When you think about moving out on your own you’re probably thinking about the privacy, independence, and freedom that come with having your own place. You may be fantasizing about the parties you’ll throw or the color you’ll paint your living room, but what you should really be thinking of is how you are going to afford your own apartment and handle the financial obligations that come with it.
We’ve created this guide to help you figure out how much money you need to save before you can afford to move out on your own:
Rent and Security Deposit
Before you start hunting for your first home you need to establish the maximum amount of money you can afford to pay for rent. Rule of thumb is to divide your monthly income by three, or your annual income by 40. Starting your independent life living in an apartment you can’t afford is a big mistake that will cause you endless stress. Don’t be tempted to rent beyond your means, no matter how confident you feel about earning more in the future- you can always move to a bigger and better home when your finances allow it.
Once you’ve figured out the maximum monthly rent you’ll be paying, double that. Most security deposits are the same amount as a full month’s rent, and while you will eventually get the money back (provided you keep your place in tip top shape) it is unusable until you move out. You’ll also have to pay an additional charge for a credit and background check. Depending on the management company, that will cost between $30 and $100.
Moving can cost you anywhere from zero dollars to a few hundred, depending on how much stuff you have and how you would like to transport it.
Full DIY moving is the cheapest alternative. If you have access to a pickup or a truck and some strong-armed friends (who are up for some heavy lifting) you’ll probably end up paying only for the gas and some refreshments for your helping hands.
You can also rent a moving truck and do all the packing and lifting yourself- that would cost you $40-$150, including packing and moving supplies. If you don’t mind a few dings on your furniture, that’s a good and affordable option. A full service moving company is costlier but if you have more than a couple of boxes and some nice furniture that you’d like to remain nice, it could be worth it. A small full-service move within a city should cost between $300 and $600. Read this blog post to learn how to plan your moving budget.
Furniture and Housing Needs
Since this is your first move, you probably don’t have too much in the way of furniture and household goods. While that makes for a cheaper moving, it also means some additional shopping. Renting a fully or partly furnished apartment may be a good idea- it can be worthwhile even if the rent’s a bit steeper. Furniture prices vary considerably, depending on quality, design, size and so on, but your basic needs can be met without overspending, and you don’t need to get everything in one trip to the store. Take the time to visit thrift stores and garage sales and pick up non-essential items like end tables, mirrors and lamps over time.
There are also ongoing payments you need to expect once you’re on your own, aka the bills. Utilities like cable, internet, heat and electricity can cost you roughly $200 a month. Renter’s insurance, which costs an average of $184 a year, is also highly advisable. It will protect your belongings and the apartment in case of damage by flood, fire, and other unwelcome surprises.
One of your first responsibilities in the world of independent grown-ups will be to feed yourself. You will need to fit your first kitchen with some basic necessities, and you’ll also be eating out more, at least until your kitchen is ready to be used. Take into account about $150 to stuff your pantry and get some take-out to tide you over.
Transportation costs are directly affected by the location of your apartment so keep this in mind while hunting for a first home. Monthly costs can run up to a few hundred dollars, depending on where you live and your means of transportation.
Always Be Prepared
Life is all about surprises. There’s always a flat tire, a broken microwave or a stolen laptop to make your days interesting, especially when you’re on the move. To be on the safe side, put away as much as you can (around $500 would be ideal but no less than $250) for those unpredictable situations
So here’s the bottom line:
- Rent: $1000 (Annual $40K divided by 40)
- Security Deposit: $1000
- Management Fees: $100
- Moving: $40-$450
- Furniture: $500
- Food: $150
- Extras: $250-$500
Which make for a total of $2970 to $3700, depending on your needs.