You have just graduated high school, finished college, or recently divorced and need to know how much it will cost to live independently. The short answer to that question is, it depends on where you live.
If, for example, you live in San Francisco, your rent and expenses will be through the roof. If you’re living in, let’s say, rural Kentucky, everything is going to be much cheaper. So, it’s not possible to give you an exact number of what you can expect to pay.
Instead of trying to pull a magic dollar amount out of thin air that it will cost you to live on your own, we’ll break down what your expenses will be. How much they cost you will depend on your health, where you live, and what type of lifestyle you’re expected to enjoy.
Table of Contents
How much does it cost to live on your own?
1. Your first expense is going to be rent
You need a place to stay. If you’re just finishing up school, you’re probably not going to buy a house. You’ll need someplace to stay, and the most common solution for that is renting an apartment.
The first thing you need to do is decide how big an apartment you want and what type of neighborhood you want to move into. If you want something cheap, you’re going to have to move into a bad neighborhood. Safety is the significant determinant of exactly how much it will cost you to rent an apartment.
If you’re on a limited budget, try to scale down and move into a studio or a one-bedroom apartment at the most. You don’t need to move to the ghetto, but there isn’t much choice if that’s all you can afford. Try to live in the best place you can afford.
2. Utilities are the next thing you have to pay for
We’re talking gas, electric, and water. You need to be able to see where you live and have clean drinking water. Unfortunately, you can’t avoid paying utilities, and they can end up costing you big bucks.
You can control how much you pay in utilities by living like a miser. That means turning off the lights, cutting back on the heat, and taking as fast of a shower as possible. These techniques will help you save hundreds of dollars on your energy bill.
3. You can’t live without food
The way you save money on food is by not eating out. Yes, that means you’ll have to cook all of your meals. Sure, eating out can be really great, but it’s also expensive. On the other hand, if you’ve never cooked a meal in your life, you might find that you like cooking.
The best way to eat cheaply and cook at home is by buying foods in bulk. You can get food at a much lower price if you’re willing to buy in bulk. Remember to preserve the food you buy by putting it in the refrigerator or storing it properly so that it doesn’t go bad.
4. Transportation is an expense that many people can’t go without
If you can’t walk to work, you’ll need to find some way of getting back and forth. That means you’re going to have to buy a car and get it insured. Plus, you need to pay for the gas and routine maintenance on your vehicle.
A way around all of this is by taking the bus or other methods of public transportation such as the subway. If you’re going to live in a big city, getting around is hard but not impossible without the expense of a car. You’ll just have to budget the transportation costs that you’ll pay by taking public transportation.
5. Health insurance is a must because it protects you
Your health is vital to your ability to make money and pay for all of these things. You can’t live without healthcare, and you don’t want to go without it.
You have to budget the amount that you’ll pay for health insurance every month. Health insurance is expensive, but it’s necessary if you want to keep yourself in good health. By taking care of yourself now, you’ll prevent costly health problems down the line.
Talk to the insurance company that your employer goes through and see which plan is best for you. If you’re in good health, you don’t need to get the premium plan. However, you do want to make sure that you’re covered for routine medical checkups and in case an emergency happens.
6. Forgetting about your phone bill is a common mistake people make
If you’re on your parent’s plan, you probably don’t think about paying your phone bill. But, now that you’re on your own, you’ll have to pay for your cell phone. You’ll also need to pay for a new phone when the one you’re using stops working.
It’s not possible for professionals these days to live without a smartphone. It’s impossible to live without a cell phone these days, and you’ll want to make sure that you’re on one that works well.
You can scale back and not buy a flagship phone, but don’t scrimp on good service. For example, if you rely on communication for your work, you’ll need a solid internet connection and be able to receive calls at all times from your employer.
7. You’ll need to pay for the internet as well
If you’re a gamer or someone who likes to use the computer, you’ll need an internet connection in your home. Most people get it through the cable company. But if you’re not a gamer or someone who does resource-intensive stuff online, you probably should get the cheapest internet package available.
However, if you are a gamer, you probably already know what internet speeds you can live with. If you need the fastest, get it.
8. Entertainment is an expense that everyone forgets
By entertainment, we’re talking about Netflix, cable TV, or satellite. You can get these things at a discount if you buy in bulk or go with the basic package. However, even if you choose the bare minimum, it still adds up over time.
You will need some form of entertainment during the wintertime or when you don’t want to go out with your friends. Sure, you can watch YouTube on your phone, but watching people talk on their laptop’s webcam becomes boring after a while. Likewise, you’ll go nuts without something to watch while munching on a bowl of popcorn.
9. You’ll need plenty of things to keep your house tidy
You’ll have to buy stuff like dish soap, laundry detergent, and things like that. It might not seem like it, but these can become expensive without even knowing it.
You’ll also need cleaning supplies for your home, like mops and brooms. Dollar stores are great places to get cleaning supplies much cheaper than the big box stores. You don’t want to skimp in this department because the result will be an unclean home.
10. Toiletries, shampoo, and soap are things you’ll need too
Everyone needs toiletries, but they’re not something that gets a lot of thought. You don’t want to walk around with smelly breath and dirty hair. That means you’ll have to buy shampoo, toothpaste, and soap. Let’s not forget deodorant, perfume, and anything else needed to make you look beautiful.
At a bare minimum, you need to keep your home with stuff that will keep you clean. You need to shower every day, and you’ll need soap and shampoo to do that. You can buy the cheap stuff, but you can’t go around dirty for long before your boss gets on your case about it.
11. Lastly, don’t forget to budget some money for clothes
You can’t walk around naked. If you’re in a professional environment, you’ll need to dress in professional attire. You’ll need clothes for the office and for going out with friends. You’ll also need shoes, socks, and coats.
You can save a little money by shopping for second-hand clothes, but you’ll probably want to buy new things like underwear and other underclothing items. Clothes are a lot like food; there’s no way you can avoid not buying them.
Living on your own: The bottom line
After reading this article, you should now know how to save money living alone. Living on your own will be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be if you budget and are aware of the expenses that you’ll face as a single person.
There are ways you can cut back on how much it costs to live, but in the end, there are expenses that you can’t avoid. You need to eat, get back and forth to work, and pay to have a roof over your head.
The one thing that we didn’t talk about was student loans. They’re the elephant in the room for many people who are moving out on their own for the first time. Some people have student loans so big that they may never pay them off during their lifetime. If that’s the case for you, it’s something that you’ll have to find a way to deal with.
All of this might sound overwhelming, but it’s all just a fact of life when you’re living on your own. You’ll need to pay for these things, and there aren’t many ways that you can avoid them.