You’ve probably been thinking about moving away from home for what seems like forever. The thought of having a place to live that you can call your own, with nobody to tell you what you can and can’t do, excites you. You know what I mean; you can walk around in underwear and leave the sink full of dishes overnight. Not to mention the parties that you can have without worrying about getting in trouble.
Sure, those are all good things, but there are always going to be the serious moments too. As much as you think you could just pack a bag and find yourself a place to live, it isn’t that easy. There’s a lot that you need to get in order before you’re ready to move into your own place. Thankfully, this short guide can help you along the way.
Sort Your Finances
Before moving away from home, get your finances in order. Your parents might not have worried about it, but unfortunately, landlords are going to make you pay for the place that you’re renting from them. Most of them are going to want a deposit up front which usually amounts to the first month’s rent plus a bit extra. That’s a significant amount of money, especially for somebody quite young. You aren’t going to find it down the back of the sofa so you need to get your finances organized.
The first step is to see how much money you’ve got coming in every month. Then take a look at how much is going out. If they don’t add up, you’ll need to start earning more or cut costs somewhere. If you’re living with your parents at the moment, your outgoings should be fairly small. It’s likely that, if you’re spending a lot of your money, it’s going on things that you don’t need. Although it’ll be a boring few months, stop spending on nights out and useless junk and you should be able to save up for a deposit in no time.
Moving Away from Home? Get Steady Work
Having a steady job is the most important thing; you probably won’t be able to pay bills without one. Most landlords will expect you to show evidence of your earnings to ensure that you can pay the rent. When you look at your finances, factor in all of the other costs on top of rent.
Ask your parents for a rough average of how much different bills will cost and think about your food budget too. If your numbers aren’t adding up then maybe it’s time for you to get a new job that can better support you financially.
A Roommate? Yes or No
Once you sort out all of your money worries, you’re ready to start hunting for an apartment. The first thing to decide before you even start looking is whether you want to live on your own or with a roommate. There are benefits to both and it depends on your situation.
Living with a roommate will be a lot cheaper than living alone as you can split bills equally. If some of your friends are planning on moving out as well, then why not think about getting a place together? This is a big decision to make and you need to imagine yourself living together. Are you going to annoy each other after a few weeks or can you coexist peacefully?
If you don’t know anybody already who’s looking to move, you could rent a place that already has somebody living there. But be aware. This situation is always a massive risk as you have no idea what they will be like to live with daily. You could end up living with somebody that you can’t stand.
On the other hand, some people like their own personal space and enjoy time alone. Having a roommate is not always great for people like this so, if that sounds you, it’s best to look for somewhere on your own, if you can financially do so.
Moving Away from Home: Find an Apartment
When you’re looking at apartments, it’ll probably be fairly obvious to the landlord that this is your first time. Unfortunately rental owners might try to talk you into signing a contract for a less-than-suitable place. It might be rundown, for example. Thus, always be on the lookout for any bad signs.
For example, any mold should ring alarm bells immediately for you. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s only a small patch and you can live with it. The likelihood is that the landlord would have cleaned most of it off before showing you around; that means that six months into living there the walls will have tons of mold.
Signs of pests are another thing to watch out for. Any droppings or signs of gnawing around the floors and cupboards should make your decision for you. If you see anything like this, don’t take the apartment.
Another great tip: Look inside the kitchen and bathroom cupboards. Those are places that landlords often forget to check before viewings so any warning signs will still be there.
The Lease for Your New Place to Live
Now that you’ve found an apartment you love, it’s time to start dealing with scary legal stuff. The lease is the place where landlords might try to sneak things in that could trip you up later. That’s why it is important that you read the whole thing from start to finish. While that seems incredibly boring, it’s a necessary part of moving away from home.
The main things to look for as you read the rental contract are:
- How long is the lease
- How long are the notice periods
If your landlord requires an exceptionally long notice period before you can move out penalty-free, you could run into problems later if you need to leave in a hurry. The landlord could also cause you problems if he has a very short notice period when he wants you to move out. You’ll be in a sticky situation if you must move out quickly but don’t yet have a place to go to nearby.
Be Frugal when Moving Away from Home
When you live with your parents it doesn’t matter if you blow all of your money a week after getting paid; you’ve still got a roof over your head and food. Once you live on your own, you won’t have that luxury. That means being tight with your money.
Energy bills are expensive so why not try going green at home? For example, switch out your light bulbs for energy-saving ones, particularly LEDs. This easy switch can bring your energy bills down a lot. Not having the heating on all the time is another easy way to save money. Ask yourself whether you really need it on or could you get away with putting on warmer clothes instead?
Compare energy prices as soon as you move in. The chances are you might be able to get a cheaper deal elsewhere if you switch providers. As well as saving yourself money, you’re also doing the planet good by cutting down on energy usage.
Saving on your food bill is also important now that you have a new place to live. Be honest with yourself and admit that you can’t afford all of the luxuries that your parents used to buy for you. Make food using fresh fruit and vegetables as it’s healthier and usually cheaper than processed foods. Don’t spend all of your money on expensive snacks either.
Oh Yes, Chores
This last point is maybe the worst thing about living on your own, and you probably don’t want to hear it. But when moving away from home you’re going to have to do your own chores.
To start with, you’ll probably leave everything to get dirty. After a couple of months though, when you’ve forgotten the carpet color, you’ll start realizing chores are there for a reason. The more regularly you do the chores, the quicker it will be. So write yourself some kind of schedule and stick to it in your new place to live.
Feature image: Looking for rentals. Are you following these tips when looking for a new place to live? Geograph Ireland image, Creative Commons Licence.