The Price of Freedom
You know what would be epic? Movin’ out! Your own digs. Come and go as you want to. When you pay for yourself you have a lot more freedom. It’s true the rest of our days. But how much does it really cost to move out of our parents’ house?
You need money to move. To rent a one-bedroom apartment or efficiency there are costs involved and it depends on where in the country you live to figure this out. Let’s use three examples that show a range and look at rent, moving, and other money-costs.
When it comes to our first overview, let’s assume you want your own apartment with one bedroom. Here are some samples:
Wichita, Kansas (low)
A “600-square-foot one-bedroom with a big kitchen and full-size washer and dryer for $470. Golf and country club fees are included.” (1) According to Barbara Corcoran’s article (the chick from Shark Tank) this is the cheapest place in the US right now to rent.
One bedrooms and two bedrooms seem to go for between $500 and $600 in the “Space Coast” area according to Craigslist. That’s a great point, btw – Craigslist makes it easy to research. You can also start an email dialogue exchanging photos and area info until you’re ready to go see something. It’s time really well spent.
New York City (high)
Wow. Just for fun I checked out New York City. The cheapest thing I found on Craigslist was a “disco size bedroom… 2 true beds” for just $1800 in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. Maybe you’ll remember, Billy Joel bragged about walking through “Bedford-Stuy” alone in You May Be Right, so it might not be your first choice area, but hey that was a generation ago. The point is it’s expensive!
All of that is neat, but what’s it really gonna cost?
Figure when you do find a place you like, you’ll need:
- First month’s rent
- A security deposit (usually equal to a month’s rent)
- Possibly last month’s rent, too. Ouch.
- You’ll also need cash to move for a truck and to treat the friends sho help with something, figure roughly a couple hundred bucks for a short move. Or figure it more precisely as a rental truck, gas, food, etc.
- Repairs. If you want to paint or fix anything the landlord won’t, plan on it before hand.
- Furniture. This can cost a lot, actually. Craigslist can be a real blessing as far as getting good furniture cheap, if you need it. Don’t but it in advance, though. The place you find might come furnished or with stuff you can buy cheap.
- Renter’s insurance covers your stuff, so most people with very little skip it, but this should also make you start thinking about home security and your safety, too.
College towns and college areas are a nice exception to most rules of real estate. Many college areas have what’s called a “student ghetto,” which means it’s cheap, but cheap in a good way: filled with poor college students who might party a lot but are broker because they’re in school, as opposed to flat-out “ghettos” which usually means there’s a ton of crime and somewhat permanent poverty. Student ghettos can be filled with future engineers and doctors, so they’re a cool, independent place to live, but check them out first.
College areas also get creative with housing. The number of shared houses, dorm-like arrangements, or individual rooms for rent is usually larger. Even if you’re not now in college you might like living in such a town – just don’t get too caught up in all the parties!
Another cool thing about college towns though is the whole town itself is often manned by students. The guy taking your order in the fast-food line might be a surgeon someday; your waiter a lawyer; and your hairstylist a teacher. College towns tend to rock as far as cheap and sometimes safer living.
Other Costs to Moving Out from Your Parents House
It’s easy to take for granted things we aren’t really aware of until moving out, like the cost of food and laundry. A lot of us have been paying our own gas and entertainment, but on our own we’re more likely to get stuck with car insurance and all the other costs we didn’t realize mom and dad handled – or maybe we did!
Try to figure these out and figure out how you or someone else (like mom and dad) will pay them. If this blows up on you – you could end up moving back, as we said, so try to plan:
- Eating out
- Video Games
- Car Insurance
- Cell phone service
- Car repairs
- Home maintenance (if any, like the lawn, repairs)
- Utility bills like electric and gas, water
- And of course TUITION and BOOKS if you’re going to school.
If you’re not sure about these things, take a pad and go ask! Seriously. There might be online articles available for the area you’re thinking of but you can always narrow it down to the actual complex you’re considering and see if someone walking by – who presumably lives there – will give you a moment and some info. It works, and you might decide for against the place based on how friendly the neighbors are.
The more work you do to prepare up front for costs like these the more successful your move is likely to be, and you might even get parental commitments you otherwise wouldn’t have by doing this legwork in advance. In the least you can avoid fights down the road. Parent’s get bent over getting surprised with expenses, and it’s often because they want to help you but can’t when they get surprised. They have their own money problems as you probably are well aware, so the more you can prep in advance the better, if they’re helping you at all.
And you can see, with all of these expenses, saving on your actual rent can improve life all-around otherwise.
First a really great tip: My girlfriend found a place that seemed too good to be true. It was a large one-bedroom apartment near my college in what looked like a really nice complex, but we were both unfamiliar with the area. The renting agent was nice and liked us. We were excited, but something worried me.
I decided we should come back that night in the dark and see if it stayed as nice. It was a Friday, and it wasn’t. Not even close. In fact the place suddenly seemed full of adult alcoholics who spent their Friday nights – and maybe the others, too – drinking out of cans and bottles in little paper bags. We actually locked our doors and got out of there.
Go see it at night.
In addition to online research of crime and other stuff, I would also talk to neighbors. They’ll tell you right away if management ever gets around to fixing anything or if the pool is taken care of – whatever. It’s worth it, man! You’re gonna live there a while.
Try to get in with a 6-month lease if you can, too. The shorter the lease the better as far as you’re concerned, otherwise you could lose your deposit if plans change and management is usually nicer if they have to convince you to re-sign from time to time.
The above article can be taken either way, as a detailing of your escape plan, or as making a compelling case for staying with mom and/or dad longer! In fact a lot of older dudes and dudettes are moving back in with their folks after college or even after they have kids of their own later in life! They call it multigenerational housing. It’s a little bit of a sad phenomenon but hey, we do what we gotta do.
It’s cool, though, to look this all over because if you prepare even a little bit there’s a better chance than before that if you do move out you’ll be able to stay out – if you really want to!
That is the natural step. All these years if they’ve done it right, our parents should have been kicking us slowly out of the nest so to speak.
When you do make the move – and I remember when I did – it can be one of the most exciting times of your life, to taste such freedom. If we’re prepared it won’t even be that bad. My first place of my own other than a college dorm was a roomy room in a house some friends and I split. We divided the rent into the total square footage and decided what each room cost and went from there.
I had a really great stereo, brand-new carpeting, and a sleeping bag. It was all I needed. After a month or two I added a waterbed. By the time I left it looked like the fancy fraternity room in Animal House. I loved it. In fact I had some great times there. I hope you do, too!