Besides getting married or having a baby, moving out of home is pretty much the biggest life change you’ll ever go through. It’s exciting, nerve-wracking and a little bit scary. Nothing makes you feel more like a grown-up than having a celebratory glass of champagne on your new lounge in your very own apartment But from learning how to cook for yourself to doing your own laundry, life away from mum and dad comes with a lot of adjustments. Take it from someone who has been flying solo since the age of 16 (with a lot of support from my parents, mind you): there are so many things to consider when leaving the nest.
I’ve moved apartments five times in the last five years and I’ve learned something new from the process each time. There are countless things I know now that I wish I’d known when I first moved out. That’s why we’ve put together the ultimate checklist for first-time renters! From important things to consider to must-haves to buy, we’ve got it all covered.
1. Finding the right place
Here are some things you’ll need to consider when searching for your perfect new home:
- The location: It may sound like a no-brainer, but the where is oh-so-important when it comes to moving out. You’ll need to look at how far your commute to and from work will be, what the parking situation is (if you drive) and how far you are from public transport.
- The lifestyle: Does where you’re moving to fit in with your lifestyle? Obviously, you have to work within your budget constraints. But generally, if you’re a beach-lover you’re not going to be stoked living 25 km from the nearest ocean! Similarly, if you’re a social butterfly, it’s worth first checking out whether there are any good bars and restaurants in the area.
- The housemates: As anyone who’s had a dodgy flatmate before will tell you, the people you cohabit with can make or break your living situation. If you’re moving in with a partner or friend, have you travelled together before? This will give you a fairly good indication of what living together will be like. If you’ll be sharing with housemates you don’t already know, make sure you’ve sussed out how their work schedule, lifestyle and personality will fit in with yours. Going to be living alone? Great, just make sure you’re someone who is comfortable with their own company.
2. The money stuff
So you’ve found your dream home? Congrats! The next step is to make sure you’re in the right financial position to move in. To avoid any nasty surprises, you need to be prepared for all the costs involved in moving out. Sadly, this goes far beyond just the obvious things like paying rent! Here are some things to consider:
- The bond: Your landlord will ask you to hand over a bond as a form of security. This is usually the equivalent of about four weeks rent and you’ll get it back when you leave, as long as you’ve paid rent on time and looked after the property.
- One-off costs: Things, like hiring a removal van and setting up utilities like gas, electricity and internet, can all add up quickly.
- Ongoing costs: You’ll need to work out how you’re going to split the cost of rent, utilities and groceries between you and your housemates. Will you have one combined account for all your expenses or will one person be responsible for the direct debits?
3. The essentials
You’re going to need some things to furnish your space! Find out what’s already in your new home (for example, most uni accommodation is already furnished) and sort out the rest accordingly. If you don’t want to buy everything brand new, you can find most types of furniture second-hand on Gumtree, ebay or local buy, swap, sell Facebook pages.
Here are some must-haves for your new home.
- Furniture: Bed frame, mattress, dining table and chairs, lounge, wardrobe, shelving, bedside table, fridge, entertainment unit.
- Crockery and cutlery: Knives, forks and spoons, plates, bowls, drinking glasses, coffee and tea cups, wine or champagne glasses.
- Cooking utensils: Pots, pans, cutting board, knives, toaster, kettle, strainer, measuring cups, tongs.
- Cleaning products: Cleaning spray, dish cloths, dish cleaner and/or dishwashing tablets, paper towel, bin liners, dustpan and shovel, broom, mop, vacuum cleaner.
- Bits and bobs: Garbage bin, lamps, bed linen, bathmat, pillows, towels, toilet paper.
4. Learning to cook
Yep, this gets its own category because it’s such a big part of leaving home! From the day we’re born, we rely on our parents to keep us alive by putting food on the table. When you’re on your own, YOU are the only person who makes sure you get fed. Sure, maybe you’ve picked up a few recipes from your mum throughout the years. But this is a whole different ball game. It’s extremely tempting to let the freedom (and laziness) get the best of you and order takeaway pizza for dinner every night. But let’s face it, that’s not going to be great for your bod or bank account.
Luckily, you don’t have to be a pro chef to whip up healthy, cheap and extremely simple meals. Here are some of our faves:
- Super simple stir fry. Recipe here.
- Honey & Soy Huon Salmon with Ginger, Sesame and Asian Greens. Recipe here.
- Corn and zucchini fritters. Recipe here.
- Jessica Sepel’s healthy fried rice. Recipe here.
- Prawn zucchini pasta. Recipe here.
This is the fun part! Filling your new home with stylish interiors will really make your space feel like your own. If you’re sharing with other people, find out what kind of aesthetic they’re into and work together to decorate your home. For example, if your housemate is into bright colours and you’re more of a monochrome minimalist you’ll have to meet somewhere in the middle. Here are some design tips to consider:
- Plants: We’ve written before here about how indoor greenery is the perfect way to brighten up any room. If you’ve never looked after a plant before, don’t worry! You can find plenty of suggestions of super low-maintenance indoor plants here.
- Art: Find out what your landlord’s policy on hanging wall art is: most places won’t allow you to drill a hole in the wall! Luckily, there are plenty of other ways to customise your home without ruining the paint job. If your piece is big enough you can lean it against a wall or on top of a bookshelf. You can also use washi tape to display prints or posters on the walls!
- Customisable furniture: If you really want to take customising your new home to the next level, you can even design your own furniture! Sydney-based company Timbermill allows you to create your own dining table from scratch. You choose everything from the size, shape, height, style and timber to design your own bespoke piece. For more information, click here.
6. Apartment admin
Here are a few other bits and pieces to consider once you’ve settled into your own place:
- Redirect your mail: Whether it’s for bills or subscription services, make sure you let anyone who’s likely to send you mail know that you’ve moved address.
- Division of chores: To avoid any awkwardness or arguments later down the track, work out who’s going to do what in your new home. If you want to be extra organised, you can even make a chore chart with your housemates!
- Leave a spare set of keys: When you first move into a new place, it can take a while to get used to how your new locks work. Accidentally locking yourself out is a very expensive mistake, so it’s worth having an extra set of keys cut. Leave them with a trusted friend or family member, preferably someone who lives close to you!