First Timers

What You Need to Know Before Leaving Home

This is certainly an exciting time in your life. You are flapping your little wings and leaving the nest!

Good for you!

This eventful move is a big step in the right direction to becoming a responsible adult. But there are a few things that you need to learn first to make it a success.

Are You Ready to Leave Home?

Your first step should be to make sure you have a few things under wraps before leaving home.

Gather as much as you can before leaving home
You’ll need to tap into all of your financial sources when preparing to leave home for the first time.

Getting Ready Financially

It should go without saying that you should be able to afford to live on your own.

How much you need is hard to determine when you aren’t used to paying all the household bills.

(A good rule of thumb is to aim for a rental amount that is less than 30% of your annual income.)


Another important aspect of leaving home is the fact that you won’t have someone to keep you on your toes. The accountability will all rest upon your shoulders. You will need self-discipline.

Some people decide to move out because they want to escape the responsibilities they have at home.

It’s important to note that when you move out, there will be many more responsibilities to take care of, and you won’t have your parents around to help.


Getting Along with Others

Having your own place means settling matters on your own. You will be expected to show respect to those who come to your new home. You may find yourself in some strange situations that will require some diplomacy on your part.

Do you feel confident in your ability to get along well with most people you meet? Do you feel confident in your ability to protect yourself from being taken advantage of by not so nice people?

This could be a matter to discuss with your parents before you make the big move.

Preparation for Leaving Home

You don't want to miss a single thing when leaving home for the first time!
You don’t want to miss a single thing when leaving home for the first time!

Have you determined that your finances are in order, you can handle the responsibilities, and you know how to deal with people diplomatically?

If the answers are “yes”, then you can start preparing to move out.

Get ready because your next steps involve some often overlooked tasks and a huge necessity.


Paperwork to Take with You

Undoubtedly your mom has a file with your name on it with loads of paperwork. Don’t worry; you won’t need all of it.

You will need to take these important documents with you:

  • Social security card
  • Birth certificate
  • Diploma

You may need any or all of these to secure an apartment and job.

Also, bring any old tax returns if you filed on your own. Grab your car insurance paperwork and medical insurance, too, if you have it.

Change of Address

You can have your mail forwarded to your new address by filling out a form at the post office. This will ensure that you continue to get any mail with your name on it. However, this will only last for one year.

The best way to make sure you get all your mail is to change your address directly with companies, organizations, and people you are expecting mail from.

Secure a Job

You should have a job before leaving home.

You will need to show proof of employment or consistent income when you apply for an apartment. If you already filled out your apartment application with a job you will be leaving, you need to secure a job before you move in.


Independent Living Skills Needed Before Leaving Home

So you’re packed, you’ve got a great job waiting for you, and you have all your paperwork in hand.

Fantastic! But there’s more.

Certain skills will help you not just live on your own but thrive on your own.

If you don’t already have these skills, begin learning them now.


Caring for Yourself

It was wonderful to wake up to a nice hot breakfast and to have someone care for you when you got sick. Unfortunately, when you move out, you need to be able to care for yourself.



Cooking is a great skill to have for when you move out
Cooking is an invaluable skill to have when you are headed out on your own!

You should be able to provide a meal for yourself that does not come from a box. Can you fry an egg? Can you follow a recipe? How about making a grocery list? These are all great skills to have while living on your own.


Related: The 53 Kitchen Essentials for Your Brand New Apartment



First Aid

Stock your medicine cabinet with a basic first aid kit. You can find one at most big chain stores. Also, brush up on some simple first aid techniques in case of emergencies. Check out this quick introduction to first aid.

Related: 9 Easy Dorm Closet Organization Hacks


You will now be responsible for setting all of your own appointments. Things like getting a check-up, a haircut, and visiting the dentist are all best set up ahead of time.


Caring for Your Finances

Leaving home comes with a lot of bills. How will you keep up with it all?

This list will help you.


Get all of your finances in order before leaving homeBudgeting

Payday is the best day, but if money burns a hole in your pocket, you need to learn to stick to a budget. This will help make sure you still have money for basic needs at the end of the week.

To budget, you need to start by calculating your income and compare that to your expenses. Then you do what you can to make sure your income will cover your expenses and more.

Do you have savings goals? Savings are always a good thing to have for a rainy day. Include them in your calculations by setting aside a chosen amount of money each month.

Related: The 15 Essentials You Need For Your First Apartment

Bank Accounts

As an independent adult, you may want to open up a checking and savings account.

Do you know what that entails? Do you know how to find the best bank for you?

A good bank will have minimal fees. Check for a bank’s annual, monthly, overdraft, or checking fees and choose the one with the least.

Many banks offer to waive fees with a direct deposit option or a linked savings account.

Here are ten things to look for in a bank!


Credit Cards

These can be a lifesaver, but they are also very dangerous. It’s important to have at least one if you want to build credit.

But you need to understand the potential pitfalls awaiting you.


Being financially sound is extremely important for moving out
Completely understanding your financial situation before living on your own will save you from many headaches.


If your parents claimed you as a dependent when you lived with them, you’ve never done your own taxes. This can be a scary endeavor the first time around.

Nerdwallet has a great article on tips for first-time filers.




Here’s a Bonus Tip — There are a ton of apps that you can download to help you with your finances, and most of them are free! Check out Credit Karma, Mint, PocketGuard, and YNAB.


Caring for Your New Home

Having your own place comes with many benefits, but it also comes with many responsibilities. Upkeep and maintenance of your own place are part of leaving home.


There are certain parts of a home you might not be aware of or know how to use.

For instance, if you have a gas stove or heater, you need to know how to light the pilot.

You should also be aware of where the breaker box is and which breaker goes to what so that you can troubleshoot should anything need attention.

You will also need to know:

  • Where your hot water heater is
  • How to turn off the water supply
  • How to manage your thermostat

It would also be beneficial to have some basic plumbing skills, like how to unclog a drain and toilet.


Cleaning consistently is important
Staying on top of cleaning and other household chores is a key factor in thriving on your own.

Cleaning an entire home is much more intensive than just your bedroom. Laundry itself can quickly become a mountain if you don’t stay on top of it.

Do you know how to use a washer and dryer?

It’s important to know how to use some of the main appliances in everyday use like a stove, dishwasher, or iron.

Check out our 5 Step Apartment Cleaning Checklist article for the best way to stay on top of all your new cleaning duties!

Safety Precautions

Leaving home can be a dangerous venture if you aren’t prepared to take certain safety precautions.

Your new home should be equipped with working fire alarms, and you should know your fire escape route. (It’s also important to know how to check for gas leaks and what to do if you do smell gas.)

Develop the habit of locking your doors and windows at night and when you leave for your protection.

If anything on this list confounds you, seek knowledge on the subject before leaving home.

Leaving home is a big step. A lot of unexpected things can come your way. However, you can take positive steps to be safe and successful in your newfound freedom. Learning these essential skills will do just that.

We wish you the best of luck on your journey! Be sure to visit us again for more tips on tackling living on your own!

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