Parents cramping your style? Desperate for your own space and a bit of independence? Sounds like you’re ready to move out. But, steady on, it’s a big step. Before you get too far down the track, here are five things you need to know before flying the coop.
People and place
So, you’re moving out. Well done. That’s one of the big decisions already made. But now come some serious choices: where and with whom? It sounds obvious, but these two factors could be the make-or-break decisions of your first venture out of home. Choose a house or apartment that suits your needs. Is it close to the things you want and need, like public transport, services, green spaces, friends and family? Living above a pub might sound cool – and your mates would certainly approve – but on the odd night when you’re in bed before sunrise, consider how nice it’ll be with a thumping bass vibrating through your bedroom at 2am. There’s also the boring-but-important stuff like making sure any property you aim for is well maintained, comfortable and safe.
And unless you’ve won the lottery, you’ll probably need a housemate. Yes, you’ve known Davo forever, and your new classmate Aisha seems cool, but could you really live with them? When you choose a housemate, remember that living with someone is the ultimate test of a relationship. Back your instincts and don’t just go with someone because they fit your timetable. When you have moved in, set some ground rules, divvy up chores, and be considerate.
This is a big one. While it might be nice to kid yourself about how much cash you have, make sure you’re bringing a serious dose of reality to the situation.
Start by looking at your weekly income, then calculate your estimated expenses and work out what you can afford to spend on rent (be conservative). Take into account transport, food, utilities, contents insurance, phone and internet, and make sure you have something left over. There’s no point having all this new-found freedom if you can’t afford a couple of Friday night beers or a mid-week trip for Mexican. Also take into account upfront expenses like bond (usually a month or six weeks’ rent), moving costs and connection fees.
And if you have Gucci tastes on a Kmart budget, perhaps you should consider staying a little longer with Mum and Dad.
You’re going to need lots of it: furniture, linen, crockery, cutlery, appliances – just to name a few. Now’s the time to channel your boho chic (try to keep the hoarder instinct in check, though). Figure out what you need and see what you can swipe from the parent’s spare room or Aunty Berta’s garage. If you’re particularly desperate, suss out council clean-up times in the more well-to-do parts of town and see if you and some BFFs can’t score an unloved couch. Scout op shops for bargains and snap up second-hand items on sites like eBay and Gumtree. Interest-free purchases are also a good option if you can set up a payment plan and settle the debt before the interest kicks in (just be sure that isn’t too much of a big ‘if’).
Make it official
You don’t need to get your inner barrister on but you do need to understand your rights and responsibilities before signing any rental contract. Make sure you know if you’ll suddenly be locked into a two-year lease with Johnno and Imogen – especially if you’re not super confident your living-out-of-home experiment will last. Get any other flatmates to sign the lease, too, and try to get agreements for utilities and other shared expenses in writing. That way, if someone moves out, you’re not shelling out for extra costs all while you try to find a new flatmate.
Try before you buy
It’s not the worst idea to give living out of home a go before you commit. Try moving into an existing sharehouse to see if you’re cut out for leaving life under the parental roof. Tenancy terms are more flexible and set-up hassles and costs are taken care of – you just need to furnish your room. Check out websites that advertise for flatmates and share houses, such as flatmatefinders.com.au and realestate.com.au.
Finally cutting ties from the family home is an amazing moment. But before you’re ready to sashay away from the folks, make sure you’re really ready. You don’t want to come crawling back a month later and find your bedroom has been turned into an African Safari-themed spare room complete with polyester leopard print throws.