So here’s a scenario: puberty and high school ended 3 seasons ago, and you’re now legally old enough to drink and vote for whichever presidential candidate has the catchiest campaign song. For the first time, you finally arrive at a magical time and place in your life where you’re allowed to be your own woman or man–university!
After being left to your own devices for anywhere between one semester to four years, returning to Parental Guidance might feel a touch much. Being a student was probably the first time in your life that you’d had pure freedom and self-government and seriously begun to consider the possibility of leaving the nest for good. But chances are, you have absolutely NO IDEA what’s waiting for you out there. So here’s a step by step walkthrough of what to expect when leaving your parents’ house to make your own home.
Why are you moving?
So far, in the past decade I’ve moved house an average of once every 2 years. I’d like to brag about being a new age biennial nomad, or some sort of rolling stone type of guy, but the truth is simpler. The cruel catch-22 of moving house is that those that want to move seldom have to, and those that have to, would often rather not.
There are many reasons for moving out:
- To find a place closer to work (or even more importantly play)
- Your parents don’t understand you (or maybe they don’t even want you around anymore)
- You don’t understand your parents (or maybe you don’t even want them around anymore)
- Your parents are separated
- You’re a parent now
…We could spend all day on the list.
My point is, your current living situation might be unpleasant by your standards, but flying solo isn’t necessarily a cakewalk either. If you have the luxury of time, you should consider your options very thoroughly and move only when you’re completely mentally, emotionally and most importantly, financially ready. Which brings us to the next step…
Who’s paying for this?
Make no mistake, nothing you’ll ever really want is ever available for free. If you decide to move out today, someone is definitely going to have to pay for it. Even if you have well-to-do parents or some sort of benefactor who provides an alternate home and a stipend to keep it afloat, you will still need to manage your finances properly or you’ll be high and dry before you know it.
Where do you think you’re going?
In your mind’s eye, you’ve probably pictured a neat and secure studio apartment with a view, a nice kitchen, possibly a spare bedroom, running water, no roaches and rats, and with neighbours that respect themselves and mind their own business. I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I don’t know how much you make yet, but that nice place you think you’re going to get? That’s probably where your employer lives.
No really, where do you think you’re going?
For things that never move, houses are still so notoriously difficult to hunt for. Even if you narrow it down to a neighborhood you like, finding the actual four walls in said neighborhood could be a nightmare. Estate agents are pricey and not always effective, and even when they are, the actual legwork of going from house to house with them can be tedious, and doing it yourself is 10 times harder. You could resort to websites like “OLX” or “Tonaton” to find a place, but sometimes, the places you really want never get advertised. So it all depends on your tastes. The more specific your tastes, the more you may have to search.
Who’s going to pay to make it a home?
Beyond rent, electricity, and water utilities, (which, after you’ve paid a few months worth, will give you a new level of respect for your parents) there are other things that you’ve probably never wondered about but will soon come to know on a first name basis. Take garbage disposal for example; I always took this for granted. Until it fell on me to pay for disposal myself, I didn’t even realize how much faster my bin bags got full once I subsisted almost exclusively on takeout and bottled water. Then there are the occasional home repairs, renovations and repaintings. Other luxuries such as security, laundry, cleaning and cooking, may all seem bourgeoisie and over the top until you learn that you can hire one person to do all four services. But before you outsource all your responsibilities, remember that someone’s going to have to pay for all of the things you could easily do for yourself (if you could put down your phone and be a responsible adult for just 3 hours) but refuse to.
If you can’t go hard, go home
Running back to mom and dad with your tail tucked between your legs may not feel like the most ideal situation, but take it from me; it’s far from shameful. If you can’t afford to move out and live on your own, or you’ve moved out but somehow failed to keep it going, ask for help. It’s what family is for.
Don’t rule out the options of compromising to get a roommate or a smaller more affordable home, cooking your own meals and doing your own chores, and spending less on luxuries. But if all else fails and flying solo just doesn’t work for you, move back in with your parents. I suspect that with your new perspective on how truly awesome free food and living rent-free is, your parents will appreciate you more. After you’ve made your prodigal return, you could also use your time to plan a more efficient escape for your next try. Whatever you do, don’t let your pride put you in a bad place.
All in all, my goal isn’t to dissuade you from moving out; far from it. I constantly encourage young people to live on their own, work for themselves and cohabitate as early and often as possible, because it offers invaluable perspectives into society, life, and the human condition that some of us so desperately need. But regardless of how exciting it may seem, living on your own is an extended project, and like every sensible extended project, it will promptly crash and burn without adequate forethought and planning.
By Guest Hacker Egyir Davies
Writer. Thinker. Creator.