Living on your own. Maybe you’ve been dreaming of this possibility for some time, or perhaps you’re just starting to consider it a viable option. Before making any decisions, there are a few questions you should ask yourself before moving out on your own.
- Am I ready to move out?
- Should I consider a roommate?
- Where do I see myself in the next three to five years?
- Am I financially prepared to move out?
Answering these questions honestly may help in determining when the best time to move out may be.
Am I Ready to Move Out?
You might want to move out, but does that mean you’re actually ready? To better answer this question, think about why you want to move out in the first place.
Do you want extra independence and everything that comes along with it? Or are you motivated by external factors, or feeling pressure because your friends are starting to move out on their own? It’s a big decision with major implications, so examining your own motives is crucial.
A 15-year study performed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the median age most young adults leave home is 19. This number includes those who leave home for the first time to go to college or enter a dorm-living situation, which means a percentage of these individuals may move back home at some point during or after college. By age 27, 90% of adults have lived, or are living, on their own.
If you feel unsure about leaving your current situation or feel that you may not be ready to move out on your own, that’s okay. There’s no shame in living at home until you’re ready to move out. Staying home — providing your family is supportive of your decision — is a great way to save money for a down payment on a home or pay off debt quickly.
For a further look at statistics related to young adult living situations, consider the following information revealed in a Pew Research study:
- 32% (ages 18-34) live with a parent
- 14% live on their own, heading up their own household, as a single parent or with roommates
- 22% live with another family member, sibling or grandparent, or in a college dorm or other group living situation
Moving out on your own and finding independence is not a one-size-fits-all scenario. It’s different for everyone, and determining what’s right for you is an important first step.
Should I Consider a Roommate?
This question comes with another that should be of equal consideration: Do you feel secure living on your own?
If you’re ready to live independently or in a new situation, but you’re unsure of how you’ll feel living alone, you may want to test the waters by considering a roommate. Roommates offer an extra level of security and can help make the financial burden less of a hurdle.
If you haven’t thought about this before, consider:
- Whether you feel comfortable coming home to an empty space during the day or at night. Would your feelings of security increase if someone were living with you?
- Whether you’re comfortable sharing your space with another person.
If you lean toward complete independence, a roommate may not be necessary. If, however, you’re comfortable with the idea of sharing your space with another person, having a roommate may be a good option. Remember, you may each have your own room, but you will likely need to share common areas such as the kitchen, bathroom and living space.
Living with another person may provide the opportunity to lessen the financial burden associated with moving out on your own, while helping you save for future opportunities. If you can split your rent and the cost of utilities, the extra money you would be spending could instead be saved for purchasing a home in the future, leisure activities, travel, or other priorities.
To find the roommate who’s right for you, start by:
- Considering friends who may be in the same situation as you. Starting with someone you know might be less intimidating than searching for a stranger.
- Comparing interests. While you don’t need to do everything together, it’d be nice if you shared similar interests.
- Learning each other’s schedules. If you’re looking for someone who will be home at the same times you are, it’s beneficial to find a roommate with a schedule similar to yours. If you’d prefer more independence, opposite schedules might be optimal.
- Getting to know each other. Does your potential roommate have a steady job or career to contribute to rent? Do they agree to the rental terms you’re considering?
By knowing what’s important to you and looking for someone who feels similarly, you may have an easier time finding the correct match.
Signing a lease is a serious, binding decision whether you do it alone or with a roommate. Be sure to consider all implications and possibilities before you sign your name on the dotted line.
Where Do I See Myself in the Next Three to Five Years?
Your career path and family plans are of utmost importance when moving out on your own.
To begin, think about your job and where it’s located. If you’re just starting to look for work, is ample employment in your desired field available where you live? If you’re already employed, is your current working arrangement secure? While there may certainly be unknowns related to these questions, feeling secure in your current role is important before making any significant moves.
Later on in this guide, we’ll discuss preparing for the unknown, but it’s also worth considering at this point. While your location and living situation can change at any point in your life, it’s most common during young adulthood. In fact, migration in the U.S. is primarily driven by young adults, or those who are 18 to 34 years old, according to the Census Bureau.
Furthermore, according to the Census Bureau’s latest study, it was discovered that while young adults make up just 23.7% of the total U.S. population, they account for 43% of all moves. Around 20% of moves in the U.S. are by individuals ages 18-24, while 13.2% are ages 25-29 and 9.5 percent are ages 30-34.
Renting is an excellent option if you’re unsure of what your future holds, as opposed to buying a home. And now is a great time to think about where you’d like your career to go prior to signing a lease.
After sorting through your career aspirations and plans, consider your family plans and personal dreams as well.
Are you currently involved in a serious relationship? Are you considering a family in the future? If so, what you’re searching for in a rental home or apartment may be different from someone who plans to remain single for the foreseeable future. If you’re planning to get married or start a family within the next three to five years, you may want to consider:
- School districts. If you plan to send your children to public schools, checking out school ratings and talking to families who live in the area may help influence where you should start to look for rental options.
- Savings potential. Living in a smaller space or on a strict budget now could help save for future expenses, like a down payment on a home.
- Lease terms and length. A shorter-term lease may be more appropriate than a longer-term lease if you see yourself combining lifestyles with someone else soon.
If these questions seem overwhelming or if you’re not sure you have all the answers, that’s okay. Even if you have no idea where you’ll be in the next few years, you can still move out — no one can predict the future. Gaining independence is important and exciting at any age.
Am I Financially Prepared to Move Out?
In chapter 2, we’ll discuss budgeting for living on your own in more detail. However, when deciding whether you’re ready to move out on your own, assessing your financial situation first is critical.
Expenses for living on your own can vary from one individual and location to another. However, reviewing your financial situation may provide insight into what you can afford and where you should begin your search.
What you can afford varies from one location to another. In Pennsylvania, the average cost of rent differs significantly across the state. Other expenses to consider include:
- Food and basic living supplies
- Furniture and other first-time living expenses
If money is a bit tight, you may need to change your lifestyle to be able to move out on your own. Is this something you’re comfortable with?
Because you’ll be supporting yourself, you’ll have more expenses than you’ve previously had to cover. Are you willing to make a few sacrifices to afford them? To find potential areas to cut back on, first identify how you currently spend money. Think about where you’re willing to make a change or two and what your non-negotiables are. Possible lifestyle changes could include:
- Staying home: Entertainment is costly. Staying in and watching a movie is a more affordable option.
- Eating at home: Rather than grabbing food on the go, meal planning and eating in could save you money. You can even take leftovers to cover lunches at work.
- Cutting cable: With more streaming options available than ever before, cutting cable could help you save enough to cover another bill or two each month.
- Changing your method of transportation: By finding a rental that’s close to your job, you could save on gas or parking expenses by riding a bike or walking to work.
Once you’ve considered the ideas above, you may feel more prepared to move forward in the process.
Remember that being financially prepared for the unexpected is important, too. Building an emergency account should be a top priority when you’re preparing to live on your own. Everyone encounters unforeseen circumstances and you can’t be sure about what the future may hold. An emergency account that covers three to six months of living expenses can help you prepare for any situation that may arise — illness, unemployment, property damage and so on.
Read Our Other Chapters
- Chapter 1: Questions to Consider Before Moving Out
- Chapter 2: How to Budget for Living on Your Own
- Chapter 3: How to Save to Live Alone for the First Time
- Chapter 4: How to Find Your New Space
- Chapter 5: How to Move Out and Get Started
- Chapter 6: How to Manage Groceries, Cleaning, and More
- Chapter 7: What College Students Need to Know Before Living on Their Own
- Chapter 8: Tips for Living Alone