Living with a roommate may bring on daydreams about what it would be like to live all by yourself. To wake up and go to sleep when you want, bring friends or dates over without consideration for your roommates’ schedules, to take long showers, watch whatever you want on TV and maybe wait to wash those dishes in the morning.
However, like most daydreams, living alone isn’t always you imagined it would be. It’s important to consider what you’re really getting into before you commit to being the only name on a new lease. Here are some things to do before you make the decision to live alone:
Take Your Time
No matter how badly you want to get into your own space, signing the first lease you come across is a bad idea. In the few months before you make the leap to living alone, in addition to considering each of the factors listed below, tighten your spending and pay close attention to where your money goes. Making sure you can really afford the lease before you sign will save you from realizing you can’t pay your bills (beyond the astronomical rent payments) later this year.
Pad Your Savings Account
It’s good advice for anyone, but especially crucial for people living by themselves. In the event of an emergency, you’ll be left facing the bills and the repercussions by yourself.
Consider All the Increased Costs
When you live alone, you’ll incur more costs than just increased rent. You’ll also be responsible for all the application fees, deposits, utilities, furniture, and potential storage, pet and parking costs. Add it all up and make sure to factor it into your monthly budget.
Make a Budget
That’s a budget down to the penny. Keep track of every dollar that goes into your bank account and every cent that goes out. Most experts estimate you should be spending about 50 percent of your monthly income on necessities (such as rent and other bills), 20 percent on savings and debt repayment, and 30 percent on everything else — like eating out, entertainment, hobbies, gifts and personal care.
Reduce What You Pay for Utilities
As Americans, we regulate our indoor air temperatures far beyond what the rest of the world does, and it’s usually not necessary. Save money on heating bills by bundling up in blankets and a sweater. Put draft stoppers under doors to keep cold air from coming in. Save money on air conditioning bills by opening windows and turning on a fan. And (in case you hadn’t already), cut cable and replace itwith a streaming service, like Netflix for as little as $7.99 a month.
Learn to Cook for Yourself
Many people waste a lot of their income on takeout and convenience foods. You can save a lot of money by learning cooking at home. Batch cooking for the week, freezing food, meal planning and learning to make a few quick, convenient and healthy meals in a slow cooker will help you make the most of your solo grocery shopping. For many people, joining a wholesale club, like Costco, is well worth the membership price — even if you live alone.
Focus on Location, Location, Location
A smaller apartment that’s close to work, shopping and public transportation will be better for your wallet (and your free time!) than a larger place that’s farther away from everywhere else you need to be.
Make More Money
When it comes down to it, no matter how closely your budget, sometimes there just isn’t enough wiggle room in your current income to make living alone a financially sound decision. In these situations, it is usually easier to start bringing in some additional income than keep cutting out necessities. Many people turn to freelance work, a few hours a week at a coffee shop, or driving for a rideshare service like Uber or Lyft.
Make Sure It’s Worth It
As great as it sounds to live alone, most people, especially in higher cost-of-living areas, end up making sacrifices to do so. Before committing to striking out on your own, make sure different roommates or another living situation wouldn’t make you feel more satisfied and give you a way to share the cost of living.
Whether you decide to rent or to buy a home, it’s important to have your homeowners insurance or renters insurance up to date. Connect with a SelectQuote agent to understand your options and get the best coverage for your situation.