The book of life contains many different chapters, everyone’s chapters are different in their unique ways. However, each person most likely has a chapter in their life where it is time to say good-bye to your old life and to start living on your own, away from your parents or guardians. For some people that start occurs when they experience dorm living, for others that start is moving into an apartment with friends or completely on their own. I have experienced both. I went away to school during my first semester of college, but due to finances, I decided to move back home and commute to school while I transferred. In the last two years of college, I have been living at home with my parents (there is nothing wrong with that), but in July I decided to rent a house with three friends for the next school year. The experience can be overwhelming in all the best ways. Feelings of both fear and excitement can occur, however, as someone who is first hand experiencing this here are some things that you need to know before making this journey.
- Ask Questions!
Before you agree to sign a lease or move into a dorm make sure you ask questions! Do not hesitate to be annoying, create a whole list of questions because this is your money. This is where you will be sleeping at night so ask anything you could think of no matter how silly it seems. Some questions that you may not even think of include: Is the water in this home drinkable? (It may seem silly, but if you do not want to spend money on bottled water all the time, invest in a Brita and drink the faucet water if the water is drinkable). Is there a fire extinguisher? When we moved into our house we did not have one, this is a safety hazard and our landlord was required to get us one after it was a concern. Do the smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors work? Again, it seems like a little thing to ask but if they are not working and something happens your life can be at risk. When is garbage night? If you’re moving into a new area your garbage night could be different from what it used to be. The rules and regulations could also be different so make sure you find out that information as well!
- When it comes to furniture, appliances, utensils, or whatever you need do not be afraid to reach out to people!
Living on your own can be extremely expensive, especially if you work a minimum wage job. You never really realize how much “stuff” you’re going to need for your home until you need something. Almost all of the furniture and cooking equipment in my new house I got for FREE. All I did was reach out on Facebook and made a generic post asking if people had stuff they did not need anymore. Most people have an abundance of utensils or furniture that they do not need or want anymore that just collect dust and would be more than willing to get rid of it.
- Budgeting Money!
Let’s be honest, if you’re anything like me you may have trouble saving your money. However, once you are officially on your own you will have to learn how to budget and save money when you can. Personally, each time I get paid I am putting half of my rent money away. Rent will become the most important financial aspect (if you are living in an apartment), even if you are not paying for rent I still recommend putting money away into an account that you can use later on to pay for student loans. After my rent money is put away, a portion of what is leftover of my check goes to gas and groceries. The rest I can use to spoil myself.
- Save Money When You Can!
Living on your own is super expensive, whether it's dorm life or living on your own. You’re most likely going to find yourself struggling financially and that is 100% okay! So, what can you do to help this issue? Save money when you can. Coupons will become your best friend. Most grocery stores have memberships that you can sign up for which will help you save money in the long run. The newspaper has weekly ads that tell you which stores are having what sales during the week. If you feel like spoiling yourself with clothes check out discount stores like Boscov’s, Marshalls, TJ Maxx, or even thrift stores! You can find really good deals for cheap! I bought two Jessica Simpson Brand bras for $3 at Boscov’s the other day which usually retails at $60! It’s all about looking around for the best deals and saving cash when you can. The more money you save by shopping with deals, the more money you will have for bills which keep you feeling less stressed financially.
- Make Sure You Are Ready!
Before you decide that moving out is what you want to do, make sure you are 100% ready. It does not matter if you are living on campus or moving into an apartment, always make sure you are ready. Moving out is a scary thought. Your whole life changes, your parents or guardians are no longer with you 24/7. You become a little fish in a huge ocean, and it can be intimidating. I do not want to scare anyone out of moving out, but it is not all fun and games all the time. Real-life responsibilities take over especially if you’re going to be living with other people. Not everyone has the same mentality which means you have to be respectful of anyone and you have to realize that your wants do not always come first. Responsibility comes first. Before signing a lease, or deciding to live in a dorm make sure it is truly what you are ready for. If you’re not ready that is perfectly okay! There is no shame in staying at home with your parents or guardians. There is often a negative connotation that comes with staying at home, but there is nothing wrong with it.
If you’re not ready yet, you’re not ready and you can wait! Do what is best for you and be excited about whatever life has to offer.