You finally think you’re ready to take one of the biggest steps of your life, moving away from home for the first time. Whether it’s moving out of your parent’s house to your own apartment or living with friends, the initial thought of living on your own can be a little exciting and scary.
When I first moved out of my parent’s house after I graduated from college, I felt really overwhelmed. There was so much to do, and I felt like I had no clue where to even begin. Here are a few helpful tips to really help you prepare for moving out on your own.
When’s the right time?
Before we move on to the things you need to do to successfully move out, we need to make sure it’s the right time. Whether you are moving out because you feel like you are ready to really dive into adulthood or facing other personal reasons that may need you to move out, the right time in this context means you can sustain living on your own. Really do some digging and assess your situation. If you’re not ready, don’t rush it. You will hate it and things will be much harder to manage. The key is to be realistic and reasonable. Understand what you can and can’t manage. This is just the beginning. You’re supposed to work your way up.
How much should you pay for rent?
Oh, rent. It’s a necessary evil (until you can afford to purchase your own home). Before you start searching for a new place to call home, you need to calculate how much you can afford to pay for rent, and still have money left over to handle your other bills and other obligations. A good starting point is totaling your monthly income and dividing that by 3. That answer should be the maximum amount you can spend on rent each month. There are also rent calculators available to help you determine a good range to spend on rent (if your initial calculation is a bit unrealistic). At my first job, my 1/3 calculation didn’t leave me many options to realistically choose from. So, I used a budget and the online rent calculators to help me determine a reasonable amount to spend.
Finding the right place to call home
Knowing how much you can reasonably spend makes your search for a place to call home a little bit easier. It’s a more focused search (assuming you have already selected an area based on where you work or go to school). Determining how much space you need (I.e. a one bedroom or two bedrooms, a den or a large kitchen) will depend on your life and current needs. Drive around the neighborhood to see what apartment complexes may be around. Do a quick online search to find a way to contact them to see if any units are available.
Also, don’t be afraid to utilize Craigslist. There is a section available to find homes, apartments, and rooms for rent. I know there is a bit of uneasiness with using Craigslist thanks to a few shady characters, but I have found two places to rent on Craigslist and was very happy with the outcomes. The key is to look for listings that are descriptive and have contact information readily available. I always like to start with email versus calling directly (since it would be my personal cell phone number). If you are ready to view the apartment or home that you found on Craigslist, don’t go alone. Have a friend go with you to check out the place as well. Schedule all walkthroughs for during the day, versus at night.
If you have been saving up for the move, you may have already planned ahead on buying furniture – which is great! If furniture was the last thing on your mind, don’t worry. You only need a few items to be comfortable until you can really furnish your place the way you’d like. Always start with family & friends, people you trust. Ask around to see if anyone has any furniture they are trying to get rid of or willing to donate or sell to you. You can also find a local consignment store or donation center that sells gently used furniture. That’s a great way to find quality furniture for a low price. If you do have a budget for furniture, check out the following stores:
- American Signature
I feel like half my furniture is from IKEA or Target! The key is to find quality pieces that will last you a while and can sustain moving a few more times (your first place on your own definitely won’t be your last, so plan ahead!).
Packing & Moving
How you pack and actually plan to get your stuff from point A to point B solely depends on the location of your new home. If you are doing an in-town move, you can find ways to save on moving cost. During my first move, the only furniture I had was a bed and I purchased a couch that was being delivered directly. All of my other furniture was purchased directly from IKEA or Target and still in the boxes to be assembled. I rented a truck to transport my bed and mattresses (there was no way to fit them in the trunk of my car, lol). A round trip moving truck rental is fairly cheap, the same goes for one-way rentals as long as they are within a close distance to each other (say 20 miles or less apart). You can easily get quotes online from the major moving truck rental companies. Some companies also offer student discounts if that applies to you!
Moving boxes. You need an easy way to consolidate the items you will be bringing. The cost of moving boxes can add up fairly quickly. So, start searching for used boxes early on. Stores tend to throw them out at night, so if you have any friends in retail ask them for any recycled boxes. Don’t forget to use any storage bins that you may have lying around. Garbage bags are a great hack for moving clothes on hangers, too. I found a ton of good moving tips on Pinterest.
Turn on the Lights
You’ve found a place to potentially call home, now you need to consider the utilities you will need. If your new home includes the cost of utilities, there probably won’t need to do anything for this step. But, if you have to handle utilities on your own, you will have to set up the accounts yourself. Start by asking your landlord or leasing office if there are any preferred utility companies. Then call ahead to see what the necessary requirements are for setting up an account. You will need to do this for electric, internet, phone, cable, water and/or trash services. Some companies may require you to pay a deposit before setting up the account. For cable/internet/phone services be on the lookout for any specials and promotions for new customers.
The Cost of Moving Out
When I first decided to move out, the number one thing I wanted to know was how much it would cost or how much money I should have saved up. Unfortunately, there is no magical number. It all depends on where and when you are moving and if you are starting from scratch (i.e. no furniture at all or no credit history). But, there are certain costs that will come up that you can plan ahead for.
Deposits. You will have a deposit for your new place. Depending on the place, it could be a fixed amount, equal to one month’s rent or more. A lot of times it depends on your credit history as well, so always do a credit check before starting your search for a new place. There may also be deposits to set up your electric, utilities or cable/internet. Call your local providers to gain a better understanding of any upfront costs that may happen. The deposits will be a big portion of all your expenses, so try to get as much info as you can ahead of time to plan ahead.
Furniture. This isn’t a set cost, but if you don’t have any furniture you will need a few items. How much you can or are willing to spend on furniture depends on your personal situation. Shop around and find items that you like at a price you’re comfortable paying.
Moving Expenses. This is the actual cost of moving from point A to point B. This is any cost associated with buying boxes, renting a moving truck, gas for your car and/or the moving truck, etc. It can vary depending on the distance and how many items you have.
Groceries. You need food! The first grocery shopping trip is always the most expensive. You buy things that you probably won’t need to buy again for a while. I would suggest setting aside $100 to $200 for the first grocery trip, to buy enough to last you a few weeks as you recover from all the other moving out expenses.
Making it Feel Like Home
This is the part I love the most. Doing everything possible to make your new place really feel like home. Unless you already have a small collection of items, this part can also take a little while, and that’s okay. The beauty of it is it’s your space! You can do whatever you like (within reason if your rental agreement has certain restrictions) and you can move at your own pace. Don’t feel pressured to buy a ton of things immediately. Shop around and see what’s out there. If this is your first place on your own, remember that this isn’t your last. Pinterest is a great place to look for decorating inspiration and DIY tips that are renter friendly!
If you are planning to move out soon, congratulations on the big step and good luck! It is a fun process, even though it may seem stressful as it is happening. The important thing to remember is to go with your instinct on finding the place that is right for you. Hope these tips on moving out help!
If you recently moved out on your own, what advice would you give to someone else?