What to know about moving out for the first time

Household 3 min read

Moving out of your family home is a big moment. Whether moving to an apartment or a house, with roommates or by yourself, you’ll face new freedoms and responsibilities. Luckily, moving out for the first time can be one of the easiest moves you’ll ever make because you have a stable base of operations — your family home — where you can take your time to prepare.

Moving out for the first time checklist

Finding a place to live is the first step to moving out. Whether you’re renting or buying, you’ll need to know how much you can afford to spend on housing and other monthly expenses. Creating a budget is the first item on your moving-out checklist.

Establish your budget

When moving for the first time, consider making two budgets: one for moving expenses and another for monthly expenses in your new place. For monthly living expenses, a common rule for budgeting is keeping your monthly housing costs less than 30% of your monthly income. Still, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) cautions that it’s not that simple.

Necessary expenses — food, utilities, transportation, etc. — form a fixed cost baseline. These expenses stay the same no matter how much you earn. Take some time to consider the non-negotiable expenses in your life and form a budget before shopping for a place. Learn more about the costs of owning a home.

One-time moving expenses can include a security deposit, first and last month’s rent, pet deposit (if you have pets) and expenses for a moving company or rental truck.

It’s also important to stick to your budget when moving out for the first time. Your first time moving out is often the first time you’re budgeting and managing all your finances. Stick to the budget you made for a few months. That’ll help you see how much you have left at the end of the month, which can help guide future decisions.

Find a place to live

Searching for a place to rent for the first time is exciting. Whether you’re looking at condos, apartments, or homes, find a place within your budget and in the best location. While you can do most of your searching online, driving through neighborhoods you’re interested in is a good idea too. You should also plan to tour the home before signing the lease if possible. Learn more about the difference between condos and apartments.

Sign your lease

Once you’ve found a new place to live and asked the right questions about renting the apartment or house, you’ll need to sign your lease, pay your deposits, and establish a move-in date. If your landlord requires renters insurance, you’ll need a policy. Even if your landlord doesn’t require it, renters insurance can protect your belongings in case of theft, fire, or other circumstances.

Organize your belongings

Even before you find a place to move to, you can start preparing by getting rid of things you won’t need or won’t be taking with you. Holding a garage sale or posting items to an online, used marketplace can help you get a little cash for unexpected expenses during your first time moving out. Once you’ve decided what’s coming with you to the new house, organize it and put it into boxes by category. That way, if you need something specific before you’ve unpacked at the new place, you can find it easily.

Pack your boxes

If it’s your first time moving out, you may not know the best way to pack. Start with anything private or personal. If you have organized your belongings and packed your private objects, it won’t take long to box up the rest. Take care to pack fragile items so they won’t break, and label the boxes with what’s inside and what room it goes into in the new place to speed up the unpacking process.

Move your stuff

Depending on what you’re taking and how far you have to go, you can hire professional movers, rent a moving truck, or use your or your friends or family’s cars. Asking friends and family to help makes the process faster and easier, but it also gives you a chance to spend extra time with loved ones before you leave. Consider arranging a meal to thank them for their help.

Don’t worry about unpacking until everything is in the new house. That way, you can unpack at your own pace.

Schedule chores and home maintenance

Write a schedule of things that you need to do around the house, from daily chores to seasonal home maintenance. If you have roommates, plan out who is responsible for which duties and what happens if someone doesn’t do their share.

Get pets used to the place

If you’re moving with pets, give them time to adjust. They may need extra attention or act out until they get used to their new home. Moving out for the first time brings many changes that impact all aspects of your life including your car insurance. Discover how your car insurance is impacted when you move.

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