It’s been well documented that the millennials — and probably a good percentage of the up-and-coming Generation Z — have had a hard time detaching in the post-Great Recession world. Crushing student debt, a tough job market, and several other variables are all at play. But the end result is that many young people are still living at home with their parents. Though some like to blame this on laziness, many twenty- and thirty-somethings in this position aren’t happy about it.
They’d like to move out but lack the resources. They have no money, as the case often is.
But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. We all have to detach at some point, after all. And for most people, it’s one of the most tumultuous and uncertain parts of life. You’re suddenly on your own with few resources, and it can be intimidating. The stakes are higher, and if you happened to have burned some bridges, or don’t have a fallback? There’s no choice other than to make it work.
That can be incredibly difficult with flaky roommates and ever-increasing housing costs. But it’s entirely possible. Again, everybody moves out at some point. Some people do it when they’re fresh out of high school, and some people delay until they’re in their thirties. How do you make it work when you’re stretched thin?
Plan and budget: Moving out with no money
If you’re a bit older, say in your mid- or late twenties or early thirties, you should have at least a handle on aspects of personal finance and budgeting. You may have even been paying rent at home, or at least chipping in to help with the family grocery bills and mortgage. But if that’s not the case, you’ll need to do some homework before striking out on your own.
First and foremost, you’ll need to answer a couple of questions: Where do you want to go, and what can you afford? If you don’t have a job or any source of income, your first (and only) mission becomes finding one. You can’t afford anything without income, and many, if not most landlords and management companies want to see proof of income before letting you rent.
If you have a steady income and are ready to strike out on your own, then you’ll need to find a place that fits within your budget. Budgeting and financial planning can be quite different on your own than it was at your parent’s house, however. Many people are blindsided with extra costs they didn’t see coming when they move out. Transportation costs, renter’s insurance, utilities, internet — all of these and others may not have been included in previous versions of your budget.
Keep them in mind before deciding on a place to live. They can make the difference between an affordable place and a completely unsustainable situation.
Weigh your options
Don’t hesitate to look at all of your options, too. You may be ready to get the heck out of your hometown, for example. That may be the best thing you can do, in some situations. Consider your career track, or the industry you work in. If you want to work in tech, it doesn’t make much sense to continue living in certain parts of the country. You’ll probably be in a much better situation in California, the Pacific Northwest, or cities like Austin or New York.
But that will depend entirely on your situation. If you don’t have a specific industry or skill set? Your options are more limited. And again, figuring out a job or career track should take precedence over moving out, unless the situation is dire.
If you’re ready to get out of the house immediately, with few resources, it’s going to be very tough. Talk to friends who may be in a similar situation. Find some potential roommates, and see what you can afford. You don’t need much; a simple apartment full of free furniture from Craigslist is the first step for a lot of people. No, it’s not necessarily fun or flashy, but if your goal is to get out of the house? It’ll do.
Also, keep in mind that it’s never been easier to find a place to live. Craigslist is out there, yes. But there are tons of other resources you can use to find an affordable place. If you can’t find anything in your budget? You’ll have to lower your expectations, even if that means living somewhere other than where you want.
Remember that moving out on your own is a huge step, and isn’t an easy transition for anybody. Treat it as a learning experience — one that has high stakes, but a learning experience nonetheless. Keep an eye on your budget, make responsible decisions, and before you know it, you’ll be moving on up.