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Guide to Moving Out of Your Parents’ House

That’s it: You’re officially an adult. You’ve graduated from college, landed your first (part-time) job and have finally abandoned your college diet of beer, pizza, and that unidentifiable cheese snack. With all of your ducks in a row, you’re finally ready to take the plunge: Move out of your parents’ house.

Whoa, not so fast.

While most young people romanticize moving out of their parents’ pad, what’s so often lost is the full amount of responsibilities (and expenses) that adulthood entails. Where are you going to stay? How are you going to pay the rent? How do you plan to furnish your new place? Do you even have enough money to make it out alive?

As you gear up for the big move, consider these tips before taking the plunge.

Prepare for Takeoff

Looking at the big picture is the key to a successful move out of your parents’ pad. Make sure that you have your bases covered on most of these fronts before making any big decisions:

Job: Yep, this one’s a biggie. Do you have a steady job that will provide enough income for you to sustain yourself?

Money in the bank: Are you living paycheck to paycheck, or do you have enough saved in the bank should an emergency or otherwise large expense arise?

Bills: Do you know your bills? Take time to understand all the expenses you should expect by asking your parents! Pro tip: Consider bills you haven’t even started paying yet, such as your student loans.

Roommates: Decide whether you want to live alone or with a roommate. Even if you’d prefer to live alone, consider whether doing so would be within your budget.

Budget Everything

Before you pack up your bags, create a budget of your expected monthly expenses. The key here? Don’t just factor in rent and your grocery bill, and ensure that you understand how all the small expenses add up over time.

Moving expenses Even if you’re using the back of Mom and Dad’s car to move your stuff, consider hidden moving costs: new household items you’ll have to buy, storage containers, a new mattress, to name a few.

Furniture: Even if you’re going the cheap route of purchasing used furniture, do you have the budget for hiring moving labor to help you move larger items? What about the cost of shipping a new couch?

Rent: Consider this Golden Rule of Thumb: Don’t spend more than one-third of your monthly paycheck paying for rent.

Utility bills: Carve out some time to understand all of the expenses that you’ll need to pay on top of rent to keep your place afloat, including water, electricity, and gas service.

Transportation: If you have a car, you’ll be paying for insurance, gas, car washes, and repairs (when necessary). If you don’t have a car, consider the monthly costs of buses and/or trains (monthly transit passes are often a worthy investment).

Scout Out the Right Neighborhoods

Keep your budget in mind while looking around. Don’t fall in love with a place before checking the price tag, or you might be disappointed.

Spend some time in the neighborhood. Whether you’re walking down the street or grabbing a cup of coffee in the local cafe, you should be able to quickly get a feel for a neighborhood and imagine whether you’ll enjoy the entertainment options and overall landscape of the neighborhood.

Think in terms of safety. If you don’t feel safe walking alone at night, chances are that you’ll want to reconsider the neighborhood. Cheap rent is alluring, but it’s not worth living on the edge every time you leave the house.

Set Ground Rules

Set guidelines with your parents. Sit down with your parents, and establish which responsibilities you’ll be assuming from the get-go. For example, will Mom and Dad continue to pay your cell phone bill once you’re moved out? Will you be allowed to come over on Sundays to do your laundry?

Vet roomie candidates. While moving in with your best friend after graduating from college may seem like the safest bet, your roommate should have both feet planted on the ground. Ensure that they’re working with a feasible budget, and have a backup plan if disaster strikes, like having to back out of the lease at the last minute.

Build Sound Money Habits

Having enough money in the bank to pay for rent is one thing, but making sure that you’re budget is sustainable is another thing entirely.

Start a savings account. Best practice: Put away 10% of everything you make. Here’s how this might work. This week you made $300? Put away $30. Your grandma gave you $30? Put away $3. You found $1 on the street? Put away 10 cents. 10% is small enough that you won’t miss it, but interest will accumulate over the years.

Be smart. Don’t spend too much or more than you have. Avoid accumulating credit card debt that you can’t pay back. Instead, wisely build up a healthy credit score.

And lastly…

Be Resourceful

Don’t pay for everything. Being “resourceful” runs the gamut of cooking your own food, purchasing used furniture, shopping at thrift stores, walking or biking to places instead of paying for gas or public transit, and re-purposing your belongings instead of tossing and buying new ones. Simply put, see if you can recycle or reuse before buying something new.

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