I hear a lot of teenagers talk about moving out. Youth as young as fifteen sometimes play around with the idea of moving out from under the wings of their parents. They are tired of having someone to answer to and think that moving out will solve that problem. Others get their first taste of freedom when they go to college or university and realize it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.
If you’re serious about launching out on your own then you need to weigh your pros and cons. Here are few things to think about.
Moving out and being on your own requires you to step into being an adult a little bit sooner. Moving out is kind of like a trade off. You give up your home with all of it’s annoyances and freedoms for new responsibilities and a different kind of freedom. You are trading childhood for adulthood. All of your choices will now have more consequences than a nagging parent. If you don’t clean up – your place will be gross and no one will want to come over. No one will clean it for you (the magical fairy known as mom no longer abides in the humble abode). When you are hungry you will need to cook your own food. Sure you can eat fast food all the time but you most likely won’t be able to afford it financially or physically. When you live on your own it will be up to you to make sure things are taken care of. Buying your groceries regularly, cooking your food, paying your phone and rent bills will all be on your to do list. In order to be on your own or living with a roommate you’ll need to be ready to do all the things your parents usually nag you about. Some want to move out because they feel like they are not being respected or they feel over worked and used. When you live alone or with a roommate you won’t be able to run away from these kinds of feelings. You will have to work, go to school and take care of your household because that will all be on you.
When preparing to leave home it’s important to have a realistic idea of how much money you will need. When you are living at home with a job, you can save your money for trips, movies, shopping etc. In this circumstance it might feel like you have more money than you know what to do with but once you move out and your parents aren’t supplementing your income anymore reality will set in fast.
Do some research. Figure out how much rent will cost and know that you’ll have to save twice that amount for first and last months rent. You’ll need money for laundry, food, furniture, appliances, cleaning supplies and everything else you normally scrounge for in your parents house. A good idea is buying everything you’ll need for your place gradually. You can also get good used furniture online or from friends. When I was moving out a few friends helped me by giving me some furniture while I bought a other items on Kijiji. I looked for deals and stored the stuff for my new apartment in my home till I was ready to move out. Ideally you should look for a place to live that will cost less than half of what you make a month (for example if you make $2000 a month your rent shouldn’t be more than $1000) or get some roommates that can help pay rent. But keep in mind that depending on your roommates personalities it could feel like you are living at your parents house again. Or you could have a situation like mine where every roommate I’ve had I now consider a close friend.
You’ll also have to use a lot of your extra “free” time to work so that you can afford your lifestyle. So if you want to move out so you have more time to go out it might not happen that way.
Will leaving home be a convenient addition to your life? Will you be able to commute to work or school faster? Will you have more time or freedom to do other things that you wouldn’t have if you were still living at home or will you be more consumed with new tasks that you didn’t have to do before?
A good sign you’re ready to leave home
A sign you’re ready to leave home is that the stuff listed above don’t really sound negative to you. Instead it excites you and you feel ready to challenge yourself with new possibilities. Another sign you’re ready is you have enough money saved and you’ve already budgeted and prepared yourself for most of the stuff mentioned. Another excellent sign you’re ready to leave is when your parents tell that that they need you out by the end of the month…
Is it worth it?
This is an important question. Your emotional and mental preparation to move can determine if it’s worth it for you. Sometimes I run into young people that are so desperate to move out that they don’t recognize that they are ill prepared to survive on their own. They have no plan. They rush out of their homes only to be forced to move back. They struggle in the areas listed above or miss out on many of the fun activities they had time to do when they lived at home. Others make the transition easily and love being on their own. They now have some control of their space and more control over their lives.
What are your reasons for wanting to leave home? Is it conflict? A space issue? Living on your own can be fun and relaxing but only if you are ready.
If living at home isn’t driving you insane and you can delay moving out, try and stay home until after you’ve finished post secondary school and you’ve started working full time. You don’t want to be forced to work a job you hate just so you can afford to live on your own. Under the best circumstances you should be mature and balanced enough to take care of yourself.
While waiting the best thing to do to prepare yourself to leave home is to start treating the home you live in now like your future home. If you don’t already, start learning how to plan grocery lists, weekly meals and put your budgeting skills to good use. Don’t just depend on your parents to do everything for you and complain when they don’t. Help out with younger sibling and household responsibilities without being told. Everything you do will make your transition into adulthood easier.
Nana Abraham is a speaker, youth activist and author of For Black Girls: The Shaping of a Young Woman– a handbook for life that discusses relevant issues for young women today.