By: Shelby Patru
After spending four or more years away from home while in college, it’s natural to want to continue that feeling of freedom. But it’s not always possible to stay out on your own when student loans have piled up and your new job doesn’t offer health insurance. This leads to the only feasible, yet dreaded conclusion: Moving back in with the folks!
Fast forward six months. Let’s assume you’ve spent your time at home working hard so you can start standing on your own two feet. You have a new job (with benefits) and feel confident that you’re ready to leave the nest. But, how do you get started?
Here are four things to consider before moving out of your parents’ house:
How to Budget for the Expected… and Unexpected
The first thing to do when deciding if you want to move out is determining if you can actually afford to do so. It’s easy to think about the big ways you’ll spend your money – rent, cable television, car payments, etc. – but what about those little expenses that creep up each month?
When figuring out your finances, don’t forget to factor in necessities like car and renter’s insurance, gas, grocery bills, additional moving expenses and all of the miscellaneous items you’ll need when you move into your new place (like cleaning supplies and toilet paper).
The easiest way to figure out if you can manage all of these expenses is to create a budget. By pricing out every expense, you can see in black and white the amount of cash flow coming in and going out. This way, you can make a more informed decision about what you can and cannot afford.
Is it Better to Rent or Buy?
The next thing to figure out is if you would rather rent or buy your home. When you’re first starting out, renting is often a good way to test the waters. Homeownership has a lot of great perks, but there are a lot of costs as well, like property taxes, maintenance and home improvement expenses. If you think you’re ready though and you’re interested in taking advantage of the home buyer’s tax credit, make sure you investigate what you’ll need to know before you buy (there’s only a few weeks left to qualify for this year’s tax break).
On the other hand, choosing the rental path will allow you to test your new freedom, while giving you the flexibility of being able to move to a new area after your lease expires, if you so desire. You may have to deal with noisy neighbors and the Laundromat, but you’ll gain the real world experience of living on your own without financial backing from anyone else.
Will Your Credit Score Qualify?
If you’ve checked your budget and you know your dream of moving out on your own is feasible, the next step is to make sure your future landlord agrees.
Most apartment complexes will check your credit report and score to determine if you’ll be a trustworthy tenant. If you already have late payments on your credit report, will you be able to pay rent on time? Also, utility companies now have the ability to adjust their pricing model based on your past credit history. This means missed credit card or loan payments may end up creating a missed opportunity at the apartment you want or higher bills once you’ve moved to your new home.
Where Should You Live?
After you know you have the money to make the move and your credit is in good standing, it’s time to figure out where you want to live. There are several resources online that make it easy to find the apartment you want, but make sure you’re looking for more than just a pretty building.
Do your research and make sure to find a neighborhood that suits your lifestyle. Drive around to see what your new city has to offer before you make your final decision. After all, the three most important things about picking the right place to move are location, location, location.
If you’re still in need of additional encouragement when making your move, the best advice usually comes from those who have already made the leap out of the house. Talk to your friends, colleagues or family members and ask them for tips to help with the process.
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