Advice on moving out of my parents house
March 11, 2012 5:44 PM   Subscribe

Moving out of my parents house, need to figure out a budget and a place to live

So I'm 21. I'm a sophomore in College and sick of living in my parents. They cramp my style, while I don't live the typical college lifestyle and never have been in trouble. I have a mid night curfew... and bunches of other stuff. It's really stressful living with my family. What can I do to get out? note I have a pet, that I'll be taking with me.

I need to figure out a budget of what I can afford. I'm making $1500 a month in the Semesters and over the summer about $3000.

How much should I spend on:

1. Food
2. Rent
3. Misc house items?

other stuff I need to consider? Please advise me on what things I should budget for.
posted by snow_mac to Human Relations (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Where are you? Living expenses vary hugely between cities.
posted by Think_Long at 5:46 PM on March 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

What's the rent near campus?
posted by oceanjesse at 6:12 PM on March 11, 2012

In terms of living expenses you need to consider the following:
-cell phone bill
-internet bill (don't get cable when you are first starting out because it costs more money)
-transportation (this can include cab rides, public transportation, etc..)
-grooming (hair appointments or whatever else)
-utilities (if they aren't included in your rent)

Living expenses definitely vary between cities, but honestly, with $1500/a month for all of the expenses that you have to take care of, well you're more than likely going to have to live with roommates regardless of what city you live in.

You can probably find places for $425-450 for all utilities included if you live with roommates.

P.S. I can send you a list of house items since I am moving to a new place in August and already have a list prepared.
posted by livinglearning at 6:16 PM on March 11, 2012

$1500 a month as a college sophomore? That's really awesome that you are making that much. Just to check, is that after taxes? It would be good to know where you're living to get a better idea, but even in New York or someplace super expensive, if you have a $1500 budget, you just have to work with that fixed budget as a goal.

I would definitely look into a place with roommates to save on rent. Just having one roomate usually cuts your rent in half, at least in my current and previous cities. I would say...$400 a month for rent, plus $50 for utilities/internet (split between roomies) would be a good goal, or under that if possible. Look at craigslist roomate postings to see the going rate in your area.

As far as house furnishings, can you take your furniture with you? Have a friend with a van who can help you move if you buy them dinner? Otherwise, just piece your apartment together with thrifted items. You'll be happy you didn't spend a lot on furniture when it's time to move in a year or two, or even sooner if you aren't digging your place. Stay light on material stuff!

Do you have free health insurance as a college student or under your parents' plan? Do your parents chip in for medical costs, if you need to see a doctor or get prescription meds/birth control? Definitely factor that into your rent.

Do you drive a car? If you can AT ALL possible, please consider living walking distance to your classes. You will save literally THOUSANDS over your college career in parking, gas, and maintenance to your car if you just walk to class.

Food is of course necessary. If you cook your meals, you can eat pretty easily for about $50 a month if you shop the sales and eat beans and sale frozen veggies and grains. Add a little meat, fresh veg and fruit, and a variety of sauces and spices to mix it up.

And you want to move out of your parents' place to have fun, so factor in, let's say, $50 a month for fun and things that make you happy, like eating out with friends, a road trip, or going to a cafe for an occasional mocha.

And definitely start saving now! I'd aim to save AT LEAST $50 every month for your future, and $50 for emergencies like medical costs, computer or or car repairs.

So, in your budget, include: Housing, utilities, internet/cable, pet food, your groceries, fun money, savings for unexpected expenses, savings for the future, gas and car maintenance, and...haircuts/personal expenses.

That should definitely be doable on your budget, if you live frugally and take advantage of free stuff for students.
posted by shortyJBot at 6:21 PM on March 11, 2012

Here's (roughly) how my budget breaks down from what I make monthly:

Savings: 40+%
Rent/utilities: 20%
Student loan payments: 18%
Food: 10%
Transportation: 5% (public transit pass, general upkeep on car)
Entertainment: 4% (this includes most meals out)
Personal care: 4% (haircuts, clothes, nail polish, etc)
Pharmacy: 2%

It's pretty no-frills right now because I'm trying to save money (re-establish some emergency fund cushion) and pay off student loans pretty aggressively. I want to move to a better apartment in a few months and I want to get a (fancy) dog, so those are things I'm saving for, too. My budget needs/wants will change once I reach these goals. (For instance, I will be paying more in rent, and I'll have monthly dog costs.) I live in Chicago, which is a city, but not anywhere as expensive as, say, New York or San Francisco.

Even though I'm an adult and haven't lived at home in years, my parents still pay for my phone and car insurance. The phone and plan was a birthday/Christmas gift a few months ago, and when I was 16 the deal was that if I paid for my car myself and didn't get any tickets, they'd insure it. And they've kept good on that, which is nice. Make sure that you account for things you may not notice your parents are paying for now, but that they'll stop paying for once you're out of the house. (Make sure you have, for instance, health insurance that will still be paid once you're not under their roof.)

I highly recommend using Mint to keep track of everything. I started using it recently and kind of love it.

As Think_Long points out, your expenses can be very different depending on where you live. I think the most important thing for you to do right now is find someplace cheap and within walking distance of school/work so you can save as much as possible. You can focus on finding a place you want to live once school is over and you've built yourself a bit of a cushion.

And while you're at it, don't take on any credit card debt. Pay off your bill in full every month. Having great credit and liquid funds are very helpful in finding apartments in a tight renting market.
posted by phunniemee at 6:23 PM on March 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Fort Collins, Colorado. Loveland is near, Windsor is near, Greeley is a bit too far.
posted by snow_mac at 6:33 PM on March 11, 2012

Don't forget the money you're going to be spending on that wedding and/or honeymoon - you should be saving for that, not charging it on cards.

Same goes with car repairs (I put about $100 a month on that,) gas if you're currently subsidized, prescription and doctor copays, etc. Read your insurance documents carefully, and plan to have about $1000-2000 in liquid savings available to cover immediate emergencies. More like $3000 if your car is old enough that you'll have to replace it out of your own money if you get into an accident. Get renter's insurance, it is worth it. I spend about $20 a month on that.

I personally spend about $200 a month on groceries and another $150 on outside food, but that's a LOT. Having roommates with whom to share expenses, buying frugal (think Aldi), and not eating out (at all) you can get under $50 a week for three people. You will probably spend more like $300 if you don't change the way you eat from now to when you move out - watch out for the cost of alcohol, though. Some of my friends will spend two or three times what I do on a restaurant meal, between high-priced entrees and a drink or three.
posted by SMPA at 7:06 PM on March 11, 2012

What kind of pet? Budget for vet bills and pet supplies.
posted by OsoMeaty at 8:24 PM on March 11, 2012

I don't mean this question to be condescending at all, but how much "totally self-sufficient on my own" do you want to be and how much "I'm a college student and pay rent, but my parents pay for everything else" do you want to be? (I have been both, no judgement here)

Do you have a cell phone, a car? Car payments, car insurance? Health insurance? Tuition, textbooks, etc? Pets are pretty expensive, but thats a choice you've already made.

Or are you just talking rent, food and beer (and pet costs)? Would your parents be willing to help you out if some big/expensive problem came along? Think big vet bill, big car repair bill, etc.

You also need to consider how much you have in savings right now. You should have several months rent in the bank before taking on a lease. I know living with parents can be hard, but you know that middle class privilege and advantage people talk about? Being able to establish your own household on financially secure footing is a big part of it. Take advantage of it as long as it is feasible. Money in the bank is security.

In addition to an emergency fund, there are a lot of costs associated with moving. Stocking up a kitchen (pots, plates, spices), getting furniture, getting cleaning supplies, security deposits, utility security deposits.

One hard and fast rule is don't take on bills that make up more than 1/3 your take-home monthly pay. I'd think thats very doable in most markets if you're taking home $1500, especially with a roommate or two.

Speaking of roommates, choose wisely. Nothing can be more stressful than having all your personal financial stuff down, but having a roommate who is constantly coming up short on rent each month. What is even worse, is dealing with your your roommate's hungry cats at the end of the month as well. Don't be that roommate. Please.

Also renters insurance. It can be as cheap as $100/year.

Live cheaply. Get as much free furniture as you can. (Nothing an iron with a steam setting and bottle of febreeze can't cure/kill) Don't get cable. Learn to cook. Deal with shabby clothing, never getting hair cuts and brown bagging your lunch. Make going out a rare occasion that you really enjoy and have saved up for. Propose lentils, six-pack and monopoly nights instead of going to bars.

Also, have fun!
posted by fontophilic at 8:54 PM on March 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

did you end up getting engaged? do you both have an imminent date for your wedding? because, if i was you, if that is going to happen any time in the next couple of years, i would stay put and save my money for the wedding and your household after you get married.
posted by violetk at 8:59 PM on March 11, 2012

Response by poster: @ violetk, I'm going to propose in June. Going to be buying the ring soon.
posted by snow_mac at 10:08 PM on March 11, 2012

if you and/or your gf don't have a problem with moving in together before getting married, that's another option for you to save money, with regard to living expenses as well as be able to save money toward the wedding and setting up a household as well.
posted by violetk at 10:36 PM on March 11, 2012

Don't forget move-in expenses. It is real easy to drop a thousand dollars or more on a bed, dresser, shelves, etc.

Try to live within easy walking distance of campus. The rent may be slightly higher, but the savings realized by not driving every day will be enormous.
posted by rockindata at 4:54 AM on March 12, 2012

Also, everything shortyjbot said.
posted by rockindata at 5:00 AM on March 12, 2012

College is the time to live cheaply and without fuss. Don't be distracted by the way you've lived with your parents (it's taken them years to set up that house and lifestyle) or the way other friends live (their money could be coming from family, or from credit cards) or trying to impress a girl. Let this be what it is - it's really exciting to move out on your own, and having a matching bedroom set instead of a dresser you bought used off Craigslist isn't going to make this time in your life in any way better, more memorable, or more exciting.

That said, $1500/month is a fine amount to live on, if you've got roommates. That was my grad student income, and my rent in shared houses varied between $350-500; a couple of friends had studio/1B to themselves, and were paying $700 and eating nothing but Ramen, butwith less housing expense I actually had money left over at the end of the month.
Also, keep your parents on your side - there's nothing more beneficial than to know that your family's got your back in case of emergency. And if they freak out ("you LEFT us!!") and stop paying tuition, health insurance, bills they've been covering so far, then you could end up in a bad way.
posted by aimedwander at 8:28 AM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

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