How to Live on Your Own & Thrive (2023 Guide)

by Jack Brewer


Thinking about leaving your parents home for the first time but aren’t sure how to live on your own?

Suddenly, your mind is full of questions like: How much does it cost to live on your own? How will you find furniture? What should you do if you’re feeling lonely?

Considering that the average cost of an apartment in the United States is $1,284 it’s important that you create a strategy that will help you cover not only how you’ll thrive, but your rent, additional bills, and even fun money, too.

What You’ll Need to Get Started


Before you pack your bags and head out on your own, there are a few things you should have nailed down.

Knowing how to navigate these things will save you loads of time, money, and even a few headaches.

A Place Picked Out

While this seems like a no-brainer, make sure that you know where you want to be and what sort of strategy you’ll need to thrive there.

Don’t leave your parent’s house with the idea of becoming a nomad with a van as that’s not the best path for first-timers to give a go. Nomadic life is much more nuanced and tougher than many think.

Instead, try your best to have a solid plan mapped out for where you’ll find your new home, what amenities are around it (the closer you are to a grocery store, the better), and what cost of living factors you’ll need to take into account.

A Steady Source of Income

Unfortunately, your Etsy store probably isn’t going to cut it when you’re renting your first place, so make sure that you have a steady stream of income.

Even better if you have multiple streams, as supplemental income can ensure you’ll be able to make your rent payments on time if you fall on hard times or lose your primary job.

These days side gigs such as making money on eBay and selling at flea markets have become legitimate sources of income.

An Understanding of your Lease Agreement

Once you find your new place, don’t just skim over the rental agreement and assume everyone has your best interests at heart.

Read through the agreement and ask questions if something doesn’t seem right or is worded in a confusing way.

Look out for things like:

  • Can you nail stuff to the walls? Some leases forbid it.
  • Can you have pets? If so, what kind and what sort of deposit will be required?
  • Is there a noise ordinance that you’ll need to be aware of? Having the occasional get-together is one thing, but if you’re in a building that has strict “quiet” hours, you could face fines or even having your lease revoked.
  • What utilities are included and what will you need to pay for?
  • When is rent due? Some rental agreements have a 5 – 10 day window that you’ll need to have your payment in by, so make sure you know the cut-off between “on time” and “late.”

A Written Agreement with Roommates (if you’ll have them)

If you’re planning to live with roommates, then make sure you have responsibilities written down. Try to include things like the percentage of rent each roommate pays, utilities, and anything else that might come up as you begin cohabitating with them (like chores).

Even if you’re good friends, it’s better to have everything in writing so that no assumptions are made that end up hurting the friendship.

How to Budget Once You’re on Your Own


More than 50% of Millennials did not wait to become debt-free before moving out on their own. In many cases, people in this position are heading to college and will need to effectively budget as a college student.

If you’re one of them, you’ll need to learn how to manage your debt so that it doesn’t put you in a situation where it’s either rent, food, or student loans that get paid that week.

Here are a few pointers for how you can create a budget that still offers you the ability to have some fun money after the bills are paid.

Take 10% of Everything that Comes In and Put in Savings

Create a separate savings account that holds an emergency fund in case you run into financial trouble. Even if it’s only $1 that gets put into that account each time you deposit money, you’ll start to see your savings add up.

By making it a habit of saving 10% you’ll accumulate a safety net that not only protects you but also begins to accrue interest and starts to make your money work for you.

Understand Where your Money Goes Every Month

The worst feeling is realizing you’ve run out of money for the rest of the month and will need to scramble to make ends meet.

Rather than being surprised your account is empty, understand where your money goes by creating a spreadsheet that tracks every cent that goes out of your bank account.

This isn’t to make you feel bad or like you’re being judged but is simply to help you collect data.

Once you know what you can expect to come out (or finding out how much you’re really spending on microtransactions), you’ll be better prepared and won’t be afraid to check your checking account balance.

Create New Accounts for Yourself

Bank accounts, credit cards, and investing apps have grown by leaps and bounds since your parents first started looking into them.

Don’t feel that what was best for your parents is best for you. Instead, check out new apps and services which cater to younger generations and you could save a ton of money in fees.

Be Mindful of Overspending

One thing many first-time renters find themselves overspending on are things that appear to be on sale. “Buy 3 for $10” may sound like a great deal when the regular price is $5 each, but it’s a waste of money if you won’t actually use all 3 things.

Don’t be lured into sales on groceries, decor, or other home necessities if you won’t actually use them.

Don’t Give in to Impulsivity (often)

We all splurge occasionally, so we won’t tell you to never do it. It happens!Along the same lines as a sale not being a sale, you can also find yourself facing serious “fear of missing out” (or “FOMO”) when shopping for your home.

If you’re an impulse shopper who needs that hit of serotonin that comes with buying something, put the thing in your online cart and walk away, even if for an hour.

Learning how to be conscious of your spending habits will help not only keep your safety net nice and cushy but will also give you the ability to set aside “play” money that you can use however you want without feeling guilty.

9 Places to Find Inexpensive Furniture


Now that you’re ready to move into that awesome new home, you’ll need to furnish it (especially because your childhood twin bed just won’t do).

Here are some ideas for where you can source great furniture without going broke.

1. Thrift Stores

If vintage decor is your thing, then look no further than thrift stores for some amazing pieces.

Goodwill, Savers/Value Village, and ReStore are all national thrift stores that you can find in most areas but don’t forget about churches and local non-profits which may also have their own thrift shops.

2. Scratch and Dent stores

In most cases, your home will already have appliances so this might not apply to you. If you don’t mind a little cosmetic damage, you can get appliances and even some furniture at huge discounts by shopping at scratch and dent stores.

If you end up needing a stove or fridge, most Scratch and Dent stores carry full manufacturer’s warranty and full return policies.

Buying scratch and dent can save you lots of money while still getting the same protections you would have buying new.

3. Craigslist

Most towns will have their own Craigslist site available where you can find some great pieces.

As a tip: use the search bar when you’re looking for something specific as sometimes things can get mislabeled or put in the wrong category.

4. Garage Sales

These are usually more popular during the warmer months, but keep an eye out for garage sale signs as you check out your new surroundings.

You may be able to get not only furniture but kitchen necessities or cleaning supplies for pennies on the dollar.

5. Estate Sales

Estate sales are events where a homeowner will use a company to help them sell off the contents of a home (or the “estate”).

These can be really fun for people who love to hunt for a deal, as you can find tons of things like cutlery, dishes, art, textiles, and small appliances.

You may even find things that are still new and unopened! Check local Facebook pages to find estate sale companies who are running sales.

6. Facebook Marketplace and Groups

Facebook Marketplace is like a newer and more popular Craigslist.

There may also be specific neighborhood buy/sell groups that advertise there, so check the “Groups” section of Facebook to see if there’s one you can join.

7. Freecycle

Freecycle is hit or miss as it’s solely for things people are giving away for free. Keep an eye on Freecycle to find the occasional score, but don’t rely on it to fully furnish your house.

8. College Apartments

Moving Out Day at college apartments is a goldmine for finding furniture, kitchen supplies, and even electronics for free.

Some people have even found laptops and gaming consoles that graduating students have thrown out on Moving Out Day.

9. Family and friends

Don’t forget to hit up family and friends as they may have stuff in their basement or storage lockers that could use a good home.

Basic Skills You Should Learn Before Moving Out


How to Cook Basic Foods

You won’t need to be a world-class chef to live on your own, but it’s important that you know how to cook basic foods so that you won’t blow your food budget on takeout.

Learn how to cook things like chicken breast, rice, beans, and potatoes as these are all relatively cheap and versatile staples you can pick up at the grocery store.

How to Dust

Keeping your home clean and dust-free can feel tedious, but the sooner you create the habit of cleaning, the better off you’ll be.

Removing dust and dander from your home regularly can help reduce congestion and is especially important if you have asthma. If you’re a plant fiend, check out plants that are known to help clear the air like ZZ plants or Prayer plants.

How to do Laundry

Discovering the right way to clean your clothes can make your clothes last longer and look better.

Learn how to read the labels on your clothing that tell you how things like which temperature of the water is best, how to dry the clothing, and if you should avoid bleach.

How to Budget Effectively

26% of Americans have no savings whatsoever which means that they’re one small disaster away from financial ruin. Try the 10% technique listed above to help you develop a habit of saving money.

Most financial experts will tell you anywhere from 3 – 6 months of your normal costs is a good goal to aim for, but even just starting out with $5 a week can grow your savings account faster than you think,

How to Hold your Own in a Serious Conversation

Being on your own means that you’ll eventually have to have uncomfortable conversations with loved ones or professional associates (like your landlord or employer).

Learn skills like active listening, assertiveness, and basic negotiations so that you’re prepared for these awkward conversations and won’t get walked over.

Communication is a well known high income skill that turns out to be a common reason people struggle to find a job.

Basic Home Repairs

No one expects you to be a DIY guru, but it’s good to have an overall understanding of basic home repairs.

Learn how to understand how a fuse box works, how to change lightbulbs, what to do if your faucet drips, and other simple repair techniques.

Knowing these can save you from having to call your landlord and wait for them to fix it, and may even save you money in the long term.

How to Cope with Living on Your Own

Now that you’re out living your adult life, you’ll find that there are moments when you’ll feel overwhelmed or lonely.

Everyone ends up feeling these things from time to time, so understand that those feelings are totally normal. When you’re feeling down and wish you could be back home, try one of these coping tips.

Find Ways to Enjoy your Own Company

Many people can’t be alone because they’re afraid they won’t enjoy it, but there are ways to learn how to be comfortable with your own company.

Learn a hobby that can distract you, or start taking walks around your neighborhood to explore. Once you realize that it’s not unusual to be on your own, you’ll start to find ways that help you enjoy the experience.

Get Out of the House

If you’re dealing with cabin fever and need to get out of the house, then do it! Getting out of your space and into the world can help take your mind off of your worries and can open you up to new and exciting experiences.

If you’re not sure what to do once you’re out of the house, try heading to a local park that you haven’t checked out, or look for a new specialty grocery store that carries exotic imported food.

Give yourself a mission once you leave the house and let yourself enjoy the experience.

Stay Connected to Your Loved Ones

67% of social media users say they keep using the platforms solely to keep up with friends and family. While social media may have its problems, it’s still a great way to connect with the world outside of your home.

Have a weekly video chat with family members or keep an active thread going in your Messenger app with a group of friends so that you don’t feel alone.

A Tip if You’re Planning to Move Far Away from Home

If you’re moving out of your hometown to someplace new and exciting, the majority of these tips still apply. One thing we would add, though, is to make sure you’ve done your research on the new town you’re moving into.

Check things like crime statistics, cost of living, weather patterns, things to do, and where necessary amenities are like hospitals and grocery stores.

Also, be sure to check the public transportation services that are available to residents and make sure they’re adequate for your needs before you move out.

Moving out can be exciting and scary at the same time. But if you follow these tips and take it one step at a time, you’ll be moving into the first home of your dreams.

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Jack Brewer is passionate about all things personal finance, and enjoys testing out new side hustles and investing strategies.

About the Author

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Jack Brewer is passionate about all things personal finance, and enjoys testing out new side hustles and investing strategies.