“For whatever you want, rid yourself of any conception of how you’ll get it.” – Mike Dooley
Upon popular request, here it is – a guide to living on your own for all of us at that have found ourselves at this awkward age (Millennials) stuck between not giving a f*** and also trying to get our life together. Pay attention.
Okay so as you may or may not have realized already, moving out is a lot harder than we initially perceive it to be. We had this idea of ourselves going to school, graduating, getting a place on our own, and never looking back. However, unfortunately, most of us find ourselves exactly that, back. Back to the same place we left 4 years prior. So how do we now move forward, how do we take the next step in life? Living on our own…
STEP 1: Figuring Out Your Finances
Unless you majored in finance, and even if you did, you may have trouble keeping track of your personal finances. I mean, I’m sure you know what you have to pay, when you have to pay it, and how much you’re making. But do you add up your expenses, subtract your expenses from your income and decide what you have left over every month? This is CRITICAL for deciding whether you can live on your own or not. Lucky for you I have attached a simple Google Sheets spreadsheet to this blog that you can download and fill in. You need to know if you can truly afford to live on your own. You’re welcome.
The other critical part of this step is having a job. Having a job in your field of study isn’t as important as having a job that consistently pays. If you have a job in the service industry, this can be a little tricky because what we make isn’t always consistent. What I have found to be helpful is taking the average of your tips for a month. To do this you must:
- Track how much you make every night (I’ve used apps like TipSheet and TipTraqPro)
- Add up all your tips/ shift
- Divide that number by how many shifts you work
- Now you know, on average, how much you make per night.
- Multiply that number by how many shifts you work per week
- Multiply that number by 4 (4 weeks in a month)
- Now that number is how much, on average, you make per month.
- [MY SUGGESTION] Do this for a few months (I would say 3) and then take the average of that number to really know how much, on average, you make per month.
You will also need a couple thousand dollars to enter into a lease so if you don’t have any savings, your first step into this process is to save! Most apartments require first month, last month, and a security deposit to enter into a lease. If your place to rent is $1500/ month, that means you will need $4500 to move in (if you have roommates, you will usually be able to split this cost.)
Room mates will make it easier for you to move out. Find some friends that are serious about moving out or go on websites like Roommates.com and Roomster.com to be matched with someone who is similar and will fit into your life. Craigslist is okay but you just really don’t know what you are getting into. If an apartment is $1500 for 2 bedrooms, now you pay $750/month in rent and pay $2250 to move in – way more do-able if you ask me.
STEP 2: Figuring Out Your Projected Expenses
Here is a list of thing you will now have to pay for living on your own: (Price estimates based on Waltham, MA 2 bed, 2 baths, 1300 SF apartment | Prices also represent cost for entire apartment, not separated between roommates)
- Rent ~$2600
- Cable & Wifi ~$160
- Netflix ~$8
- Electricity ~$80
- Heat ~$80
- Water & Sewer ~$100
Keep in mind you will also now have to buy groceries for yourself. If you don’t have a washer and dryer in your unit you will have to pay for that as well. You may also need to pay for parking depending on where you are.
STEP 3: Figure Out WHERE You Can Afford to Live
Now, this is tough. Where you want to live has to do with mainly 2 things; where you work, and where you like to hang out. If you answered “the city” to both of these questions then that increases your rent prices dramatically. If you would rather choose to stay close to your hometown on the outskirt of the city then rent will be more affordable. Essentially the further you are from the city, the less you are going to pay in rent. Also, the cost of living is going to cheaper as well. You may even want to consider moving somewhere where the cost of living is cheaper but you will get paid close to the same for your line of work. Do some research. I wrote a post about the cost of living in different areas not too long ago, click here to view it.
STEP 4: Asking For Help To Find the Right Place for You
Sure you can look on Zillow and Craigslist for the place that you want to live, and you will most likely find one, eventually. Another option is asking for help from a real estate agent. People think that real estate agents only deal with home buyers and sellers but we can help with finding apartments too. Working with a real estate agent makes the process easier. They will be able to help you gather your paperwork, get a credit check, and fill out your tenant application the best way possible in order to be accepted for the place you want. They will walk you through the process step by step so it is less for you to stress about. If you need help finding an apartment, click here to contact me directly. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
STEP 5: Deciding That You Are Ready to Live on Your Own
This is BY FAR the most important step of the process. You need to convince yourself that you are ready to live on your own. That you are ready to cut the cord from mom and dad and take on the world by yourself. It’s okay if you’re not ready. The worst thing you can do to yourself is to pretend you’re ready when you’re not. Take some time to really consider all the pros and cons of living on your own and truly decide that you are ready for that kind of responsibility. This article from the Huffington Post had some really good points about things you don’t learn until you live on your own. You need to picture yourself there. You need to believe in yourself and know that you will make it work. Trust that things will fall into place the way they should. Once you decide, you need to then take action. You need to do at least one thing, every single day, that is getting you closer to your end result, moving out. Whether it’s putting your extra cash in a separate account for a down payment or doing research to see where you want to live. Every little action counts, you just have to do it.
I hope this was helpful to my fellow millennials and if you have any questions about anything, please reach out!