Like most people, I couldn’t wait to move out of my parent’s house. And while I don’t consider myself spoiled or naive, living alone for the first time certainly came with a few surprises. If you’re about to live on your own, here are some things you should know:
1. Rent isn’t the only financial adjustment.
Having somewhere to sleep may be the biggest expense, but utilities, groceries, and furniture cost enough to make your head spin. Making, creating and sticking to a budget has to be a priority or you’ll be in for a rude awakening.
2. Becoming a bargain food shopper is an acquired talent.
A fast-food diet may work for a few weeks but eventually, you’ll want to cook real food. It takes some research but finding cheaper grocery options isn’t hard if you know where to look. Locate the closest store that has a rewards program (bonus if they do gas points) and start paying attention to what goes on sale when. Stock up on non-perishables when you can and find frozen vs. fresh produce based on when it’s in season in your area.
3. Things will break or stop working.
No matter how nice your new pad is, eventually something will go wrong. Whether you need to call a professional yourself, or let your landlord know, make sure you know what to do when it happens. Even if you’re in a fancy high rise apartment building with maintenance staff on call, you still need to know the process for submitting a work order. Being prepared will save you stress when the time comes.
4. Your standards of decor will change.
We’d all love to have homes decorated with similar taste and class to the ones we grew up in, but unless your parents are footing the bill, you’re going to have to lower the bar. Target is a good place to start and make sure to splurge for at least a few nice frames or decor. After all, no one wants to feel like they live in an empty box.
5. Living with other people is nothing like living with your parents.
For better or worse, having roommates is completely different than bunking with mom and dad. Yes, they won’t nag you all the time, but it also means you have to self-manage your time and responsibilities. If you forget to clean up after yourself, the entire place is going to smell. If you go to bed at 3 AM, you’ll be miserable the next morning. And if you are too lazy to go to the grocery store, the fridge won’t magically re-stock itself.
6. You will get lonely.
Even if you live with roommates, varied schedules and lifestyles will mean you’re alone some of the time. Quiet evenings in are nice for relaxing and unwinding but don’t be surprised if you find yourself craving social interaction. The good news is many people around you are probably living on their own for the first time too, so finding friends shouldn’t be as hard as it sounds.
7. You’ll learn a lot about yourself.
You’d be surprised how much being on your own can teach you about the way you handle certain situations. Whether it be roommate conflict, struggling to pay the bills, difficulty finding a social circle or something else, chances are you moved out because you were ready to explore the world apart from your parents. It’s going to be a little bit scary, but it’s exciting too. Embrace the challenges, ask for help when you need it, and just know that no matter what, you took a brave and important step into the next stage of your life.
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