Tips for Moving Out for the First Time

Posted by Jim McCall on

May and June bring lots of changes for teens, young adults, parents, family and friends. My wife and I are jet-lagged from arriving home early yesterday morning after 12 hours of travel back from our second oldest daughter's college graduation. Thursday my wife and son get on a plane to tour two schools in California – touring both same-day, and flying back late that night. 

Right now we're a little too scattered to keep track of all the things we want to tell our daughter and son about life on their own. Trying (and failing) at making that list reminded me of a blog post from a few years back. It's a collection of advice from a friend of ours only a few years in to living on her own. Marina Rusinow created this back in 2012, but all of it applies today. (It's actually our most read blog post ever.)

Here's the original post:

Moving out for the first time is EXCITING! But it will take you a while to get the hang of being completely on your own. Independence requires sacrificing luxuries, budgeting for the things you need and want and maintaining a proper living space. My rule of thumb: live like your mother could come over for dinner at any moment. I always thought I lived with a bunch of clean-freaks growing up, but it turns out, I like keeping a clean space too and, just as shocking, top-ramen three nights a week is no way to keep a balanced diet. 

So I give you my list of things I wish I knew and learned the hard way: Tips for Moving Out for the First Time:

1. Clean your space once a week. It's healthy to keep a clean space and you'll feel more at ease coming home to an organized room instead of clutter.

2. Keep a drawer of healthy snacks: budgeting on food does not mean going hungry and a snickers bar does not replace dinner.

3. Make a monthly budget for groceries and going out. Keep track of this budget and see what kind of changes you need to make.

4. Take advantage of useful buys. Make your place feel like home. You can have nice expensive things when you're older with a steady salary, but in the meantime, Ikea and Target have plenty of bargains that will make you look like you "have it together" when your guests come over. With that in mind, don't splurge on things just because they're cheap. 

5. Keep a whiteboard on the door. It's good to write yourself reminders and have the best possible communication with roommates.

6. Go to bed at a decent hour. Just because your mother isn't around to make you go to bed early, doesn't mean you should stay up into the wee hours of the night chatting on Facebook. You feel better when you're well rested.

7. Make chores for yourself and do them. Wash the dishes and take out the trash, no one wants to live with a slob.

8. Keep a calendar. You're an adult now, you are responsible for being on time and keeping commitments.

9. Learn to do laundry and do it weekly. It's a scary day when the only clean clothes in your closet are old halloween costumes and that awful offensive t-shirt your friend got you as a joke.

10. Don't smoke indoors and don't let your guests do it either!! The air you breathe is important to your health and you'll most likely get fined by your landlord for smoking indoors. 

11. Plan meals. Buy groceries that you can use for more than just one recipe and use online guides like

12. Call your mother. She misses you and it's important for her to know you're doing okay.

13. Keep an awesome movie collection and fun coffee-table books. It's always fun to entertain guests.

14. Keep a spare key in a safe place or with someone you trust close by.

15. Keep a first aid kit in the house. This will always come in handy and it's best to be prepared.

16. Clean out your closet every other season. This will help you clear out some clutter and by donating your old clothes, you get good karma AND a tax deduction (just make sure you get a receipt). 

17. Voice your concerns with roommates. It's better to address issues as they arise than to let them brew and create conflict in your living situation.

18. Keep plants around the house. They brighten up the place and make the dreary seasons a little more tolerable.

19. Frame photos. It's important to have pictures of friends and family around to keep your spirits high.

20. Most importantly, pay your bills and rent on time!!  Although some landlords might be more flexible with this, your future landlords might not be. Develop good references for when you're ready to move into your dream apartment someday. 

Related Products: How to Ditch Your Parents


(Marina Rusinow studied Communication at the University of Washington where she put her focus on journalism and social media. She worked with Papersalt from 2012-2018, contributing blog material about life lessons and about her personal experiences with transitioning from teenage years to adulthood.)

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