Moving out on your own is not an easy thing to do. Whether you’re moving to a new city after graduating or finally moving out of your parents’ home, life seems to get a little harder and more complicated after taking this next step. You feel lost as you become, for the most part, wholly responsible for yourself and your future.
There are certain things I wish I had known before I moved out from the comforts of my parents’ home and later, a college dorm. By sharing them with you, I hope it will save you a lot of time and stress throughout the process.
Save months before moving
The cost of rent is at an all-time high in most cities. This was something I was aware of, but what I wasn’t aware of all the other costs involved in the process of becoming a renter. There’s the broker’s fee (especially high during the summer months), a renting application fee, a deposit (usually a month’s rent), and finally the actual cost of rent. The initial steps of finding an apartment themselves cost a lot of money and time, so it’s something you need to (and can) prepare for.
Tip: Start saving as early as you can, at least until you have a couple of months worth of rent under your belt before your moveout date. This will give you a cushion to absorb all these initial costs, and put you on the path to avoid a check-to-check lifestyle.
Do your own background search
One of the best ways to start looking for an apartment is to do background research. Not just about where to live, but more importantly, about yourself. Before this moment, you probably didn’t need to pay too much attention to your credit score and credit history. I surely didn’t. But you’d be surprised how important your credit score and income is in signing a lease. Bottom line is, you need good credit and need to make 40x monthly rent annually (in New York).
Tip: Before you even start looking at places, find out your credit score, and start using your credit card more wisely. See what the average rent is and calculate your income. If you don’t don’t meet these requirements, then ask your parents to be your guarantor. Once they agree, you can get ahead on preparing guarantors documents: previous pay stubs, bank statements, tax returns, letter of employment. This will save you a ton of time getting it done before the actual apartment search.
The cost of living is more expensive than it ever has been, and that’s just a fact we have to accept and accommodate to. This is why budgeting becomes important. Start with your income. Then consider the monthly fixed bills — WiFi, utilities, phone bills — you have to pay. Subtract those and all the other expenses you’ll need money for (grocery shopping, transportation, gas, just to name a few) from your income. This will get you a rough calculation of how much rent you can afford.
If you’re planning to furnish your new place, you should also examine just how much money it will cost to move in and be settled. You have to pay for all the furniture, household essentials, pots and pans, and for necessary costs like renter’s insurance and setting up WiFi.
Tip: Lots of bills, costs, and money to figure out, but don’t worry, it’s normal to take some time at this stage and adjust to your new living circumstances.
It’s hard to make new friends
As someone who previously lived in a college dorm, I felt unprepared to meet people and make friends in a whole new environment. I was used to knowing the people I passed in the hallways and just walking over to a friend’s room whenever I wanted company. After moving, I made a few friends at work and met up with a couple of other people in the city. I felt the need to widen my network but didn’t know where to begin.
Tip: I’ll be honest, it’s hard to find a whole new group of friends. Don’t expect it to happen right away. As you continue to live there and spend more time in your neighborhood, you’ll gradually come across some similar faces and feel more at home. There are social events and apps — ZogSports, Bumble BFF — that you can also utilize to widen your net.
Don’t take things for granted
In addition to taking my proximity to friends for granted, there were other things I regret not appreciating more. Laundry, for example. Most New York apartments (excluding high rises) don’t have in-unit laundry, which means you need to find a laundromat nearby or sign up for a pick-up/drop-off laundry service. Dining halls are another example. Food doesn’t just appear at lunch and dinner time — shocking! Instead, you have to plan your meals ahead of time, go grocery shopping, and even meal prep on the weekends.
Tip: In general, life requires a lot more planning than it did in college or at home. Whether it’s figuring out what to do for meals or planning when to meet up with people, living on your own teaches you about yourself and forces you to mature in new ways. Be open to it all.
Some things I would have done differently…
If I were to go back in time, I would tell my past-self about all of these things. One thing I would also recommend is looking into coliving at Common because moving into Common would have saved me a lot of time and money.
I wouldn’t have had to worry about buying furniture, looking for potential roommates, and having a terrible landlord who rarely returns my calls. Instead, I could’ve moved into a fully furnished home, into my own private bedroom, with a fully stocked kitchen, high-end appliances, free onsite laundry, free weekly cleaning, and WiFi and utilities included. I could have easily met new friends, living with suitemates, and I could have avoided headaches about installing a smart TV.
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At Common, you can prep food with the pots and pans (and olive oil) already provided, socialize with diverse people whenever you want, and enjoy high-quality furniture in your bedroom, living rooms, and lounges. It’s truly the most convenient way to move and live in a major city.
Moving out on your own can be difficult, but with this knowledge up your sleeve, you should be able to transition in no time. Tour one on Common homes today in all major U.S. cities: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.