Have you recently graduated high school? Whether you’re desperate for your own space or your parents are pushing for you to move out, it’s time to spread your wings and explore the world.
Entering adulthood and starting your own home can be daunting for some. But everyone goes through this life stage eventually, so why not start a little early and learn how to stand on your own two feet?
Our practical guide will take you through:
- The legalities of moving out at 18
- Supporting yourself
- Saving up for the move
- Budgeting for your new lifestyle
- Building a credit rating
- Finding somewhere to live
- Finding a roommate
- The logistics of your move
- Kitting out your new humble abode
Let’s get started on how to move out at 18.
Can I move out at 18 without parents’ permission?
US teens can legally leave home once they reach the age of majority. This varies depending on the state you’re residing in. In most states, the age of majority is 18, however, if you live in Alabama or Nebraska, then this is extended to 19 years old. In Mississippi, the age of majority is 21.
What happens if you want to leave home before then?
It is always better to carefully plan a home move at 18 years old rather than taking hasty action such as running away, although some teens won’t always have the full support of their parents.
Once a teen has moved out of the family home, he or she will be legally responsible for their own support and maintenance. In comparison, teens who are still high school students when they reach the age of majority must be supported by their parents if they live at home.
For teens who do run away, they will be impacted differently by the law depending on where they live. For example, even though the age of majority is 18 in Michigan, the court has no jurisdiction to return a 17-year-old runaway back to the family home.
Can your parents control you at 18? Once you have reached the age of majority, or are emancipated from your parents, you are legally responsible for where you choose to live. This can also include teens who are married with children under the age of 18, who may also be allowed to move out from their parents depending on the state they’re living in.
Is it a bad idea to move out at 18?
Every 18-year-old has their own individual set of circumstances which will determine how easy it is for them to move out at this age. Are you asking yourself ‘should I move out at 18?’.
This age may be too young for some, and a couple more years of preparation time may be needed for a smooth transition to leaving home. In other cases, if you have plenty of savings or the support of your family (financial or otherwise) then this can be a truly positive life step.
Some of the most common reasons for moving out at 18 years old include:
- Starting college
- Joining the military
- A desire for more space and a new start
- Unstable living environment
- Getting married or moving in with a romantic partner
- Moving in with friends
- Working in a different location
Supporting yourself at 18 years old
Depending on the nature of your relationship with your parents, it could be really positive to speak to them directly and talk through your decision. They may be worried about your ability to support yourself, as well as your safety. Once you clearly talk through the reasons you want to move and prove that you’ve given it a lot of thought, this may help to reassure your loved ones that you’re ready for such a big step.
A successful transition to adulthood begins with putting a plan in place. Ideally, you won’t be moving on a whim and will have been building a leaving home strategy for a while. One of the top considerations will be financially supporting your new lifestyle.
You may not realize it, but there are plenty of expenses you’ll be responsible for when you’re out on your own. Besides rent, utility, and insurance bills, you’ll need to afford to put food in the fridge, as well as paying for other necessities including your cellphone and broadband bills. Whether you drive or take the bus, you’ll need to factor in transport costs too.
The best way to afford all the above is to have a permanent job before or following your move, so if you’ve just been working a couple of weekend shifts at the IMAX, then you’ll need to step up your employment plans.
Saving up for your move
Assuming that you’re moving into rented accommodation rather than trying to buy a property at 18, it’s a really good idea to have at least six months’ worth of savings in place. If anything happens with your employment then this will provide you with a safety net until you get back on your feet again.
Also, when you sign a rental lease, you’ll often need to provide an application fee, your first and last months’ rent upfront as well as money for a security deposit, so you’ll need more than a thousand dollars in the bank to meet these figures.
It can be difficult for teens to save the type of money required to support six months of living expenses, but it’s certainly not impossible if you follow the right advice. If you’re able to plan ahead, then it might take a few months or years to save up enough money to move out.
Whether you have been a part-time employee outside of school hours, or have managed to launch a side gig from home, perhaps freelancing as a tutor or copywriter, this is the type of work that can help to build your savings pot. Even if the wage seems minimal at this point, your outgoings are probably still low if you’re living with your parents, so every dollar earned can go straight into your moving-out fund.
If you’re asking yourself ‘how much money do I need to move out at 18?’, then you’ll need to do your research as the answer will be different for every teen. Start by taking a look at accommodation in the area you want to live in, which may or may not be your local area.
The cost of an apartment or room share will usually be your largest expense, but you should also factor in other essential bills such as gas, electricity, and water, along with cable, broadband, and your cell phone. Then of course there’s food. These costs will vary depending on the location you live in.
The total cost of your essential expenses should usually represent about 50% of your monthly income. Double this number and multiply by six to work out how much you need to save before you move out at 18.
Don’t be disheartened if you don’t have this amount of money saved yet. Researching the figure is a positive step as it creates a tangible goal for you to work towards. Even if the figure you need is thousands of dollars, just work out a timescale of when you would like to move out of home so you know how much you need to add to your savings pot each month in the lead-up.
Finding an income stream after you’ve moved out
Saving up to move out at 18 is just step one of the operation. Figuring out how you will be able to support yourself once you’re living under your own roof is an entirely different ballgame.
Many 18-year-olds have some work experience under their belt which is important for creating a regular cash flow to support your new independence. Depending on whether you’re trying to fit studying into your lifestyle, as many 18-year-olds are, you will normally need to seek out permanent work.
If you’re already working part-time, then you might have the option to increase your hours to make ends meet. Alternatively, if you’re hoping to move into a more lucrative type of work, then there are some steps you can take to seek out appropriate job opportunities in your field:
- brush up your resume
- practice your interview skills
- create a LinkedIn profile
- network with industry professionals within your niche
- register with job boards to receive alerts about the latest roles
It may take a while to be hired into a permanent job that pays enough to support your independent living. You might choose to delay your move out of home until you’ve secured such a position, or else you might go ahead and rely on part-time work or side gigs to support you until you’re hired.
So, what’s a side gig?
Starting a side gig as a teen is actually a really positive financial step to take that will help to support your finances once you have moved out of the family home. This type of work is flexible and can fit around your other commitments including college, full-time work, and your social life.
Side gigs, also known as side hustles can even be a hobby that you get paid for – so if you love gardening, then you could make a few hundred dollars landscaping your neighbors’ yard. If you’re great with web design, then you could offer your services for up to $30-40 an hour depending on your experience and your breadth of skills.
From tutoring to transcribing, the list of ways to make money through side gigs is unlimited, so put your thinking cap on and consider the most flexible ways to make money on a schedule that suits you.
Budgeting 101 for your independent lifestyle
If you don’t want to end up in debt, then budgeting for your new lifestyle is an essential skill to learn. Ideally, you’ll learn the basics before you leave home, or even be taught some financial literacy in school. Keeping your head above water relies on staying in firm control of your finances – this means knowing exactly how much money you have coming in vs how much you’re spending every month.
With online banking, direct debits, and app payments, it can be easy to swipe your card and not have a clue about what you’re spending. But it’s also much easier than you think to manage your money once you get the hang of it.
So, what is a budget? Essentially, it’s just a way of monitoring your spending vs your earnings. Your budget will evolve over time as your costs change – you might get a raise in your salary, or your landlord might put your rent up.
A good budget will enable you to keep track of your money management and make the necessary tweaks. By following excellent budgeting tips, you should also be able to put aside some cash for a rainy day too.
The key to getting started on a budget is to be super organized. If you’re planning your budget before you move out of home, then you might ask your parents if they could help. They’ll know how much they spend on bills and how much it costs to feed you!
If you have already moved out of home, then it’s never too late to get a budget in place. Start assembling your bank statements, payslips, and receipts so you have all the information you need. Ideally, you’ll have three months of figures to go through so you can see if there are any patterns or averages to work out.
Some people might prefer the old-fashioned pen and paper way to work out a budget. Others will use an Excel or Google spreadsheet. You might also choose to use a popular budgeting app such as Mint which automatically syncs and categorizes your transactions
Working out your income
The top line of your budget should be your income. You may choose to include this as a monthly, weekly, or biweekly figure depending on how regularly you get paid.
Remember to follow the same frequency for your expenses too, so if you’re creating a weekly budget but you pay rent monthly, then you should adjust your figures accordingly so you know how much you’re spending on rent each week.
As a tax-payer, don’t forget to use the income figure that you receive after tax. If you use your gross income figure instead then your budget will be left quite short. If you make student loan or pension contributions that come straight out of your pay packet, then don’t forget to include these either.
The number you’re left with for your income should be the total amount you take home after all deductions.
Working out your expenses
Expenses fall into two main categories – essential spending and non-essential spending. Your essential spending will cover rent, utility bills, insurance, transport, childcare if required, and food.
Your non-essential spending covers eating out, entertainment such as cinema tickets, subscription services such as Netflix, and nights out with friends. Anything you could technically live without falls into this category – all the fun stuff!
Working out your budget
Add up the total amount you spend on your expenses across both essential and non-essential expenditures. Do these total more than your incoming pay? If so, it’s time to tweak your budget to make room.
Don’t be alarmed if your expenses vastly outweigh your income – you’ll be amazed how much wiggle room there can be in a budget, even when you’re 18 years old.
In your essentials category, you might try to find a more affordable apartment to bring the costs down. You can always shop around several different energy and insurance providers to make sure you’re paying a low price for your bills. Comparison websites can help you to identify the best current deals in the market.
Where cutting your essential spending requires a bit of research and admin, reducing your non-essential spending relies more on discipline. It can be hard not to treat yourself to a trip to the mall, seeing your favorite band in concert, or a night out with friends. Of course, there’s nothing to say you can’t do all of these things, but you’ll just need to see if there’s room in your budget first.
The key to finding room for your non-essential spending is to live frugally. There are numerous ways to make easy trims to your budget and examples of people who have fully converted to frugality and are living a financially independent lifestyle.
Some frugal living tips for 18-year-olds include:
- Making coffee at home instead of buying it on-the-go
- Meal planning at home to avoid wasted groceries going in the trash
- Taking lunch with you instead of eating out
- Choosing second-hand clothes, appliances, and furniture at a fraction of the cost of brand-new
- Canceling unused subscriptions and avoiding taking out new ones – no one really needs a monthly candle delivery do they?
- Getting rid of cable in favor of streaming your shows online instead
- Switching a gym membership for outdoor exercise – a completely FREE alternative
- Do your own beauty treatments at home or get a friend to do your nails
The more you look into being frugal, the more amazed you will be by how many savings you can find.
Putting some money aside
It may seem unrealistic for teens to be putting money aside each month on top of standing on their own two feet. But getting into the habit of saving money is really important for your financial future.
When working out your budget, try to find room to pay yourself each month. This means that your pay packet will be spent in three different areas – essential spending, non-essential spending, and savings. Some people follow a simple rule where they divide the ratio of their pay packet into 50/30/20 portions. 50% to be spent on essentials, 30% on non-essential items, and 20% on savings.
Ideally, the saving part of your budget should be non-negotiable and you’ll be making cuts elsewhere to make the numbers work. If you’ve already saved up six months of living costs before you move out of home, then this is a great start. Topping this up regularly with 20% of your pay will give you an even greater financial cushion in case anything unforeseen happens, including:
- Losing your job
- The landlord raising your rent
- Your car needing repairs
Building your credit rating
Once you’re 18 years old, you will be able to apply for a credit card. This can be a positive financial step as it helps to build your credit history. This is what lenders will look at in the future if you wish to take out a mortgage or commit to a car loan.
Applying for a credit card may seem nonsensical if you’re trying hard to budget and stay out of debt. But actually owning a credit card and proving that you can be responsible with it is important too.
In fact, some apartment complexes won’t even consider taking you on as a tenant if you have zero or a low credit rating.
So why apply for a credit card when you’re 18 rather than further down the line? Unfortunately, it can take a while to build a credit history – it’s quite a slow process so it’s best to start as early as possible, even before you’ve moved out of home if possible.
Applying for a credit card
In a chicken and egg scenario, it is frustrating that it can be difficult to apply for a credit card if you have no previous credit history. Essentially, the lender doesn’t know whether to trust you or not.
One of the best ways to overcome this financial hurdle is to become an authorized user on one of your parent’s credit cards. This will only work if they have a decent credit rating and don’t miss payment deadlines or take on too much debt.
As an authorized user, you can piggyback off the credit activity of the account holder to build your rating quicker.
If you’re still at high school or have started college when you turn 18, then you’ll be able to apply for a student credit card that doesn’t require you to have any credit history. These also offer low APRs which means you’ll pay only a small amount of interest on any balance you owe. There is also no annual fee associated with this type of card, meaning that you don’t have to spend your money for the privilege of keeping the credit line open.
Using your credit card sensibly
It’s really important to realize that a credit card is not free money. Even if you have a credit limit of a few thousand dollars, with what seems like a very small and manageable monthly repayment, it’s critical that you use credit wisely.
Getting into debt is a lot easier than getting out of it. So, really the idea of having a credit card is to provide you with access to cash that you will then pay back each month.
One sensible approach to using your credit card and paying it off each month is to give it a set purpose. You might choose to use it for your budgeted groceries or your gas, then make sure you take the balance back down to zero by paying the credit off in full. This way you won’t pay interest but you’ll also be proving that you’re financially responsible to the lender which will help to build your history.
Finding a roommate
There’s no rule that says you have to live with someone when you’re moving out at 18. You might prefer the solitude of living alone, to provide you with the space you’ve been craving.
But the benefit of sharing with other people is that it will be significantly cheaper. Not only will your rent be more affordable, but you’ll also have other people to split the bills with. If one of you has a car, then you might even be able to carpool to reduce the running costs and gas bill.
If you happen to have a buddy who also wants to move out at 18, then this could be a no-brainer for you. Other options are moving in with a girlfriend or boyfriend or choosing to hunt around for a new roommate.
From social media to Craigslist and Alpaca there are multiple places to find a roommate. You might choose to answer an ad for a room vacancy in an existing shared house. Alternatively, you could start by seeking out a roommate to buddy up with and then begin your rental search together.
Looking for rental accommodation
As an 18-year-old moving out of home for the first time, you may need to be realistic about the quality of accommodation you can afford. You’ll usually need something cheap and functional, but it may not look like a million dollars. That doesn’t mean it won’t feel like home though.
Begin by defining the criteria of what you’re looking for. Usually, this may be influenced by:
- Your budget
- The location you want to live in
- How many rooms are in the property
- The length of the lease
Deciding how much you can afford is something you’ll already have accomplished when putting together your how-to move out at 18 plan. The neighborhood may be determined by how close it is to your job, college, or social circle. The length of the lease can vary, but you’ll usually find that if you’re willing to commit to a longer term, then you might secure a slight reduction in rental costs. This is because the landlord won’t have the stress of finding another tenant if you move out after a short-term let.
If you like the look of a property, always be clear on what the price of the rent includes. For example, some cities offer a low-income housing program that will include the cost of utilities in the rental price so long as you’re willing to live on one of the upper floors of the property. You may find it useful to speak to a HUD-approved Housing Counseling Agency by calling 1-888-995-HOPE.
If your area isn’t covered by this type of program, then your best bet would be to start an accommodation search online. Sites like Craigslist would be an excellent start, but you may also see plenty of posts on social media requesting roommates.
Alternatively, you can contact your local realtor to see if they can match you with appropriate properties within your budget.
The cost of moving out at 18
We’ve spoken about saving for your move and being able to afford to live by yourself. But what about the cost of physically moving house at 18 years old? Luckily, as a teen, you’re unlikely to have accumulated the same amount of belongings as a family of four. But that also means that you’ll need to think about kitting out your new abode which you can either do before or after your move.
But what about the actual move itself? If your new place is located nearby, you may be able to enlist family and friends to help you lug over some boxes. If you’re moving further afield, then you may have to factor in the cost of travel tickets, shipping costs, or gas for a road trip.
To transport your belongings, you may be able to get away with using a couple of suitcases or saving up some sturdy cardboard boxes to use. Buying packaging online, along with tape and bubble wrap can quickly eat into your budget so try to be thrifty where possible.
Whatever your situation, remember to plan all these expenses out and put them into your budget so there are no unpleasant surprises when you feel ready to take the plunge and move out at 18.
Furnishing your new home
When you’re negotiating a rental price with a landlord, it’s important that you find out whether furnishings are included in the cost of your accommodation. A rental will typically fall into three main categories:
- Fully furnished – the rent includes all furniture including your bed, wardrobe, couch, dining table but extends to smaller items such as your tableware and cooking utensils
- Part-furnished – major items such as your appliances will be included, but you will need to provide your own soft furnishings
- Unfurnished – the rental accommodation will be empty so will be a blank canvas for you.
Even within these three main categories, there is still a lot of variation which is why it’s important to understand exactly what you’re paying for and what is included as part of the lease you’ll be signing.
Here are the absolute basics you can expect to need in each room of the house:
- Bed and mattress
- Pillows and bedding
- Closet accessories such as hangers and shoe rails
- Coffee table
- Table and chairs
- Plates, bowls, glasses, mugs, cutlery, pans, and utensils
- Can opener, corkscrew, oven mitts, chopping board, storage tubs, sharp knives
- Washing up sponges and cloths
- Dishwasher tablets
- Cleaning supplies, trash bags, plunger, scrubber
- Basic ingredients: flour, sugar, spices, etc.
- Trash can
- Toilet paper
- Bath towels
- Hand soap
- Beauty products
- Light bulbs
- Tool kit
- Candles and matches
- First-aid kit
- Modem and router (to get a cheaper deal on your broadband)
If you don’t have all of these items already, you might want to arrange for them to be delivered to you within a day or so of moving in. Make sure you have your first-day essentials packed in a box, so you don’t have to worry about locating your bed linen or your toilet roll when you’re exhausted.
Managing your emotions
Even if you’re desperate to move out at 18, it’s natural to feel nervous when moving day finally arrives. You might feel anxious about being out on your own for the first time, or perhaps you’re worried about missing mom, dad, siblings, or the family pet.
Remember that all of these feelings are entirely natural, but hopefully, they will be mixed in with positive emotions such as excitement and anticipation too. If you’re moving quite a distance from your family home, perhaps take the time to create some special memories with your loved ones. That might be visiting your favorite restaurant, taking a last-minute road trip, or having a leaving party with your nearest and dearest.
You might also want to print out your best photos and create a framed photo montage so you can proudly display those wonderful memories in your new abode. If you are feeling homesick, the beauty of modern technology is that most people are just a FaceTime call away from chatting with anyone they’re missing.
Now you’ve read these moving out at 18 tips, you should be more than ready to go out and face the big, wide world. Our support doesn’t stop here though. If you need any more guidance with budgeting, living frugally, and all other aspects of money management, The Finances Hub offers a wealth of advice to suit your individual situation. Check out our blog today.