Rent, utilities, food – the costs all stack up when you move out. Living on your own can be expensive. Ideally, you want to save as much as possible before moving out. At the very least, you'll want three months rent and expenses, while a more reasonable safety net is six months. Depending on where you live, that three-month safety net could be anywhere from $3,200 to over $5,000.
Moving on your own can be very expensive. Based upon your ideal location and lifestyle, it is suggested that you save at least three times the amount of your monthly living expenses.
When you move out, rent is probably the biggest expense you'll have. Before you move out, look around to get a general idea of how much you'll be spending. You can save money by living with roommates, but that comes with risks as well – you may get stuck with a housemate you don't get along with. According to MIT's living wage calculator, based on 2018 data, a single person typically pays $665 for rent in Birmingham, Alabama, while that same person pays $1,352 in New York City. Most rental agencies and apartment complexes will also require a deposit of up to one month's rent.
Utilities vary according to where you live and how big your house is. If you know where you're going to be living, you can call the utility companies. Usually if you let them know you're thinking about renting, they'll give you an estimate of what the monthly bill will be. Utilities include water, gas, sewage and electric. According to Credit Donkey, the median monthly cost for electricity was $104. For gas, the median monthly cost for all households was $83, while water was $70 and trash was $15.
If you don't have enough money to eat, you probably don't want to move out on your own yet. Food is expensive. Smart strategizing can help you keep your costs down. A meal out can easily cost $10 to $20, but a homemade peanut butter and jelly sandwich can cost less than a dollar. According to Credit Donkey, in 2017, young adults spent on average $244 per month on food, and another 5 percent of their monthly income on eating out.
Let's Get Personal
Personal costs include everything from toilet paper to new clothes. You're also going to need things like shampoo, conditioner, dish soap, light bulbs – all those knick-knacks around the house you need to get by. Don't forget to take into account your cell phone, insurance, or any Internet or cable services you might want. Make a list and add it up to get an idea of how much you'll be spending.
One expense you're going to have when you move out on your own the first time, unless someone provides you with them, is furnishings. This might include a bed, a nightstand, lamps, rugs, curtains, tables, chairs and couches. While this helps keep your moving costs down, these things can be a huge cost. Being thrifty can help. Ask friends and family if they have anything extra they're getting rid of, consider going to yard sales and check out second-hand or discount stores.
Specializing in food and business, Melissa Haskin is a Oregon writer who received a Bachelor of Science in economics with an emphasis in business from Oregon State University. She completed graduate work in journalism at the University of Oregon and has contributed to publications such as "The Register-Guard," "Oregon Quarterly" and "Eugene Magazine."