I moved out for the first time when I was 16. I was eager to try the adult life and dumb enough to do it without any plan. I simply packed up my things (it was just about a bag worth of stuff) and left to live at my girlfriends’ for a couple of months.
Looking back now, I think I was an idiot.
Sure, I was independent, but as a result, I dropped out of school, and couldn’t get a job, because I didn’t know everything I later learned about getting jobs. To be clear, I still think moving out early is a very positive decision, but it must be done with enough preparation and plan, and definitely not ‘on a whim’ or out of teenage anger. Things don’t turn out as expected, so you better buckle up for a crazy ride.
I’m starting to sound like your parents. Let’s just move on.
Fears about moving out for the first time
There are several concerns related to moving out for the first time. You will likely feel like you don’t really know what you’re doing. You will worry about finances. You will worry about what you don’t know. You will wonder what your parents and friends will say. You might feel anxious, scared, and lost for a couple of weeks. That’s totally normal.
Feel your fears and then do it anyway.
The only way to cope with these fears and insecurities is, like always, to face them and proceed with your plan to move out anyway. They are still going to be there in 10 years, so why bother?
If you’re really unsure about this whole moving out thing, trial it first – get someone you trust to let you stay at their place for a couple of months; pay rent and help with the bills. This will give you a much clearer picture of what you’re in for and help you be more secure.
First and foremost, you need to already have an income. This is not optional – don’t move out for the first time until you either have a job, or a scholarship, or your parents agree to support you. You don’t want to come back in a few months just because you couldn’t get a job in the meantime. Like myself.
Then, make a budget. I don’t care if your friends don’t have one. Becoming a responsible adult, you need to build adult habits so you don’t struggle with basic stuff forever.
So, how much does it cost to move out?
When I made the plunge, I completely miscalculated the whole thing. Here’s what I would do now.
You will probably rent an apartment. As a first-time mover, it’s the best idea to share it with a few roomies so the expenses get split, and it’s also very assuring to have people around in these early stages.
To find out how much will the whole thing cost, compare a couple of prices on the market. Take a low average of current prices of flats, then call the owners and find out how much the utilities cost. Allowing some fluctuation of prices of same standard apartments, simply add 20%-30% to this value. This is your housing cost. Find out other costs in a similar manner, consult friends and parents if needed.
And how much do I need to have saved up before I move out?
Optimally, you would need at least 3 months of expenses saved up in case something bad happens. In addition to this, you also need budget for all the down-payments and similar. To help you calculate this amount, I put together a sample google spreadsheet that you can pick apart and copy.
Here’s how it works:
I like the software phrase ‘set it and forget it’ because it beautifully relates to habit setting; from the moment you get used to doing something like laundry, this thought process becomes automated, so you can start thinking about more important things in life. The moment you begin to think of moving out of your parent’s place is perfect to start establishing good habits.
Important habits related to living on your own are:
- cleaning your place regularly
- paying bills and rent on time
- managing and saving money
- budgeting and knowing exactly how you spend your money
- staying away from various addictions
- time management – I suggest the infamous Getting Things Done book on this topic
- learning to listen to your body’s needs, like food, sleep, exercise (and flossing!)
- keeping in touch with people that are close to you
- If you haven’t watched the Wear Sunscreen video, do it now.
- Read the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
If possible, get your mom or dad or sister or cat teach you how to do:
- buying groceries
- cooking a couple of simple meals
- cleaning any part of a house
- fixing (almost) any part of a house
- basic car repairs and maintenance (changing oil, filling up the tank, changing a flat tire)
- paying bills
- This is a very cool checklist I found on this topic – be sure to check it out.
- AoM posted a must-read series named ‘Heading Out on Your Own‘.
Items you need in your first apartment
There are a couple of items that you really need, but not as much as you probably think. In my case, there were kitchen utensils, garbage cans, coat hangers in all the flats I rented. I guess my best advice is to take as few things with you as possible. Yes, little. There is a chance you will move again and again and you don’t need to drag all that shit from the middle school along with you. If you can, leave it with your parents, or even better, throw it away or sell it.
This might be just my silly philosophy, but I noticed that there are very few things that I regularly use; everything else is just sitting in my drawers. I like to ditch this stuff as soon as it starts to pile up. A good tip goes like this:
For every new thing that you buy, throw 2 out.
However, if you really want the damn checklist of things, check out this one.
Those of you who want to know more about the minimalistic lifestyle and how it can even save you money should read Leo Babauta’s books Clutterfree and The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life. I can vouch for this guy, he’s legit!
So there you have it. Blueprint for moving out for the first time. I hope I didn’t scare you though; I must say that I never regreted moving out from my parents despite all the struggles. In the retrospect, I enjoyed it and learned a lot on the way. It made me more independent, braver, and grown-up.
I hope you got something from this post, and if so, please share it with friends that are also thinking about leaving their nests :)