Can You Afford to Move Out of Your Parents’ House?

A dining table in an apartment.
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Written by Liz

Just your regular 27-year-old, queer, super-introverted, FIRE-chasing, frugal Singaporean, who lives a pretty good life while earning only a modest salary, but still plans to retire at age 40 with $1,000,000. Click here to read more

May 28, 2020

One-Off Expenses

Moving Costs
Security Deposits
Fees
Furniture and Furnishing

Monthly Expenses

Rent
Renters’ Insurance
Utilities
Other Expenses

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Other Considerations

Debt
Emergency Funds

Let’s get into each category in more detail.

Note: Since I’m from Singapore, many of my examples will be Singapore-based. It is important to keep in mind here that all expenses incurred differ from country to country, state to state, and city to city.

One-Off Expenses

When moving out, you’ll likely run into the following categories of expenses. These will factor into whether you can afford to move out.

1. Moving Costs

This includes renting a van or a truck, and paying for moving supplies (boxes, bubble wrap, packing tape, etc.). In Singapore, this will set you back at least $375, and the breakdown of which has been provided below for easy reference.

 Category  Cost (S$)
 Van Rental  $75 per day
 30 Medium-Sized Boxes  $120
 20 Large-Sized Boxes  $120
 90-Metre Bubble Wrap  $30
 Others (Tape, Scissors, etc.)  $30
 Total  $375

 

Alternatively, you could opt to hire a moving company. This could set you back at least S$500 or more, as you have to fork out more money for services provided, including packing, dismantling, hoisting, etc.

2. Security Deposits

There are a few types of security deposits that you might have to save up for, including the landlord security deposit and the utilities security deposit.

Landlord Security Deposit: You’ll have to put down a security deposit with your landlord of at least 1 month’s rent, although this could be increased to as much as 3 months’ rent. The rule of thumb is that the security deposit amounts to 1 month of rent for a 1-year lease, and scales proportionately.

Utilities Provider Security Deposit: In addition to the security deposit with your landlord, you might also have to put down a security deposit with your utilities provider. In Singapore, this ranges from anywhere between $40 to $400 if you’re a citizen, and double if you’re a foreigner.

Assuming that you’re renting a place for $1,000 a month after moving out, here’s how much you’ll need to fork over in deposits:

 Category  Deposit (S$)
 Landlord Deposit  $1,000 – $3,000
 Utilities Deposit  $40 – $800
 Total  $1,040 – $3,800

3. Fees

There are different fees that you will encounter when you move out and start renting a place of your own:

  • Housing agent fees: This could range from half a month to a full month’s rent.
  • Utilities (such as internet or cable) set-up or connection fees: $50 to $100
  • Rent application fees: $50
  • Background check fees: $50
  • Pet fees: $200 to $500

Assuming that you’re renting a place for $1,000 a month, here’s what potential fees might look like:

 Category  Fees
 Housing Agent Fee  $500 to $1,000
 Set-Up Fee  $50 to $100
 Rent Application Fee  $50
 Background Check Fee  $50
 Pet Fee  $200 to $500
 Total  $850 to $1,700

 

4. Furniture and Furnishing

If your new place comes fully or partially furnished, you might not have to spend as much to make your place liveable.

However, if your new place is unfurnished, there might be a bunch of things that you have to pay for, such as a bed, appliances, a couch, etc.

Assuming that you’re aiming to be as frugal as possible, here are the prices that you can expect to pay for furniture and furnishing. The prices of brand-new furniture are from IKEA, and anything second-hand was sourced from Carousell (Singapore’s largest second-hand online marketplace).

 Category  Cost (S$)
 Sprung Mattress  $99
 Bed Frame  $49
 2-seat Sofa  $119
 Desk  $89
 Swivel Chair  $40
 Shelving Unit  $99
 Dining Table and 4 Chairs  $99
 18 Piece Dinnerware  $40
 2nd-Hand Refrigerator  $300
 2nd-Hand Washer and Dryer  $300
 2nd-Hand Microwave Oven  $40
 2nd-Hand Vacuum Cleaner  $30
 2nd-Hand Iron  $10
 2nd-Hand Kettle  $20
 2nd-Hand Standing Fan  $66
 Total  $1,400

You can afford to move out by buying inexpensive furniture, like this IKEA dining set.

With IKEA, you can buy furniture brand new for a small price tag.

As you can see, the cheaper range of the basic necessities will set you back at least $1,400.

If you choose to spring for slightly higher-end items, or if you rather not buy anything second-hand, you can expect to pay at least $3,000 to $5,000 for the works.

 

Monthly (Recurring) Expenses

In addition to the one-off expenses incurred when moving out, you will also have to pay for all your monthly recurring costs. These are equally important in determining whether you can afford to move out.

If your parents are paying for anything on your behalf when you live with them, you would need to take these expenses into account, as your parents would likely hand over the financial responsibility to you when you move out.

What are some of these expenses?

1. Rent

How can you pay as little rent as possible?

There are a few things you can do to decrease your rent as much as possible, such as:

  • Live in a place far from the city centre; and
  • Bring in roommates.

For example, in Singapore, an expensive city, it’s possible to spend as little as S$250 per month on rent (about US$175) if you’re willing to share a room with 3 other people. (You’d have to get used to bunk beds, too.)

Assuming that you’re in a 3-bedroom apartment, you might have up to 11 other people living with you (4 people in each room). If you don’t mind having lots of roommates, this is a good way to reduce rental expenses.

Here’s what it’s like to have 4 people sharing a single room in Singapore:

4 people using bunk-beds in a single bedroom. By getting more roommates, you can afford to move out and rent inexpensive places like this.

If you’d like to enjoy the privacy of your own room, or even a studio apartment, be prepared to fork out at least 2-4 times that amount.

In addition to bringing in roommates, the further away from the city centre you are, the less you will have to pay for rent.

If you have pets, you might want to take into account the fact that you might have to pay an additional $50 to $100 in pet rent.

Here’s how much you can expect to pay for rent in Singapore after moving out:

 Apartment  Cost (S$)
 Shared bedroom  $250
 Single bedroom  $500
 Studio apartment  $1,500
 Pet Rent  $50 to $100

 

How much should you spend on rent?

There are a few guidelines you can use here, including the 30% rule, or the 50/30/20 rule.

The 30% Rule: This is a common suggestion, where you spend no more than 30% of your gross income on housing expenses – this includes rent, utility bills and other housing fees.

The 50/30/20 Rule: Alternatively, you could use this rule, which suggests that you spend no more than 50% of your take-home pay on necessities (including housing, transportation, food, etc.). 30% is for discretionary expenses, while the remaining 20% is to be saved.

2. Renters’ Insurance

Renters’ insurance ensures that everything you bring into your home as a renter is covered by insurance. Examples of these things include furnishing and furniture we covered above. In the event your personal belongings are wiped out by some act of God, at least you have insurance to rely on.

If you’re thinking that you can rely on your landlord’s home insurance if something unfortunate happens, well, you’re mistaken. Home insurance covers only the structure of the home, not your personal belongings.

As such, it would be best to pick up renters’ insurance. After all, it’s not expensive. In Singapore, it costs only $7 a month. In the U.S., basic renters’ insurance would set you back only about $27 a month.

 

3. Utilities

Utilities includes your power bills (electricity, water and gas) and service provider expenses (internet and mobile plans).

Power Bills

Electricity
Water
Gas

Service Providers

Internet
Mobile
Landline
Cable

Utility bills are usually included in the rent, at least in Singapore.

If it isn’t included in your rent, you will need to account for these expenses separately in your budget.

Here’s how much utilities cost in Singapore, if you want to be as budget as possible:

Power (electricity, water and gas): SP Power, Singapore’s utilities distributor, provided statistics stating that 5-room apartments typically pay $142 for electricity, water and gas. Per room, that’s less than $30 a month.

Internet: $45-$50 per household, as per these prices. Split between 4 people, that’s only about $10 per person.

Mobile: $5 per line, for 50 minutes of calls, 25 text messages, and 2GB of data. A steal, if you ask me. This is the cheapest plan on the market so far. An alternative is pre-paid phone cards.

Here’s the minimum amount that you could pay for utilities in Singapore after you move out of your parents’ house:

 Category  Cost (S$)
 Power  $30
 Internet  $10
 Mobile  $5
 Others (Cable, etc.)  $0
 Total  $45

4. Other Expenses

What are some other expenses that your parents currently pay for? This could be anything, such as:

  1. Health insurance plans – Many parents allow their adult children to ride on their policies, saving costs for their children.
  2. Transportation – You might be using your parents’ car free of charge.
  3. Food – If you have meals with your family, these meals are usually paid for by your parents.

When you move out of your parents’ house, remember to account for all of these expenses that you were not previously paying for.

Here’s how much you can expect to spend on these things if you’re being frugal in Singapore:

 Category   Cost (S$)
 Health Insurance  $50
 Transportation  $100
 Groceries  $150
 Total  $300

Other Considerations

1. Debt

The main reason most people choose to stay with their parents after college is due to student loan debt. The average student loan debt in the U.S. is almost $33,000, which causes many to struggle financially for years. As such, not many can afford to move out.

When you’re living with parents, you likely have lower living expenses (in categories of expenses such as rent and utilities), and therefore more money to repay student loans.

However, after you move out, you will have higher expenses. In which case, do you have enough left over from your take-home salary after paying all your bills, to make repayment on your debt?

Another thing to note is that large amounts of consumer debt (on credit cards or personal loans, etc.) could decrease your credit score and your chances at obtaining a lease. If so, you might want to work on repaying your balances to a manageable level before moving out.

Alternatively, if possible, are you able to pay off all your debt before moving out?

Many can't afford to move out because of student loans.

2. Emergency Funds

This is also important in determining whether you can afford to move out, as unexpected events might occur. For example, you could:

  • Get hurt physically in an accident with a drunk driver.
  • Catch a life-threatening illness in the midst of a pandemic.
  • Lose your job in the middle of a financial crisis.

If so, you would need an emergency fund to tide you through these difficult financial times. Otherwise, you might be booted out of your rented place and have to move back in with your parents.

How much should you have in your emergency fund? Experts usually recommend about 6-9 months of living expenses. If you’re being extra cautious, you could shoot for 12 months.

Recommendations before Moving Out

Being of a cautious nature, I would recommend having the following before you move out:

 

1. Enough savings to pay for all one-off expenses.

How much do these one-off moving out expenses amount to? Assuming that your rent is $1,000 a month, you need to save up anywhere between $3,665 to $11,000 for one-time expenses.

The breakdown of which has been provided here:

CategoryCosts (S$)
Moving Costs$375 - $500
Landlord Security Deposit$1,000 - $3,000
Utilities Provider Security Deposit$40 - $800
Fees (Agent, Set-Up, Pet, etc.)$850 - $1,700
Furniture and Furnishing$1,400 - $5,000
Total$3,665 - $11,000

2. A stable income that is sufficient to pay all bills and allows you to save.

Your income should be able to pay for all recurring monthly expenses when living on your own after moving out, with enough left over for savings towards a financial goal (like retirement).

My recommendation is that you should be able to save at least $500 a month toward your retirement. This will allow you to retire with $1,000,000 after a 40-year career.

For example, if you spend $1,500 a month while living on your own, you should target to have a take-home salary of at least $2,000 a month before moving out. The gap between your take-home salary and your monthly spending will then provide you with the $500 you need to save for retirement.

If you foresee yourself struggling to pay your bills, it may be the case that you can’t afford to move out yet. If you do, you might find yourself living paycheck to paycheck, which is incredibly stressful.

 Take-Home Salary  $2,000
 Less: Expenses  ($1,500)
 Savings  $500

 

3. No student loan debt, if possible.

When living with parents, you would have lower living expenses, allowing you to make maximum payments towards your student loan debts.

If you make a take-home salary of $2,000 while spending just $1,000 a month, you could repay $12,000 of your student loans in a single year ($1,000 savings per month x 12 months). Assuming you have the average $33,000 student loan debt, you could pay off your entire debt in just 3 years.

A monthly $1K repayment on a $33K loan over 3 years. Before you consider yourself being able to afford to move out, pay off student loans.

Check out this story of a millennial who paid off her $33,000 student loan debt in 2.5 years on a $37,000 salary. One of the ways she saved money was moving back in with her parents.

 

4. An emergency fund containing 6 to 12 months of living expenses.

For example, if you spend $2,000 a month (or $24,000 a year), your 12-month emergency fund should contain $24,000 in cold, hard cash. This will allow some breathing room in the budget should anything unforeseen happen.

Alternatively, you could aim for just a 6-month emergency fund of $12,000 if you want to drastically cut down your timeline towards affording moving out.

 

Ultimately though, it depends on your situation at home.

If you’re experiencing a toxic situation at home, you might want to simply save up for just the one-time moving expenses and ensure that you have a stable income before moving out. In this case, it might not be prudent for you to wait until you’re done paying off student loans to move out.

On the other hand, if your situation at home is good, you might want to follow the 4 recommendations that I listed above before considering yourself being able to afford to move out. This will ensure that your moving out process is smooth and can weather unexpected turn of events.

Other Questions to Think About

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Do you make enough money to be able to afford to move out?

How much money you should make is completely dependent on your expenses. If you’re able to live a frugal lifestyle, you don’t need to make a lot of money before you’re able to afford to move out.

For example, if you’re able to spend just $1,000 a month while living on your own, which is difficult but not impossible even in expensive cities like Singapore, you will be able to get by even if you made a minimum wage.

Ideally, as I mentioned above earlier, you should be able to save at least $500 a month toward your retirement. This will allow you to retire as a millionaire after a 40-year career.

Does your take-home salary cover all of your expenses and allow you to save at least $500 a month? If so, then you should be making enough money to afford to move out.

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Is your income/job stable?

There are a few things that you might want to consider when determining whether you can afford to move out:

  • Are you a permanent employee of your company, with a regular paycheck?
  • Do you enjoy (or at least tolerate) your job?

A regular paycheck is important, as this will allow you to pay off your monthly expenses with ease. If your income is erratic, and you find yourself constantly worrying about how you’re going to be able to pay your bills, you might want to wait until you have a stable job or income before you move out.

You also need to be able to tolerate and hold down a stable job in order to pay the bills. If your job makes you miserable every day, and you want nothing more than to quit to maintain your sanity, then you may want to find another job quick before moving out.

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How much should you save before moving out?

You should be able to afford all of your one-time moving out expenses, as well as save up an emergency fund containing 6 to 12 months of living expenses (including rent, renters’ insurance, utilities, etc.).

These are the basic necessities. If you’re not able to afford these costs, you might not be able to afford to move out.

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How much does it cost to live on your own per month?

This differs from country to country, and even from state to state.

For example, in Singapore, I can expect to spend $1,330 to $2,500 a month while living on my own. A complete breakdown of all the expenses has been provided in this post here.

For your ease of reference, here’s a breakdown of all my expenses after moving out:

CategoryAmount (S$)
Rent/Mortgage$700 - $1,500
Utilities $150 - $200
Necessities$50
Food (Groceries and Dining Out)$200 - $250
Transport$80 - $100
Medical $50 - $100
Travel $50 - $200
Miscellaneous$50 - $100
Total$1,330 - $2,500
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How little could you spend when living on your own?

Again, this differs from country to country, and even from state to state.

In Singapore, you can live on as little as $1,000 a month. A complete breakdown of all the expenses has been provided in this post here.

For your ease of reference, here’s a breakdown of all the expenses:

Category of ExpensesBudget (S$)
Rent$500
Utilities$55
Other Household Expenses$40
Groceries$150
Other Living Expenses$29
Transportation$96
Healthcare$130
Total$1,000
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Is $10,000 enough to be able to afford to move out?

Yes, of course, provided that your one-off expenses (moving costs, deposits, fees and furniture) don’t exceed $4,000, and your monthly living expenses don’t exceed $1,000 a month. 

In other words, if your one-off expenses amount to $4,000, that leaves you with an emergency fund of $6,000 ($10,000 less $4,000), which is supposed to cover at least 6 months of living expenses.

Ultimately, the math boils down to your personal financial situation. If your one-off expenses are low, you can afford to spend more on monthly living expenses, and vice versa.

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I can't afford to move out. How can I move out of my parents' house with no money?

Can’t afford to move out? Don’t have any money, but you desperately need to move out? That’s not as big a deal as you might imagine.

This blog also provides a great guide on exactly how to move out with no money at all. You could have $0 right now, and still move out in a matter of days or weeks. Check out the ultimate 4-step guide to moving out with no money right here.

Summary (TL;DR)

Moving out isn’t cheap.

  • There are many one-off moving out expenses that you will incur (moving costs, security deposits, fees, furniture and furnishing), which would set you back at least $3,500.
  • On top of that, you will have monthly bills that you might have never paid for before (rent, renters’ insurance, utilities, etc.), which would set you back at least another $500 to $1,000 monthly.
  • This results in less savings and less debt pay-off.

As such, if you are able to tolerate living at home, I would recommend first having the following, before you decide that you can afford to move out:

  1. Enough savings to pay for all one-off expenses.
  2. A stable income (as a permanent employee with a regular paycheck) that is sufficient to pay for all monthly bills and allows you to save as well.
  3. No student loan debt, if possible.
  4. An emergency fund containing 6 to 12 months of living expenses.

After you move out, continue to be frugal. It’s possible to spend just $1,000 to $2,000 a month in an expensive city.

Save at least $500 a month. More, if you can. This will ensure that your larger financial goals, such as retirement, are being taken care of.

How much does moving out cost in your country? What would you recommend to someone who wants to move out soon?

As always, thank you for reading and supporting this blog.

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