How to Afford Living on Your Own

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There comes a time in everyone's life when they're ready to move out of their family home, get out on their own and start officially "adulting." If that time is now for you, here are a few tips to make the transition a little easier:

1. Budget and Save

Your first step should be creating a budget and saving money for your move. You'll need to save for a security deposit and first and last month's rent—depending on your landlord's requirements—as well as moving expenses and other various costs. When creating a budget, list out how much money you have coming in and how much you have going out in monthly bills and other obligations. Try to limit your spending to essential purchases, and save the difference so you can reach your goal quickly.

2. Do Plenty of Research on Your Desired Housing Market

Study the housing market in the area you want to move to determine whether you can afford to live there and how much you need to save. You can find apartments for rent online through websites like Zillow and Craigslist. Make sure to look at a range of apartments and try to find one that will fit into your price range. Depending on how much money you have to play around with, price may not be the only factor you consider.

3. Forecast Your Spending

Just like you budgeted to save for your apartment, take a look at what you will be spending when you move. Take into account your salary and expenses, including your projected rent, and see just what you'll be able to afford when living on your own. This is a key step because you may find out that you're not financially ready to be out on your own yet. If you have enough money to cover rent and utilities each month, but not food and transportation, you either have to find a cheaper place or consider waiting until you make more each month.

4. Find a Cosigner

Once you've found a place that you like and can afford, the next step is applying and getting approved for the lease. Some cities have very competitive application processes, so much of what you need to do will depend on your location. When you apply for your own place, most landlords will want to check your credit, and depending on your age and credit history, you may need a cosigner to vouch for you. Ask your cosigner ahead of time so you're ready once it's time to apply.

5. Check Your Credit Before Applying for Places

As mentioned, landlords typically will do a credit check before approving your rental application. Checking your credit reports and scores beforehand won't impact your scores and will give you an idea of what a landlord will see when they consider your application. Depending on your score, you may want to get a cosigner to make sure you get approved.

If you're ready to get your own place but are unsure whether you have a good enough credit score to qualify for an apartment, consider getting a free copy of your credit report from Experian so you know what appears in your credit file.

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