How Much Money Should I Save Before Moving Out?

Article Summary:

How much money you should save before moving out depends on your current financial situation and where you live. In most areas, you will need at least $8,000 in savings before moving into your own apartment if you want enough for a modest emergency fund, a security deposit, and a year’s worth of renter’s insurance. However, in some markets, you will need to save much more to cover those expenses. Of course, plenty of people decide to move out with much less money in their savings accounts.

Moving into your first apartment is an exciting time, but it isn’t as easy as just signing a rental agreement. At the same time, pinpointing exactly how much you need to move out isn’t simple either. It all depends on your location, income, and lifestyle.

With nearly a third of Americans currently living with their parents, it’s important to understand the average costs associated with moving into your own space. This article will look at the factors and considerations that determine if you have enough money saved to move out on your own.

Financial factors to consider before moving out

Before leaving home, you’ll want to have a strong grip on your financial situation. You can start by reviewing how much income you bring home every month, what you can reasonably afford based on that income, and how you can make your rent payments in addition to your other debts.

Income

Before looking or budgeting for an apartment, you first need to know how much money you bring home each month. You can use the 3-to-1 ratio to help determine what you can afford.

The 3-to-1 ratio states that your income should be at least three times your rent. Most landlords use it to assess whether potential tenants can pay on time. For instance, if you make $2,000 per month, you can only afford to pay around $700 in rent. But if your monthly income is $4,500, you can afford closer to $1,500.

Obviously, having a stable job will help make both apartment hunting and moving out a lot simpler. It allows you to budget better and makes the process of apartment hunting slightly easier.

Budget

Before you move out, you’ll need to have your finances in order. This means preparing a budget by reviewing past purchases and spending habits. Start by looking at every dollar you’ve spent in the last 3 to 6 months. You can use your bank or credit card statements to identify current and recurring expenses, allowing you to plug spending leaks.

Then, you can create a monthly budget that accounts for future monthly expenses, essential purchases, savings, and a little extra money.

Pro Tip

Start “paying rent” now by putting 1/3 of your income into a “rent” savings account. Doing so will test your ability to consistently make on-time payments, accelerate your savings, and prepare for the big move.

Debt load

Your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio measures how much you pay toward monthly bills like credit card debt, car payments, rent, and other loans compared to your income. A lower DTI means your debt is significantly lower than the income you make each month, making it easier to make these payments monthly or even take on new debt.

Generally, landlords favor renters with a debt-to-income ratio under 43%. If your DTI is higher than this, you may want to spend some time paying off other debts before taking on additional payments.

Bank account

Some landlords may want to review your bank account statements before renting an apartment to you. While this may seem a little intrusive, your potential landlord needs to make sure you can actually pay rent.

This means your bank account must look good on paper, including reasonable savings and checking account balances.

Credit score

Since your credit history reflects your payment habits, you’ll want to make sure this demonstrates your responsible spending habits before moving out. The best way to ensure you have a solid credit score is to keep your debts low compared to your available credit.

If you don’t have a credit history, consider getting a low-limit credit card to make regular gas or grocery purchases. (Just remember to pay it off completely every month!) For those who prefer to stay debt-free, you can also sign up for services to report your cell phone or utility payments to the credit bureaus.

Emergency fund

Saving money isn’t always easy. However, if you don’t build an emergency fund before you move, you’re doing your future self a massive disservice.

An emergency fund is money set aside to cover surprise expenses like medical bills or car repairs. A robust safety net can even cover regular bills during events like a job loss. Consider putting your savings on autopilot to ensure you never skip a month.

Pro Tip

Ideally, you’ll want to save at least 3 to 6 months’ worth of living expenses before you move out. If that seems high, start with a more obtainable goal like $500 or $1,000 before bulking up your savings.

How much money should I save before moving out?

Now that you’ve examined your financial situation in-depth, it’s time to take a good look at what it actually takes to move out.

Rent

Whether you’re moving in with roommates or to your own apartment, your rent will generally be the single largest expense you’ll encounter when you move out. Depending on your location, roommate status, and whether you choose a studio apartment or house, just the rent can run from hundreds to thousands of dollars each month.

As noted above, consider the 3-to-1 ratio when on the hunt for houses or apartments. While some landlords may overlook the rule, you risk overextending your budget if you spent too much on housing.

Deposit and related fees

Many first-time movers are shocked to discover that rent isn’t the only bill you’ll pay immediately. Depending on your landlord, you may find yourself paying:

  • Application fees (generally up to $100)
  • Credit and background check (around $150 combined)
  • Security deposits (often equal to or double one month’s rent)
  • Your first and last month’s rent upfront
  • Pet fees (if you have pets)

You may also have to cover utility deposits or hook-ups on top of your utility bills. While not every landlord requires every fee above, it’s important to keep these fees in mind while you save up for your move.

Utilities

Aside from utility hook-up fees, you’ll have to pay your utility bills every month. Expenses may include:

  • Electricity and/or natural gas
  • Water
  • Internet access
  • Garbage or recycling pickup
  • Sewer bills
  • Parking

Generally, you can expect to pay $100 to $200 a month in utilities. Some landlords only ask you to pay electricity and gas bills, as the remaining expenses are built into your rent. However, these are bills in addition to your other costs like your cell phone bill, cable, or streaming services.

Basic necessities

When you leave home for the first time, the last thing you’ll want is to move into an empty kitchen and bathroom. Set aside some cash for a few bare necessities, such as:

  • Food
  • Kitchenware and cookware
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Bathroom necessities

If you want to save money, at least a bit, consider taking some of the items that you already have with you. For example, you already have a toothbrush and toothpaste, so why not take them and save a little? While this will save you a bit of money, most importantly, you can check them off your list. Particularly for the first week, you will be surprised how many things you are missing and need to get.

All told, you should prepare to spend at least $500 on food and home supplies when you first move in. Even if that seems a bit high, it’s better to have more wiggle room than not enough!

Furniture

Unless you can afford a furnished apartment, you’ll also need to squeeze in a few hundred bucks for furniture shopping. Since it’s your first home, consider buying cheaper or secondhand furniture from thrift stores and garage sales. You might even score free furniture from online “buy nothing” groups in your area.

Among the necessities, consider whether you have or need a:

  • Fridge, washer, and/or dryer
  • Table and chairs
  • Bed or mattress
  • Bedside table, dresser, or closet organizer
  • Couch or recliner

Once you have a few essentials, you can take the time to build your furniture collection over a few years. At the start, you need just the most important items. Once your basic comforts are met, you can scout through antique shops or furniture stores and pick unique pieces to tie the place together.

Renter’s insurance

After you’ve filled your house with supplies, it’s time to protect them with renter’s insurance. This fairly cheap insurance pays to repair or replace your possessions following accidental damage, theft, and fire or storm damage.

Generally, you can expect to pay $10 to $20 per month for quality renter’s insurance.

Moving expenses

Ironically, the cost of moving is often one of the “hidden costs” of getting your first apartment. Even with careful planning, it’s easy to get so excited about your own place that you forget about actually getting there.

Generally, you have two options: DIY or hiring a moving company.

The DIY approach may or may not be the more affordable option. Your moving costs can run anywhere from $200 to $1,000 for supplies and a moving truck. (Moving long-distance often costs more.) The moving truck is generally the most expensive component, so you might try bribing family or friends with pizza if they’ll lend theirs.

On the other hand, hiring a moving company generally costs around $1,000 to $1,500 for a one- to two-bedroom apartment. Again, expect your price tag to go up if you move long-distance.

Example scenario

Let’s look at an example of how much money to save before moving out.

Say that you move to an area with an average rent of $1,000 per month. Your complex requires your first month’s rent and last month’s rent upfront as a security deposit, which comes to $2,000. Your moving and household expense budget is average for the region.

CategoryCost
Three-month emergency fund$4,000
Security deposit$2,000
Moving costs$1,000
Food, kitchen, cleaning, and bathroom supplies$500
Furniture allowance$500
First month’s utilities and hook-up costs$250
First year’s renter’s insurance$150

In this example, you should save at least $8,400 before moving out. If you needed to move soon, you could do so with a smaller emergency or furniture fund. But generally, you’ll want to save at least $5,000 to $8,000 before moving out.

Pro Tip

Splitting your rent, utility, and security deposit with a roommate can be a great way to move out cheaper. Lightening the financial load can make it easier to save for goals like a car, house, or your wedding.

FAQs

How much money should I save before moving out of my parents’ house?

Generally, you’ll want to save at least $5,000 to $10,000 before trying to make it by your own means. But the actual costs of moving and housing vary greatly by region. Additionally, you’ll want to consider ongoing expenses like transportation costs before moving out.

How much should a 30-year-old have in savings?

A general rule of thumb is to save at least one times your annual income by age 30. So, if you make $60,000 per year, you’ll want to have at least $60,000 in savings.

However, for many millennials, this isn’t entirely possible. Before getting discouraged about what you have in savings currently, focus more on how to grow your savings in general.

Is saving $1,000 a month good?

Given the current rate of inflation, saving any amount of money — let alone $1,000 each month — is fantastic! But in more general terms, experts recommend saving at least 20% of your income each month.

What is the 50/30/20 budget rule?

The 50/30/20 budget rule states that you should use a certain percentage of your monthly income in different financial sectors. This rule recommends using:

  • 50% of your budget on essential expenses like rent and food
  • 30% of your budget on recreation and entertainment
  • 20% of your budget on saving and investing

Key Takeaways

  • There’s no “magic number” that you should save before moving out of your parents’ house.
  • Generally, you want to spend less than 1/3 of your monthly income on housing costs.
  • Saving at least $5,000 to $10,000 before moving out is the gold standard.
  • When looking at how much to save, consider regional costs like rent, utilities, household goods, food, and furniture.
  • Don’t forget to include the cost of moving in your planning.
View Article Sources
  1. Making a Budget — Consumer.gov
  2. Budgeting: How to create a budget and stick with it — Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
  3. 7 Easy Steps to Create a Successful Budget — SuperMoney
  4. 11 Smart Money Moves You Can Try Today — SuperMoney
  5. 10 Personal Finance Decisions To Protect Your Family — SuperMoney
  6. 14 Practical Tips To Attaining Financial Freedom — SuperMoney
  7. 5 Ways Prepaid Debit Cards Can Help You Budget — SuperMoney
  8. The Ultimate Guide to Budgeting — SuperMoney