How to Move Out as a Teenager—What You Must Consider
Take it from someone who's done it.
I moved out of my family home at 18-years-old. I was not kicked out, but circumstances within the home became very difficult, to the point that I found that it was an impossible place to live. To do so, would mean that I would go backwards rather than forwards in recovering from depression and mental illness. It was a painful and disappointing endeavor, but one I am glad I made. It had seemed impossible, I didn't know where to begin and I needed to move quickly.
Since then, I have rented in three houses, (all with very different experiences) moved to the other side of the world and will return back to Ireland in half a year.
And I have my next living situation lined up already.
So, I consider myself the queen of rebellious runaway teens. I have it sussed. I know how to live independently.
Moving, renting, earning, packing and unpacking is exhausting, and the epitome of chaos. However, it's an adventure, and one I believe I'm learning the ropes to.
But, the question is, how? How did I make the jump, should you hop on the bandwagon too and what you need to do.
Step one, two, three and fifty four: Use your noggin...
You have to think through this carefully, and fully, and continue to do so even after you have moved out. Here are the things you must consider thoroughly.
Moving out is not easy.
Think it through rationally, several times. Moving out when you are young is not something I would recommend, unless your mental or physical wellbeing is at significant risk by staying where you are. If there are possibilities that the issues within your home can be resolved, I am urging you to take every opportunity to try and repair the relationships.
Give yourself at least one month or two of considering the idea of moving (if this is not an emergency) and only then start making plans if you are certain. Your family should really be given at least a three weeks head's up for your plans- this decision will be a big change for everyone in the home—regardless of whether you think they will care or not.
Moving out should be a last resort if you are in your teens. We all have friction with our families but we are still very lucky to have them. Please don't grow up too fast, or one day you will regret it. Try to leave on the best terms possible if you can.
Moving out may mean all your support is lost. Financially, physically, emotionally, you name it. It is a big step, and can be a very daunting experience. If this is not properly considered, your health could be at serious risk.
Firstly, think about whether or not it is worth it to move out.
- Have you just blown a fuse with your family? Can it be fixed?
- Are you just trying to make a statement of independence?
- Are you going to be living here much longer anyway? For example, are you heading to university in a year or two and can you wait?
- Are there better things to spend your money on? For example, could you buy a car instead of renting a house to provide you with the freedom you need?
All in all, the question being asked here, is can you look after yourself? When you are completely alone, will you bother to buy groceries and cook yourself balanced meals? Will you be open and honest about your challenges?
Can you care for your emotional and mental wellbeing? For example, show self love and self care, accept or ask for help when needed and recognise the warnings of mental illness? Can you cope with the isolation of living alone, the quietness of an empty house?
Can you care for your physical wellbeing? Can you cook for yourself, bring yourself to exercise regularly, spend extra money on yourself when needed? For example, allowing yourself heating. Can you clean and keep a living place sanitary and tidy?
Can you care for your spiritual wellbeing? Can you get yourself to the church you might attend, or to meet up with others sharing similar beliefs?
How about your social wellbeing? Will your landlord allow you to have friends and family over? Are you near any friends/ have transport to meet them?
Let's look at your chances for survival physically. Obviously, you will need money. To earn money, you will need a job. So, the first thing on the agenda is to get yourself employed somewhere where you are earning enough money. The question is, are you at school? If so, managing a job that pays well enough and an education may not be possible.
Now, many websites recommend that your rent should cost 40 percent or less of your wages. No more. I believe that this is a very good rule to abide by. Have a look at places to rent in your area that you think may be suitable for you. I have found that in and around £100 per month is reasonable. If you go too low, you're risking a lot, trust me. From dodgy landlords, dirty or faulty equipment and highly restrictive rules, paying a little extra will keep you safe. There were times when I chose the cheapest options, and I would never, ever do that again.
A great way to bring down the price is with a housemate or two as well and rent can be split. You must however, find someone reliable (someone who has been living independently already is a great idea,) and be sure that you are financially stable enough that if they left, that you could still cover rent alone for a few months at least.
Next On the Agenda
You must then consider the terms that the landlord has proposed. Most of these can be found online but you may need to call and enquire. Check what bills and fees are included in the rent, or you may have a much higher price to pay than you expected.
Check when the building/room is ready, and the terms of lease. You may find out the living place isn't available for another six months, or that you must live there for a minimum amount of time. If the situation turns out to be unsuitable for you, you don't want to be stuck there.
Look for a deposit. Can you afford it? Often, the first month's rent may be doubled or you will have to pay the deposit in advance. This is to cover any damages you may have made while living there and secures your offer on the house. Normally (but do check) the deposit, if not used will be returned to you when you decide to move again.
Please do check the building or living area before moving. Ask all the questions you need, try and find out from previous tenants about your landlord. Meet any housemates in advance. (Consider whether sharing with a creepy 40-year-old is worth it.)
Now that you know roughly the price of living, (rent and additional bills) you need to look at how much money you are spending on top of that. Here are the things to think about:
- Food: How much will you need for groceries? I believe £20- £30 pounds was sufficient for me, but this will vary from person to person. You need to also consider cleaning products.
- Furnishings: Is the house or room you are moving into furnished? How much do you own at home that you can take with you? You may need to be able to afford bedsheets, or a bed itself. Kitchen appliances, even fridges and ovens, sofas—think it through. If you are moving into an unfurnished building, gumtree and charity shops will become your best friend.
- Going out: Do you drink, party or indulge in the more-than-occasional McDonald's drive thru? Consider very carefully how much this costs you, and if you can limit it. Don't make decisions that are impossible to follow, or not good for you. For example, refusing to do slightly costly things with friends altogether. Look after your social wellbeing, and don't deprive yourself.
- Clothes: Seeing as it is unfortunately illegal to run around in your birthday suit, you need to clothe yourself. Think about how much this is going to cost.
- Transport: If you drive, think about your tax, insurance, MOT, fuel—do you pay it yourself or your parents? If you are moving out and stating independence, this is something that you may also have to take on board. Calculate the prices of buses and taxis to work, or any other transport you may need. This should be included.
- Subscriptions: Is it time to cancel Spotify premium or Netflix? What leaks are there in your bank account that slowly drain those much-needed pennies?
- Internet: This was one I did not consider all too much, and ended up sponging off the local coffee shop's free WIFI so that I could reply to emails. Your landlord may already have this set up and you will just need to pay him for it, or you will need it installed which can be another expense to think of.
Take every penny into consideration. I found I spent more money on coffee than my groceries some weeks. Be careful and watchful of how you spend, setting strict budgets for yourself when you move out. After adding up all of this, add on the cost of renting and find out how much you will be spending a month. I recommend that you ensure you will still have at least £100 remaining at the end of all this to keep you safe. As well as a good buffer in the bank before you even begin moving out. You may find yourself in stressful and unpredictable situations in which you will need a little extra. Or you just need to splurge some day. Do consider how much extra you will need for the first month when you move. It will back a punch, so be prepared for it.
Lastly, never take out loans. No matter how desperate you are, don't start into the adult life walking downward rather than upward. You will cause yourself a lot of future problems.
The biggest pain in the backside out of all the implications involved in moving will be people. Landlords, tenants, family, friends and other judgmental onlookers. Steer clear of old people especially.
So firstly, be skeptical. Don't trust landlords by what they say. Do your research, look into other tenants. Request paperwork, evidence and documents. Have everything, I mean everything in writing. Don't feel like a fool for doing it or you will most likely end up fooled down the line. Make everything airtight and seamless and be prepared for people going back on their word.
Expect that most people will not be happy with your decision. I have found that moving out stimulates one of two responses in 90 percent of situations.
"I think you're being irrational and dramatic. You haven't thought this through, and will be back home in a month. It's a bad idea."
"You're ungrateful and rebellious, just throwing everything in your parents face because you think you are better off without them. Spoilt."
You will peak people's curiosity, and will be faced with a million "whys" and hurtful opinions that people feel they are entitled to give. I've had a good amount of painful and embarrassing experiences that have come from moving. People are not entitled to know why you are moving, and a lot of the time, even if you explain it they still wont understand. They haven't been in your shoes. Don't feel obliged to explain your reasons. No-one has a right to know. Just expect that people will fill in the gaps themselves and formulate opinions without the full story.
Some friends will be jealous rather than happy for you, or forceful with their own opinions on what you should be doing. Others will think this is an awesome idea, because now they have a place to crash and someone to host all the parties without hovering parents.
Steer clear of them or make boundaries. I recommend making rules in advance, to set people straight. Parties are nice on occasion, but you are left with the mess and stress, and jeopardise your living situation if your friends are too noisy or destructive. friends may use you, and these people aren't good for you to have around. Be sure that you are spending equal time over at other people's houses, rather than always being the host.
Additionally, you must be assertive. You must be able to say no when you do not want to do something. You must be assertive or you will find yourself struggling a lot with how to deal with people.
When you suddenly are alone in a house, it can be difficult and friends will become family. This can be incredible, or highly destructive depending on who you have around. Stay alert and thoughtful about how people are treating you, and how they make you act and feel. Know how to cut out the people that are damaging you, and hold tight to the precious friends who have been helping you along your journey.
Ultimately, what I'm saying is, you need a thick skin.
Get a job.
You must have a job before moving out. Have a job, and be earning enough money at that job. Some places may employ you, but not give you work for months. Fire out the CV's, meet face to face as often as you can and work hard. I found jobs in restaurants and cafe's are the best. You can work two at the same time if the restaurant opens evenings. Working with food often means at least one meal is often provided for you each shift, which will bring down your food expenses. Tips can also keep you going a little longer. Another good option is nursing homes. I did night shifts as the pay was good and I could carry on working during the day. Whatever you do, make sure that it is reasonably enjoyable and sustainable. Working over 50 hours a week isn't good for you and will lead to exhaustion. Find a job with good pay, and you can work a little less. Eventually, you can build your way up the ladder.
A Last Thought
In summary, I am sorry that you are reading this, and that you are at a point in your life where you feel you need to move from your home. I wish you all the best, and encourage you to be as open as possible with people as you make plans and decisions. Think everything through very carefully. Talk to adults who have done this, counsellors and friends. Call helplines and don't be afraid to look after yourself. If you find yourself very stuck, go to help centres where you maybe advised on the next steps you should take. There may be emergency housing or benefits. I do not recommend following this route unless you feel you have no other option, as learning to be completely independent is important.
If you have already moved and are finding it very difficult, please talk to someone about it who can help. There is no shame in moving back home again, or moving elsewhere if you are finding it too challenging. Your health must come before your fear or pride. Do what needs done.
Living alone can be an incredible learning experience, and can come with a lot of good times. I don't regret my decision–in fact, I'm glad I did it. However, it came with many costs and challenges. Although I am aware that I have focused on the many negatives of moving, If you decide you still must go through with this it may just be the best decision for you. In this case, what have you to lose? Go for it, and I'm excited for your adventure ahead.
I will be writing a follow up of what to expect after moving out, which will lead on from this with more ideas that you may want to consider. For now. Sit and think hard, take out a calculator and a jotter. Do the pros, cons and run the maths. Your jotter of money records will become your most important companion.