Moving out of your home for the first time and into your own apartment is an exciting life milestone. It’s an opportunity to find a living space that works best for you and cultivate a day-to-day lifestyle free from the pressures or expectations of friends and families. However, moving out on your own is not something to be undertaken lightly, and always costs more than you think. It takes real foresight to put yourself in the best possible position to make your move a success. When you’re considering setting out on your own, follow these tips for moving out for the first time to improve your chances of a quick and pain-free move:
- Do Your Research – Lots of It: Before you set off on your own, it’s important to get a realistic sense about the extra costs you will face to maintain your home. One common mistake is to not fully account for all of the expenses that you share with a roommate – or take for granted at your parents’ house. For instance, you’ll want to know the cost of trash, water, sewage, parking, electricity, gas, internet and cable TV. Even if you’re moving into an apartment with certain utilities included, chances are you’ll still be paying more than before if you want to keep the lights on and Netflix streaming. You need to conduct a hard comparison between your current expenses and what you will spend on your own – and it’s always a good idea to err on the side of overestimating.
- Negotiate What Belongs to You: When moving out of an apartment you share with a roommate, things can get messy if there’s any ambiguity about what items belong to who. Avoid fights by discussing the items in question ahead of time. For items that aren’t particularly expensive or don’t have sentimental value, you might find you’re better off skipping the fight and leaving it behind. Even if you don’t like your roommate, it’s frequently worth a few dollars in replacement costs to keep the peace and be a respectable grownup. If you had any shared purchases, discuss who will buy out who, and make sure that the buyout is fair, since the other person then needs to purchase something new.
- Calculate How Much You Can Really Afford in Rent: Renting your own place will almost certainly cost you more than sharing a house with friends (or staying for free at your parents’ house) but you will still have a range of price points at your disposal. Weigh your options and decide how much you care about factors like location, one bedroom vs. studio apartments, and amenities in the building. It might be worth a few hundred dollars a month more to some people to be near the center of town, while others prefer to hold onto every dollar they can. Just remember, your fixed rent costs will affect what you have left over for the rest of your expenses.
- Understand What You Need to Buy: Roommates share a lot of things, from dishes to furniture, and it’s unlikely you’ll get to take your entire household with you. The necessity of mundane but useful items that you previously took for granted, like a kitchen knife or a dish drainer, can catch you off guard. A few weeks prior to moving, every time you use something that isn’t explicitly yours, write it down on a notepad, as you’ll likely want one at your new place. As you get closer to the moving date, shop around for replacement items one at a time in order to keep from quickly draining your budget.
- Budget, Budget and Budget Some More: By the time you are ready to start looking for a new home or apartment, you’ll already have a monthly living budget in mind, but make sure you leave a cushion for when you encounter the inevitable moving out for the first time expenses you didn’t account for. You could find yourself facing a budgetary disaster if you aren’t prepared to afford everyday necessities, which could result in either doing without key items, using lower-quality replacements, or simply busting your original budget to buy important household staples.
- The Actual Moving Day: If you only have a few knick-knacks and the odd table lamp to move, you can probably use your car and maybe one friend’s. But if you’re living in a 3rd floor walk-up and want your friends to help move in all that new furniture you purchased, be prepared to shell out for refreshments as repayment, not to mention for a moving van, as a sofa likely won’t fit in a standard-sized car. If you have the spare cash, you may be better off paying for a moving company to spare your friends and yourself the hassle of carrying heavy furniture and boxes up and down the stairs.
Moving out is a huge step, for better or for worse, so you don’t want to get started on the wrong foot. If you follow a moving out for the first time checklist you can prepare for your expenses and focus on the excitement and new possibilities instead of spending the first few months fretting about money.