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All about apartment rentals

What Is The Maximum Amount of Rent I Can Pay According to My Income?

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Written by Daniella

When you decide to start living on your own, renting a place is probably your best option. It is important to know what amount of rent you are able to pay for, and it doesn’t matter if you will live alone or rent together with someone else. The least you need to learn is what income you need to be able to rent an apartment.

The main idea behind us writing this article and you reading it, is that you discover how much rent you can afford according to your income.

Before you grab your calculator and start with the numbers, collect the following data:

  • An overview of your monthly income
  • An overview of your monthly expenses (without the rent)

Having insight in this information will help establishing where the boundaries are when wanting to start renting an apartment.

Now let’s get started with a list of your own monthly living expenses to see how far you get.

  • rental apartments in Barcelona


List of monthly living costs

Your monthly costs may vary greatly on what your responsabilities are each month. If you have a pet, for example, you must also take into account its food, visits to the vet, and toys.

For your orientation we have come up with a list with monthly living expenses so you can see if they apply to you.

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Tip 💡
Keep all your receipts from the last couple of weeks and gather these, together with the costs that are paid by direct debit, to know exactly where your money goes. Don’t forget to keep it real, because even that coffee you get at the coffee shop each day adds up!

Start collecting items for your list with the following expenses:

  • Transport (public transport subscription or gas payments)
  • Invoices for water, gas and electricity
  • Local taxes
  • Food and hygiene products
  • Phone and internet invoices
  • Insurance
  • Taking care of children
  • Taking care of pets
  • Gym subscription
  • School tuition or extra activities
  • Clothing and personal care
  • Leasure time (restaurants, concerts, theatre, cinema, et cetera)
  • Home and interior (furniture, decorations, plants)
  • Holidays

Set aside what you think is a good (but also realistic) amount for each and every one of these expenses. Now that you have done this, we can start with some rules of thumb or strategies to help you determine what part of your budget can be spent on rent.

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3 Rules of thumb to calculate how much rent you can pay

The 30% rule (or 35%)

It’s an old rule that has been around for ages, and it says you should ideally calculate with a maximum of 30% of your monthly income

To give you a practical example, we will show you how this rule works: If you have an income of 1,500 euros per month, then the rental price of your apartment should not exceed 450 euros. Considering the current prices of housing, this sounds quite ridiculous, doesn’t it?

In the last study by the Banco de España (from 2020) they are already talking of a percentage of 35%. In the same example with an income of 1,500 euros, that would translate to a maximum of 525 euros for your monthly rent.

The 40x rent rule

Another strategy to come up with a number on the maximum amount of rent you can afford, is the 40-times-the-rent rule, and this rule is based on the fact that your annual income should be a minimum of 40 times the rental price.

If we continue with the same example, and it is possible to find an apartment for 525 euros, then this would mean an annual sum of 21,000 euros.

The 50-30-20 rule

The last rule of thumb we want to share with you really helps to split up your complete budget (monthly or yearly) and takes into account all of your expenses. Every number refers to a percentage that accounts for a different type of expense. It goes as follows:

  • 50% of your monthly income: for fixed expenses (rent, invoices, insurance)
  • 30% of your monthly income: expenses of personal choice (leisure, et cetera)
  • 20% of your monthly income: savings and/or investments

We will stick with the same example we started with, and work with the monthly income of 1,500 euros. The percentages can then be divided into the following amounts for each type of expense:

  • 750 for fixed expenses
  • 450 for personal expenses
  • 300 for savings

As you may have noticed, this rule of thumb is more flexible than the others. It allows you to decide what expense is essential and which one is not. It also lets you set your limits and makes it possible to keep on saving.

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So how much should I spend on rent?

Now that you have learned what monthly expenses play a role when renting a house, you have gotten an idea of what maximum amount of rent you can afford.

You have seen that there are three rules of thumb, and although they are only an indication on how to divide your income, we can see clearly that these rules do not match at all with the reality of the real estate sector in some of the larger cities.

Although it is also true that more and more regulations have found its way to control the real estate sector, we can still see that the balance between income and rental prices is far off. 

In the end it is clear that you should have an overview of both your income and your (expected) expenses (fixed and variable), and that you’d better start saving early to pay for unexpected events. 

Besides that, everyone has their own priorities, so those who prefer paying for a more modest apartment will have more money to spend on movies or eating out every month.

Others, however, will prefer paying for a more spacious apartment or one that is located in a better neighbourhood, because it will save them on public transport costs and lets them enjoy their time at home more.

If you are looking for an apartment in Barcelona, don’t hesitate one bit and contact the real estate experts at ShBarcelona.

Check out ShBarcelona

What do you think?
Are there more rules of thumb to know how much rent you can afford with your income?

About the author


Daniella enjoys everything the city of Barcelona has to offer. She writes, translates and loves discovering Catalonia and its beautiful nature.

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