The first time I moved away from home, I was 17 and heading off to a dorm room. For the next four years I was back and forth on weekends and during the summers while my costs were largely covered for me.
After university, I moved a LOT farther from home... to Scotland in fact, where I spent a summer bar tending, travelling and partying. When it was over, I was back at home for a few years working and saving money.
The next time I moved out, I had just turned 25 and bought my first car. I'd been working full time for two years, and decided that it was time to take my first big, financially independent step in this world. I moved out permanently (so far).
I'm an organizer. I love to prepare and budget, I'm also fiercely independent and determined. But I was so naive about moving out, I really had no idea what was ahead of me.
Here are the things no one told me about when you REALLY move out on your own.
First things first...
The Bad Stuff
1) Budget... then add $1000
I cannot stress this enough: If you budget and feel you JUST make enough money to live on your own, it wont be enough.
When I first decided to move out, I wasn't planning on taking on a roommate (he came later) so I had no one helping me with rent and expenses. I decided using a budget calculator that I would be happy in a place where I could live and STILL save $1000 a month.
Let me tell you, that $1000 dollars rarely makes it to the end of the month. My monthly safety net has become part of my monthly budget. Moving out is going to be more expensive than you think, plan for it!
2) Food runs your life.
It is unbelievable how much time I spend thinking about, or tending to, my appetite.
I love food, but when you work full time, want to get to the gym, spend time with your significant other or friends or family, read, study, take a long shower in the morning... Food gets in the WAY!
Between budgeting for, shopping, cooking, eating and cleaning up after 3 meals a day, you'll lose hours of time (especially at night) tending to food.
Learn to enjoy the experience, otherwise you'll eat quick-meals that aren't healthy choices.
3) Cleaning (properly) is time consuming
I have to admit: I hate dusting and vacuuming, I put them off more than I should and I am cranky when I have to do them. But it's astonishing how much time cleaning your own place (even a small apartment) really takes!
I don't mean tidying, tidying is easy. I mean crawling INSIDE your cupboards and oven. Washing BEHIND the toilet, vacuuming UNDER the bed and even dusting the baseboards!
I've been living on my own for almost 2 years and still can't figure out how my mom kept our house so clean all the time. I go over there now with a new appreciation for her (and often lots of questions!)
4) Furniture and Decor ain't cheap
This is one you'll need to learn the hard way: furniture is stupid expensive.
Unless you're lucky enough to find all your quality furnishings at garage sales, sooner or later, be it bed, couch or dining room table, you'll wind up at Ikea or another equivalent store.
If you're furnishing a sizeable place, and don't have many hand-me-downs, be prepared to say goodbye to a huge chunk of change...
Unfortunately, it doesn't end there. Decorating is also expensive, even using dollar store or DIY touches. I had to buy all new Christmas decorations last year and was FLOORED by the cost.
Take it all one step at a time, if you don't need something, do without until you can afford it, otherwise you'll be deep in the red.
Of course, living on your own isn't all bad! Let's take a look at...
The Good Stuff
1) New Likes and Dislikes
Living on your own means that for the first time, you are 100% in charge. Not just of what you eat, but of what toilet paper you use, which candles you burn, what colours you accent with and how you spend your time.
It's amazing how many things that I used to eat and do by habit that I no longer have any interest in, and which things I always assumed I wouldn't like are now part of my daily routine.
Sorting through new likes and dislikes is a process of getting to know yourself all over again. It's fun and exciting and should be embraced as a challenge! Don't just continue on as you would at your parents, try new things and drop old ones and get to know what you like.
2) Feeling Accomplished
When you first move out, every day brings new accomplishments.
Put together an Ikea couch on your own? Cook a legitimately difficult and healthy meal? Manage to pay your rent on time? GOLD STAR!
As you spend more time living on your own, these things tend to fade into more day-to-day activities, but every now and then the sense of accomplishment will surprise you.
These can be mundane things (remembering to pick up toothpaste) to weird things (brewing a genuinely good pot of coffee) to difficult things (managing to get your Christmas Tree to stay in the stand without falling over).
Embrace every accomplishment, and the sense of pride you feel for figuring it out on your own.
3) Homesickness? NO-sickness!
One of the things that surprised me most about moving out was that I wasn't at all homesick.
When I was away at school, or over in Europe, I would have my days where all I wanted was to be home with my mom and dad and siblings. When I moved out on my own, I never once had this feeling.
This could be for a lot of reasons. I live pretty close to home still, I was 25, My boyfriend moved in after a few months, my mom finally figured out how to text... But even that first week sleeping in my own place I never once thought "what have I done?".
I think in the back of my mind I'd resigned myself to the idea that, unlike the previous times, this was permanent. I had moved out and had no intentions of returning home.
While I know my parents would welcome me back with open arms if I needed to move back in, I love my life living on my own and have never once looked back.
4) Adult-ing like a champ
All of this, the good and the bad, results in one big good: ADULT-ING.
It's weird to think of myself as an adult. Before I moved out I had my own car, a full time job, a serious boyfriend and a life that had essentially no parental-oversight... but I still felt like a kid.
That feeling still comes back, when I'm at home over Christmas, when I eat cereal on the couch and watch cartoons, when my best friends and I are acting silly... but for the most part, I'm a real adult now.
On the first day of university, I remember a TA asked the class "when real life began" and I made the point that I thought university wasn't real life, it was a cocooning process that brought you closer to "real life"
That TA told me I was wrong, ridiculed me, and essentially led to me spending the next 4 years afraid to answer questions... but he was WRONG.
Maybe for some people real life started then, but for me it happened when I shut my own door and locked it for the first time, turned around and thought "it's mine". That's when my adult life began.
So I did the only reasonable thing I could do... and walked around naked.
Do you live out on your own? What are some things you learned about moving out for good that you wish you'd known before you'd done it? Are you still living at home/in a temporary situation and thinking about taking the plunge? I'd love to hear all about it in the comments!