8 Tips For Moving Out On Your Own In Your 20s

moving tips for 20s, moving out on your own, living on your own

Another “Ask Rachel” today! One reader asks:

Hi!! Do you have any advice for moving out for the first time??  I'm in my twenties and living on my own is something I desperately want and need to do, but it really seems impossible.  Thanks so much in advance!!

*ICYMI, you can submit any question here and my response may be featured on the blog! Be sure to check out past “Ask Rachel” posts!

Ahh moving out for the first time is so exciting! Honestly, I was “eased” out since I lived alone for school, then when I moved back home I spent the majority of time at a boyfriends, then with friends, then again with a boyfriend. It wasn't until I was 24 that I started actually paying anyone rent and it wasn't until 26 that I actually had my name on a lease! With that said, my odd living arrangements for the majority of my twenties taught me a lot about finances and things.

8 tips for moving out on your own in your 20s:

Create A Budget

First things first, let's figure out what you can afford and make sure you'll be able to live comfortably on your own. Generally I like the 50/20/30 rule. Where 50% of your net income goes towards essentials. That includes rent, utilities, insurances, groceries etc. Next, 20% goes towards financial goals like paying off debt, saving for retirement, etc. Lastly, 30% goes towards your lifestyle, like gym memberships, meals out, entertainment, etc.

The percentages are a good rule of thumb, but not perfect for every situation. Keep in mind you can flex the percentages for your unique situation. For example, if you have a lot of debt, you may choose to put 30% towards goals and 20% towards lifestyle.

Get Clear On What You'll Be Responsible For

Moving out on your own gives way to a whole new world of expenses you may not have thought about. Obviously it's going to be expensive. Make sure you have enough for first and last month's rent, as well as a security deposit (be prepared for it to be one months rent, it may be less but that's the most it'll be). If you have a pet, make sure you're prepared for a pet deposit fee as well.

While looking at places, make sure you understand what you're responsible for:

Electricity: Your responsibility

Water & Sewage: Sometimes it's included in rent in apartment buildings other times it's not.

Internet: Your responsibility

Cable: Some apartment buildings give basic cable for free others don't. You may opt out of cable and just stick with a Netflix or Hulu subscription, but factor in what this will cost you monthly.

Parking: Again, for apartment living, are you given a space? Do you have to pay to put your car in a garage?

Landscaping: Covered in apartments and town homes. But if moving into a traditional home, make sure you understand who is responsible for mowing the lawn.

Renter's Insurance: Some places will require it. Good thing is you can get it for as little as $10 a month. Make sure you understand the plan though!

Personally, I wouldn't move out on my own, unless I tallied all of the above, plus an extra $1,000 in an emergency fund to cover anything unexpected. I know that may sound a bit extreme, but could you imagine shelling out all the money to live on your own, then get a flat tire? Or end up in the hospital? You don't want an emergency to wipe you out where you can't keep paying for that apartment!


Understand the application process

You'll have to pay for a background check, credit check, and sometimes a misc application processing fee to the HOA. If you move forward with a place, you should have your credit scores and pay stubs ready to go. A lot of times landlords want to know you have a steady job paying you enough to cover the rent. You can find some chill landlords on Craiglist who won't hit you with applications or fees, but it's not common or often.

Typically this all costs around $100 per person, but can be as much as $250 depending on the place. With that said, before you plop down your cash, make sure you'll be approved! Know what your credit score is, and if there are any minimum requirements in order to rent. If there is anything that could disqualify you in your background check, get ahead of it by letting your potential landlord know. Often times they won't care, but the community may have an HOA or board to answer too who will have to approve you.

Roommates or no roommates?

Pros: Others can offset your costs with rent, utilities, internet, furnishing, etc. They may help out around the house with chores. Could be lifelong friends.

Cons: You're not really on your own, they could be messy and annoying AF

Subleasing or leasing?

A lot of places won't allow for subleasing, but it can be a great way to get your feet wet.

Pros: Often times these places are pre-furnished and cheaper (you may have to negotiate) than a normal lease since every month this place sits empty, the original leaser is eating the cost. You may not have traditional application fees and some may not have you sign a rental agreement. Since you're picking up someone's lease midway, it's often shorter term which can give you a taste and allow you sometime to figure out your next move.

Cons:  Some might not have you sign a rental agreement! Like I said, subleasing isn't always allowed in a building, but people still do it. Which means you have the chance of getting found out and kicked out without a formal agreement in place. Every state has different rules and regulations so just make sure you understand the ramifications and situation you are getting yourself into! Also, like I mentioned, it's often a shorter term arrangement, meaning you may have to go through the process of finding a new place sooner than you'd like.

Location, Location, Location.

I've always chosen to live in downtown areas where I don't need a car to get to my essentials (the beach and grocery stores). Not having a car allows me to put some of the money I'd spend on insurance, gas and other payments into my home. For others, that might mean having a car, but being closer to work so you can save money on gas and time with your commute. If you're leasing your car, keep the mileage of your commute in mind! You don't want to get hit with unexpected overage fees at the end of your auto lease.

Furnished or Unfurnished?

Until this most recent move at 27, the majority of my 20s were spent in pre-furnished places! Which meant that a lot of the places never really felt like a home. Honestly, it didn't bother me that much, since I got to save a ton of money and moving was always easy. Some landlords will charge more if they are renting with furniture, others won't. I got really lucky with 2 furnished apartments on Craigslist that were actually cheaper than unfurnished units in the same building. Sometimes you won't find that but it's something to consider. If you are moving somewhere unfurnished, expected to spend about $1000-2000 (conservatively) on furniture and things (bed, bed frame, couch, linens, kitchenware, etc. add up fast!).

Cut Initial Home Goods Costs:


Skip paper and plastic plates and silverware. It may seem “cheaper” up front, but it'll add up fast and creates unnecessary waste. Instead go to Target, they have a great 4 piece dish set for $20 in their “room essentials” collection or you can buy 1-2 plates and bowls for $1-2 per piece. Just hand wash it after each use. It'll keep dishes out of the sink and it's better for the environment. The same goes with silverware, you can hit up a Goodwill and just pick up 1-2 pieces of what you need.

Ask your Facebook friends.

People are always moving so they have may stuff they were donating anyways.


Check out this post on tips for selecting a mattress. Also, check our local Habitat for Humanity and GoodWill. With the growing number of “bed in a box” companies (who have forgiving return policies) countless brand new mattresses are ending up there!

Shop Smart:

Check Craigslist, OfferUp, Ebay, thrift stores, and the like obviously. However, make sure you understand prices! Don't just assume that it's used so it's cheaper. I can't tell you how many times I see used items being sold at those places for the same prices of $5 less than buying the item new! Check Amazon and Jet and install the Chrome plugin Wikibuy to make sure you're getting the best prices.

The biggest thing, is just make sure you understand the responsibility you're taking on and that you have an emergency fund in place before you move.

What advice would you add?

55 thoughts on “8 Tips For Moving Out On Your Own In Your 20s”

  1. They need to teach this in colleges and high schools! Lol, it’s such good information and tips that I never really knew about until I was experiencing it first hand! I also cherished the 5 months I lived completely by myself when I was 19. It was a life-changing experience. 🙂

  2. Can I second and third your budgeting suggestions? I moved out of my mom’s house pretty hastily (my friend found an apartment and I was like “how hard can this be?”) and had absolutely no business paying rent. One month I sent in literal coins in an envelope. I learned a lot the hard way but I think it was worth it. Plus, my friend and I had a lot of fun!

  3. You’re lucky you were able to find so many furnished apartments! That’s definitely convenient for a young 20 something if it’s available. I looked into that after college for my first place with my former roomie, and we couldn’t find anything like that where we used to live!! (At least for a long term lease).

  4. These are great tips! I actually only ever lived in a furnished apartment when I lived in student living but that was only for a year or two.

  5. All of these are such great tips! Shopping smart helped me so much when I first moved out – Ikea (they have dishware for $1!), flea markets, garage sales, and the “free” section of craigslist helped so much! I would add learn how to cook at least a little bit as well haha!

  6. I honestly wish I had this list before I moved out three years ago with my husband (boyfriend at the time). I think we were so caught up with the exciting fact of being on our own that we didn’t realize how many extra expenses there were going to be. I like the % rule you have!

  7. “they could be annoying AF” SO TRUE. I honestly hate living with anyone other than my husband.

  8. Shevii McFarlane

    Great tips. I am currently moving into my own place and the process has been hectic. They definitely didn’t tell us this in school.

  9. Ashley Stephenson

    These are some awesome tips! In college I had 3 roommates my junior and senior year in an off campus apartment, but my parents still paid for my rent. But when I graduated my husband (bf at the time) got an apartment together and we learned all about having our own place! Knowing these tips before is a great idea.

  10. You’re right, there are a lot of extra expenses when moving. It is important to know what you’re getting yourself into. I agree with you on roommates. Once you’re out of school living alone is so nice.

  11. This is very helpful! I’m looking to move out on my own soon and I definitely needed this! Budgeting is so important and watching where your money is going.

  12. Great advice! When my daughter was looking for a place to live, I told her the most important thing was finding a place that she felt was safe. You can’t guarantee safety, but if you are living someplace that feels secure it will make such a huge difference in your quality of life.

  13. So many great tips Rachel! I’m hoping to move out in the next six months or so and have been thinking out starting to buy small pieces of furniture, kitchen essentials, etc. I definitely want to not have a roommate if possible because it can add a lot of unnecessary drama. No thanks!

  14. Great tips! When I was apartment hunting in college having a furnished place with utilities was so important to me because I knew I wasn’t going to stay there long. will def have to revisit this when i move again!

  15. I sooooo needed these tips when I moved out for college. I feel like I could honestly write a book with everything I’ve learned lol

  16. Wow these are some great tips! Moving out on my own was definitely a learning curve. You’ve done all the research and made a wonderful resource here! I wish I could have seen it when I moved our. Haha

  17. These are great tips! I lived on my own in apartments that were pre-furnished until I got married, and then it was a bit of an adjustment! But, I definitely wish I’d had some of these tips when I first moved out! Creating a budget is huge, we just barely started doing this (after 2 years of marriage)

  18. I loved these tips so much.. I just move out on my own too & it makes life so much easier to have check lists like this. It can totally help someone else. Xo

  19. I wish I had these tips when I first moved out! At least I can used them once me and my husband start looking for places!

  20. Stephanie Parrell

    Solid advice! There is so much to take in when moving out for the first time especially. It is good to have a bit of a base set up.

  21. The budget was my first major downfall when I moved out. Made me have to move back home! Yikes! Great tips! I did a post similar to this and our advice is very similar. Haha!

    1. Oh I can imagine!! I know when we were looking at places, I was so surprised by how varied apartment complex fees were! Some even charged for trash! If we had moved in and didn’t know that I would’ve been so angry haha! (We didnt live there lol)

  22. Great tips!! As a person that has to move all the time to different countries, these are amazing tips especially when you try to cut costs 🙂

  23. Budget is HUGE! It’s something I’m working on even a little more now that we’re moving out of our townhouse and into our home. It’s amazing how much logging everything helps you.

  24. This is all such solid advice. I was kind of eased out as well, having left for college and all that. There’s so much to consider when you’re living in your own. I definitely know that I could not live by myself, so having good, fun, reliable roommates is crucial for me.

  25. My husband and I moved out on our own when we were 21 and 23 with a 5 year old daughter. We definitely could have used this list. Especially the “Know what you’re responsible for” portion. We were so lost and made a lot of mistakes. We made it through, though.

  26. Logan Elizabeth Abbott

    These are great tips! Honestly, the thing that helped me the most when I was moving into my new place was buying most of my furniture (besides my mattress) on Facebook marketplace in my area! I think I spent under $400 for a bedframe, side tables, dresser, lamps, and decorations for my bedroom. I’d definitely recommend that people check there!

  27. Moving out on your own is always a HUGE step. I remember, I was so excited to move into my first apartment. I do wish I would have been more financially responsible in my early twenties. I didn’t sit down and really look at my finances and budget for all the details like utilities/cable/pet rent (totally a thing here in Seattle)/internet/gym/etc. Obviously I made it through but I wish I hadn’t avoided sitting down and thinking about my finances back then!

  28. These are some great tips! Especially the tips about budgeting and knowing what you’re financially responsible for. Rent is not the final money that will go towards living expenses! They add up!

  29. These are all excellent tips! I would also recommend looking at the amenities that a building offers as they can also be money savers too. For example, my building has a gym inside so I saved money on a gym membership because of it.

  30. Love these straight-forward steps! I am moving out at the end of the year and honestly, I am a little overwhelmed with how many things go into renting an apartment. Where I live, I don’t think we have many apartment complexes that offer furnished packages. That would be such a plus though, purchasing and transporting furniture is such a pain!

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