When you're apartment hunting, there are the fun items on your wish list (lots of natural light, walking distance to bars) and there are boring ones (low rent, affordable utilities).

When you're apartment hunting, there are the fun items on your wish list (lots of natural light, walking distance to bars) and there are boring ones (low rent, affordable utilities).

It's important to calculate just how much you can shell out for rent, utilities and other living expenses before an amazing skyline view tempts you into signing up for a place that's out of your budget.

So how much rent can you afford? And how much should you set aside for monthly utilities?

We put together this chart with the help of Kate Trombitas, assistant director of Ohio State's Student Wellness Center and a financial coach for students, and Jay Cheplowitz, who runs local rental-listings website Metro Rentals and is a landlord himself.

RENT:

Experts recommend that your rent doesn't exceed 30 percent of your gross income - the amount you make before taxes, Trombitas said. Aim for spending about as much on a month's rent as you make in a week.

Remember that money going toward rent doesn't have the same benefits as money going toward a mortgage, Trombitas warned.

"While renting is a good option - especially if you choose to live Downtown, where permanent housing maybe out of your price range - you are not building equity with each monthly payment," she said. "So you should be careful not to take on an apartment that perhaps you can afford, butmaynot bea good use of your money."

Instead, she recommends picking a cheaper apartment and using that extra money to open a Roth IRA or start an emergency savings account.

UTILITIES:

You can contact utility providers and request records for the last year of usage at a given address. Keep in mind that the previous resident might have had different tastes in temperature than you, said Cheplowitz, who added that he would be skeptical of off-the-top-of-the-head estimates from previous tenants or landlords.

"It's very important to do your own research," he said.

To better plan for bills, Trombitas suggests using a utility company's "budget plan," which charges you the same amount each month based on past use at that address.

Some things to think about:

- Is the heat gas or electric (generally more expensive)?

- How old are the windows, and how well-sealed are they?

- How efficient are the heating and air-conditioning units?

- Does the unit share one or more walls with another unit (providing for extra insulation)?

MISCELLANEOUS LIVING EXPENSES:

Don't forget that the quoted monthly rent might not be what you pay. Additional costs, like parking and pet fees, can add an extra layer to your monthly living expenses.

While walking through a unit you're interested in, pay attention to whether you'll have to put up curtains or blinds or install a washer and dryer, too. Anticipate these up-front costs, which can be somewhat costly.