Moving Out?

Moving out is not like running away from home. If you’re thinking of leaving home, you’re either 18 or close enough to 18 so that you’ve got your parents’ permission to move out of the house.


We won’t try to discourage you from leaving home. We will give you a check list of things to think about before you leave so that you can make it on your own.

First, ask yourself, “Can I afford to live on my own?” Get an estimate of your monthly expenses by listing the cost of things like rent, utilities, car and health insurance, clothing, food, and spending money. In addition to fixed monthly expenses, you’ll have to come up with money to buy those things you’ll need to make your place livable. like furniture and other household items. Let’s look at some of these things more closely. You can save on rent and utilities by getting an apartment with a friend or friends. But if a roommate left, could you handle the cost of the place by yourself until you found someone else? Also, because many landlords don’t like to rent to young people, they might ask for a security deposit that can be twice the monthly rent. You might have to come up with as much as three months’ rent before you can move in.

Telephone and electric companies also require deposits before they start service. Your parent’s health insurance may not cover you if you live away from home and are not a student. If not, and if you don’t have medical coverage with your employer, you’ll have to budget for that. If you’re now a carrier on your parents’ car insurance policy, you’ll probably lose your coverage if you move out of their home and are not a student.

You’ll need some basic household items to make your place livable. A bed and things to sit on can be bought cheaply at second hand stores or through the classified ads sections of your local newspapers. Rummage sales are also a cheap source for kitchen items such as pots and pans, dishes, cutlery, and so on. Don’t forget that you’ll also need to buy towels and bed linens.

Food is another large expense. If you have no idea what groceries cost, go food shopping sometime with a paper and pencil and take notes on what your favorite foods cost. Then rough out what you think it would cost you for groceries every week.

If you want to leave home because of hassles about rules, you probably don’t want to sit down with the person you’re going to be living with to talk about who does what and what’s allowed and what isn’t. Your future roommate may be a friend with whom you get alone fine. The possibility that there might be problems once you start living together may seem ridiculous. But as you know from Living with your family, anytime you put two or more people under one roof. there are sure to be hassles. You can avoid tension and distrust by discussing how you’ll deal with potential problems before they get out of hand.

For example. who pays for what can become a real big hassle. Suppose you buy all the food and drinks and your roommate does all the eating and drinking? Or you end up feeding a roommate and 14 of his closest friend’s three nights a week. That can really get you down after a while, but you might be too embarrassed to tell them to get their hands off the food you paid for. What will happen if you or your roommate can’t keep up with the rent? Will you or she cover it, or make a loan that must be repaid? This should be discussed ahead of time, too. If you or your roommates are the first in your group to leave home and get an apartment. There’s a good chance that it will become a hangout and place to crash for those still living at home. But if either of you is holding down a job and maybe trying to go to school at the same time, extra people eating. sleeping and partying at your place will get on your nerves sooner or later. How will you handle this situation when it comes up so that there won’t be hurt feelings?

We said at the beginning that we don’t want to discourage you from leaving home. We do want you to be aware of some of the things you’ll have to deal with when you do live on your own so that you can do it successfully. But sometimes even the most careful planning doesn’t guarantee that things will work out as you’d hoped. You might end up having to move back home for financial, health, or other reasons. Or you might decide that you want to move back because you’d like to go on to school, save money for a new car, or whatever. But once you’ve been on your own and free to do what you want to, when you want to do it, it might be tough for you to have to accept your parents’ say so again. If you can, talk to your parents before you leave about the possibility of moving back home. Talk in specific terms of hours they’ll expect you in, help you’ll have to give around the house, and room and board costs. Don’t leave home in anger, telling your parents that you’d rather go cold and hungry before you set foot inside their door again. With an exit like that, you might have a rough time of it if you’d want to or have to move back in.

We’ve tried to give you some guidelines for things to think about before you leave home. Estimate your monthly expenses, including rent, utilities, care and health insurance, food, clothes and spending money. Don’t forget the rent and utilities deposits, and furniture and household goods. Talk with your future roommate about who pays for what, and how you will take care of any problems that might arise over drop ins, crashers, late night noise and parties, and chores. Before you leave, discuss with your parents what you can expect should you have to or want to move back home.

Moving into your own place is what you make it. If you plan for it wisely, it can be a great experience.

For additional support and resources please call our 24-hour Teen Hotline by dialing 2-1-1 or 954-567-8336 (TEEN.)

Teen Tapes is produced by the University of Wisconsin, Madison.