Moving out for the first time can be scary, no matter what your age! There are so many choices to make, like deciding whether to rent on your own or with housemates, finding the right rental property, choosing utility providers and buying furniture – not to mention actually packing up your belongings and moving which can be extremely stressful.
We’ve put together a few New Renter Survival Tips to help make the transition easier for you.
Make it Home
Regardless of whether you rent or own your own home, the most important thing is to be comfortable in your surroundings. Homely furniture, décor and other items that reflect your personality goes a long way to providing a happy living space. For first-time renters, especially students, this doesn’t have to involve gratuitous spending. Op-shops are a great starting point to gather some homely knick knacks such as cutlery, crocheted throw rugs and lounge room furniture. If you prefer newer items, your local “Swedish-based furniture store” or eBay are excellent for decorating on the cheap. These are also a great place to get inexpensive doona covers and student vitals such as desks and office chairs.
Protect Your Belongings
Now that you’ve spent time and money making your rental feel like home, it’s important to consider protecting your belongings with Contents Insurance. Contents Insurance can provide cover for the repair or replacement of belongings that are lost, stolen or damaged. Although your pots and pans may only cost $2 to replace at K-Mart, chances are you’ve got a laptop, mobile phone and/or jewellery that would cost much more to replace. Be aware that some Contents Insurance providers may not cover shared houses, so if you’ve got housemates, make sure you check the policy details. Some insurers do provide contents insurance for ‘unrelated parties’, as long as they are named on the insurance policy. As with any insurance policy, it’s important to check the Product Disclosure Statement before purchasing so you understand what is and isn’t covered for your policy.
Common spaces like bathrooms, kitchens and living areas can become a battleground between housemates if they aren’t kept clean and tidy. Call a house meeting and work out a chores schedule to make sure that household tasks like vacuuming, mopping, cleaning the toilet/shower, gardening/watering pot plants and dusting are divided equally. It’s also a good idea to set some ground rules around kitchen usage and keeping the fridge clean and organised. It may seem strange but it’s important to have an honest and forthright discussion of what ‘clean’ means to each of you – people’s definition of what constitutes cleaning can vary widely! Tidy up your own mess, do your own dishes and be courteous – it will make living with housemates a lot easier.
Here’s a detailed schedule that you can use or use as a guide to divide and conquer your household cleaning.
Paying the Bills
If living with housemates, decide how you will be paying for the bills. Are they included in your weekly rent (common if you are subletting) or will you divvy up the bills as they come in? Make sure you budget for your share of bills, which could include water, electricity, gas and internet. Put aside a portion of your weekly or fortnightly pay so that you’ve got the money ready when the bills arrive. If you’re living on your own, make sure you put aside money out of every pay cheque to cover the bills as they come in. Electricity, water and gas bills usually arrive every two to three months, while your internet will be billed monthly.
Living on your own can be expensive – eating out all the time can be a real draw on the bank balance but cooking for one can also be expensive. Save money by meal planning, grocery shopping with housemates and making shared meals. If you’re living on your own, make extra and eat the leftovers for lunch the next day or, if it’s freezer friendly, save it for another day. If you’ve got a garden area in your rental, grow your own herbs and vegetables in pot plants (so that you can move them when you move) or grow herbs in recycled jars on the window sill in the kitchen.
With a little bit of planning and effort, you can make your first living out of home experience fun and stress-free. We hope these tips to help make the transition from living at home to living on your own a little bit easier. Enjoy your new home!