When millennials were coming of age and attending college, the recession hit. The new norm is living with parents longer to save money—Americans ages 18 to 34 are more likely to live at home than in any other living situation, according to the Pew Research Center.
But whatever your reasons for staying, there will eventually come a time to venture outside the nest. And that’s when the true adulting begins.
Take what you’ve learned at home and apply it to the outside world. You’ll experience hardships and struggles, but also achieve growth and milestones along the way.
There’s a lot to line up when you make the big move. Consider these seven tips as a personal checklist to get you on your way.
According to CNBC Make It, you should keep your rent to less than 30 percent of your income. Finding an apartment on a budget means you have to figure out your deal-breakers. Do you want a patio? Does the place have to be smoke-free? How long do you want your commute to work to be? It can be easier to narrow down where you want to live once you have this list put together.
Learning how to budget for living away from home is important and ideally better to have in place before you move, according to Apartments.com. Creating your budget doesn’t have to be complicated. Base it on your monthly income so you know where every penny goes. Look at past spending habits to predict how you’ll spend your money in the future. Make sure to set some money aside every month for emergencies and unexpected expenses, like fixing a leaky pipe. After a couple of months of tracking your expenses and comparing to your budget, recalculate and budget again!
When you’re considering renting a new place, give it a security check. Are the walkways well-lit at night? Do the doors have deadbolts, and are they made of solid wood or metal? If you’re living alone, you’ll want to consider upgrading your home security. Going through this security list from SafeWise will help you protect your home and belongings, and also give you peace of mind.
Know your rights as a renter. Don’t say yes and sign everything as soon as it’s placed in front of you. Take the time to do your research, ask questions and be confident in your choices. Make sure all your bases are covered. And actually read your lease before you sign it.
Consider purchasing renter’s insurance. According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, renters are 50 percent more likely to experience theft than homeowners. The bureau also reports that most break-ins happen without the use of force—make sure you lock your doors, windows and any other entries to your home. Finding your stuff stolen or damaged without having any coverage in place is a nightmare you do not need.
Know that there are several cost-saving techniques to make moving cheaper. It’s tempting to have a moving company pack and transport your stuff for you. But asking friends to come over and help you pack your things can save both money and time. If you are using a moving company, try negotiating on the price. It’s also a good idea to estimate the total cost of moving and setting a budget within that range.
Just because you’re living alone doesn’t mean you are alone. Make friends with your neighbors and take down their numbers. They might pop by just to say hi, or, when you go on vacation, check on your place while you’re gone. Neighbors are great to know when you need a cup of sugar or someone to keep an eye out for that Amazon package you ordered.
On the professional side, an emergency contact list can relieve a lot of future stress. Knowing ahead of time who you’ll call when you need a plumber or electrician can save time and prevent the issue from becoming worse. Have your emergency contacts programmed into your phone so you can call at a moment’s notice.
Making the choice to leave home can feel intimidating, especially when you consider the support and freebies you might be leaving behind. But adulting doesn’t need to be more difficult when you’re living on your own. An advantage is that no one will be around to tell you what to do or how to do it. You get to make your own choices and live your life in the way that’s best for you.
Liz Brown is a San Francisco-based writer and copyeditor whose day job is in marketing and communications. Her passion lies in finding the unique angle to every story. Follow her ramblings on Twitter at @lizb411.