How much money do you need to move out? Your moving-out budget guide Ready to move out from your parents’ house and live on your own? We have the average costs and expert guidance that you need to financially prepare for the big move. February 12, 2024 Living with your parents has its perks: homecooked meals, childhood memories… oh, and free rent. So it’s not surprising that 17% of adults share their homes with their grown children, according to a 2022 survey by the Federal Reserve Board. At some point, though, you may feel the urge to get your own place. (Your parents may not mind the extra space, either.) As you prepare to live on your own, it’s helpful to know how much money you’ll need to cover various living expenses. You may also want to consider whether moving out will require you to seek assistance from your parents—even if you’re no longer under their roof. A recent Pew Research Center study found that 44% of adults aged 18 to 34 received financial help from their parents during the last 12 months.2 Financial expert Lindsay Dell Cook shared her suggestions on how to fill in the gaps as you determine how much money you need to move out. She’s the president and founder of a company providing personal financial education and coaching services. How much should you save before moving out? Even if you think you know how to live on your own, you’re probably still wondering: How much money do I need to move out? Everyone will have a unique answer, says Cook, because the cost of rent, your lifestyle, and other factors can vary drastically from person to person. While the exact numbers will be specific to the individual, there is a way to figure out how to live on your own while remaining financially secure. The key, according to Cook, is to estimate everything from your moving costs (hint: check out tips for moving on a budget) to the monthly expenses you’ll have once you’re living on your own. You’ll also want to keep your long-term savings goals in mind. Below, Cook walks through each of the major expenses that you need to account for in your moving-out budget before you actually make the move. Each category is accompanied by cost averages that can serve as a starting point for you to determine how much money you may need to move out. You can explore the costs you’ll need to plan for, or you can skip to any of the following living expenses to learn more: Rent Moving Utilities Home decor Food and dining Discretionary spending Healthcare Emergency fund Student loans and other financial goals Open a spreadsheet, reference your favorite budgeting app, or grab a pen and paper and start building your budget for your big move. By including the categories below, you should be able to create your moving-out budget and determine how much you can afford in rent. Rent and move-in fees: Account for these basic housing expenses As you think about how much money you need to move out, your most significant expense will almost certainly be paying rent. Rents can vary from a few hundred dollars to thousands a month, depending on where you choose to live and whether you have roommates to help keep costs down. (Word to the wise: If you’re living with others, be sure you know how to split living costs with your roommates.) Tip: Check your credit score before you start hunting for apartments. If there’s a blemish or an error on it, you’ll want time to address it before a potential rental agency or property owner runs your credit report. Generally speaking, anything between 690 and 719 is considered a “good” credit score, per NerdWallet. While paying rent is the first thing you might consider before moving out, Cook recommends that it should be the last item you add to your moving-out budget. That’s because the amount you can afford in rent will depend on what money you have left after subtracting the other living expenses (covered below) from your after-tax income. Remember: Once you sign a lease, you’re responsible for that monthly rent payment until the lease ends. It’s important to ensure that your budget can accommodate paying this amount consistently. Keep in mind that simply multiplying your monthly rent by the number of months on your lease won’t give you the complete picture of how much money you need to move out. You’ll also need to account for a potential security deposit, move-in fees, and pet fees to be fully prepared. Security deposits and move-in fees If you don’t yet know where you’ll live, Cook recommends earmarking one and a half month’s rent for your security deposit and/or move-in fees. Note that if you pay a security deposit, you’ll likely get it back after your lease is up (provided you didn’t do any major damage to the place). Sometimes, landlords ask for a move-in fee instead of (or less commonly, in addition to) a security deposit. A move-in fee can cost several hundred dollars, and it’s a one-time, nonrefundable expense, Cook notes. Pet deposits If you have a pet, keep in mind that many landlords will ask for a pet deposit as well, which Cooks says can run as high as $500. “The pet deposit can actually be more significant than you would imagine,” she explains. You may be able to negotiate a pet deposit with your landlord, which could help reduce costs in your moving-out budget. Moving: Consider all the necessities for the big move Cook says clients tend to underestimate how much it costs to move out of their parents’ place and into their new digs. There are lots of variables to consider—hiring movers or handling it yourself, moving across the street or across the country—and the range could be anywhere from $300 to $3,000 or even higher. If it’s a local move that you’re handling on your own with (very good) friends, you’ll probably be renting something to haul your stuff in. A 14-foot truck rental (typically large enough for up to two bedrooms) tends to cost between $20 and $30 per day, in addition to a per-mile charge of $0.68 cents-$1.10, according to CostHelper.com. If you’re planning on a long-distance move, plan on a steeper charge; the consumer-focused site says you can expect to pay up to $2,000 for a similar-size truck. For packing supplies, CostHelper estimates the cost of a moving kit for a one-bedroom apartment (comprising 14-29 packing boxes, one roll of 55-yard moving tape and a marker) to usually fall somewhere between $69 and $90. If you’re hiring professional movers, Cook suggests reaching out well before you’re ready to pack your boxes. “Just because you’re not ready to move doesn’t mean that you can’t reach out and get a pulse on how much things might cost.” A moving-out budget that includes all the costs associated with your move can take the guesswork out of how much you’ll need to save. Cook warns that a moving truck, packing materials, and professional movers can add up. “Whatever you think it will be, add at least $200 to that,” she says. Utilities: Keep the lights on and the water running Gas, electricity, water—what would we do without them? You’ll need to make sure you have enough money earmarked in your moving-out budget to cover your bills and avoid any unpleasant surprises (like a cold shower). When you’re touring new places to live, Cook recommends asking the landlord or current tenants about average monthly utility costs. Make sure you understand which—if any—utilities are included in your rent. Sometimes, she says, you can negotiate for your landlord to cover utilities if they’re really in need of tenants. Home decor: Find a balance between old and new When Cook’s clients move into their first places, they sometimes repurpose old furniture from their parents’ house or from other relatives. “There’s no shame in the hand-me-down game,” she says. Some items might seem obvious in your moving-out budget—like a desk if you’re planning a home office—but it’s the little things that often get forgotten until you need them, things like silverware, trash cans, and bathmats. It can all add up to a big, unplanned expense. Cook encourages her clients to identify as many secondhand items as possible and then list every new household item they’ll need to furnish their apartment. Once they add up the expected costs, Cook increases the estimate by 10%. That’s because there are almost always extra little touches or necessities that you’ll want to buy to make your new place your own. Food and dining: Track your spending for a realistic estimate Moving out of your parents’ house and learning how to live on your own comes with a lot of benefits, but one of the downsides is that you’re on the hook for all your meals. Cook says younger adults tend to drastically underestimate how much they’ll spend on food. “Some people spend the same amount on food as they do on rent,” she says. The most straightforward way to determine how much you will spend on food is to track how much you are spending on food for at least a week. (If your parents treat you to a meal, ask them how much it costs so you can account for it.) When Cook works with clients to track their spending for the first time, food is the line item that raises the most eyebrows. “They’ll say, ‘Oh my gosh, I had no idea the line item for food would be so expensive,’” she says. As you learn how to live on your own, cooking meals at home can be an effective way to keep a lid on food expenses, but that takes some experience in the kitchen—a life skill that can take time to develop. If you want to sharpen your skills as an at-home chef, you can begin watching online cooking tutorials and start making meals at home while you’re still living with your parents. Discretionary spending: Make room for “the fun stuff” Unless you’re getting help from your parents (and there’s no shame in that), you’ll be on the hook for every purchase once you move out. Managing your discretionary spending is a key component of mastering how to live on your own. You can think of your discretionary expenses as wants rather than needs—things like a new TV, movie tickets, or home gym equipment. How much you have in your discretionary budget each month will depend on your monthly income and your other costs, Cook says. Some discretionary expenses don’t occur on a consistent schedule. You can, however, plan for these costs in your moving-out budget. Cook encourages clients to look at a calendar and note the weddings, vacations, and holiday spending that will need to be paid for over the next year. Add up the estimated costs for each of these big, irregular expenses and divide that sum by 12. Each month, you can contribute a planned amount to a high-yield savings account that’s dedicated to these discretionary expenses. Whenever you need to book flights, buy gifts, or update your wardrobe, you’ll have a savings account that you can dip into guilt-free. This strategy can help prevent you from stressing over money, too. Healthcare: Prepare for expected medical costs If you’re wondering how to live on your own but don’t have health insurance, Cook strongly recommends that you get it. You can get health insurance through your employer, your parents, or the healthcare marketplace. “Medical expenses are one of the main reasons a person can end up in financial distress and debt,” Cook says. “Even if you’re young and healthy, it’s not a gamble worth taking.” Even with health insurance, you may still have to pay some fees for certain visits, procedures, and medications. Refer to your insurance plan to see what out-of-pocket costs you’ll need to pay and account for them in your moving-out budget. Emergency fund: Start building your safety net An emergency fund is just what it sounds like: money that is stowed away in case you lose your job or unexpected expenses pop up. Experts agree that, ideally, your emergency fund should be able to cover your living expenses for three to six months should you ever find yourself without a steady source of income. “That would include rent, food, and any other bills you have to pay, like a car payment,” Cook says. Since an emergency fund is an important and potentially significant part of your moving-out budget, you may want to start saving for this line item well in advance. However, don’t be discouraged if your emergency fund isn’t quite where you want it to be. If you’re ready to move out before you’ve built up your emergency fund, you can start small and continue contributing to it once you live on your own. Just make sure you’re budgeting for it like any other expense. Wondering where to keep your emergency fund? Consider opening a high-yield savings account to stash the cash. This will keep it slightly out of sight, so you won’t be as tempted to dip into it for non-emergency use. Plus, the higher interest rate will help your money grow through the magic of compound interest. Student loans and other financial goals: Pay off debt and save for the future In addition to building an emergency fund, you want to account for other financial goals in your moving-out budget, Cook says. Whether you want to pay off your student loans, save for a vacation, plan for retirement, or financially prepare for grad school, you need to be diligent about putting that money away. “You really want to make sure you understand your budget and ensure that your rent and other living costs are still allowing you to save,” Cook says. Create your own moving-out budget So how much money do you need to move out? Break out your calculator and add up your honest estimates of each of the above expenses to build your moving-out budget. After doing the math, will you have enough money left over each month to save for your goals? If not, then Cook recommends revisiting your financial plan before moving out. “The bottom line is that you either need to be able to cut expenses, have a higher monthly income or some combination of the two,” Cook says. Don’t end your budgeting goals there. As you set out on your own, learn how to manage your first salary so you can cover your post-move expenses while saving for the future. It’s never too early to start saving for your goals, whether that’s building an emergency fund, saving for a trip, or paying for your own apartment. A Discover® Online Savings Account is a great way to start earning interest on your savings. Articles may contain information from third parties. The inclusion of such information does not imply an affiliation with the bank or bank sponsorship, endorsement, or verification regarding the third party or information. 1 “Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2022.” Federal Reserve Board. https://www.federalreserve.gov/publications/files/2022-report-economic-well-being-us-households-202305.pdf 2 “Parents, Young Adult Children and the Transition to Adulthood.” Pew Research Center. https://www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2024/01/ST_2024.01.25_Parents-Young-Adults_Report.pdf 3 “Consumer expenditures in 2022: Age of Reference Person.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. https://www.bls.gov/cex/tables/calendar-year/mean-item-share-average-standard-error/reference-person-age-ranges-2022.pdf 4 “Average Student Loan Payments to Top $200 Once Resumed.” Experian. https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/research/average-student-loan-payments/ Share article on facebook. Share article on twitter. 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