If you’re thinking about moving out of your parents’ house, odds are there are a lot of big life changes coming your way soon. You probably just graduated from high school or college, just started working full-time, and you may or may not have a lot of financial experience.
And while I wouldn’t consider myself a prime financial advisor, I’m happy to share the steps my fiancé and I took in moving out of our parents’ homes and into one together.
This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own. More legal information is available here.
First things first, you should know that this isn’t a process that takes years or even months to plan. In fact, my fiancé Ryan and I didn’t actually sit down and decide it was time for us to move out. It all just sort of happened over the course of five short months, and it wouldn’t have taken so long if I hadn’t insisted on being so prepared!
That said, I’d rather be over-prepared than under-prepared, so here are the five steps we took to prepare for this big step.
(Disclaimer: We decided to rent our first house together to save up and build our credit before buying, so this post is generally directed toward renters, but you may be able to glean info from me even if you’re buying!)
1. Consider the numbers.
This means a lot of things.
First, you want to make sure you can actually afford to move out.
Take a look at Zillow or Trulia and find out how much average rent and/or mortgage prices are where you live. This varies widely depending on where you’re located, and they can change year to year, so it’s best to have accurate, updated information.
Once you’ve got an estimate for rent, it’s time to start tacking on all the other bills you’ll have to pay. This includes, but is not limited to: utilities (like water, gas, and electric), cable and internet, cell phones, gas for your cars, car payments, car insurance, renter’s insurance, health insurance, student loans, gym memberships, Netflix, Spotify, and just about everything else you pay for on a regular basis.
If you’re not sure how to estimate for things like utilities and cable, your parents and friends should be able to give you some rough numbers based on what they pay. Depending on your situation, it could be more or less than them, but their insight is a good place to start!
Once you know how much it will cost to exist outside of your parents’ four walls, you need to figure out if you (and your significant other and/or roommates) have enough to pay all of these bills and contribute to a savings account and have some spending money left over for things like movie dates and shopping trips. Life would be pretty boring without these things!
Remember that rent prices can vary widely even throughout the area you want to live in, so if you’re a couple hundred short, try looking at cheaper alternatives like townhouses and apartments.
2. Find out what you like.
A few months before we were ready to move out, Ryan and I started checking local rental listings, visiting open houses, and taking personal tours of rentals available in our area. Being able to compare available rentals was crucial to helping us decide what we wanted, and what we definitely didn’t want, before we actually had to make a decision.
There were some things we were able to decide before physically touring, using websites: we knew we wanted a place that had a nice backyard (so not an apartment), at least two bedrooms, that wasn’t downtown, and that was in our budget.
We figured that this was enough to start narrowing down our options, but we were so wrong.
One of the first houses we saw was just outside downtown and came with a lot of land, which we really liked. It was older, but we thought we’d give it a chance…until we saw that many of the windows were broken and the ceilings were not high enough for my 6-foot-4 fiancé to stand comfortably. That one was out.
We ended up with several must-haves that we required before making the effort to even consider the house for us. By looking around before we needed to start renting, we had much longer to discover what worked for us, and what totally didn’t, which is vital when you’re moving out for the first time. You just don’t know what to look for at first!
Plus, having a general idea of what you like will help you budget enough to be able to pay the rent for the house or apartment you’re looking for.
3. Save up!
Now that you know what you like and how much it’s going to cost, it’s time to get saving.
Ryan and I decided to stay at home for a few extra months so that we could save quickly before moving out. It was important to us that we had at least three months worth of expenses in our savings in case of an emergency or job loss. With many setbacks throughout the months prior to us moving out, this step was what held us back for so long, but having the peace of mind that we’d be financially stable no matter what life threw at us was worth it.
How much you can save is totally dependent on your own financial situation. Maybe you can save your entire paycheck for a few months, or maybe just half of it. Do what you can until you feel comfortable with the cushion in your savings account.
Then, save a little longer until you have enough for your security deposit, deposits on utilities like cable and electric, and furniture, if you need it…
4. Collect furniture.
This part took a super long time for Ryan and I, and storing it was a whole other issue. But I digress.
Visit yard sales and thrift stores, check on Facebook’s marketplace for local deals, and ask your family if they have any extra furniture so you can start collecting for your house.
Not everything will match at first, but that’s okay! You’re just starting out; the house won’t be perfect.
Super pro tip: As you receive/buy items, make a list of what you have. That will save you hours in the weeks before moving in, because you won’t have to comb through your stuff figuring out what you still need, and it’ll save you money, because you won’t accidentally buy something twice because you weren’t sure if you had it or not. Make. The. List.
You may want to wait until you’ve completed step five to find some things, like kitchen tables, lest you end up with a round table where a rectangular one would really fit better!
5. Find the perfect place.
This is arguably the most fun part of the process, but also the most stressful. It’s time to pick which house or apartment rental is going to be your home for the next year (at least).
Everyone is different, so what kind of rental you want is going to vary, and you should have a rough idea from step two of what you’re looking for. That said, here a few things that Ryan and I, in particular, checked for when we were viewing houses that we were seriously considering renting:
- How well-maintained is the property, inside and out? Be sure to especially check things like door hinges, electrical outlets, bathrooms, and carpeting.
- How big of a yard does it have, and do we have to mow it?
- Does it come with a washer and dryer in-unit?
- What is the floor plan like? For us, we wanted something relatively open that was conducive to entertaining small groups of people.
- Does it have a garage?
- Does it have ample parking nearby for guests?
- Is trash pick-up provided?
- Where is it located? Is this a good or bad part of town? How far away is it from work? How far away is it from our friends and family?
- Does the landlord seem friendly and easy to work with?
You should create your own checklist and list of questions that you answer for each house or apartment you look at. Each will be slightly different, and you’ll have to decide what’s worth paying more for.
At the end of the day, go with your gut. If you just have a bad feeling about a house, it probably isn’t the one for you!
BONUS TIP: Here’s some advice for when you’re ready for move-in day:
These were my five steps for preparing to move out of my parents’ house, but I know it wasn’t a comprehensive list. If you have more tips for your fellow young adults, share below in the comments!