Moving Out vs. Moving In
The largest percentage of your monthly pay will probably go toward covering your housing costs after college. Whether you’re in a roommate situation and splitting the rent on an apartment, or going your own way with the least expensive studio or one-bedroom you could find, the costs do add up when you factor in furnishing your new place, utilities, and amenities like off-street parking. As a result, a large number of recent graduates (up to half, depending on who you ask), opt for the ultimate sacrifice instead — moving back home to live with their parents. Depending on what your priorities are, moving out or moving in both come with some important things to consider. Check out what we’ve come up with below on the pros and cons of both so that you’re well-equipped to make the decision when it comes time to.
Moving out on your own can be both stressful and exhilarating. You’re an adult now, with adult bills and big decisions to make, but you’re also on your way to moving in to a new place you can call your own. Unless you’re rent-burdened (you shouldn’t be spending more than 40 percent of any salary on housing-related costs), chances are your lifestyle will change a bit after college. No more all-nighters or dining hall food. If you’ve taken a look at your monthly budget and have determined that moving out can be an option, especially if the job you’ve landed isn’t in the same city (or state) as where your parents live, there are ways to make it hurt your wallet a little bit less. And if your parents are willing to give you a little bit of help, whether that means paying the cable bill once in a while or picking up your rent on special occasions, moving out can be even more realistic.
To find an appropriate living arrangement, check out housing sites that cater to recent graduates rather than going out trolling for “For Rent” signs on your own. Depending on how flexible you are in terms of the number of roommates you’ll have, location, or access to public transportation, you may find a good deal on a place that perhaps doesn’t meet all of your ideal housing criteria. Be vigilant about making sure any online listings live up to their Internet descriptions, though, as you don't need to have an art or design degree to edit a photo or play up an apartment’s more positive attributes in favor of glossing over any negative characteristics like the abandoned building next door or an insect problem. Ask a lot of questions on tours of potential housing, like details on how much you should expect to pay on utilities and maintenance. It’s quite possible you’ll be moving in with a few roommates or friends, at least until you’re on more solid financial footing, so think back on the kinds of things you did in college to make those communal housing situations more pleasant.
The main reason recent graduates move back in with their parents is money: It isn’t cheap to move out on your own the minute you land that new job, which often comes with an entry-level salary that may make it difficult to make ends meet for a while anyway. For many students then it makes financial sense to move back home for a while and save up some cash for the eventual move. You can also use this time to make a dent in your student loans or any other debt you accrued while in college. (If you have credit card payments to make, those should be your top priority.) If you’re bad at saving money, have someone do it for you. Talk to your employer about setting up a savings account that deducts some of your paycheck automatically every payday. Or ask your parents to hold onto a percentage of each paycheck so that you’re less likely to spend the money you’re saving by living at home on frivolous things. The point isn’t to make living at home a permanent arrangement.
The decision to move back home after four years of independent-living in college is harder for some than for others. If you’re struggling with your decision, there are ways to make it more manageable. Consider deciding now when you’d like to move out by, and having a time table on when you’d like to have a good portion of your nest egg established. Think about sitting down with your parents, especially if they were of the strict variety, and talking about things like your social life, "house rules," and any expectations they may have for you in terms of contributing to the grocery or utility bills. The more adult you act now, the easier it will be for you to leave home. (If you have your mom doing your laundry every week, it may be harder to leave that lap of luxury once your finances are in order.) Along those lines, avoid relying on financial help from your parents. It’s ok for mom or dad to float you a loan if you’re having trouble finding a job, but once you have that job, try living on a budget and saving what you would spend on rent and housing costs. This way, you’ll know exactly the standard of living to get used to for when you move out of your parents’ house.