Are you an adviser? Go to Unbiased Pro

Tips for leaving home for the first time

4 mins read
by Nick Green
Last updated Tuesday, April 9, 2024

So it’s time to move out! Perhaps you’re going to university or found a new job away from home – or maybe you’ve decided it’s time to be independent.

Flying the nest may well be the biggest life decision you’ve made so far.

Like many big decisions, leaving home for the first time happens only once, so it’s always daunting.

Here are some tips from other peoples’ experiences to help you make the leap confidently.

First steps: choosing your new home

To start with, you’ll most likely be renting your home.

When choosing a place, ask yourself the following questions.

  • What’s my maximum monthly budget? 
  • Do I want to live in a shared flat or house, or alone? What can I afford?
  • If sharing a property, will I share it with my friends or find flatmates once I’m set up?
  • Do I want a double or single room?
  • What areas am I interested in?
  • How close can I live to work or my campus?
  • What are the transport links like? 

Now list the factors in order from ‘most important’ to ‘least important’. This can be handy when making a final decision on a property.

You’ll probably have to compromise in a few areas, particularly where cost is involved.

If you’re lucky enough to have the money to buy your first home, you can find out about that here.

Getting ready to move out

Leaving home involves a huge to-do list, and it can be difficult to know where to start.

Your priorities should be:

  • Finding a home
  • Finding the right people to live with
  • Sorting out your belongings and deciding what to take and leave
  • Acquiring any necessary furniture 
  • Acquiring any kitchen equipment you need
  • Getting storage boxes, arranging transport and stocking up on essentials for your first week
  • Notifying friends, family and official bodies of your change of address
  • Getting spare keys cut so you can give a set to a family member or trusted friend in case you lose yours

Set a reminder on your phone and give yourself one small job daily. Make sure the job fits in with your schedule and is achievable.

Most importantly, create a physical file for all your vital documents.

This will include your property documents, such as a signed contract, proof of deposit, utility bills and other paperwork, but also things like bank statements, pay slips, insurance policies, birth certificate, passport and so on.

Part of living independently is knowing where to find any necessary document quickly.

I’ve moved out: what now?

Now comes the fun part: making your home your own.

If you’re renting, speak to your landlord about what is allowed regarding decorations to ensure you don’t breach the contract, which could put your deposit at risk. Some landlords are more flexible than others.

Getting your internet set up should be a priority, but be sure to shop around to get the best deal.

You may want to consider your working space, so ensure you have enough room for your desk, books, and good lighting.

Resist the temptation to throw a massive housewarming party in your first week. Instead, get to know your new home and introduce yourself to any neighbours.

When the time does come for your party, tell the neighbours to minimise the chances of upsetting anyone. 

Food shopping and housekeeping

Your first food shop will probably be the biggest one you need to do.

Write a shopping list with your essential food items, as well as staple, versatile ingredients you’re most likely to use.

Buy all your herbs, spices, condiments, and sauces now, and they should last you for a good few months.

Food may be on a tight budget, so it’s a good idea to make a weekly meal plan when you start and buy only the necessary ingredients.

Also, stock up on bathroom toiletries and cleaning products, bin bags and other essentials

If you live in a house share, you may want to split the cost of shared items like cleaning products, toilet tissue, and so forth.

A rota of household chores is also a very good idea, buy it can be hard work getting people to stick to it.

How to lead a healthy lifestyle

Your health and wellbeing are important, so you need to make this a priority when you move out. 

Register with your local dental practice and doctor’s surgery. It is free and takes only minutes.

You can find which surgeries you can register for via the NHS website. Remember to check what form of identification and proof of address you need.

If you get ill, even if it’s just a cold, ensure you know what medicines to buy in each case and how often to take them.

For anything more serious than a cold, make sure someone knows you’re poorly, and see a doctor if you need to.

Many minor health issues among newly independent people can simply be down to a poor diet, so make sure yours includes enough fresh fruit and veg.

Managing your money living away from home

One of the trickiest parts of living independently is being wholly responsible for your budget.

When trying to make your money stretch, consider the following:

  • The cost of rent
  • How much you spend on food
  • Utilities 
  • Petrol or transport costs
  • Other essentials such as your phone bill, internet, etc
  • Non-essentials such as social and leisure activities

In your first few months, track what these are costing you and see how they compare to your income, debt, and savings. 

You’ll then be able to see if your current level of spending is sustainable or whether you need to rein in your finances.

For some handy tips, read our article on renting your home.

Get financial advice
We’ll find a professional perfectly matched to your needs. Getting started is easy, fast and free.
Find a financial adviser
Nick Green
Nick Green is a financial journalist writing for, the site that has helped over 10 million people find financial, business and legal advice. Nick has been writing professionally on money and business topics for over 15 years, and has previously written for leading accountancy firms PKF and BDO.