Parents cramping your style? Desperate for your own space and a bit of independence? Sounds like you’re getting close to moving out of home. But are you really ready to do your own washing/ironing, cook something more than packet noodles and pay your own bills?
Before you fly the coop and discover the joy of the “houses for rent” market, here are five things you need to know about moving out of home for the first time.
People and place
So, you’re moving out of your parents’ house. Now it’s time to ask yourself two important questions: 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. Do a comprehensive search of rental properties and choose a house or apartment that suits your needs: is it close to things like transport, uni or work, the gym and friends?
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 rental 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 (making a house cleaning checklist might help) 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. Before you start looking at houses and apartments for rent, think about establishing a moving out of home budget.
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 getting electricity connected.
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. 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 look for second hand furniture online 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’). Create a moving-out-of-home checklist to see exactly what you have, and what you need to get.
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 share house 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.
Moving out of home for the first time is an amazing moment. But before you sashay away from the folks and start inhabiting the world of “apartments for rent”, 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.