previous landlords, you can negotiate a lower price with landlord. Or look for properties with low demand.

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