Moving out on your own for the first time may very well be the most important step you take toward independence. Living by your own rules, without curfews, sans restrictions, taking care of your responsibilities on your own schedule according to your own method. As appealing as this may sound, though, along with this freedom comes with great responsibility. Before taking this bold and noble step, be sure you are fully prepared for what lies ahead.
Educate yourself on living expenses, which involves far more than just paying rent or a mortgage payment each month. Know what utilities you are responsible for: water, electricity, gas, cable and phone service are but a few examples that don’t always immediately come to mind. Additional expenses include, but may not be limited to, renters’ or homeowners’ insurance, security deposits, taxes for new homebuyers, maintenance fees, groceries, association expenses – not to mention personal expenses like student loans, automotive loans, credit card debt, and the list could go on and on. Set up a budget before looking at your first apartment our house so you know precisely what you can afford.
Adjust to the life of rent payments and mortgage loans in advance by paying rent to your parents while you’re still living at home. This is especially helpful for anyone who has never previously had to pay a bill. Become familiar with common household expenses, divide them by the number of people currently living in the home and determine whether or not you can afford your portion. Establish an amount that you can reasonably afford and begin paying rent to your parents. If your parents absolutely refuse to accept a rent check, “pay” this money to a savings account each month and do not touch the funds until you move out on your own, at which time it will either become your first month’s rent and security deposit or emergency fund. Assuming this responsibility while still living at home will slowly acclimate you to financial independence.
Pay off debt before it has an opportunity to hinder your financial growth, devoting particular attention to any high-interest debt, such as credit cards. Lower-interest debt, such as a student loan, can be maintained by making minimum payments until your budget and finances are better established. Eliminating debt while your monthly expenses are few is much easier, so take advantage of it before stepping out on your own. As you pay down existing debt, you are establishing a credit history, and a good credit history is something you will need to get an apartment or a mortgage loan.
The final word before you move out on your own is this: be patient, be prepared and don’t take on the responsibility until you are financially and emotionally ready.