How to live independently
Moving out, whether it’s the next step after university halls or leaving your family for a first place of your own, is a pretty momentous milestone on the somewhat bumpy road to adulthood; it feels like you have the wind in your hair, the world at your feet and suddenly…a truck load of responsibilities.
With so much to think about, from paying bills to remembering to buy hand soap, going it alone can be a real juggling act and while we have no doubt figuring it out on your own – Bridget Jones style – can be profoundly character-building, a little help never hurt anyone. To get you started, this is a checklist of the fundamental things you’ll need to do when you first move into a new home…
Contents and building insurance
It’s a good idea to take out contents insurance when you move into a new place – this covers you against loss, theft or damage to your home possessions. Building insurance works in a similar way, but it covers the fees to repair any damage to the structure of your property. If you’re renting a house or apartment, it is usually the responsibility of the landlord to ensure this is covered. If you buy an apartment outright, your service charge can sometimes cover this and if you’re purchasing a house, this is usually a condition of your mortgage.
Register for council tax
For university students, good news, this isn’t something you need to worry about. But for everyone else, you should check your band on the local council website by typing in your postcode as soon as you move in. They’ll tell you how much it costs and typically you’ll get an option to pay monthly, quarterly or yearly. It’s better to register as early as possible, if you leave it and wait for a letter you may get landed with a big bill.
Know who supplies your gas, water and electricity
Make sure you call each utility supplier to check rates because the ones the property currently has may not be the best value for money, and this is the best time to search for a good deal. Search on Confused.com or use Compare the Market’s energy bills comparison tool. If you can’t find them or don’t know who your suppliers are you can go to OfGem.gov.uk – if you call them, they’ll be able to tell you who covers your address.
Join your local community’s social media groups.
Sign up to your areas Facebook and WhatsApp groups and the other local community groups nearby – you’ll be kept up to date with local news and events. Plus, it’s also a good way to get to know your neighbours.
Set a budget
When you’re living away from your family home there will be a number of outgoings you probably didn’t have to think about before. You need to start budgeting. Spreadsheets will become your new best friend. With a little help from Excel’s magic cell formulas, you can input your total allowance for the month, then minus off your compulsory outgoings (these are things like rent, petrol and household bills) and you’re left with your disposable budget. Is your Netflix subscription an essential? Are you saving for a holiday? It’s mundane, but an essential part of living independently. It’s vital to keep on top of your bills too. Read this for some easy-to-follow tips.
Get the right balance
There’s lots to keep on top of when you’re living independently, so prioritising your wellbeing and striking the right balance between work, your home life and social life is key.
Here’s a few top tips to help you on your way:
- Work reasonable hours and try to leave work at work – perspective is key; there’s always another day.
- Join a gym or club unrelated to work – keeping fit will make you feel better physically and learning a new skill can broaden your interests and be a great way to meet new people.
- Allocate some of your disposable income to socialising with friends or family. If you’re really short on cash, this doesn’t have to be costly; plan low-cost picnics, go for a walk or visit free galleries.
- Ensure the time you have on your own is put to good use; relax. This can be treating yourself to a hot bubble bath and carving out time to read a book or watch a film.
This post was first published on Sheerluxe, in collaboration with The Adult Bible