Most people move out of the family home and set up their own place during their late teens to late 20s. Whether or not leaving goes smoothly depends on the reasons you are moving out and the strength of the relationship you have with your family.
Reasons to move out of home
You may decide to leave home for many different reasons, including:
- wishing to live independently
- location difficulties – for example, the need to move closer to university
- the desire to live in a de facto relationship
- conflict with your parents
- being asked to leave by your parents.
Issues to consider when moving out of home
It’s common to be a little unsure when you make a decision like leaving home. You may choose to move, but find that you face problems you didn’t anticipate, such as:
- Unreadiness – you may find you are not quite ready to handle all the responsibilities.
- Money worries – bills including rent, utilities like gas and electricity and the cost of groceries may catch you by surprise, especially if you are used to your parents providing for everything. Debt may become an issue.
- Flatmate problems – issues such as paying bills on time, sharing housework equally, friends who never pay board, but stay anyway, and lifestyle incompatibilities (such as a non-drug-user flatting with a drug user) may result in hostilities and arguments.
Your parents may be worried
Think about how your parents may be feeling and talk with them if they are worried about you. Most parents want their children to be happy and independent, but they might be concerned about a lot of different things. For example:
- They may worry that you are not ready.
- They may be sad because they will miss you.
- They may think you shouldn’t leave home until you are married or have bought a house.
- They may be concerned about the people you have chosen to live with.
Reassure your parents that you will keep in touch and visit regularly. Try to leave on a positive note. Hopefully, they are happy about your plans and support your decision.
Tips for a successful move
- Don’t make a rash decision – consider the situation carefully. Are you ready to live independently? Do you make enough money to support yourself? Are you moving out for the right reasons?
- Draw up a realistic budget – don’t forget to include ‘hidden’ expenses such as the property’s security deposit or bond (usually four weeks’ rent), connection fees for utilities, and home and contents insurance.
- Communicate – avoid misunderstandings, hostilities and arguments by talking openly and respectfully about your concerns with flatmates and parents. Make sure you’re open to their point of view too – getting along is a two-way street.
- Keep in touch – talk to your parents about regular home visits: for example, having Sunday night dinner together every week.
- Work out acceptable behaviour – if your parents don’t like your flatmate(s), find out why. It is usually the behaviour rather than the person that causes offence (for example, swearing or smoking). Out of respect for your parents, ask your flatmate(s) to be on their best behaviour when your parents visit and do the same for them.
- Ask for help – if things are becoming difficult, don’t be too proud to ask your parents for help. They have a lot of life experience.
If your family home does not provide support
Not everyone who leaves home can return home or ask their parents for help in times of trouble. If you have been thrown out of home or left home to escape abuse or conflict, you may be too young or unprepared to cope.
If you are a fostered child, you will have to leave the state-care system when you turn 18, but you may not be ready to make the sudden transition to independence.
If you need support, help is available from a range of community and government organisations. Assistance includes emergency accommodation and food vouchers. If you can’t call your parents or foster parents, call one of the associations below for information, advice and assistance.
Where to get help
- Your doctor
- Kids Helpline Tel. 1800 55 1800
- Lifeline Tel. 13 11 44
- Home Ground Services Tel. 1800 048 325
- Relationships Australia Tel. 1300 364 277
- Centrelink Crisis or Special Help Tel. 13 28 50
- Tenants Union of Victoria Tel. (03) 9416 2577
Things to remember
- Try to solve any problems before you leave home. Don’t leave because of a fight or other family difficulty if you can possibly avoid it.
- Draw up a realistic budget that includes ‘hidden’ expenses, such as bond, connection fees for utilities, and home and contents insurance.
- Remember that you can get help from a range of community and government organisations.
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