When it comes to finding the right home, separating dreams from reality will make all the difference.
 Do a Little Budgeting
Try the 50/30/20 Rule. Fifty percent of your income should go towards fixed costs and needs like rent, transportation, utilities, groceries, etc., 30 percent toward wants like dining out, entertainment, shopping, Netflix/SoulCycle/Uber/Spotify/Instacart fees, etc, and 20 percent should go toward your goals, like paying down debt and saving for the future.
 Keep The Number 30 At The Top Of Your Mind
The common recommendation is that housing expenses should not exceed 30 percent of your gross income. So, for example, if you make $60,000 per year, your rent and insurance shouldn’t go higher than $18,000 or $1,500 per month.
 Keep Backup Resources Out Of The Equation
It’s a no-brainer that you shouldn’t dip into your retirement fund, but some people might be tempted to grab some cash from savings and emergency accounts. Resist it. Once you start draining these funds to cover rent, you’ll be without a safety net in no time.
You should also avoid using credit cards or taking out personal loans in order to cover your expenses. Similarly, if you find yourself charging groceries in order to pay your rent on time, it might be time to rethink your living space.
 Stay Realistic About Your Expenses
One mistake people make is justifying a place they can’t afford because eventually, they will have a car paid off and could put that money toward the rent. What they should do instead is rent a less expensive place and then start saving that car payment toward a down payment on a house.
 A living Space Will Probably Require Furnishing
It might seem easy to solve a furnishing dilemma by plunking down plastic and charging the costs to defer the price tags. But this can get you into a lot of hot water if trying to pay off those expenses makes covering your rent difficult. Instead of buying things you can’t afford, check your local message boards to see if other people might be selling or giving away items you can snag and repurpose.
 Know What Your Landlord Expects
It’s amazing what asking a few questions can do. Don’t be afraid to pepper the landlord, leasing agent, or broker about what the expectations are in terms of your income-to-rent ratio if someone can cosign along with you, and if you’re allowed to have roommates to defray rental costs. If their expectations are different than the market norms or standard rules, you’ll save a lot of time applying to places your budget isn’t a good fit for anyway.
John Castelli, Realtor