How to Successfully Move Out on Your Own — On the Cheap
It’s finally time. Whether you’ve been living at home your entire life, or you’ve had just about enough of sharing a 2 bedroom apartment with 4 other roommates, it’s time to move out on your own. We are so excited for you to make this big, independent step. And we’re going to do everything we can to make your move as easy and cheap as possible.
STEP 1. GET A JOB.
If you already have one, that’s fantastic, you’re ahead of the curve. If you have one, but think you could get a better one, go for it. Don’t quit your current job until you have a new one securely lined up. As my dad always says, it’s easier to get a job when you already have one, because it takes the pressure off.
If you don’t have a job, or you have one that doesn’t pay very well, your focus now show be to find one. We’re not saying you have to find your forever-job right now, the one you’ve been dreaming about that you’ll continue to do until you die or are forced to retire, just find a stable job that you like that pays the bills. Because if you don’t find one that at least pays the bills, you won’t be able to move out on your own. You’ll barely be able to afford to live in a van down by the river.
STEP 2. RESEARCH.
Find out what it costs to live in a place in your desired part of town. Whether you want to rent an apartment, or a house, or even buy your own place, if you’re lucky to have saved enough for a down payment, do your research. Find out what the average monthly rent is, and see if you can find information on the utility costs as well. You may have your heart set on a 2 bedroom loft apartment in the center of the city, but you might have to adjust your sights to the smaller 1 bedroom apartment a few miles away that meets your needs and budget. You don’t want to spend your entire month’s wages on your bills, and you certainly don’t want to go into debt for it. Be realistic on what you can afford, and then do the research. Need some help getting started? Check out this Affordable Rent Calculator from MyFirstApartment.com.
STEP 3. BUILD YOUR CREDIT.
Pretty much all landlords and mortgage lenders will check your credit score before you can get anywhere near a place. If you don’t know anything about credit scores, it’s time to learn. A credit score is a number that is determined by your past credit history so lenders can accurately tell how reliable you will be in the future to pay back loans. The easiest way to build your credit score is by having bills in your name that you pay off on time. You might want to consider getting a credit card to help you build your credit as well. If you want your score to be amazing, make sure you pay off your credit card every month and try not to carry a balance if you can help it. The better your credit score, the better everything will be in the future. FreeCreditReport.com and CreditKarma are great places to get your score for free.
STEP 4. CREATE A BUDGET.
Your parents have probably been talking about budgets for years, and now, sadly, it’s time for you to join the conversation. If one of your parents — or even one of your friends — is a budget pro, ask them for help in creating your own budget. Calculate your current expenses against your paychecks, and then estimate the increased costs of living on your own. This will help you with Step 2 above as well, so you could kill two birds with one stone if you’re so inclined.
If you’ve never lived on your own before, the shock of how much everything costs could be overwhelming, and creating a budget will help reduce that sudden panicky feeling a little. You’ll have to add things like rent, water, gas, electric, cable, internet, phone, renters insurance, car payments, car insurance, food, gas, student loan bills, and set aside money for entertainment and savings each and every month. Luckily, these numbers shouldn’t fluctuate too much, so you won’t have any surprises once you have all the average numbers. Here’s a simple budget calculator that can get you started. And here’s a place where you can find 8 different budgets to fit your specific needs.
But you’ll also have to budget for larger one-time expenses as well. If you don’t have much — or any — furniture, you’ll need to get some. Check out second hand places like Goodwill for great deals, and see if your family or friends have anything they’re getting rid of. It might not match, but you can worry about that later. And of course, you’ll need to actually move, which comes with a whole new set of expenses. But we’ll get to that in a minute.
STEP 5. FIND A PLACE.
Now that you have a solid job, created a budget you can stick to, and have a stellar credit rating, it’s time to find your place. If you’ve followed these steps, then you’ve already done the research and know what you can afford and what you can’t. Take some time now to make your wishlist — what does your dream home have? Now what of those things are non-negotiable must-haves, and what are things that would be cool to have, but aren’t a deal breaker if they aren’t there? Once you have your list, it’s time to find your place.
To help cut down on commuting costs, find a place that is close to your job, or close to inexpensive public transportation. It’ll help you save a lot of money if you don’t have to fill up your tank every week. Check out apartment sites like Apartments.com or Rent.com for a comprehensive look at your options. Even sites like Realtor and Zillow have rental search option if you’re interesting in possibly renting a house or condo instead of an apartment in a complex. You can even use Craigslist to find some awesome deals, but just remember — you get what you pay for.
If you want to save even more money, consider getting a roommate. You might have dreamed about living on your own, alone in your own space, but having a roommate, even for a little while, can help cut some of the costs so you can save more money for the future. If you have a friend or family member who is looking for a place too, you might have a roommate right there. If not, ask around to see if anyone you know knows someone who is looking for a place. If you do find a potential roommate whom you’ve never met before, spend time with that person before moving in. And make it more than just an hour over coffee. Meet up a couple of times in different settings to make sure they aren’t a crazy psycho killer or enjoy listening to Nickleback at 3am.
STEP 6. MOVE.
You’ve done it. You’ve saved your money and found a place you love that fits comfortably in your budget without forcing you to eat Ramen every night. And now it’s time to move. Depending on how much stuff you have to move, this could be fairly simple. But if you have a lot of stuff, or have been able to finagle furniture out of various family members, you might need some help. Ask (or shanghai) your friends and family to help you with your move, but make sure you give them something in return. Whether you give them cash or treat them all to a lovely dinner of pizza and beer, let them know from the start that you will reward their efforts in some way.
Ask around for boxes. Your friends and family might have some left over from a move, or they might be able to get some from their work. Local liquor stores usually have tons of sturdy boxes, and they might be willing to part with a few. Getting boxes this way can really help cut down on costs. Just make sure the boxes are strong and are in good condition before you start tossing stuff in them.
If you don’t have much in the way of furniture, or most of it is relatively small, you might be able to get away with asking someone you know with a pickup truck to move it, or you could rent an inexpensive truck or trailer from somewhere like The Home Depot. These hourly rental trucks are a great option to help you save money if you aren’t moving too far.
But if you find yourself with too much stuff or too long a distance, or are completely lacking in friends and family willing to lend a hand to help you move, you might want to consider hiring a professional moving company to help you with your move. It might be more than you were hoping to spend, but the reliable experience of a professional company could help you feel more at ease knowing your stuff will be in good hands. It just depends on your budget.
So now you’re ready to go. If you follow these steps, not only will you be thoroughly prepared to move out, but you’ll have a great head start. Just remember to create a budget and stick to it, and everything else will fall into place.
And if you need a little extra help, College Hunks Hauling Junk and Moving is always here for you.